First, I'm the author of the post.
Second, I voted your reply as a 4 because it was a clear, well thought-out critique of the story. I'm a huge fan of skepticism, and not just skepticism when it's someone else being shot up. Messages should always be modded up when they encourage discussion and always modded down when they stifle it, imo.
Finally, to answer some points.
First, you are incorrect on the first point and I'll explain why. Granted, if a person has "unitedcleaners.com," and they're sent a number of warnings, and they did something stupid like enter false contact info into the whois, then the domain drops, that's their fault and I have no problem with this in any way, shape or form. That's what happens now. Nobody is complaining about the guy who is a dumb***.
There are a number of problems. First, people are not always notified. Sure, sometimes people whine that they weren't notified, but sometimes they actually aren't. Second, domains are sometimes -- granted, rarely, but sometimes -- dropped by accident. If you have any doubt about this whatsoever, feel free to ask any employee of any registrar. Then, just for laughs (you're going to love this one), ask them who is the worst offender.
It happens. I've seen it happen. In fact I've seen it happen multiple times. But at least we seem to agree that there is nothing here that protects the original domain owner (because, if everything goes right, they don't need proection, and I agree).
Also, something that you might very well not be aware of, the 45-day grace period you spoke of? There are plenty of registries/registrars who actually leave nameservice turned on, so the owners never get that "oh crap where did my site go" reaction and call 10 minutes later.
The situation with most of these good domains that get expired and then picked up is that the person listed as billing contact leaves the company, switches email addresses, etc., so the end result, regardless of whose fault you chalk it up to, is that the original owner has to fork over $500 - $10,000 for some trivial oversight. NOBODY lets a good domain drop because they don't have $6.
Did you know that the technical specs for WHOIS allow three contacts per type (ie, three billing contacts, three admin contacts, three tech contacts)? Don't feel bad, nobody does. Show me one registrar that allows you to do this. If anything, it's just as easy to blame the whois structure as being unneccesarily restrictive. There is nothing, anywhere, that prevents this system from being implemented. But the customer can't use it if nobody offers it.
If we look at any other sort of lease in the real world, you'll notice that we don't have these sorts of problems (ie, they don't legitimately "forget"). You don't see people's cars getting reposessed because they bona fide forgot. And you can't accidentally reposess someone's car, there is real legal protection against that.
Your next point about Snapnames getting first dibs is noted but slightly off the mark, not so much in what it says but what it fails to address. I'm not suggesting that they're screwing their own customers, I'm suggesting that by creating this service before it was even voted upon put other people wishing to use the wait-list service at a distinct disadvantage when they were then miraculously given the right to control the whole scheme! It remains to be seen if they're going to be given the right to dump their names before anyone else's. This is sort of like some corner store selling a limited number of location-specific fishing licenses (remember, domain names are unique and fungible) to townfolk with no authority to do so, then the government comes along and gives them the right, so they *poof* make all of their own customer's licenses valid and now the best ones are gone. Seems kinda sketchy doesn't it?
But to tie this up, ...I'm a bit annoyed with myself. I felt that I should not insult my audience by spelling it out. This is not a veiled shot at you, honest, but I feel I have to be explicit here (as I have been in other spots). The problem is that ...well, here. Read Snapname's page:
"This isn't quite enough, though - SnapBack will protect you name by instantly notifying you of any change to registration records, alerting you to potential cyberjacking, site redirection, unauthorized transfers, or other perils. And if your name is accidentally deleted or cancelled, SnapBack will automatically attempt to re-register that name for you. "
This is clearly preying on the fear of a mistake that they had nothing to do with. In other words, "if you don't buy this, you could be buggered." The very company that is responsible for not letting these things happen (meaning those that are within their control, like accidental deletions) has no business in selling you insurance to protect against this happening. Yet they literally looked at the grey after-market, said, "Hey, we'd like a piece of that," and turned what was originally a "pick them up as they drop" mechanism into a "we'd like a piece of that action so we're going to scare the crap out of people and simultaneously install ourselves as the middlemen to the tune of $60/ea/yr, non-refundable." This has all SORTS of legal problems. In fact Dotster announced today that they will be definitely be mounting a legal battle against it.
But even THAT isn't the big issue. The biggest issue, the most damning of them all, is that this is the company that just swore to Congress that they represent their constituency, and just did something that their constituency was dead set against. That's the root of the issue.
Anyway, thanks for your reply. Jeeze that was a long reply.
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