Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Watch three members of the ICANN community get assassinated

Kevin Murphy, June 22, 2020, Gossip

Three members of the ICANN community got killed by an assassin in a 2012 movie, now available on Amazon Prime, I inexplicably had never heard about until today.

The film’s called Rogue Hunter, and it’s produced and directed by prominent community member Jonathan Zuck, who’s been involved in ICANN representing intellectual property interests for the last 15 years.

It’s about… 55 minutes long.

It’s about… I dunno. A foxy female assassin or something? Maybe. The audio during the exposition scenes was pretty ropey. My feeling was that it’s drawing a lot from The Bourne Identity.

Zuck himself, alongside Steve DelBianco and Andrew Mack, both former chairs of the ICANN Business Constituency, all have cameos in which they get killed.

Here’s the trailer for the film, featuring DelBianco getting offed near the Taj Mahal (presumably shortly after the 2008 ICANN 31 meeting in New Delhi).

But is it any good?

No. The movie is fucking terrible.

But it’s firmly in the “So Bad It’s Good” zone.

And I laughed my balls off.

It’s not quite a classic of the genre — it’s no The Room — because it seems pretty clear that Zuck and his colleagues knew they were making a terrible film. There’s deliberate humor in the script and the direction.

The film was released in 2012, and somehow got on to Amazon Prime two years ago, where it has one one-star review:

Poor camera work, poor lighting, poor story line, poor acting just really all round dreadful.

I don’t think that reviewer really “got” what the makers were going for. Maybe, if you choose to watch the movie and review it, you could help redress the balance.

I should point out that there’s a bit of nudity and a somewhat explicit sex scene in the film, so you probably shouldn’t watch it with your boss or your kids watching over your shoulder.

Bored? Try the DI Fiendishly Difficult Domain Name Pub Quiz

Kevin Murphy, June 11, 2020, Gossip

One of the many trends to emerge since most of the world went into coronavirus lockdown is the emergence of the online pub-style quiz as a way to kill time while we wait for normality to resume or death to kick in.

This gave me a great idea: why not copy this idea?

While most of these quizzes are usually conducted over YouTube or some other streaming platform, I’ve long been told I have a face for radio and a voice for print, so you’re going to have to make do with text.

So, here I present the inaugural DI Fiendishly Difficult Domain Name Pub Quiz.

It’s split into rounds that should test the breadth and depth of your domain industry and ICANN knowledge to their fullest.

There are no prizes. It’s just a bit of fun.

Go ahead and test yourself, your boss isn’t looking!

The Trivia Round

  • Which two alcoholic beverages feature on Domain Name Journal’s list of the top 20 secondary-market cash sales of all time?
  • What’s the only one of ICANN’s five geographic regions not to have had one of its citizens elected chair of ICANN’s board of directors?
  • Which horror movie director publicly called GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons a “sick fuck” in 2011?
  • How many companies applied for the .web gTLD in 2012?
  • Over 170 domainers got a nasty bacterial infection during the DomainFEST conference in 2011. Which saucy place did they catch it? I’m looking for the location, not the body part.

The ccTLD Round

There are over 200 ccTLDs in active use today. How many can you match to the correct country, and vice versa?

First, name the countries or territories associated with the following five ccTLDs:

  • .aq
  • .tw
  • .bb
  • .bj
  • .lr

Now, name the ccTLDs for the following five countries or territories:

  • Myanmar
  • Macao
  • Mali
  • Morocco
  • Mauritania

The Acronym Round

These are all acronyms used in the domain name industry and ICANN community, but what do they stand for?

  • MX
  • EPDP
  • NPOC
  • LGR
  • SSAC

The Spot-the-gTLD Round

Some of these gTLDs are real, some are not. But which is which?

  • .jcrew
  • .blockbuster
  • .toysrus
  • .tjmaxx
  • .paylessshoesource

The Anagram Round

These five strings are all anagrams of well-known people or well-known companies in the domain/ICANN space. Solve the anagrams. If you follow DI on Twitter and have a long memory, these might be a little easier for you.

  • barman orgy
  • cretin clan
  • enema chap
  • boner storm
  • lewd anal manner

Bonus Round — Name That Beard

For a bonus point, whose beard is this?

Who's beard is this?

The Answers

There are 31 points on offer, and I’ll post the answers early next week. If you’re impatient, pretty much everything here is Googleable.

But remember, you’d only be cheating yourself!

If you enjoyed this, or like some bits but not others, let me know in the comments on via other channels. If there’s sufficient positive feedback, I may make this a regular feature.

Five SAFE ways to buy and sell domains during the coronavirus pandemic

Kevin Murphy, April 9, 2020, Gossip

The coronavirus pandemic has hit every profession hard, and the domain industry is no exception.

Domain investors, many of whom are self-employed, lack health insurance, and are simply unable to self-isolate, may be among the hardest-hit. But no fear, I’ve put together some advice that should help you plucky domainers make it through the current crisis unscathed.

Here’s the DI Top Five Totally Legit Tips For Safe Domaining:

  • 1. Avoid domain stores. The Covid-19 virus is airborne, and can linger on hard surfaces for many hours, so it makes a lot of sense to avoid bricks-and-mortar domain stores. Believe it or not, alternatives are available. Instead of visiting your local branch of GoDaddy, why not consider staying at home and using the GoDaddy web site instead? It’s quick, simple, and a lot less hazardous to your health. Hey presto! Your domain should be delivered to your door by a FedEx guy in full hazmat gear in as little as 10 business days.
  • 2. Refrain from selling door-to-door. Carrying a suitcase full of premium domains around the streets and cold-calling at people’s front doors may be a tried and tested method of selling names, but in this era of social distancing, it’s no longer recommended. If you have a computer, why not set up an electronic mail account on the internet and use it to approach potential buyers remotely instead? They’ll appreciate it, and so will your feet!
  • 3. Limit in-person transfers. Once you and your buyer have sealed the deal, the next logical step is obviously to meet up and hand over the domain for the agreed-upon price. But many modern registrars allow their customers to transfer domains automatically online, which is a lot safer during a pandemic. If an in-person transfer is unavoidable, remember to meet your buyer in a large, public, open space and stand at least two meters (six feet) apart at all times. Do NOT shake hands — an elbow-bump or kiss on the lips will suffice — and be sure to wipe down the domain with a disinfectant cloth before placing it on the ground and backing away.
  • 4. Avoid expired domains. Domains that have already passed their expiry date are risky to your health at the best of times, but current World Health Organization advice recommends avoiding expired domains altogether in order to protect your immune system. Remember: if in doubt, throw it out!
  • 5. Buy as many “coronavirus” domains as you can. Everyone on the planet is currently obsessed with the pandemic, so it stands to reason that domain names related to the disease are surely worth many thousands of dollars each, if not millions. Experts at Verisign currently recommend that investors register as many .com domains as they can comprised of the words “coronavirus” or “covid-19” followed by literally any other word or string of digits. Domainers should also remember to buy the hyphenated AND non-hyphenated versions, just to be safe, Verisign says. And they should know — they’re all millionaires!

I hope this advice helps!

Stay indoors, social distance, and remember to take a hot bath every time you sneeze.

At ICANN 67, nobody knew you’re a dog

Kevin Murphy, March 16, 2020, Gossip

Want to see what your fellow ICANN 67 attendees looked like on the other side of the Zoom chat room?

The meeting may have been held entirely remotely, but that hasn’t stopped the ICANN org from populating its Flickr page with a big wedge of photos, one of which seems to prove the old adage that “On the internet, nobody know’s you’re a dog.”

Virtual Photo Gallery #42

Photo credit: @icannphotos

At regular, face-to-face ICANN meetings, there’s a professional photographer doing the rounds, doing his or her level best to make jet-lagged, bearded. middle-aged men sitting in circles at laptops look thrusting and dynamic.

This time, it was largely up to remote participants to submit their own mug shots, taken in their home offices, kitchens, and lounges, for your viewing delight. And what a jolly nice bunch of people they look.

The batch of photos from 67 also includes a number taken on-site at ICANN’s Los Angeles headquarters, which had been hastily rigged up to act as the meeting’s hub after the face-to-face meeting in Cancun, Mexico was cancelled over coronavirus fears.

Here.

Domain Incite turns 10 today. What the fuck have I done with my life?

Kevin Murphy, February 27, 2020, Gossip

February 27, 2010. That was the day, 10 years ago today, I registered domainincite.com and posted my first post.

Seriously, what the fuck have I done with my life?

Back in 2009, during a hiatus from my previous life as an all-round Silicon Valley tech reporter, I was back in the UK as a budding comedy writer with his foot in the door at the BBC and a handful of broadcast credits.

I made about £1,000 that year. A BBC producer told me that, if I was lucky enough and good enough, my radio sitcom spec script might get commissioned, but that it would take a couple of years and I would probably only make about three grand.

I figured it was time to get a proper job, and do comedy in the evenings, so started doing some regular freelancing, for The Register at first and then something called Thinq (I think, the site doesn’t appear to exist any more).

Around the same time, a friend at a domain registry made me an unsolicited offer of work, ghost-writing white papers for a buck a word. I took it.

I think it was early January 2010 that I first started thinking about starting up my own blog. I was probably inspired by security reporter Brian Krebs, who I admired and who’d recently left the Washington Post to launch Krebs On Security.

Internet security and domain names were the two areas of tech where I calculated I had the knowledge and contacts to make a go of it as a solo enterprise. I’d always been slightly more drawn to the domain name side, and that was the area where it looked like I could find a niche.

I was of course already aware of Andrew Allemann’s excellent Domain Name Wire and a few other blogs, but it seemed to me there were very much focused on the domainer part of the industry and there was an opportunity to focus more on the the sell-side and ICANN-related news.

The good thing about ICANN was that, even if the organization was not interested in talking to a lowly blogger, its transparency regime would mean there would be no shortage of material for anyone prepared to trawl through a 200-page PDF for nuggets, I reckoned.

And, like the security beat, there would be no shortage of scumbags to write about.

I recall brainstorming branding ideas with my dad in his living room, 10 years ago today.

I wanted something that conveyed a certain cheekiness or snarkiness. I didn’t want DI to be a dry recounting of events. No doubt influenced by years of enjoying The Register, and my brief foray into the world of comedy, I wanted to be humorous without resorting to fabrication, satire, or parody.

My first domain preference was already registered by a domainer. I offered him $100 for it. He countered with $1,000, and that was the end of that negotiation. He still owns it.

When I settled upon the punny domainincite.com, I was fully aware that it failed the radio test, but I was not too concerned. I figured the chances of my ever having to spell it out on the radio were pretty slim (it only took a couple of years to be proven wrong about that) and it did not seem to affect my ability to get people to read the site.

A few months later, I showed up at ICANN’s public meeting in Brussels, my first in-person meeting for a few years.

I recall walking the streets near the venue and having to stop and shake hands with a familiar face every few minutes. It very much felt like I’d rediscovered a community I had never really considered myself a part of previously. Most of them were already enthusiastic DI readers.

It felt pretty good.

Almost a decade later, I’m a much more miserable person, and I find myself asking: what the fuck have I done with my life?

I write about domain names for a living.

Domain names.

Entries in a database.

I’ve spent a decade thinking about what most people will probably never consider spending 10 minutes thinking about.

Not only does my domain fail the radio test, but my career choice almost always fails the taxi driver test (or, less frequently, the Tinder date test).

I’m sure most people reading this post will know what I’m talking about. You’re stuck in traffic with a chatty cabby, and before long you’re attempting to explain what you do for a living.

His eyes glaze over.

“No, no,” you say. “Some of it’s really, really interesting.”

Then you roll out your top few anecdotes — probably about wedge issues like censorship, or big secondary market sales — and before you know it the driver has fallen unconscious and fucked the car through the window of a convenience store, seriously injuring an elderly woman.

You try to explain to the arriving police what happened, but when it gets to the bit about what you do for a living you’re very quickly arrested for wasting police time.

You now have a permanent criminal record and no chance of being employed by anyone else. The elderly woman eventually recovers, but you don’t. You’re stuck. Stuck!

It’s happened to all of us, I’m sure.

The ticking over of a decade is always a time for reflection, is what I’m getting at.

Having done a fair bit of that recently, I like to think I’ve made more friends than enemies writing DI, but I’m sure a lot of those people who shook my hand in Brussels now think I’m a utter prick.

This goes with the territory for any reporter, but it’s a lot harder to bear when you’re solo. The life of a blogger can be a lonely one. There’s no bustling newsroom banter, no editor to give you advice on tricky stories, no subs to catch your typoes, no lawyers to get your back when you screw up.

It’s easy in that situation to become soft.

While I treat every company, organization or individual I write about as fairly as I can, I’ve started to wonder whether sometimes I’m too quick to default to believing the party line, particularly but not exclusively when it comes to ICANN.

I’ve genuinely written a 3,000-word article Devil’s-advocating in favor of the forthcoming .com price increases. I may or may not publish it.

I’ve come to realize in recent weeks that ICANN is not the soft and cuddly community I found in Brussels, and it probably deserves a much more critical eye than I’ve been providing lately.

So, faced with the existential crises of a 10-year anniversary, a critical reevaluation of your life choices, and accidentally putting a wholly fictional elderly woman in hospital, you’re faced with a stark choice: throw in your cards, or double-down.

I’m doubling down.

I was never a fan of the sunk-cost fallacy anyway.

Covid-19: It’s official, domainers are faster than journalists

Kevin Murphy, February 11, 2020, Gossip

The .com domains matching the new name of Coronavirus were registered today before even the first news reports emerged.

The World Health Organization today officially named the deadly disease Covid-19. CO for Corona, VI for virus, D for disease and 19 for 2019, the year in which it was discovered.

The announcement was made at a WHO press conference in Geneva this afternoon. The press conference, which streamed live on YouTube seems to have kicked off shortly after 1500 UTC.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus officially named the disease Covid-19 not too long after the press conference started.

At 1509 UTC, WHO’s official Twitter account tweeted:

Within five minutes, an anonymous domainer had picked up covid-19.com — according to Whois records, it was created at NameCheap at at 1513 UTC.

But domainers hate hyphens, right?

Even after Tedros spelled it out for clarity, including the hyphen, a domainer with an even fastest trigger finger decided to omit it, registering the domain covid19.com at 1510 UTC, three whole minutes before the hyphen version and an extremely impressive ONE MINUTE after the WHO tweet.

As far as print journalists go, you have to wait a full thirty minutes before you start to see lines from the likes of Reuters and the AFP.

The lesson here is clear: if you’re one of those domainers who tries to snap up novel terms from the news as quickly as possible, you need to cut out the middleman and go directly to source.

And ignore the bloggers, too. It took me two and a half hours after the WHO tweet to publish this post.

I’m pathetic.

Watch: climate change denier on why she trusts .org more than .com

Kevin Murphy, February 10, 2020, Gossip

This isn’t news, but I found it amusing, irritating, and slightly confusing — a clip of a climate change denier rubbishing a scientific article because it appears on a .com domain rather than a .org.

The video below, featuring comedian Joe Rogan interviewing conservative political commentator Candace Owens, dates from May 2018, but I first came across it when it popped up on Reddit’s front page this morning.

In it, Rogan attempts to school Owens on why human-influenced climate change, which she believed is a liberal conspiracy, is a scientific fact. At one point, his producer pulls up an article from Scientific American, the respected, 174-year-old popular science magazine, which uses scientificamerican.com.

Owens responds:

What web site is this? .com though? That means it’s making money. I don’t trust that. If it was a .org I would probably take that, but this is just a random web site.

The argument has been made, in the ongoing controversy over .org’s sale to Ethos Capital, that .org domains carry a higher level of trust than other TLDs, through the mistaken belief that you need to be a not-for-profit in order to own one, but I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard that belief openly expressed in a widely-viewed forum by a public figure, albeit not a very bright one.

Confusingly, at around the 11.50 mark in the video, Owens starts banging on about how she doesn’t trust research conducted by “.orgs” such as mediamatters.org.

She appears to be someone who, in the age of fake news, pays attention to TLDs when deciding what is and isn’t true online. I can’t decide whether that’s an admirable quality or not. At least she has a filter, I guess.

Montreal airport thinks DI is porn

Kevin Murphy, November 11, 2019, Gossip

The web site you’re reading right now is classified as “pornography/sex” by Montreal airport, according to DI readers.

Some readers en route home from ICANN 66 last week noticed that they couldn’t access the site over the airport’s WiFi and instead got this warning:

Porn

Given how frequently I’ve used words such as “porn” in the past — it comes up all the time in stories related to censorship, abuse, and certain gTLDs — I think it’s pretty clear that DI has tripped a lazy keyword filter created by a crappy censorware vendor.

Datavalet appears to have WiFi content filtering contracts with several major hotel chains and airlines, including Air Canada.

Hopefully, nobody was too inconvenienced by this, but I’d still be interested to hear if anyone’s experience similar issues while travelling elsewhere.

Out of an abundance of caution, I shall endeavor to make my coverage of domain name politics less sexually arousing in future.

Correction: the 10 most-used dot-brands

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2019, Gossip

Regular readers may recall that back in May DI published an article entitled “These are the 10 most-used dot-brands”.

It turns out the article, which looked at how 10 dot-brand gTLDs were being used, was based on bad data — the result of a single-character typo in the software I used to compile the data.

It was just dead wrong. I’ve therefore deleted the post.

It’s DI policy to always correct articles when errors are discovered, and to issue full corrections, such as this one, for particularly egregious balls-ups.

Sorry about that.

Lauded domainer arrested over $2.4 million “extortion”

Kevin Murphy, May 18, 2018, Gossip

Noted domain investor Sahar Sarid is among four men charged in California yesterday with an alleged extortion scam related to the web site Mugshots.com.

He was reportedly arrested in Florida alongside Thomas Keesee, while in California Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie and David Usdan have also been charged.

The four are alleged to be the owners of Mugshots.com, which republishes the mugshots and arrest records, copied from public documents, of people arrested in various parts of the US.

They have been charged with extortion, money laundering, and identity theft.

According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the site was funded by charging the subjects of the mugshots a $399 fee to have their photos and records “unpublished”.

Many of the people affected were innocent of any crime and had been arrested by mistake, Becerra said.

The site collected over $2.4 million in removal fees from 5,307 people over three years, according to Becerra. In a statement, he said:

This pay-for-removal scheme attempts to profit off of someone else’s humiliation. Those who can’t afford to pay into this scheme to have their information removed pay the price when they look for a job, housing, or try to build relationships with others. This is exploitation, plain and simple.

According to court documents — which make a fairly horrific read — Sarid is a hidden beneficiary of Mugshots.com.

He told TheDomains back in 2012 that he’d sold Mugshots in 2011, but prosecutors now allege that the sale was fictitious and that he continued to collect money from the alleged scam.

Sarid gained fame during the domain speculation heyday of the mid-2000s, profiled in a DN Journal cover story in 2007, around the same time he was inducted into the now-defunct TRAFFIC Hall of Fame.

DN Journal publisher Ron Jackson today noted that Sarid has since been the subject of rumors of “questionable business practices”.