The election for the GA representative to the NC Transfer Task Force ended on Thursday 10 January 2002. The candidates were Dan Steinberg, Eric Dierker, and Jeff Williams. Dan Steinberg was elected. Details on the vote are available from [www.dnso.org].
The vote for the GA chair and alternative chair began Saturday 5 January 2002, and was finished on 12 January 2002. The candidates were Kristy McKee, Thomas Roessler, Alexander Svensson, and Eric Dierker. Thomas Roessler and Alexander Svensson were elected. Details on the vote are available from [www.dnso.org].
(i) domain-policy archives. According to a message from Chuck Gomes, in reply to a question from Patrick Corliss, the domain-policy mailing list was shut down by Verisign for legal reasons in May 2001. [www.dnso.org]
There was some debate on whether or not this had actually been said before in public.
(ii) .org divestiture. Marc Schneiders posted the final version of the final draft of the .org NC task force report, plus a supplemental report from the GA representative which lists remaining concerns with the current text. [www.dnso.org], [www.dnso.org].
(iii) Deleted domain name handling. This was certainly the week’s dominant topic.
Genie Livingstone gave a summary of data gathered from tracking of expiring domains. According to him, “most dropped domains in 2001 were originally registered at Netsol Registrar. 99.9% of dropped domains were NOT re-registered at Netsol Registrar.” “This might be one interesting premise motivating Verisign to try to recapture the monopoly,” he writes. His message goes on to list some more concerns he has with practices of Verisign’s registrar division. [www.dnso.org].
Don Brown summarized what he believes to be “a few fundamental hurdles which need to be met before anything else is important” with respect to the waiting list proposal: “1. The WLS proposal essentially puts monopolistic power in the hands of one entity (the Registrar) and thwarts all competition.” (I suppose this should have been “the registry”.) “2. The theory behind this WLS proposal is that it addresses technical issues, which cannot otherwise be addressed on a technical level.” Don then demands that the technical difficulties be solved in a way which does not affect the business model. As his third point, he notes that “the name space belongs to the public – not the registrars”. [www.dnso.org]
In a more fundamental part of the thread, Chuck Gomes asks whether or not it is “okay for a property manager to have a waiting list”. To this, George Kirikos replies: “IF the LANDLORD allowed such a thing in their contract with the property manager, it would be perfectly legitimate. HOWEVER (and read this part, as it’s important), it is NOT OK for the property manager to create a waiting list on their own volition and keep all the money for themselves, behind the back of the landlords!” He also notes that “in most cases where there’s a waiting list, though, there’s a definite end to the lease term.” To this, William Walsh follows up to say that “Verisign is creating a situation in which a domain name has more value to the Registry and Registrar if the registrant does NOT renew the domain, and creates a problem in that the Registrar will be incentivized to not provide as strong a renewal notification service as they would otherwise be under incentive to do.” [www.dnso.org], [www.dnso.org], [www.dnso.org].
However, Verisign’s proposal wasn’t the only one to draw criticism: In fact, the “registry re-circulation system” (RRS), proposed by Peter Girard of Afternic.com, forwarded to the GA on Monday, and covered in the last summary, drew some criticism, too: George Kirikos complains that replacing “one monopoly (Verisign’s WLS) with another (a cartel of registrars doing an auction) isn’t a solution which promotes competition”. He also notes that the proposal “gives all the value of the domains that are auctioned to the registrars”, who have however done nothing to create that value (he says). He then introduces the “Let’s make George Kirikos a Multi-Millionaire” proposal. After all, he didn’t do anything to contribute to domains’ value, just like registrars….
In another reply to the Afternic proposal, Darryl (Dassa) Lynch writes: “I can’t see any reason for Registrars or the Registry to be benefiting from the consumer market value for renewed/deleted domains.”
A comment from Ron Wiener of Snapnames.com (the folks who own the technology Verisign has licensed for the WLS) was forwarded by Ross Wm. Rader. One of his points is this: “It seems to me that there is a distinction between the WLS (as proposed) and the RRS (as proposed), in that the WLS allows registrars to capture “backup demand” for any name throughout the entire year. The RRS only allows the capture of demand during a portion of the 45-day grace period window, which inherently means it would be primarily of interest to, and accessible to, speculators, not mainstream consumers.” [www.dnso.org]
Rick Wesson has asked the community to develop a “concise list of requirements for proposals to solve the issues with a registry deleting domains in batch”. He hopes for a consensus document on the requirements to be used when proposals are evaluated. [www.dnso.org]
In reply to this, George Kirikos lists various requirements, two of which are these: 1. Equal opportunity for any registrar to acquire a deleted name. “No current business model that is in place must be forcibly required to change […], unless it can be proven that they have caused the abuse through their choice of business models.” 2. “Registrants should continue to have the ability to register an expired name at a registrar’s normal price for a brand new registration for ALL deleted names.” [www.dnso.org]
From a registrant point of view, Bret Fausett lists six requirements, including: Registrants shouldn’t need to pay fees to more than one registrar to get a deleted domain; registrants should be able to place the order with one visit of the registrar’s web site; expiration dates listed in the whois should have some meaning; “the current registrant should make his or her decision to renew blind to the value placed on that domain name by prospective registrants”. (I find the last one particularly interesting.) [www.dnso.org]
Elliot Noss of Tucows sent a long message to the GA list in which he looks at various aspects of the deleted domains issue. First, he considers who may claim the right to expired or expiring names. He concludes that “the competing claims of registries and registrars are likely subordinate to those of registrants,” in the end of the day. “Accordingly, any solution should start with this underpinning,” he says. In the second section of his document, Noss emphasizes that he believes that the issues of registry load and expired/expiring domain allocation should be considered separately, and that the technical side of the problem can be (and actually mostly has been) solved without touching the allocation question. He then elaborates on “the inefficiency of flat pricing”, and argues that the combination of flat-priced supply and variable-priced demand has lead to a robust secondary market, and to a “significant amount of the current CNO namespace sitting unused”. He warns that these effects should not be magnified by solutions for the “expiring market”. Noss concludes by stating that the WLS proposal is unacceptable to him, and then suggests what he calls “two important modifications” to Afternic’s RRS proposal: Make all names available for bidding, and give the existing registrant an opportunity to accept bids at any time (with registrars and registries getting their share of the money, too). [www.dnso.org]
In follow-ups, George Kirikos and Don Brown argue that, if there’s no technical need for changing the “expiring market”, this market should be left alone for the moment, and more pressing problems should be addressed first. As Don puts it: “I am in favor of ‘healthy’ change, but I don’t view any change with respect to the after-market to be either healthy or warranted at this time.” [www.dnso.org]
In another follow-up to Elliot Noss’ message, Don Brown points out that part of the process “to introduce more efficiency into the systems and procedures” concerning deleted domain names should be “the adoption of specifications or policy” in the sense of 3.7.5 of the RAA (Registry-Registrar-Agreement): Such policy does not currently exist. [www.dnso.org]
In his comments on Elliot Noss’ proposal, Chuck Gomes of Verisign agrees with most of the points Elliot made. In particular, he “definitely confirms” that the WLS proposal and the technical problems the registry has with deleted domain names are not directly connected, and can be dealt with separately. However, he believes that the WLS could “still make some positive impact in this regard, but it certainly does not solve the whole problem”. He also points out that, while the registry problems do not affect day-to-day business of registrars anymore, “there has been and continues to be a growing impact on registry operations and registry costs”.
(iv) Working groups, sublists, etc. As a spin-off from the deleted domains thread (which, bad enough, seems to have mostly killed that thread), some discussion on working groups and sublists came up, including on-list straw polls on whether or not the GA should start a working group on the deletion issue, or whether people like the WLS. David Farrar writes about these: “Could I suggest both this poll and the previous one while well intentioned lead to the GA being more dysfunctional. Many do not subscribe here to see 40 people vote on a list.” [www.dnso.org]
Announcements from the new Chair and Co-Chair
In two short messages to the GA list, the new Chair and Alt.Chair have pointed out what their immediate plans are. These include:
- Enforce list rules, including the posting limit. (Alexander will be the list monitor.)
- Try to attract discussions and participants from various constituencies to the GA.
- Concerning GA working groups and sublists, a “show traffic, get group” policy will be followed for the moment: If sustained discussions on some topic become too much, and participants desire it, the chairs will try to organize a new mailing list for these.
- Concerning task forces, there’s nothing which prevents the GA members from discussing topics. According to the “show traffic, get group” policy, “mirror working groups” may be established. The GA rep to task forces has the responsibility to inform task force members of the GA’s discussions.