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ICANN Sets the Schedule to Kill Domain Tasting

John Levine

Domain tasting, as everyone probably knows by now, is the disreputable practice of registering lots of domains, seeing how much traffic they get, and then using the five day Add Grace Period (AGP) to refund the 99.9% of them that aren't worth paying for. A related abuse is front running, registrars speculatively grabbing domains that people inquire about to prevent them from using a different registrar.

Back in April, the ICANN GNSO (the subgroup that deals with generic TLDs, i.e., all but the two-letter country codes) voted to set a new policy to get rid of domain tasting. And now, eight short months later, it's finally about to become ICANN policy.

The new AGP Limits Policy is quite reasonable: a registrar can only refund 10% of its new registrations each month, with a small loophole for one-time screwups. Normal registrars refund 1% to 2% of their registrations, while tasters have been refunding close to 100%, so this should do the trick.

The new schedule says that registries should implement the new limits soon, and in no case later than March 31. I don't understand why it takes nearly a year to get from the GNSO resolution to implementation, but surely better late than never.

In parallel ICANN board made the 20 cent ICANN fee non-refundable beyond 10% of registrations, effective in the 2009 budget year which started in July. ICANN reports that in July refunds dropped by 84%.

Update: The original version of this article said that the 20 cent refund rule would start next July, not this July.

By John Levine, Author, Consultant & Speaker. More blog posts from John Levine can also be read here.

Related topics: Domain Names, ICANN, Policy & Regulation, Top-Level Domains

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For the record, the non-refundable registrar-level transaction Craig Scott Schwartz  –  Dec 18, 2008 10:13 PM PST

For the record, the non-refundable registrar-level transaction fee, currently US$0.20, has been in place since 1 July 2008 when the ICANN Board approved the FY09 budget. ICANN announced on 13 November 2008, that the number of AGP deletes decreased by 84% from June to July 2008 after implementation of the excess delete fee.

2009 John Levine  –  Dec 19, 2008 1:50 AM PST

Thanks, I've corrected the original article at

Re: 2009 Ali Farshchian  –  Dec 19, 2008 7:15 AM PST

...and updated here as well accordingly.

Light speed Enrico Schaefer  –  Dec 21, 2008 9:00 AM PST

Light speed in ICANN years :-)

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