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Refunds uncertain as .nxt says sorry for cancelation

Kevin Murphy, August 24, 2012, Domain Services

It’s not yet clear whether people who paid for tickets for the .nxt conference will get full refunds.

In an apologetic email sent to attendees last night, organizer Kieren McCarthy said that .nxt is “trying to recoup” money already paid to the conference venue. The email states in part:

For a number of reasons – the most significant being the fact that the ICANN process is still in flux – we were not able to get the number of attendees or sponsors needed.

Having communicated with a large number of people that the conference was directly aimed at, the conclusion would appear to be: right idea, wrong time. The conference was designed as a meeting place for a new industry to meet and interact. It is now clear that that effort was premature.

Unfortunately that does not resolve the fact that you are currently out of pocket, whether through a conference ticket, hotel room or flight to London.

.Nxt is currently trying to recoup money we have paid to the hotel venue so we are in a position to reimburse at least some of those costs. We will keep in touch with any developments.

Fewer than 100 people were registered for the $950-a-ticket three-day event, .nxt said. The first two conferences, held in San Francisco last year, attracted closer to double that number.

The company plans to offer some of its planned sessions online instead, according to the email and a statement on the conference web site.

McCarthy is currently calling would-be attendees to explain the situation. Many have been understanding, according to the email.

Some attendees have told us they want full refunds for their tickets and hotel rooms, when the hotel was booked via .nxt. Recouping money spent on airfare is a different matter, of course.

The conference, which also left some attendees out of pocket when it was postponed in June, is unlikely to return.

Confirmed: .nxt conference canceled

Kevin Murphy, August 23, 2012, Domain Services

The .nxt conference on new gTLDs has indeed been canceled, according to organizer Kieren McCarthy.

The show was expected to run next week, August 29-31, in London, following two successful events in San Francisco last year.

It was originally expected to run in June, but was postponed in May due to ICANN-related program delays.

I had planned to hold off posting the news until I had the full details, but I’ve received several emails this morning from people wondering what was going on so I thought I’d share what I know.

McCarthy is currently phoning attendees individually to explain the situation, so if you’re already a paid-up delegate I expect you’ll be getting a call soon. An announcement is expected later today.

ARI Registry Services tweeted this morning that .nxt is not offering refunds, but I cannot confirm that at this time.

More when we get it…

Bulgarian domain show returns for second year

Kevin Murphy, August 22, 2012, Domain Services

Domain Forum, the Bulgarian conference on new gTLDs that ran in Sofia late last year, is to return.

While the agenda has yet to be confirmed, the dates have. The event will run November 15 and November 16 at the Grand Sofia Hotel.

The scope of the show seems to be a little broader than just new gTLDs this time around, with sessions on domain name technology such as DNSSEC and intellectual property also planned.

I’d hazard a guess that Bulgaria’s ongoing quest for its own Cyrillic IDN ccTLD will also take a prominent role in discussions.

Architelos launches new gTLD anti-abuse tool

Kevin Murphy, August 15, 2012, Domain Services

Architelos, having consulted on about 50 new gTLD applications, has refocused on its longer-term software-based game plan with the recent launch of a new anti-abuse tool for registries.

NameSentry is a software-as-a-service offering, currently being trialed by an undisclosed number of potential customers, designed to make it easier to track abusive domains.

Architelos gave us a demo of the web site yesterday.

The service integrates real-time data feeds from up to nine third-party blocklists – such as SURBL and SpamHaus – into one interface, enabling users to see how many domains in their TLD are flagged as abusive.

Users can then drill down to see why each domain has been flagged – whether it’s spamming, phishing, hosting malware, etc – and, with built-in Whois, which registrar is responsible for it.

There’s also the ability to generate custom abuse reports on the fly and to automate the sending of takedown notices to registrars.

CEO Alexa Raad and CTO Michael Young said the service can help streamline the abuse management workflow at TLD registries.

Currently, Architelos is targeting mainly ccTLDs – there’s more of them – but before too long it expects start signing new gTLD registries as they start coming online.

With many new gTLD applicants promising cleaner-than-clean zones, and with governments leaning on their ccTLDs in some countries, there could be some demand for services such as this.

NameSentry is priced on a subscription basis, based on the size of the TLD zone.

.sx denies .sex gTLD objection rumor

Kevin Murphy, July 26, 2012, Domain Services

The CEO of SX Registry has denied rumors that the company already plans to object to the two .sex new gTLD applications, but has not yet ruled out such a move.

The company runs Sint Maarten’s new ccTLD, .sx, and gossip at the ICANN meeting in Prague last month suggested that an objection or two against .sex might be made on confusing similarity grounds.

The rumors were fueled in part by SX Registry’s sexy launch marketing.

But in a recent email to DI, Normand Fortier wrote:

At this time SX Registry is still reviewing the impact of various gTLD applications and contrary to some published rumors, has not taken any official position or decision regarding a future course of action.

Existing ccTLD operators are allowed to file String Confusion Objections against gTLD applications, if they feel there’s a risk of confusion if the gTLD is approved.

And .sx/.sex is far from a unique case.

In fact, of the 375 applications for three-letter gTLDs in the first round, 304 have only one character variance with one or more existing ccTLDs, according to DI PRO’s string similarity analysis.

ICANN’s Sword algorithm, which compares the visual similarity of strings, gives .sex a score of 57% against .sx.

I’ve checked every three-character gTLD application against every existing ccTLD and found dozens of proposed gTLDs with much higher similarity scores when compared to ccTLD strings.

The full results are available to DI PRO subscribers over here.