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Network Solutions claimed caught front-running
Multiple reports, starting January 1 - real or hoax?
jtara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 7:50 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

There have been multiple reports that, as of January 1, Network Solutions has been registering every name looked-up via their registration-site WHOIS.

The names still appear available when checking through Network Solutions, but other registrars show the names as unavailable, and registered to Network Solutions.

[slashdot.org...]

One person claims that they contacted ICANN, and the response was that although they believe it to be an unethical business practice, it is legal and there is nothing they can do to stop it.

I just checked some of the domains that were mentioned in the forum where this was discovered. They are currently shown as not registered.

Hoax? Or did Network Solutions shut it off as soon as the publicity hit?

 

jtara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 8:11 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just tested this and confirmed it.

It doesn't show-up (at least not immediately - will try later) using desktop WHOIS tools, though. (I tried Fedora 8 command-line WHOIS and a commercial Windows GUI Whois).

However, it does when attempting to register (or look-up) at another registrar.

I'm going to break a little rule here, and mention domain names.

I went to the Network Solutions home page, looked-up <expletive>younetworksolutions, and it was shown as available. I checked all of the check-boxes for TLDs.
(A couple were already taken, BTW. :) )

I then went to my registrar, did not log-in, and entered the same name in the search box.

The .com (but not any of the others) shows as registered, with a red "X" in the check-box (according to the legend, means "not available", and links to make offer, backorder, and whois.

Clicking on the "whois", however, shows it available.

OK, something more politically-correct. Let's see how fast they are:

1. Go to my register (not Netsol), check on "ourmoderatorwebworkisthegreatest".

2. Available, according to my registrar.

3. Go to Network Solutions, check on the same name.

4. Available, according to Network Solutions.

5. Back to my registrar, same search again.

6. Not available, according to my registrar.

I don't know the timing, but less than a minute, while I was typing this.

Sorry, webwork, I won't be putting-up a site attesting to your greatness today. :(

Again, only the .com was reserved - none of the others that I checked.

[edited by: jtara at 8:18 pm (utc) on Jan. 8, 2008]

Lord Majestic

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 8:15 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Un******** believable! :o

jtara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 8:21 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

There have already been threats to unleash a bot on them.

I predict by the end of the day they have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of random names newly-registered, and this becomes a major debacle.

The end of domain tasting? I hope so. Thanks, Netsol! You undid yourselves!

Laker

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 8:29 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

One person claims that they contacted ICANN, and the response was that although they believe it to be an unethical business practice, it is legal and there is nothing they can do to stop it.

No doubt this is of secondary importance to this thread, but folks need to know that ICANN is NOT the friend of the end users / registrants / consumer. They 100% support the Registrar.

From the ICANN FAQ [icann.org] (emphasis added):

"Although ICANN's limited technical mission does not include resolving individual customer-service complaints, ICANN does monitor such complaints to discern trends. If you would like to submit a complaint about a registrar for ICANN's records, please use the Registrar Problem Report Form located at the InterNIC website. As a courtesy, ICANN will forward your complaint to the registrar for review and further handling. (Please note that there is no guarantee that the registrar will reply.)"

Although ICANN claims to be working (or studying, or forming a committee) on domain tasting and domain front-running, IMNHO, nothing that benefits the registrants will come from ICANN.

jtara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 8:34 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I know we can't link to blogs, but I just have to post this juicy tidbit from what claims to be the personal blog of a Netsol employee:

I found out that we have started protecting all domain name searches at Network Solutions by holding the searched domains for our customers for a short period of time before releasing them. This gives our customers the opportunity to register names later without fear that the name will be registered by a “Front Runner.”(Have posted some background info on ” Front Running “ below).

That's right - it's their SOLUTION to front-running!

The thing is, you don't have to be a Netsol customer - just enter a search on their home page! (Apparently this will happen if you search via a WHOIS to whois.networksolutions.com, as well.)

-----
NOTICE AND TERMS OF USE: You are not authorized to access or query our WHOIS
database through the use of high-volume, automated, electronic processes. The
Data in Network Solutions' WHOIS database is provided by Network Solutions for information
purposes only, and to assist persons in obtaining information about or related
to a domain name registration record. Network Solutions does not guarantee its accuracy.
By submitting a WHOIS query, you agree to abide by the following terms of use:
You agree that you may use this Data only for lawful purposes and that under no
circumstances will you use this Data to: (1) allow, enable, or otherwise support
the transmission of mass unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations
via e-mail, telephone, or facsimile; or (2) enable high volume, automated,
electronic processes that apply to Network Solutions (or its computer systems). The
compilation, repackaging, dissemination or other use of this Data is expressly
prohibited without the prior written consent of Network Solutions. You agree not to use
high-volume, automated, electronic processes to access or query the WHOIS
database. Network Solutions reserves the right to terminate your access to the WHOIS
database in its sole discretion, including without limitation, for excessive
querying of the WHOIS database or for failure to otherwise abide by this policy.
Network Solutions reserves the right to modify these terms at any time.

Get a FREE domain name registration, transfer, or renewal with any annual hosting package
- or just $8.95 with monthly packages.

[networksolutions.com...]

Visit AboutUs.org for more information about OURMODERATORWEBWORKISTHEGREATEST.COM
<a href="http://www.aboutus.org/OURMODERATORWEBWORKISTHEGREATEST.COM">AboutUs: OURMODERATORWEBWORKISTHEGREATEST.COM </a>


Registrant:
This Domain is available at NetworkSolutions.com
13681 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300
HERNDON, VA 20171
US

Domain Name: OURMODERATORWEBWORKISTHEGREATEST.COM

------------------------------------------------------------------------
This Domain is Available - Register it Now!
600,000 domain names are registered daily! Don't delay; there's no guarantee
that a domain name you see today will still be here tomorrow!
Register it Now at www.NetworkSolutions.com.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
Network Solutions, LLCdomainsupport@networksolutions.com
13681 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300
HERNDON, VA 20171
US
1-888-642-9675 fax: 571-434-4620

Record expires on 08-Jan-2009.
Record created on 08-Jan-2008.
Database last updated on 8-Jan-2008 15:47:16 EST.

Domain servers in listed order:

ns1.reserveddomainname.com 205.178.190.55
ns2.reserveddomainname.com 205.178.189.55

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 9:13 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is not completely new. I experienced this exact same thing back in 1999 when a friend was helping me register my first-ever domain name.

We checked the domain in the afternoon, and a few hours later tried to register it through a different (cheaper) registrar and got the message that the domain was unavailable.

A day or two later it was available again.

shman

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 10:19 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi,

I am Shashi Bellamkonda and I work for Network Solutions. I have been on these forums on a perosnal basis for some years but recently moved to a position in Network Solutions to establish a "listening post" in the social media. I want to give you our view.

We are not monetizing these domains, nor do we intend to keep them after the holding period.

We are not front running. “ Front Runners” are people who register domain names known to have been searched, for the purpose of monetizing them and then selling them at inflated prices either directly to the customer who searched for the domain or through aftermarket channels.

We have started protecting all domain name searches at Network Solutions by holding the searched domains for our customers for a short period of time before releasing them. This gives our customers the opportunity to register names later without fear that the name will be registered by a “Front Runner.”

LifeinAsia

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 10:46 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

This gives our customers the opportunity to register names later

But to many other people, the spin is that you are actually forcing people to register the domain through you instead of another registrar.

jtara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 10:59 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

and then selling them at inflated prices

What are NetSol's "every day" prices, if not inflated?

FWIW, I just transferred my last domain out of Netsol. I had one that they'd given me a free 5-year renewal on due to a previous screw-up.

As well as being a symbolic protest, at this point, I consider having a domain registered at Netsol a risk. Can't tell what they might do next.

Laker

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 11:33 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

So I checked a few domains for myself at Network Solutions WhoIs. All were available when checked:

YouAreStupidForDoingThis.com
Congratulations! The following domains are available:
youarestupidfordoingthis .com .net .mobi .org .us .us.com .info .tv .cc .bz .biz .co.uk .eu .de

In a follow-up whois search, the domain is not available:

Registrant:
This Domain is available at NetworkSolutions.com
13681 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300
HERNDON, VA 20171
US

Domain Name: YOUARESTUPIDFORDOINGTHIS.COM

Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
Network Solutions, LLC
13681 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300
HERNDON, VA 20171
US
1-888-642-9675 fax: 571-434-4620

Record expires on 08-Jan-2009.
Record created on 08-Jan-2008.
Database last updated on 8-Jan-2008 17:49:51 EST.

Domain servers in listed order:

ns1.reserveddomainname.com 205.178.190.55
ns2.reserveddomainname.com 205.178.189.55

Another:

YourShareholdersWillLoveThis.com
Congratulations! The following domains are available:
yourshareholderswilllovethis .com .net .mobi .org .us .us.com .info .tv .cc .bz .biz .co.uk .eu .de

In a follow-up whois search, the domain is not available:

Whois Record

Registrant:
This Domain is available at NetworkSolutions.com
13681 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300
HERNDON, VA 20171
US

Domain Name: YOURSHAREHOLDERSWILLLOVETHIS.COM

Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
Network Solutions, LLC
13681 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300
HERNDON, VA 20171
US
1-888-642-9675 fax: 571-434-4620

Record expires on 08-Jan-2009.
Record created on 08-Jan-2008.
Database last updated on 8-Jan-2008 17:55:03 EST.

Domain servers in listed order:

ns1.reserveddomainname.com 205.178.190.55
ns2.reserveddomainname.com 205.178.189.55

As for Network Solution's claim that:

"We have started protecting all domain name searches at Network Solutions by holding the searched domains for our customers for a short period of time before releasing them. This gives our customers the opportunity to register names later without fear that the name will be registered by a “Front Runner.”

I just, some 60 seconds ago went to Network Solutions and tried to register jtara's "protected domain name".

Entering the domain OurModeratorWebWorkIsTheGreatest returned:

Congratulations! The following domains are available
ourmoderatorwebworkisthegreatest .com .net

So much for "customer protection". In my view, this is nothing but a different flavor of predatory domain name front running -- the name is grabbed, and sold to anyone for USD $34.99.

fideaux

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 4:44 am on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thank you Shashi for participating here.

you wrote above

> ... by holding the searched domains for our customers

By "customers" do you mean 1) people with whom you have an existing billing relationship, and/or 2) anyone who uses your website?

gpmgroup

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 12:54 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Am I missing something? This seems like a very fair service for Network Solutions customers.

If you don't want to buy the name from them why use their whois?

Many people here have been complaining that at some registrars they check a name and by the time they are ready to purchase the name it has then been swiped, this service seems an excellent way of stopping this happening for NetSol's customers.

gpmgroup

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 1:06 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

So much for "customer protection". In my view, this is nothing but a different flavor of predatory domain name front running -- the name is grabbed, and sold to anyone for USD $34.99.

Statistically significant in the real world? - I seriously doubt it. I would think the majority of people using NetSol are not domainers :)

ChuckyG

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 2:21 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Checkout the front page of reddit this morning. They're having a lot of fun with this new system.

While it sounds like a good idea to defeat the front-runners, it shouldn't be done for anyone not logged in as a customer. I'm sure after the thousands of lookups this morning they're going to figure that one out.

graywolf

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 2:53 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

never mind

walkman



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 4:39 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

does it cost them anything? I hope at least the $5 or so they pay to the main agency. I just searched for quite a few names I'd love to pay 5X the going rate. Hold them for me Netsol.

It would suck if we searched for registered trademarks to see if anyone is abusing them ;) Such as say "Microsoft online computer games" etc etc etc.

This is funny, they make it too easy as they even offer suggestions and allow as many as 10 names

jdMorgan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 4:49 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

A tempest in a teapot, I think.

I think the actual lesson here is that companies should do a better job at communicating their procedures up-front. For example, an interstitial page that comes up after checking a domain that says, "We'll hold this domain for you for 24 hours" would head off a lot of this kind of mobbing. I also agree that the 'holding' needs to be associated with the requestor; It should be held exclusively for the logged-in user (and this should be made clear as well).

Clear and concise customer communication goes a long way to prevent such public-relations disasters -- and especially when you're a big player and (statistically) have a significant number of users and/or ex-clients who may have an axe to grind.

"I'm a customer -- Talk to me."

Jim

webcenter

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 5:06 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google has some of the bogus domain names indexed already.
google.com/search?q=intitle:%22This+Domain+is+Available+-+Secure+it+Now!

Laker

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 5:09 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Am I missing something? ...

... Many people here have been complaining that at some registrars they check a name and by the time they are ready to purchase the name it has then been swiped, this service seems an excellent way of stopping this happening for NetSol's customers.

... I would think the majority of people using NetSol are not domainers :)

For $25.00 I could get a listing of all of the 24,000 .com and .net domains Network Solutions has "reserved" to date. I could then cherry-pick and register any "reserved" domain I wanted to.

IMNHO, this does nothing to protect the "little guy" ... and has the potential to significantly benefit those with knowledge and deeper pockets.

Clark

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 5:17 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sorry to disagree with a mod...It's not a tempest in a teapot. Had they reserved it for THAT customer, it would be OK. And the way to do that is to ASK the customer, "Would you like us to hold the name for you for X hours? If yes, type in a passkey". The way they are doing it is totally unethical...and not helpful to the customer who may want to register it elsewhere. Sure, you can say if they are registering it elsewhere, they shouldn't use Netsol's whois...but then Netsol can't say it's for the customer's benefit, it's to protect NetSol's from losing the sale to people using their whois without intention to buy...

And the reason it's not a tempest in a teapot, is that people have been talking about domain tasting for years...and been told it's all fantasy. Finally some proof that it is kind of happening.

We're assuming that Netsol is letting go of ALL the domains.... but how do we know they aren't also "tasting" them and keeping good names? We don't. We have no way to prove this...

And even if they aren't YET, maybe they tried this first, using the "it's good for the customer" excuse just to see if anyone noticed, and as a backup in case they were caught....

I'm not buying their excuse...and can anyone dig up the WW url where someone made a challenge to prove domain tasting happened?

jcoronella

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 5:22 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm going to start doing a lot of random WHOIS searches on NetSol... anyone else? If not for the captcha...

Clark

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 5:26 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Try NetSolTastesDomains.com and then send a bot to show "traffic" to the domain and see if they grab it..now THAT would be funny ;)

jcoronella

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 5:48 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Huh... no captcha.

zafile



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 6:01 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

I use Network Solutions as my primary domain registrar. I like their security and track record.

The issue discussed here today doesn't affect me at all. I will always buy my domains from NetSol.

Other registrars by selling domains so cheaply have only contributed to increase spam all over the Internet.

It's easy for buyers from cheap domains to spam the Web. There are absolutely no constrains ($) on these people from doing so. Just buy a few cheap domains, fill them with garbage and bingo!

I'm pretty sure Google engineers don't like cheap domains at all. Cheap domains make their job more difficult.

Clark

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 6:08 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

I hear ya, but with all due respect, who cares what Google engineers like? They ruined the Internet as much as anyone else. Their careless attitude towards signing anyone up for adsense opened the door for content generators and scrapers to rake it in and made it hard for legit sites w/ a purpose to get traffic.

As for netsol, them making a huge profit on you doesn't make the others less cheap. I'm sure they love your way of thinking though ;)

I also wonder if you'll change your mind when some smart scrapers start registering the domains "netsol" is "holding"...and maybe they'll grab yours...I mean, what a better way to come up w/ good domains then checking the domains on hold at Netsol?

Murdoch

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 6:32 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

We are not front running. “ Front Runners” are people who register domain names known to have been searched, for the purpose of monetizing them and then selling them at inflated prices either directly to the customer who searched for the domain or through aftermarket channels.

How is this not what you are doing? Even if you release it after a few days you are still essentially registering a domain name for the purpose of making money off of it by restricting its availability.

I guess it would just be better to tell everyone not to use your domain lookup services. If they want to check availability of a domain name just use someone else. 95% of the time they'd be getting it cheaper from them anyway.

jtara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 6:43 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

The biggest risk with this is that it is likely to trigger a war of escalation among tasters, snoopers, and other registrars. Some may feel they have to up the ante and put the bots on turbo-overdrive. Others may feel that the game is nearly up and get what they can while they still can.

Other registrars (many of which, IMO, have even lower ethical standards than Netsol...) now have a clear green-light to do openly what many have been accusing parties unknown of up until now.

Maybe this is what Netsol had in mind. Maybe they think they can smoke the snoopers out and that this will somehow create a trail back to them.

It's still way wrong. The spin is laughable. At minimum, they need to disclose what they are doing clearly, on their home page - right next to the search box - not buried in a blog or in face-saving posts on message boards.

ZydoSEO

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 7:18 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

What a scam... If you search for a domain on our site and wish to buy it anytime soon then you can ONLY buy it from us. I'm sorry shman but your statement that netsol is not monetizing this doesn't really hold water IMO. You are forcing people to buy the domain from netsol if they want it in the next few days when they might otherwise have wanted to purchase from a different registrar who offered them cheaper or with better service. I hope netsol and other registrars don't do many any more 'favors' like this in the future.

I mean, #*$! happened to being able to shop around on the net before making an 'informed' decision. What if every website on the net had this type of power and abused it this way for the products they sell? Oh, I'm sorry you searched for that Sony TV on somewebsite.com. You'll have to purchase from them at twice the price we charge if you'd like to get it in the next few days.

I will not be using their site for finding domains again anytime in the near future even though I like the fact that they show all the searches you've already done and their results for the session. Unfortunately, it's likely that soon all the other "me-too" registrars will be doing this as well.

Guess it's time to email GD and others and request they improve their search UI to list all previous searches and results.

[edited by: ZydoSEO at 7:19 pm (utc) on Jan. 9, 2008]

walkman



 
Msg#: 3543456 posted 7:26 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

>> I'm pretty sure Google engineers don't like cheap domains at all. Cheap domains make their job more difficult.

I hope you were joking. I'd pay $10,000 a year for my domain if that was the case.

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