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SnapNames: Why the WLS is Better for Consumers

In 2002, VeriSign, the registry for .COM and .NET domain names, proposed the idea of a centralized, registry-level "wait list" for currently registered domain names. The system would let anyone around the world get "next in line" for a name that is registered now but may become available later.

This new registry service, titled Wait List System (or WLS), would augment what is now an ad-hoc group of registrar-level services that are useful, but aren't always fully dependable or even available to the general public.

When implemented, all domain name registrars would have the opportunity to offer the WLS to their customers.

The goal of WLS

The goal of WLS is to provide an updated and improved system that:

  • for all end-users, is reliable and universal
  • for registrars, is a useful product
  • for everyone, is easy to locate, access, understand and use
  • brings some order to the current chaos

Why the status quo is such a problem

Today's makeshift system for domain name reservations — comprised of dozens of providers trying to get names the very moment they become available again — gives customers value, but it's still very hard to reserve and secure a name.

Why? Mainly because:

  • Some services are good, others aren't as successful.
  • The majority of existing services aren't practically available to the ordinary customer. Some are specifically devoted to or customized for professional speculators.
  • Consumers trying to figure out how to use one or more of these services are nearly guaranteed to become frustrated or disappointed.  They are simply at too big a disadvantage.

If the status quo is preserved, here's what the customer will continue to experience:

Based on data in July 2003, to have at best a 75% chance to get a name of interest, an imaginary customer might need to:

  • Subscribe to the SnapNames(r) service (a first-come, first-serve system, so the subscription for a given name may already be taken)
  • Subscribe to GoDaddy's backorder service (again, assuming it's not taken)
  • Join the NameWinner auction system, figure out how to use it effectively, and spend hours monitoring to try to keep the winning bid (unlikely since the system is heavily used by speculator pros)
  • Join the Pool.com system to try to get the name there. If others are interested in your name, though, you'll have to compete in an auction to get the name.
  • Maybe to increase chances a little more, apply to become a reseller at eNom and sign up for Club Drop usage.

Even after spending this time and money, the customer will still be competing with others going after names — this includes other registrars, high-powered professional resale services, and speculators with their own software — all of whom do very well using technology that customers don't have access to or understand.

WLS is a simple step that will make back-order functions more stable and easier for everyone.

By Mason Cole, Internet Governance Advisor at Perkins Coie

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Re: SnapNames: Why the WLS is Better for Consumers By Christopher Ambler  –  Jul 22, 2003 1:22 pm PDT

What Snapnames doesn't tell you is that they stand to make a ton of money, along with Verisign, if WLS is implemented. If that happens, the existing services, mentioned above, will all be forced to close. The money that they make, for providing the service in a very competitive market, would be, instead, paid to Verisign and Snapnames.

Of course they're going to try to portray it in as bad a light as possible.

The truth is, there is a very healthy competitive market in place now, and Snapnames is losing market share to other registrars who do better. Verisign has no market share at all. These two companies want 100% of the market share, hence WLS.

Don't be fooled by Snapnames' fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Re: SnapNames: Why the WLS is Better for Consumers By Nick  –  Aug 29, 2003 3:14 pm PDT

In response to Christopher Ambler, who cares how much Verisign or Snapnames makes? Why not look at this from a consumer prospective rather than how backorder services will be effected, such as Pool, Namewinner and others. Registrars who dont participate or have a drop program are NOT going out of business, to the contrary, the number has grown.

From what I understand with WLS, a potential registrant can secure a domain name such as DOG.COM for $25, as opposed to joining the bidding war or buying it from Buydomains for $30,000 +.

I havent heard one strong arguement how this is bad for the consumer, if you got one, post it!


Re: SnapNames: Why the WLS is Better for Consumers By Christopher Ambler  –  Aug 30, 2003 1:37 am PDT

Sure, here's why:

A consumer will never have the chance to buy the WLS subscription on dog.com, because the registrar who currently sponsors that name will purchase it if there is any chance of that name dropping. If there is no chance, then the consumer may, indeed, buy it for $24, which is $24 wasted.

The WLS, as written, gives a HUGE advantage to the largest registrars, as they have foreknowledge of which domains under their sponsorship are going to be renewed and which are not. Indeed, Verisign has been trying to propose a solution for this problem for some time, and have yet to find one that works and is fair.

So, to reiterate - consumers will never get a shot at a "good" WLS subscription. Registrars will buy them, themselves, and auction them off, just like dropped domain names get auctioned.

Same model, different product, same consumer experience. Except in this model, Verisign gets all of the money, to the tune of $24 each, as opposed to the $6 they get now.

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