The End of Domain Tasting

In all this hype and hoopla of new gTLDs being proposed by ICANN one major issue was completely overshadowed – that of domain tasting. ICANN has addressed it in this meeting and measures recommended to prevent it from taking place.

Domain tasting is the practice of registering domain names and ‘tasting’ the traffic before registering or dropping them. This is mostly done by the bigger players in the industry like registrars and drop services though some registrars do allow registrants to take benefit from this policy.

It is estimated that at any given time 20 million domains are being tasted by various individuals and companies on the web. This is done by manipulating the AGP or additional grace period provided by ICANN. With this being put to a halt, the whole economy of the domain world will be given a jolt with the surfeit of names that will drop starting from the 1st of July 2008.

What ICANN has done is that its put a ceiling on the number of allowable deletions per registrar at a max of 50 or 10% of new registrations. And a fee of $0.20c on domains deleted above that. This will change two things – the economy of the domain tasting business – 20c x 20 million = 4million dollars, every five days, certain to put a dent. Another thing this will change is that tasting will go completely out of the hand of registrants into the hands of registrars, why would they want to share their 10% quota?

This is, all in all, a good thing for the internet and also for domainers who stay on the ethical side and do not indulge in this practice at all. Now if only ICANN could remove the 10% allowance too, it would level the playing field entirely.

GNSO Recommendation on Domain Tasting
Whereas, ICANN community stakeholders are increasingly concerned about domain tasting, which is the practice of using the add grace period (AGP) to register domain names in bulk in order to test their profitability.

Whereas, on 17 April 2008, the GNSO Council approved, by a Supermajority vote, a motion to prohibit any gTLD operator that has implemented an AGP from offering a refund for any domain name deleted during the AGP that exceeds 10% of its net new registrations in that month, or fifty domain names, whichever is greater.

Whereas, on 25 April 2008, the GNSO Council forwarded its formal “Report to the ICANN Board – Recommendation for Domain Tasting” which outlines the full text of the motion and the full context and procedural history of this proceeding.

Whereas, the Board is also considering the Proposed FY 09 Operating Plan and Budget which includes (at the encouragement of the GNSO Council) a proposal similar to the GNSO policy recommendation to expand the applicability of the ICANN transaction fee in order to limit domain tasting.

Resolved (2008.06.26.06), the Board adopts the GNSO policy recommendation on domain tasting, and directs staff to implement the policy following appropriate comment and notice periods on the implementation documents.

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