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Amazon backtracks after pricing free Alexa list at over $900,000

Kevin Murphy, November 23, 2016, Domain Services

Amazon has reversed, at least temporarily, its decision to yank its free list of the world’s most popular domains, after an outcry from researchers.

The daily Alexa list, which contains the company’s estimate of the world’s top 1 million domains by traffic, suddenly disappeared late last week.

The list was popular with researchers in fields such as internet security. Because it was free, it was widely used.

DI PRO uses the list every day to estimate the relative popularity of top-level domains.

After deleting the list, Amazon directed users to its Amazon Web Services portal, which had started offering the same data priced at $0.0025 per URL.

That’s not cheap. The cost of obtaining same data suddenly leaped from nothing to $912,500 per year, or $2,500 per day.

That’s beyond the wallets, I suspect, of almost every Alexa user, especially the many domain name tools providers (including yours truly) that relied on the data to estimate domain popularity.

Even scaling back usage to the top 100,000 URLs would be prohibitively expensive for most researchers.

While Amazon is of course free to price its data at whatever it thinks it is worth, no notice was given that the file was to be deleted, scuppering without warning goodness knows how many ongoing projects.

Some users spoke out on Twitter.

I spent most of yesterday figuring out how to quickly rejigger DI PRO to cope with the new regime, but it seems I may have been wasting my time.

After an outcry from fellow researchers, Amazon has restored the free list. It said on Twitter:

It seems clear that the key word here is “temporarily”, and that the the restoration of the file may primarily be designed to give researchers more time to seek alternatives or wrap up their research.

SEO site toppled as most-popular new gTLD domain

Kevin Murphy, August 10, 2015, Domain Registries

There’s a new domain topping the charts as the most-visited new gTLD site.

A few days ago, namu.wiki replaced searchengines.guru in the top spot, the first time the leading position has changed hands since DI PRO first started tracking daily Alexa scores in July 2014.

namu.wiki appears to be a Japanese Korean wiki site dedicated to some kind of manga/anime thing. It was registered in April.

searchengines.guru is a Russian forum devoted to discussions of search engine optimization.

The Japanese Korean site has an Alexa rank of 1,875 today, compared to 1,994 for the SEO site. The highest score we’ve ever recorded for a new gTLD domain was 717.

Interestingly, only two of the site in the top 10 are in English. Two appear to be associated with spam.

The usual caveats about the reliability of Alexa data applies.

Pop-ups boost most-popular new gTLD domains, and it’s not just .xyz any more

Kevin Murphy, January 26, 2015, Domain Registries

The .xyz and .country gTLDs are currently dominating the league table of most-popular new gTLDs, but massive pop-up advertising campaigns using junk domains can account for the majority of their leading sites.

Today, Amazon’s Alexa site popularity tool sees 2,425 new gTLD domains in its top one million. Of those, 163 are in the top 50,000 sites.

But almost two thirds of those 163 domains appear to be throwaways that receive traffic not because they’re attracting visitors, but because they’re used to serve pop-up advertising, in some cases via adware.

The trend has been visible for a few months now, restricted almost exclusively to .xyz, but over the last two weeks .country has also started to be used in this way.

That’s interesting because, unlike .xyz, .country is not a low-cost gTLD. Go Daddy currently sells it for $39.95 per year.

(UPDATE: As Andrew points out in the comments, Uniregistry is selling .country names for $1 for the first year, which almost certainly explains the .country bump.)

Almost 100 of the top 163 new gTLD domains comprise two unrelated dictionary words put together to make something nonsensical.

Domains such as iciclecellar.country, laborervolcano.country, classkitten.country, sweepstakesglove.country, rewardmen.country, installationdesk.country have recently joined have joined the likes of vasegiraffe.xyz, cactusstew.xyz, bedcrow.xyz, notebookwrist.xyz, wishgrass.xyz, pencilkite.xyz and basketriver.xyz on this list.

As far as I can tell, they’re all registered via Uniregistry and using its free Whois privacy service to mask the identities of the registrants.

Visiting these domains in your browser will either result in an error — where I suspect the site is checking the referrer before deciding whether to show a page — or will send you on a merry redirect chain that terminates in an affiliate marketing sign-up page.

Some of the domains have been discussed in online forums as serving up pop-up ads, which would account for large amounts of traffic and high popularity.

Some have alleged that they’ve seen adware serve up ads from some of these domains.

Pop-up ads may be annoying, but they’re legal and — unlike spam and malware — not usually a violation of gTLD registries’ terms of service.

Whether benefiting from adware would leave a registrant in violation of a registrar or registry’s ToS is also a fuzzy area.

But for the new gTLD industry, which is currently in a mindshare-building mode, this kind of use does not make for great optics. If internet users see new gTLDs most often in an unwanted context, it could impair their trust in the new gTLD environment.

Track all the popular new gTLD domains on DI

Kevin Murphy, July 15, 2014, Domain Services

Want to get a full daily list of which new gTLD domains have Alexa rank?

From today DI PRO subscribers can, with our new Popular New gTLD Domains feature.

Updated once a day, the report comprises a list of new gTLD domains that are used by the top one million web sites on the internet, according to data provided by Alexa.

The report currently has 635 domains, but it’s growing.

The report can be used to discover how early adopters are using new gTLDs and which TLDs are generating the most popular web sites.

Here’s a screen shot:

DI PRO subscribers can check it out here.

The top 35 most-popular new gTLD sites

New gTLDs have been on the market for months now, and the slow process of building out sites is underway.

As regular readers and DI PRO subscribers know, one way DI tracks the popularity of domain names, and therefore their corresponding TLDs, is using Alexa rankings.

These scores are not perfect, but they’re a reasonable way to highlight which new gTLD domain names are getting traffic from internet users.

There are currently 635 new gTLD domains in Alexa’s top one million most-trafficked sites, up from just 10 when I checked almost six months ago, February 19.

Only 35 of those have a ranking better than 100,000.

I visited each in turn today to determine to what use the registrants have put their names.

In this top 35, I found two instances of apparent malware distribution and one instance of possible cybersquatting. Four returned errors. One (www.link) is a blocked name collision name.

Notably, controversial BitTorrent index The Pirate Bay, which has been TLD-hopping for many months and recently got kicked out of .guru, seems to have found a home in .uno.

Only one of the domains redirects to a domain in a different TLD.

One (gen.xyz) is a new gTLD registry’s official homepage.

The remainder represent a broad cross section of regular internet usage: blogs, tools, photos, sport, porn, get-rich-quick schemes, forums, file-hosting, and so on and so forth.

Varying degrees of professionalism can be found on these sites. Some are very pretty, others very ugly.

There’s even one site on the list that appears to be a legitimate corporate home page. On reflection, no it isn’t. It’s a Get-Rich-Quick site.

These are my results, make of them what you will.

DomainAlexa RankSite?TypeRedirect?
searchengines.guru717YForumN
goodkarma.tips1569NErrorN
archive.today1962YToolN
safeupdate.technology3256YMalwareN
safeinstalls.technology6246YMalwareN
ispeed.club11113YToolN
thedudes.club16894YBlogN
gen.xyz18888YRegistryN
womenslife.today20331YBlogN
friv.today35341YGamesN
warriors.tips36897YGet Rich QuickN
event2014.today38307NErrorN
tema.ninja38959YWeb designN
adrenaline.zone50913NErrorN
gunahsehri.club54886YPornY
magesy.club58350YBlogN
fotos.directory63476YDirectoryN
videoranking.ninja69254YSEON
theanimals.pics71436YPhotosN
najbolji.link72338YVideoN
moi.today72657YBlogN
nicefucking.graphics77762YPhotosN
interface.club79315NErrorN
jid-company.trade79730YGet Rich QuickN
kia-auto.club82947YCybersquattingN
iif.club84736YGet Rich QuickN
2121.club87342YFile HostingN
reversephonelookup.center87454YToolN
ximg.link90401YFile HostingN
digger.club92047YAffiliateN
www.link94810NRegistryN
adultindustry.land94857YForumN
ultra.zone96299YSportN
bankcode.today97414YGet Rich QuickN
thepiratebay.uno97951YPiracyN

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