20i Domains

Expired Domains Consultation

Discussion in 'Nominet General Information' started by Acorn Newsbot, Aug 27, 2020.

  1. Acorn Newsbot

    Acorn Newsbot Junior Member

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    Our recent consultation on how we release expired domains has now closed. The consultation invited feedback on a range of options that we felt would result in a more transparent process for informing registrars and the wider public when an expired domain will be made available for re-registration and crucially how highly contested domains would be released. These are the less than 1% of domains – about 12,0000 a year – which are highly sought after.

    We are very grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to our proposals – 107 contributions were received in total. Inputs were predominantly received from representatives of businesses in the domain name industry, including drop–catchers and retail registrars, but we also heard from the IP community, those representing consumer interests and wider civil society organisations. During the consultation we also received a petition by some members many of whom also provided their feedback directly into the consultation process.

    It’s important to acknowledge that this has been a contentious topic, with real concern expressed about the policy substance of the consultation itself, and also how we might operationally implement any outcome following the consultation.

    While I said this in my last blog on this topic, it is worth restating that we did not have a predetermined outcome in mind when the consultation was launched but what was clear to us was that the current system needed to be improved.

    We will publish the formal report of the consultation in due course but in the meantime, I wanted to make our direction of travel known as soon as possible.

    Firstly, we will not pursue an auction model. While a proportion of responses from a wide range of sectors including the drop–catching market supported this approach, the prevailing view was this is not the role of the Registry.

    Secondly, we remain of the view that some change is not only beneficial, but necessary. While many contributors and commentators felt the status quo should be retained, this would mean the current incentives to circumvent our acceptable use policies (AUPs) would remain. There is no direct, practical way to address collusion or circumvent system rules, so some change is required. Addressing this issue, raised by concerned members, was a key driver for our proposals.

    Introducing a new approach for those that wish to drop–catch names where participants can purchase connections is the option we will pursue further. This makes behind the scenes collusion unnecessary, thereby maintaining the integrity of our membership model. The decision to purchase this initial access to dropping domains – covering the first few minutes of availability – will be based on the business case for each registrar. As a result, expired domains will continue to be available to anyone participating on a first come, first served basis, at the standard wholesale price. And if a domain is not registered during this initial period it will then be available for registration by all registrars on the current terms (so those registrars who are not interested in competing in the highly competitive drop–catching market are not financially impacted by the proposed change).

    The operational details though are critical – if the cost to participate is too high this will unduly reduce competition in the market. If drop–catching is restricted to members and the limit on connections available are too low this will incentivise the creation of ghost tags, essentially just reshaping the current issue. We now need to work through this detail to ensure there are no unintended consequences but the thinking behind our ultimate proposals will remain driven by creating an orderly, clear and fair approach and not by any financial agenda.

    The practical detail of introducing drop lists – whether domains are released at a single point in time or at a specified time over a longer period – will also form part of this next phase. The approach we adopt will influence the requirements for connections and related AUPs and those dependencies mean we need to look closely at the operational details.

    Getting this right is important to us, and equally important to our members. We are dedicating time at our forthcoming AGM to discuss our approach and we will also hold a webinar later next month to gather further views on how we move forward.

    Finally, I’d like to say that when this process does conclude, we’ll make sure any changes to the current system won’t happen overnight – we’ll give plenty of notice for registrars to adapt.

    The post Expired Domains Consultation appeared first on Nominet.

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  2. Domain Forum

    Acorn Domains Elite Member

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  3. cav United Kingdom

    cav Active Member

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    It looks like the auction model idea has been dropped
     
  4. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Active Member

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    And there you have it:

    No auction.

    Some kind of economically-controlled access, still to be worked out.

    I very much hope that when Eleanor Bradley says changes won't happen overnight - "we'll give plenty of notice for registrars to adapt" - that will mean delaying radical change for a considerable time, because taking the point Murray (and others) have persuasively made, this time of pandemic and its obvious economic aftermath is a terrible time for people to have to adjust their business models.

    However, I suspect by this time next year this new order will be coming into use.

    Next huge issue is: how do you make access prohibitive to cartels all operating for a single entity, without at the same time making access too expensive for standard rule following registrars? Answers on a postcard...
     
  5. omcgb United Kingdom

    omcgb Well-Known Member

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    Yes, they have dropped the auction model in favour of the level of access being determined by the size of your bank balance.

    There's a surprise Nominet!
     
  6. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Active Member

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    As Board member David Thornton has observed (God bless him), to be workable and to put off those who want to game any system with multiple identities, the proposed fee for playing will need to be much higher than £600. What was suggested by Nominet just wouldn't be sufficient disincentive to an individual working a 'team' of identities, who will expect to make far more than that, even when paying that for each identity. And then what you do is you end up disincentivising the wrong people: the smaller businesses who have followed the rules, but who can't compete at the level costs might be set.

    There's a lot of constructive thinking needed here. Personally one factor I think is needed is much tighter verification of registrars and their business models (but so hard to police), or else a tiered approach to charging for access, based on loyalty (eg length of membership) because I think it is recent members and new ones who will see the chances and copycat, who present the biggest challenge. Over time, membership and working operations may be easier to monitor. But none of this is easy or straightforward.
     
  7. LCHappy United Kingdom

    LCHappy Active Member

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    Shouldn't you have thought about that before sending in your consultation?
     
  8. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Active Member

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    You've read my consultation response, quoted here? Sure I've thought about it, but I'm not sure who has the perfect solution.

    Reviewing what looks like being the likely direction now, I wrote: "or a loyalty-based version of ECA with reward for longstanding members and prohibitive costs the first few years as a disincentive to new players wanting to bring in teams of new Nominet 'members'. I agree with Nominet director David Thornton that £600 will be insufficient to put people off using multiple memberships of friends. Maybe a far stricter method of accreditation and checks can be devised to stop any cheating, but I don't see how you can 'prove' that two people are working as a team. And therein lies the problem. Therefore the 'control' needs to be cost - but £600 is too little to put cheats off, while punitive charges will also hurt small registrars, unless there is a tiered system, with a very high entrance point to play, if you are a recent new member."

    What did you write, LC?
     
  9. Nigel United Kingdom

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    Good news so far - big thanks to Andrew Bennett for his efforts in arranging the petition and rallying everyone to the cause. Long way to go though. I think once the big drops are out of the way in 3 weeks time, a lot of the incentive for cheating the system will be gone. Let's face it most days there isn't a great deal to catch, and I think a £600 entry level is more than enough to deter multi identities. Let's hope Nominet are sensible, take their time, and police and manage the present system better in the meantime.
     
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  10. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Active Member

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    I agree with you Nigel, that the big drops in the next 16 days are probably the last great catching jamborees and feeding frenzy (for cartels and everyone else) for some time to come. Things quieten down significantly after that. But it is clear that Nominet has resolved to change the status quo to try to cut down on abuse (at the same time generating a new revenue stream - not a vast one on the grand scale of things unless there's something I don't see). If the entry level is kept at £600 then I imagine that many or most current registrars would (at cost) go with that? Would people agree with that? What I would question is whether that will be sufficient deterrent to have any or much impact on the deployment of multiple identities. It's quite an intractable problem. But maybe, as you say, once the great feeding frenzy of the next 3 weeks is over, they will all go away. I have my doubts. Then you are left with a kind of coronavirus issue - it's not going to go away, it's always going to be there, but do we just get on and live with it, because of the benefits to people's economies of getting on with normal life?
     
  11. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Active Member

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    And yes, Andrew Bennett's petition was a really useful statement. It's interesting that Ellie Bradley says 105 submissions were made to the consultation. 108 people signed the petition (and I suspect Ellie's 105 included a good number of Andrew's 108). It wasn't just the number of people who signed it, but the range of people, and some large players including Stephan Ramoin of Gandi. I think the overall impact of the petition was significant. Whether Nominet had already decided they wanted ECA, and used the Auction's favoured criteria as a false flag, that they never actually wanted (because they have dumped it with surprising speed)... that is hard to know unless you are an insider.

    My post on the (pretty moribund) Nominet forum this morning:

    "So does Ellie's announcement today pre-suppose an ECA model? Or is there still scope for alternative option C's?

    While I've said all along that the abuse of process needs to be addressed, because things descended into mayhem in July 2019 and again in January 2020... and we will see what happens in September 2020 (the next few weeks)... the concern that now faces some registrars/members (especially small businesses) is that ECA may price them out of the market. If it doesn't, as David Thornton has said elsewhere, it is unlikely to price out the individuals operating through multiple identities either: the dilemma being 'How do you penalise people running multiple identities without penalising bona fide small businesses too?'

    As Nominet moves forward, will they offer and provide a platform where people's alternative or creative ideas can be shared, discussed, explored?

    Is there still scope for Option C's to be voiced, and fine-tuned, and looked at openly with all interested parties able to participate? Because member engagement should mean an ability to participate in the construction of the next phase, and alternative possibilities. It does, after all, impact quite profoundly on many members' business models."
     
  12. dee

    dee Well-Known Member Acorn Supporter

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    No Auction. Still don't see how there can't be someone who just buys a load of connections and hoover it all up, unless they limit it. And does it mean there will be no flaws in the system to take advantage ? Surely if theres any kind of speed contest there'll always be someone with a major advantage even if the get rid of Dac?

    And thank you Andrew for the petetion.
     
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  13. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Active Member

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    I agree Dee. The whole multiple identities thing is tricky.

    I think the genuine challenge is how do you *prove* that 12 separate identities are all actually being operated by and for a single individual? Simply using the same platform for selling or monetizing domains is not a breach of AUP. To take a UK-based example, you have platforms for domain catching that are used by separate individuals. They are still individuals, but they are using a tool as an instrument for furthering their separate and legitimate businesses.

    I can be a harsh critic of bad practice, and I can be critical of Nominet's recent (in my view) poor judgment on mass-registrations etc, but I don't think enforcement of the multiple identities issue is easy. The technical flaws - I think those really should be closed down faster. You are positioning yourself as a cyber-security company, but you can't keep your systems resilient and secure from circumvention and gaming? I find that harder to believe.

    Don't get me wrong: I believe the system has been abused and gamed repeatedly by individuals using multiple identities. But I don't think it's easy to prove, beyond 'Well we think you are' and that's arbitrary.

    My concern is that the use of multiple identities will continue. I'm not convinced the proposed £600 figure will be sufficient to deter. I suppose it's possible that after the Fasthosts mega name dump there are fewer feeding frenzies in the horizon and the multi-parties (if, as I believe, they exist) will all go away. I think that's unlikely.

    I think it's more likely to be like Covid-19 in the coming years. It will never go away, but there comes a point where you might be tempted to say, well it's still going on but for the benefit of the economy and people's businesses, we just choose to live with it.

    The significant changes are still going ahead. That's pretty obvious. The next question (which the whole member community should have an ongoing involvement in) is what processes are now going to be explored, considered, openly discussed for ideas, and finally introduced.

    In my view nothing should be introduced for 12 months at least. The economic impact of Covid-19 is going to be huge in this country, affecting family finances, and bringing hardship. Radical changes may have a disproportionate impact on small businesses. They will mean nothing to GoDaddy but can be a very real hit to a small business and a family, where maybe domains form one part of income but the partner gets made redundant.

    I think an interim period should be used for REAL member engagement in the process of proposing ideas, fine-tuning models, sharing, discussing, and I think you can wave goodbye to an idealised version of the old status quo where Nominet kicks out supposed but unproven cheats - I think that's just the realpolitik of the situation - but in the next phase I think pressure should be brought to bear on Nominet to *include* members in the further exploration and construction of a way forward.

    Being realistic, I'm not at all sure Nominet will want members in the way now the consultation has been ticked off the list, but I think it would be right and proper if people are. There should be an ongoing platform at Nominet, open to all members, for alternative ideas to be worked on or how best to implement ECA (which I guess is what Nominet wants). I'm pretty concerned that over time the access costs will be raised and raised "to put off cheats". I think it was McRick who has already said here (before he got kicked again) that £600 would not be enough. I worry that ECA will be a slippery slope leading to an increasing domination by the biggest players with the deepest pockets.

    Or, trying to be more positive, and in the wake of Andrew's petition, maybe they are starting to believe that the secondary market constitutes a necessary part of the whole namespace food chain that it would not benefit them to lose. Has the petition been a wake up call? I think maybe yes. Have they got their own preconceived agenda? I'd say 90% likely. I don't think they just jettisoned what was supposed to be their favoured model so quickly. It's possible the auction model was a false flag to make them seem more reasonable, when confronted with the total loss of name catching, people were offered ECA instead.
     
  14. ian

    ian Well-Known Member

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    The only way to avoid collusion is charge per connection with an unlimited amount. Gets rid of the need to cheat, but deepest pockets win (is any business different, nope!)
     
  15. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Active Member

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    I think there should be an open platform where members can all participate with staff to pinball ways of making a new process work, and look at various models, with an openness to various possibilities. Pool the experiences, insights and ideas of members in a real act of member engagement.

    Instead of operating a 'blind' consultation where no-one knows what ideas other members have raised and submitted, open a platform for ideas to be shared together.

    The immediate issue, as I see it as someone who believes in member engagement as shared participation in policy development, and open collaborative models, is will Nominet offer an ongoing platform for proposing ideas, concepts, fine tuning of emergent ways forward etc.?

    It would be great if the Nominet executive and staff team actually worked together with members, combining insights and experience, to build a model which was fair and better at locking out cheats to the system. Given that many members have years of experience with drop-catching systems, there is valuable knowledge to be tapped there.
     
  16. Lovekraft United Kingdom

    Lovekraft Well-Known Member Full Member

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    It is the best of two not ideal choices at least. I'd rather stand some chance of catching a domain compared to zero chance and having to compete at auction.

    I'm glad I and others on here took the time to respond to the consultation because if we didn't the outcome could have been different. The petition probably helped too.

    For once it feels like we were listened to, at least a little bit anyway.
     
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  17. dee

    dee Well-Known Member Acorn Supporter

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    yep... thats how i read it aswell