Why you can't find a .com name, Part II

So what's ICANN going to do about the so-called add-drop scheme, which has made a mockery of the .com domain name registration process?

In a word -- nothing -- at least not until somebody files the proper paperwork.

As you may recall, the add-drop scheme -- a term coined by GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons, who now says he prefers calling it simply a "flimflam" (albeit a legal one) -- represents the number one reason you can never find a decent domain name and have to pay a ransom should you ever let a registration lapse.

For those who missed this earlier post, a five-day grace period that domain registries allow all customers is what makes the add/drop scheme possible: Claim a name and you've got five days to "reconsider" without having incurred any expense -- your deposit money is returned in full.

Conceived as a courtesy, the grace period has enabled add-drop operators to lock up millions of .com domain names every week, then reap five days worth of revenue from them via a variety of means. The poor earners among those names -- the vast majority -- are kicked back into the pool, while only a handful are kept, thus incurring non-refundable fees.  The scheme has increased 15-fold in a year … and continues to get worse.

After chasing ICANN for the better part of two weeks, a spokesman for the organization told me that "there are mechanisms" for those concerned about the grace-period abuse to seek changes -- namely through ICANN's Generic Name Support Organization. Until someone goes through those channels the status quo apparently will hold.

I'm not the only one who finds that an unsatisfactory answer.

"ICANN is doing what they do best, which is nothing," Parsons told me this morning.

Meanwhile, Parsons has fresh numbers to share from April: "Out of 35 million domain names registered in the month, 32.7 million are part of this scheme." That's 93.4%, up a couple of ticks from March.

A single company, DomainDoorman of Miami, Fla., registered 11.5 million domain names in April, yet paid fees on only 68,400, according to Parsons. In other words, DomainDoorman used the five-day escape hatch in better than 99% of its name registrations.

Some courtesy.

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