[policy] When Tech Meets Policy...

John Levine johnl at iecc.com
Tue Aug 14 03:17:37 UTC 2007

>A question to the registrars here: What fraction of legitimate domain
>registrations are reversed because the customer didn't know how to
>spell, and noticed that within the five day "dictionary time"?

Registrar stats fall into two groups.  One group is the tasters, who
refund essentially all of their domains.  The other group is everyone
else, who refund about 1%.  So that's a reasonable estimate for the
number of "legitimate" refunds.  We can't tell how many of those are
typos, how many are amateur tastes.

This whole mess started when people complained that it was far too
easy for a domain to expire by mistake and then get scooped up and
held for ransom, so ICANN invented the current three stage process
where your domain sits expired for a while when you can renew it
normally, then goes into redemption for a while when you can renew it
for a $200, and only then gets released.  Some ICANN staffer took it
on him or herself during this process to invent the AGP to solve the
non-existent problem of mistaken registrations.  According to Karl
Auerbach, who was on the ICANN board at the time, the AGP was never
debated or really noticed by the board and was just waved through.
They had no inkling that it would enable large scale speculation.

The important difference between the two grace periods is that if a
domain expires by mistake, the registrant loses all of the value he
has built around the domain during all the time it was registered, a
potentially large amount of money.  But if Grandma registers a domain
by mistake, all she's out is the ten bucks or so she paid for it.
Even now most registars charge a nuisance fee of a dollar or two when
you refund a domain, so most of us don't bother to do it.

The right solution for domain tasting is just to get rid of it, since
the AGP serves only to facilitate abusive speculation.


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