How Network Solutions Forced me to Get Spam in a Can

Network Solutions business planBrowsing the headlines from Digg this afternoon, I noticed that ICANN is finally planning to stop domain tasting and front-running.

Here’s something ironic. From the article:

Under current ICANN rules, anyone who registers a new domain name has a five-day grace period to back out and receive a total refund. The policy is in place to prevent hassles if people mistype domain names during signup or simply have buyer’s remorse at signing up for ilovespaminacan.com. But because a five-day registration is free, some users “taste” millions of domain names in order to see how well they perform as marketing vehicles. The sites that don’t perform are then deleted and the cash refunded.

Funny enough, I checked the domain they mentioned in the article – ilovespaminacan.com (which was obviously a made up example) – and wouldn’t you know it, it was registered by Network Solutions.

I ran a search for the domain name in Network Solutions and they told me it was available, after which I proceeded to register it (just because I’m writing this post).

So somebody who read the Ars Technica article must have checked that domain’s availability using Network Solutions, after which Network Solutions automatically registered the domain name. There was an outcry about this practice of frunt-running domains earlier this month and most people cried foul.

If you read the Network Solutions response to why they are front-running domains – they said it was to protect their users. It’s complete bullshit, but for the sake of argument, let’s say that protecting users is really their primary concern. Then why would they let anyone register that domain outside of who looked it up originally?

If they really are just looking out for their users, why was I able to register ilovespaminacan.com even though someone else looked it up earlier today? And why did I have to pay 350% more for the domain than I normally would under any other registrar?

Network Solutions is front-running these domains just to lock them up so you (or anyone else who wants it) are pretty much forced to pay NetSol’s highly inflated prices.

I’m glad to hear that ICANN is finally going to stop domain tasting and front-running. It really does put the small guy at a disadvantage and lets companies like Network Solutions reap big profits from this ICANN loophole.

(And now that I’ve given NetSol $35 for the domain, maybe I should start a site about how much I love spam in a can).

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Zan February 5, 2008 at 3:51 am

Heh, the more accurate term might be “prospects” rather than “customers”. But Network Solutions’ reason for doing this, to protect against front running, is quite real.

None other than their own competitor Go Daddy confirmed it’s also happening to them at an ICANN meeting in Morocco years ago. Go Daddy’s executive Tim Ruiz asked what can they (registrars) do about this, and NS apparently decided to answer that with their current practice.

OTOH, their ex-CEO Chimp…err, Champ Mitchell was quoted in Infoworld that they’ll stop this once ICANN resolves this issue. That might be a long wait, though.

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Laura May 3, 2008 at 5:29 am

I appreciate ICANN’s new movement but I think some people will take advantage of this movement.

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