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Advocating Ratio Model for Deleting Domains

Ray King

To date, end-users (of all levels of technical ability) who are trying to find a good domain name to establish an online identity have been endlessly frustrated by the lack of a method to fairly re-allocate "used" domain names. A full resolution to that problem is a separate (and much bigger) discussion.

For now, there's a critical issue with how all of us — registrars, and companies like SnapNames and its competitors — utilize registrar-registry connections to query and catch domains deleting into availability. Some parties have exploited loopholes in ICANN requirements to form hundreds of shell accreditations — that is, registrars utilized solely for their batch pool access. These shadow registrars have been harnessed into large thread farms, fundamentally undermining any principal of equivalent access (ironically, the basis of a recent Pool.com v. VeriSign lawsuit) by legitimate registrars.

Obviously, this is not healthy for the industry.

In response, VeriSign has proposed changes to how it allocates access to deleting domains. The current method was, after all, implemented as a temporary solution. Their proposal for a "ratio method" of allocating access is the only thing that makes sense given the industry's current state of development and the market forces currently at play. It's a fundamentally fair move that rewards customer-centered behavior, and helps insulate against ever-escalating add-storms and ever shrinking per-registrar capability at the registry.

As many have noted, no solution seems perfect, but a change must be made, and be made as soon as possible.

The fairest approach in the short term is to scale access to deleting domains in proportion to primary market activity. To be more specific, we support calculation of the ratio based on the number of successful transactions performed across all connection pools, and that the ratio be used to limit a registrar's failed transactions.

Registrars who generate primary market transaction volume are skilled at selling to and supporting registrants. They are the companies that registrants choose to do business with — as opposed to those who are gaining customers purely by chance through the drop catching game.

We support the ratio method despite the fact that our own capabilities to capture deleting domains are likely to be more harmed than helped. We support it because we believe this creates the most fair and level playing field for all, limits gaming opportunities, and curbs the most egregious abuses.

We urge our industry colleagues to address this critical issue in this manner now so we can more appropriately focus on the longer-term question, about how to best serve customers in the secondary market.

By Ray King, CEO at Top Level Design and AboutUs.com

Related topics: DNS, Domain Names, ICANN

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