Domain tasting

Domain tasting, from Wikipedia

This is a throw down. The practice known as “domain tasting” or “domain kiting” must be put to an end. It is unethical and just plain sneaky. Here’s how it works: ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) allow for a 5-day trial period on any new domain registration, to let people try a name on to see if they like it, and more importantly if it can make enough money to be worth keeping. It’s a bit dumb, but normally a risk-free trial period is a good thing. The problem is that companies have sprung up whose sole business model depends on abusing the trial period. They register hundreds of thousands of names, throw up their stupid little advertising spam pages on there, and basically if the spam can earn more than the $6.00 domain registration, they keep it.

It’s not pleasant so far, but what’s far more devious is that they actively monitor what people search for at various registrars such as GoDaddy, Dotster and others, then snap up the domain you searched for, usually within 24 hours or less. It’s unclear whether they’re monitoring traffic somehow, or maybe the registrars are even selling lists to these scumbags. Then they have the gall to try and resell the name at an exorbitant price.

A couple years ago I had registered a domain named “enculation.com”, which means “butt fucking” in French :) I was going to make it into a French joke site (and free email 😉 but other things came up and I never did anything with it, so I let it lapse. I had never even set up DNS records or anything. Shortly after it expired, some squatter idiot emailed me wanting an $1800 ransom for the name. I told him I had let it expire on purpose, along with a hearty “FUCK OFF”. A few days later it had changed hands again, and to this day is still held by “eNom” which is the 3rd largest registrar according to ICANN’s own report.

Companies like eNom not only take part in the scam, they also pander to other domain tasters and profit by selling “reseller accounts” which facilitate the bulk purchase of domains at discounted rates. Resellers don’t even manually register domains, they just let automated scripts reap them in bulk, faster than any human could ever do.

Domain tasting is turning the internet into a spam parking lot. It’s already bad enough that there are millions of bullshit pages on the net that are nothing more than a pile of pay-per-click ads with misleading titles. It’s personal when they snoop on which domains I search for and swipe them right from under my nose. Something needs to be done, and ICANN needs to be held responsible for this mess they’ve created.

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