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Private auction settles controversial plural gTLD fight

Kevin Murphy, December 8, 2014, Domain Registries

A private auction has been used to settle a new gTLD contention set containing two different strings for the first time.

Afilias has won the right to run .pet after Google withdrew its application for .pet and Donuts withdrew its bid for .pets.

The two strings, one the plural of the other, had been placed into indirect contention by ICANN after a String Confusion Objection panel controversially ruled in August 2013 that .pet and .pets were too confusingly similar to be allowed to coexist.

This means that Donuts has been forced to withdraw an uncontested application.

Notably, it was Google that filed, fought and won the SCO complaint, and it didn’t even wind up with the TLD it wanted.

The final settlement of the contention set reflects ICANN’s inconsistent policy on plurals. Several plural/singular combinations — such as .career(s) and .photo(s) — already coexist in the DNS.

Google beaten to .dot for a paltry $700k

Kevin Murphy, November 20, 2014, Domain Registries

Dish DBS, a US satellite TV company, has beaten Google to the .dot new gTLD in an ICANN auction that fetched just $700,000.

It’s further proof, if any were needed, that you don’t need to have the big bucks to beat Google at auction.

Dish plans to use .dot as a single-registrant space, but unusually it’s not a dot-brand. According to its application, the company:

intends to utilize the .dot gTLD to create a restricted, exclusively-controlled online environment for customers and other business partners with the goal of further securing the collection and transmission of personal and other confidential data required for contracted services and other product-related activities.

Google had planned an open, anything-goes space.

.dot was the only new gTLD contention set to be resolved by ICANN last-resort auction this month. The other applicants scheduled for the November auctions all settled their contests privately.

Second last-resort gTLD auction raises $14.3m

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2014, Domain Registries

ICANN has raised $14.3 million auctioning off three new gTLDs — .buy, .tech and .vip.

It was the second batch of “last resort” auctions, managed by ICANN and Power Auctions, in which the winning bids are placed in a special ICANN fund.

Notably, while Google participated in all three auctions, it failed to win any, setting a reassuring precedent for any smaller applicants that are set to face the deep-pocketed giant in future auctions.

.tech was the biggest-seller, fetching $6,760,000 after nine rounds of bidding.

The winner was Dot Tech LLC, which beat Google, Minds + Machines, Donuts, NU DOT CO, and Uniregistry.

.buy went to Amazon for $4,588,888, beating Google, Donuts and Famous Four Media. The bidding lasted seven rounds.

Finally, .vip sold to Minds + Machines for $3,000,888 after Google, Donuts, I-Registry and VIP Registry dropped out.

The prices are in the same ball-park as we’ve inferred from previous, private auctions managed by Applicant Auction (a company affiliated with Power Auctions).

That’s notable because the first last resort auction, for .信息, fetched just $600,000 when it sold to Amazon back in June.

As far as we can tell, last-resort auctions do not necessarily keep prices low, even though the losing bidders in this week’s auctions will have walked away empty-handed.

In private auctions, losers leave holding a share of the winner’s bid.

This week, most of the $14.3 million raised will go into a special ICANN fund.

Akram Atallah, president of ICANN’s Global Domains Division said in a statement:

The proceeds from these Auctions will be separated and reserved until the Board determines a plan for the appropriate use of the funds through consultation with the community. We continue to encourage parties to reach agreements amongst themselves to resolve contention.

The ICANN community has been chatting about possible uses for auction funds for years.

Ideas such as subsidizing new gTLD applicants from poorer nations in future rounds and investing in internet infrastructure in the developing world have been floated.

Victims of first confirmed new gTLD collision respond: “Fuck Google”

Kevin Murphy, September 12, 2014, Domain Registries

A number of companies have experienced errors on their networks due to collisions with a newly introduced gTLD.

The initial outcry from victims can be characterized as a storm of profanity, which it could be argued is a good thing for security but not great for ICANN’s reputation.

The collisions, which I believe are the first to be publicly and widely reported, are due to Google’s new gTLD .prod, which was delegated September 1.

Google intends to use the TLD as a shorthand for “product”, but it seems some companies use it internally to mean “production”, meaning production servers rather than testing or development servers.

Issues started being reported on online fora on September 3, with Google unfairly bearing the brunt of the initial blame. Here are a few of the earliest examples from Twitter:

A day later, Reddit user “cunttard”, under a post entitled “Fuck Google”, wrote:

Google recently activated prod. TLD.

They also decided to wildcard DNS all entries to 127.0.53.53 to resolve name collisions for internal organisations. All because they wanted .prod for product? Why not fucking request .product?

The implications have been fucking horrendous. I am in the process of helping a mate unfuck his organisations DNS, which heavily relied on resolver search $FQDN to map xyz.prod to xyz.prod.$FQDN. Note this wasn’t even used as an internal TLD. Now they’re all resolving short names to 127.0.53.53. Lesson learnt; always use FQDN everywhere.
I’m just fucking sick of ICANN / Google continuing to fuck DNS.

LinuxQuestions user “fantasygoat” started a thread entitled “New tLD .prod is messing with my configs”, in which he wrote:

I used to be able to refer to just the subdomain in a DNS lookup, like “www1.prod” and it would know I meant “www1.prod.example.com”, my local domain. I’ve been using prod.example.com for decades as the production subdomain for various things.

Now it resolves to 127.0.53.53, which I believe is ICANN’s hack DNS answer for tLDs.

So, I have a bunch of config files without the domain name and it’s messing stuff up. Does anyone have a workaround so I can have my DNS respond to .prod requests as a subdomain of my domain?

I’ve found a couple of other examples on various mailing lists and web forums with systems administrators experiencing similar issues over the last week.

This, it seems to me, shows that ICANN’s hack for mitigating the risks of name collisions, developed by JAS Advisors, is working as expected.

In each reported case of a .prod collision I’ve been able to find, the admin either had already worked out that he needed to use a fully-qualified domain name (eg www.prod.example.com instead of www.prod) or was swiftly advised to do so by those responding to his post.

Most seem to have spotted that instead of returning NXDOMAIN errors, Google is returning the IP address 127.0.53.53, which was chosen because it’s an internal IP and because 53 is the TCP/IP port number for DNS.

Diverting to 127.0.53.53 is designed to catch the eye, alerting admins to the need to correctly configure their networks.

It certainly seems to be doing that, but it’s not winning ICANN or new gTLD registries any new friends.

Nobody has yet reported death or injury due to a collision.

Update: There has been one previously reported collision, concerning .guru.

Google beats Microsoft to .docs

Google and Microsoft seem to have settled their contention set for the .docs new gTLD, with Google emerging the victor.

Microsoft withdrew its application for .docs this week.

It’s not clear how the deal was made, but Google is known to have participated in private auctions for other strings.

Google Docs is of course Google’s office document service.

Microsoft also has a Docs service, a collaboration with Facebook at Docs.com, but it seems to have been in beta since April 2010 and, by the looks of the site, isn’t what you’d call a success.