ICANN moves to end 'domain tasting'

It's about time.

After years of twiddling their thumbs over the issue, ICANN has voted 13-0 to begin the bureaucratic process of putting an end to "domain tasting," the slimy practice whereby speculators buy up millions of URLs but avoid paying any fees because they renounce the names within a 5-day grace period.

How do they propose to accomplish this? Simple: Ditch the grace period.

ICANN's most recent discussion of the matter can be found here. (You've got to dig a bit through the string to find it.)

The New York Times has details here, writing:

The grace period is intended to let people get a refund if they make a spelling mistake while registering a domain. But rogue registrars have been abusing the grace period by setting up thousands of Web sites stuffed with advertising links on newly registered domains.

The domain tasters then keep the ones that generate the most click-through advertising revenue and forfeit the unprofitable domains for a refund before the grace period expires. Some registrars have been known to repeatedly register and unregister domain names as the five-day grace period expires, essentially never paying for use of a domain.

Domain tasting is a problem for users since it means a domain they want to purchase may be temporarily or permanently unavailable. It also means more low-quality Web pages on the Internet that are designed only for generating advertising revenue.

Slashdotters are chewing it over, including the side issue of how ICANN is handling - or not handling - Network Solutions' practice of "front running" domain names, meaning they lock up names sought via searches on their site, ostensibly to protect those seeking them. That's been quite the you-know-what storm, too.

The domain tasting schemes have been a regular focus of attention here at Buzzblog, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm waiting to see the appropriate follow through from ICANN before celebrating the end of the scam.

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