Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Cloudflare blocks anti-trans site for “emergency threat to human life”

Kevin Murphy, September 5, 2022, Domain Registrars

Internet infrastructure provider Cloudflare has “blocked” a site it provides domain services to after identifying “an imminent and emergency threat to human life”.

The company said on Saturday that it has reluctantly stopped providing services to Kiwi Farms, a web forum whose users reportedly bully and carry out doxxing and swatting attacks on transgender people and activists.

Visitors to kiwifarms.net are now presented with a message from Cloudflare stating: “Due to an imminent and emergency threat to human life, the content of this site is blocked from being accessed through Cloudflare’s infrastructure.”

A linked blog post explaining the decision said:

This is an extraordinary decision for us to make and, given Cloudflare’s role as an Internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous one that we are not comfortable with. However, the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms site and specific, targeted threats have escalated over the last 48 hours to the point that we believe there is an unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life unlike we have previously seen from Kiwifarms or any other customer before.

The move is likely linked to a campaign by a trans Twitch streamer, who reportedly has been campaigning for Cloudflare to drop the site after multiple threats to her life, including a recent swatting (where armed police are tricked into showing up at your door).

Last week, the company had tried to explain its continued support for the domain by stating that one two previous occasions it has blocked sites, authoritarian governments have used that precedent to try to get human rights sites pulled.

At this stage, it appears that Cloudflare is using its status as the site’s DNS provider to implement the block. It’s still the domain’s registrar, and so far the Whois record does not reflect an attempt to move it elsewhere.

The domain was registered with DreamHost until last year, but was asked to leave following the suicide of a software developer, one of three suicides reportedly linked to Kiwi Farms users’ behavior.

Could Epik be its next destination? The company is a strong proponent of free speech, but even it has a line when it comes to violence. This could be Epik’s new CEO‘s first big test.

Comment Tagged: , , ,

GoCompare makes a big bet on a new gTLD

Kevin Murphy, September 5, 2022, Domain Registries

GoCompare, one of the most recognizable online brands in the UK, is rebranding to Go.Compare, with a corresponding switch to the new gTLD domain name go.compare.

The insurance price-comparison site announced the move, which is being backed up by a three-month prime-time TV advertising campaign, during the series premiere of talent show The Voice UK, which it now sponsors, on Saturday night.

The brand may be unfamiliar to readers outside of the UK, but here it’s pretty well-known due in no small part to its relentless TV ads, which feature a fictional Italian opera singer. There can’t be many Brits who don’t recognize the jingle, once described as the “most irritating” on TV.

And that jingle now has an extra syllable in it — the word “dot”. The company described the sponsorship like this:

As part of the sponsorship, Go.Compare’s operatic tenor Gio Compario and the actor who plays him, Wynne Evans, are both in the judging chairs, auditioning to find a new voice to help them sing the new brand jingle and play the ‘dot’ in the new website URL. The series will follow Gio and Wynne on their journey to find the best ‘dot.’

This is the first ad:

The company said the rebranding, in phrasing likely to irk many in the domain industry, “means that anyone now looking to use the comparison service will be able search on any device using ‘Go.Compare’, and they will be taken directly to the website.”

It’s inviting customers to direct-navigate, but calling it “search”.

Paul Rogers, director of brand and campaigns, said in a press release:

Behind this, the decision to bring the “dot” into the mix now means that our website is easier to find – regardless of browser or device, all you need to know now is Go.Compare and you’re there. It’s basically taking out the middleman and making it easier for people to find us directly

Go.Compare has been using gocompare.com since it launched in 2006, and that domain is still live, not redirecting, and showing up as the top search result for the company. The domain go.compare does not redirect to the .com, however.

The company’s social media handles now all use the new brand.

The .compare gTLD is a pretty obscure one, that truthfully even I had forgotten exists.

It started off owned by Australian insurance provider iSelect, originally intended as a dot-brand, but sold off alongside .select to Neustar, then its back-end provider, in 2019.

GoDaddy acquired Neustar’s registry business the following year and has since then sold just a few hundred .compare domains, very few of which actually appear to be in use.

I’m not suggesting .compare is suddenly going to explode, but the rebranding and accompanying high-profile marketing effort is surely useful to the new gTLD industry in general, raising awareness that not every web site has to end in .com or .uk.

3 Comments Tagged: , , , ,

Epik replaces Monster with younger clone

Kevin Murphy, September 2, 2022, Domain Registrars

Epik has replaced CEO Rob Monster with a younger model whose Twitter feed suggests could be every bit as controversial.

The company announced today that Brian Royce, who seems to have joined the company as an executive VP last month, is taking the corner office. Monster will stay on as non-executive chairman.

Royce appears to be a newcomer to the domain name industry, but ideologically very much in tune with Monster.

A glance at his Twitter feed for the last three months reveals he dislikes liberals, gun control, murder victim George Floyd, abortion rights, Joe Biden, wokeness, US attorney general Merrick Garland, Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, universal healthcare, Beto O’Rourke, mask-wearing and providing support to Ukraine.

It shows that he likes Christians, free speech, conservative politicians and, at least in May before Donald Trump started being publicly investigated, the police.

“Epik will continue to stand for free speech. It is extremely important to me to see core values of freedom, truth and liberty reflected in all we do at Epik,” Monster said in a press release.

“I am concerned about free speech as I look at what is happening across America. People are actively trying to silence people like Joe Rogan, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock just for talking and telling jokes,” Royce said.

“More conversations, more speech, more debate—that is what makes people more informed and more compassionate,” he said.

Epik’s line on free speech has seen it become the registrar of choice for many controversial figures and organizations, often those asked to leave their original registrars due to their far-right or violent views.

3 Comments Tagged:

Alt-root .eth is getting very big, very fast

Kevin Murphy, September 2, 2022, Domain Registries

If .eth was a real domain, it would be the second-largest new gTLD and have more registrations than ccTLDs from nations as large as Spain and Japan, according to the blockchain-based registry.

Ethereum-based alt-root registry ENS Domains today tweeted that it added 301,000 new .eth domains in August, to end the month with a total of 2.17 million names. It said it now has 540,000 registrants.

For context, that’s about 10% of what .com does in a month, and about 75% of monthly registration volume for .xyz, the largest new gTLD.

The total of 2.17 million domains would make .eth bigger than .online, the current second-largest new gTLD, and would put it in the top 10 ccTLDs (of those tracked by DI).

Not bad for a niche product that won’t resolve in most browsers and is chiefly useful for addressing cryptocurrency wallets.

3 Comments Tagged: , , , ,

ZADNA under fire over “heavy-handed” new rules

Kevin Murphy, September 2, 2022, Domain Registries

There’s an increasing outcry in South Africa over new regulations on the .za domain that many believe are burdensome and likely to harm the namespace.

The country’s Internet Service Provider Association today became the latest group to express dismay about the proposed new rules, which among other things would require all registrants to verify their identity before registering a name.

“ZADNA’s draft regulations and procedures as they stand threaten to undo 34 years of local and international goodwill towards domains ending in .ZA. The regulations are heavy-handed and cumbersome and as such will disincentivise adoption of .ZA registrations,” William Stucke, chair of ISPA’s domain name working group, said in a press release.

The organization, which counts many .za registrars among its members, believes the new rules will make local brand owners choose easier options like .com rather than jump through ZADNA’s hoops and pay inflated registrar prices.

Registrars have also criticized the proposed new registrar licensing regime, which would allow ZADNA to terminate registrars at very short notice.

ZADNA also announced today that it has picked ZA Registry Consortium as its back-end operator. ZARC is made up of incumbent back-end ZACR, a non-profit, and its commercial arm Domain Name Services. The new contract will run until October 2027.

1 Comment Tagged: , , , ,

Identity Digital to release 5,000 reserved names

Kevin Murphy, September 1, 2022, Domain Registries

Identity Digital, the portfolio registry formerly known as Donuts, plans to release around 5,000 names from its reserved inventory later this month.

They’ll carry premium first-year prices, but will be priced to sell via the regular registrar channel.

Among the newly available names are some pretty sweet combos, including: rock.band, miami.dentist, aerospace.engineer, farm.forsale, esports.games, tech.guide, trading.live, dallas.mortgage. clothing.sale, security.software, wedding.video and box.wine.

The names will become available at 1700 UTC on September 13.

Comment Tagged: , ,

Millions of .cn domains disappear

Kevin Murphy, September 1, 2022, Domain Registries

China is reported another huge dip in domain registrations in the first half of the year, with millions of .cn names dropping.

CNNIC, the local registry, said yesterday that there were 17.86 million .cn names registered at the end of June, down from the 20.4 million it reported at the end of 2021 but above the 15.09 million it reported ago.

Such extreme fluctuations in Chinese registrations can often be explained by the country’s highly restrictive policies, which require registry and registrar licenses and registrant identification.

It remains to be seen how the numbers will effect the overall market trends Verisign reports with its quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief, where the .cn figures often do not tally with CNNIC’s published statistics.

2 Comments Tagged: ,

ICANN throws out prostitution complaint

Kevin Murphy, August 30, 2022, Domain Policy

ICANN has rejected a complaint from a man about a web site apparently offering prostitution services.

As I reported last month, the American had filed a Request for Reconsideration with ICANN’s board of directors after his complaints to Compliance about Namecheap were rejected.

He’s unhappy that US-based Namecheap won’t take down the domain adultsearch.com, which operates as a marketplace for sex workers, many of whom are offering services that may well be illegal in most parts of the US.

But ICANN’s Board Governance Committee rejected the complaint (pdf) for lack of standing.

While the ruling is procedural, rather than substantive, the BGC does spend quite a lot of time tying itself in knots to show that while the complainant may well believe prostitution is harmful to society in general, he failed to state how he, specifically, had been harmed.

The decision also directly references the part of the request the requester has specifically asked to be redacted (but was not).

1 Comment Tagged: , , , , ,

CentralNic revenue almost doubles

Kevin Murphy, August 30, 2022, Domain Registries

CentralNic has reported its first-half financial results, showing revenue up 93% to $334.6 million when compared to the same period last year.

Given the company’s acquisitive nature, some of the growth of course came from companies it has recently bought, but CentralNic said trailing 12-month organic revenue growth was a health 62%.

Adjusted EBITDA for the period was $38.6 million, up 97% on the first half of 2021.

Domain names, what the company calls its Online Presence segment, now account for a minority of CentralNic’s revenue, $76.8 million in the half, down a bit on last year due to currency exchange rates.

The company said it has been shaking up its strategy by reducing the amount of discounted domains it sells. Average revenue-per-domain went up from $8.90 to $9.60, but volumes were down from 6.5 million to 6 million as a result.

The Online Marketing segment grew 167% to $257.8 million. Organic revenue growth was 98%, “predominantly driven by CentralNic’s TONIC media buying business”.

Visitor sessions was up from 1.1 billion to 2 billion and RPM was up 87% from $106.

Comment Tagged: , ,

Drug dealer sells blunt.com for $165,000

Kevin Murphy, August 30, 2022, Domain Sales

The domain name blunt.com sold last month for $165,000, it has emerged.

Legal cannabis distributor Farmhouse Inc, which runs a social network called WeedClub and the @420 Twitter account, announced the sale in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing yesterday. The company said:

In June 2022, the Company received an unsolicited offer for its domain name “blunt.com” from an unaffiliated party. The Board considered this offer to be a fair arms-length price for a premium domain name and on July 20, 2022, the Company sold domain name “blunt.com” for $165,000, net of commission

Elliot Silver reported the name was bought by Farmhouse for $125,000 in May 2020 at the same time as it bought weed.club for $30,000.

The name was never developed and the undisclosed new owner currently has it parked.

A blunt is a hollowed out cigar filled with cannabis that people light and smoke the marijuana like a cigarette.

Comment Tagged: ,