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Sixteen-year-old emoji .com sells for €3,400

Kevin Murphy, June 1, 2017, 08:42:12 (UTC), Domain Sales

An emoji domain name believed to be in the first three such domains ever registered has been sold.

The domain ☮.com (xn--v4h.com) seems to to have been sold to an end-user buyer, via Sedo, for €3,400 ($3,816). The sale appears to have been a quick flip by an Austrian investor.

☮ is of course better known as a symbol representing peace, most associated with campaigns for nuclear disarmament.

The name now redirects to Sonshi.com, an “educational resource for Sun Tzu’s The Art of War”. The owner explains:

As students of Sun Tzu, we understand the objective of understanding warfare is peace. Even when we are forced to do battle, we want to end it quickly. If possible, it is best to prevent fighting altogether. There are few symbols that represent peace and are as recognizable as ☮.

According to research carried out by domain investor Michael Cyger, ☮.com is one of the three oldest emoji domains, after a “hot spring” symbol in .com and .net, all having been registered April 19, 2001.

It’s not a knock-your-socks-off price, given the scarcity of emoji domains and the age of the registration, but it seems to show there are buyers out there.

Emoji domains were recently discouraged by ICANN’s security committee due to the potential for security risks, and are currently effectively banned in new gTLDs.

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Comments (12)

  1. That’s a bizarre “update”, and it appears to be incorrect. Why would Verisign falsify the WHOIS records? The authoritative registry WHOIS at:

    https://reports.internic.net/cgi/whois?whois_nic=xn--v4h.com&type=domain

    shows the April 19, 2001 creation date.

    The old DomainTools WHOIS records from 2004 indicate:

    Domain created: 2001-04-20.
    Domain last updated: 2004-11-12.
    Domain expires: 2006-06-19.

    (2001-04-20 vs 04-19 difference might be due to time zone issues)

    More importantly, the WHOIS on that date clearly said ” No name servers for this domain.”

    https://research.domaintools.com/research/whois-history/search/?q=xn--v4h.com&date=2004-12-18&origin=permalink

    So, it’s clear what happened. While they “checked against a .com zone file”, it’s clear they didn’t check against all registered domain names, because a registered domain name with no nameservers (like this one) wouldn’t have appeared in the zone file.

    So, this domain name slipped through the cracks.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      What’s your hypothesis on why this name and the other two with April 19 2001 creation dates were registered, given that the registrants could not have known their future meaning? Just a coincidence?

      • Either purely a coincidence, or someone registered all possible combinations of prefixes. If it was the latter, it doesn’t look like a winning strategy (i.e. 676 x $10 x 2 years worth of registrations/renewal to get to March 2003, is more than the current value of the single domain name).

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          Probably even more combinations, given that Punycode wasn’t finished until 2003 either.

          You think that’s more plausible than an incorrect Whois record?

          • Those aren’t the relevant choices. Why would *Verisign* (the registry operator, not a registrar) be publishing false WHOIS data (i.e. the authoritative thin registry WHOIS)? If that was true, then that would have major implications, e.g. for UDRPs, etc. where the creation date is often critical to the outcome. That’s a much bigger story, if it was true.

            The idea that the WHOIS was false was suggested by folks who didn’t do their job propertly, i.e. they took the shortcut of only checking the *zone file* for conflicts, and totally neglected registered domains with no nameservers (which don’t appear in the zone file).

            Today’s zone file for .com:

            https://www.verisign.com/en_US/channel-resources/domain-registry-products/zone-file/index.xhtml

            contains 127,452,738 of the 128,785,041 base, so roughly 1% of domains are registered but have no nameservers.

            And we know from the archived WHOIS record of 2004 (from the registrar) that the name had no nameservers at that time, entirely consistent with being registered but not in the zone file.

            So, the relevant choices are:

            (1) Punycode creators screwed up, and failed to account for domains not in zone file.

            or

            (2) False WHOIS by Verisign (in the authoritiate thin WHOIS) *and* false WHOIS at the registrar level in all the archived WHOIS records at DomainTools, and at present.

            Obviously #1 is far more plausible.

            If there was any proof for #2, that would be a huge story, and require extraordinary evidence. Indeed, it might show contract violations by Verisign and the registry operators, if the WHOIS database is corrupted or returning false data.

            [By the way, I’m subscribed to this thread of comments, but have received no notifications. Outgoing mail might be broken on this blog….]

            • Kevin Murphy says:

              You seem to think incorrect Whois means deliberately falsified Whois. I’m not going there in the slightest. I have not suggested that. I’ve seen Whois records in thick registries that have absolutely impossible creation dates. I know that sometimes Whois records are wrong, and at this moment I think a bad Whois record is more plausible than a psychic domainer. As new information becomes available, I may change my view.

  2. Samit says:

    “The two letters in the prefix were selected at random and then checked against a .com zone file to ensure there were no clashes with existing domain names, Hoffman said.

    Additionally, the prefix was not disclosed before the RFC was published in order to prevent the system being gamed before the standardization was complete.”

    Well, it seems someone in the know did game the system if the registration date is correct.

  3. Samit: The domain registrant didn’t really game the system. It’s just that the IDN folks made an assumption that checking the zone file was sufficient, and it turns out that was false, since a registered domain name with no nameservers doesn’t appear in the zone file.

    • Samit says:

      Got it, so then it’s an inadvertent registration?

      How does that explain the two hyphens and the exact punycode for a smiley?

      This is 2003 that we’re talking about.

  4. Hagar says:

    Would this have been a good long-term domain investment at $3,400?

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