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Now NetNames complains about digital archery

Kevin Murphy, June 5, 2012, 16:32:01 (UTC), Domain Policy

Another big domain name registrar has come out in opposition to ICANN’s “digital archery” system for batching new top-level domain applications.
NetNames, part of Group NBT, has asked ICANN to delay digital archery – currently scheduled to kick off this Friday – until a better batching solution can be found.
In a letter to ICANN, general manager Stephane Van Gelder wrote:

As it stands, DA risks generating applicant confusion. It is a contentious system that seems to favour those with in-depth knowledge of the second-hand domain industry and more specifically, its drop-catching techniques.

There’s no denying that, of course. and Digital Archery Experts are both offering archery services to new gTLD applicants based on this kind of insight.
NetNames is also concerned that the archery system was created without any formal community input, and therefore suggests it be delayed until after the Prague meeting later this month.

ICANN saw fit to take its TLD Application System (TAS) offline at the last minute and keep it that way for over a month as it sought to identify and correct a computer problem. We urge that the same flexibility be exercised with regards to batching, so that the currently proposed system, which is clearly flawed and unfair, be re-examined and adapted.

NetNames follows Melbourne IT, which expressed similar concerns to ICANN last week.
Van Gelder is of course also chair of the GNSO Council, though he wasn’t wearing that hat whilst writing this particular letter (pdf).

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Comments (8)

  1. Kristina says:

    Well, knock me over with an arrow, er, feather.

  2. John Berryhill says:

    “It is a contentious system that seems to favour those with in-depth knowledge of the second-hand domain industry and more specifically, its drop-catching techniques.”
    Which is sheer nonsense.
    I worked with drop catchers from the earliest manual techniques in the late 1990’s, and the way in which that evolved is not comparable at any “in-depth knowledge” level.
    Drop catching does not involve “hitting a target at a predetermined time”. In its later embodiments, it involves sending a fusillade of registry add requests, on as many registrar connections as available, to bracket a time window during which a domain name might drop.
    Dropcatching is not an exercise in precision timing. It is like comparing carpet bombing to drone strikes. Dropcatching is a “brute force attack” in which the approach and objective are markedly different from digital archery. What dropcatchers developed were rapid-fire-and-reload systems for bombarding the registry with overwhelming fire.
    Not only is digital archery a “one shot with precision” test, but it is also not being conducted over a network path which is in any way similar to the registrar-registry interface over which dropcatching operates. The digital “arrow” has to traverse the internet, transit the citrix interface, and then hit a target on the other side. It is one shot across several system boundaries.
    Mr. Van Gelder simply does not know what he is talking about here on a detailed technical level, which is really quite surprising. In fact, by admitting his own incompetence in dropcatching, he necessarily admits he lacks qualifications to make the comparison in the first place.

    • John,
      “drop-catching techniques”, well I am relieved that Stephane doesn’t know too much about “drop-catching”. It makes him very sympathetic!
      But I agree, the term “drop catching” might be inaccurate. More accurate would have been a comparison with TLD introductions like “.eu” or the “short names release” of “.de” ( some time ago. You had a target time in these cases and you had to have your relay times as short as possible so you rented servers as near as possible (in the .eu case people rented severs in the same server farm as Eurid had their servers) to the registry server.
      The only difference is that DA is time-distributed and also negative deltas count (whereas you got penalties at the .eu LR).
      But in general I think Stephane is right: The DA process does support people who are now or had been formerly involved in actions which are partly responsible for all the shortcomings of the older new TLD’s or the liberated TLD’s (like .us): That all the generic namespace had been taken by speculators! In two thirds of the names went to ONE group of people (a small cartel). In .eu a huge percentage of the best generic premium names went to one group from Austria. In SR and in LR.
      The question is: Why does ICANN force us to utilize services which are (and I try to speak friendly here) the “breath of death” for new TLD’s? Domain snapping is about the most damaging thing that can ever happen to any old, newer or brand new TLD. And it is highly asocial. Think about greedy Wallstreet bankers: Heroes for many years and once “outed” by the financial crisis they suddenly became outcasts. Once “snappers” will be “outed” their fate will be similar.
      I miss the Internet Users view here. What would be the best for the Internet User? Well, the best for the Users would be to evaluate those TLD’s first which create real added value for them. Why not letting the Internet Users decide which TLD to evaluate first? It might be they choose (in that order):
      – .music
      – .google
      – .radio
      – .sport
      – .mtv
      But who cares about what the people want?
      Alexander Schubert

  3. @ John Berryhill – markets otherwise
    “For almost 10 years we’ve been honing our skills in split-second timing with our drop-catching engine for deleting domains.”

  4. John Berryhill says:

    I have 10 years experience in scooping up dog droppings from my pet. And if I were charging $25,000 to provide digital archery services, my marketing materials would explain why my experience is highly relevant.
    But the bottom line here is that the Pool group of associated enterprises has dozens of registrar accreditations for the purpose of opening up multiple simultaneous connections to the registry, and then hammering the heck out of each one of those connections over a period of time, in order to flood the registry during the relevant period so that one of those add requests will be the lucky ticket.
    It is not comparable to a one shot proposition, and does not operate over the sort of indirect interface to TAS over which digital archery will operate.
    The fact of the matter is that dropcatching has been fairly irrelevant for several years, ever since registrars went to various “direct fulfillment” methods of re-registering expired names before they ever lapse at the registry in the first place.
    But, sure, people sell to their perceived strengths.

  5. @ John Berryhill – yep, I understand. I’m just saying it’s no wonder that people would read Pool’s marketing message and then think that drop catching is relevant experience for digital archery.

  6. John Berryhill says:

    Yes, but if one wants to be taken seriously on the subject, then going by marketing puffery is no substitute for actually knowing what one is talking about.

  7. Rob Hall says:

    @John: You are just wrong on this one. There are a lot of drops out there that you can not flood and must be in at the right millisecond.
    Take .ca for example (where Pool dominates). The drop opens at 2pm and every domain is available at that time. You are only allowed to send 1 command every 5 seconds. No carpet bombing as you put it.
    So the command that is there within a millisecond or two typically gets the choice of what domain they want. As you can imagine, the good stuff is gone in less than a tenth of a second, a lifetime in a drop.
    But arrive a millisecond too early and you are out.
    It is about knowing the network, understanding latency and getting your command there at exactly the right millisecond. Even for the .com drop, which you refer to, it is about launching your add commands at exactly the right time. Carpet bombers don’t tend to do well in the drop as they don’t understand latency, network traffic and the throttling devices that Verisign uses.
    Pool has more experience in drops around the world of various types than any other company. Pool has been at it since 2003. I am often amazed when people claim to be experts at something but have never done it.
    All gTLD applicants can choose whom they think will be better. Someone with no experience or someone with proven experience. I am happy to stand on’s track record of success any day.

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