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Updated: September 27, 2009 19:13 IST

New rule renders domain tasting bitter for speculators

T. Ramachandran
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Satheesh Vellinezhi

Domain tasting, or the unsavoury practice of temporarily registering Internet domain names (website names) in overwhelmingly large numbers mainly to test and exploit their advertisement profit potential, has virtually come to an end thanks to pre-emptive action taken about a year ago, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

This kind of speculative domain name registration was creating problems for users and administrators of Internet domains. This resulted in ICANN, which manages the international domain name regimen, changing the rules on temporary registration. Since last year ICANN has been charging companies if they registered and returned more than a certain number or percentage of domains each month. This made domain tasting expensive.

The National Internet Exchange of India also implemented this change.“Following recent policy changes by ICANN after extensive consultations with the Internet community, there has been a 99.7 per cent decline in domain tasting across all registries that have implemented the new policy,” said an ICANN report.

The report, released some time ago, said that at one point millions of dotcom-domains, for instance, were registered in one month alone and then given up because it was possible to register these even for fewer than five days without financial commitment. Domain names were registered in large numbers and tested for their potential to generate profits from visitors clicking on 'automated' advertisements carried on the sites or through other means.

This was done using automated systems so that sites could be 'tasted' in large numbers without much effort. 'Unprofitable' sites would then be dropped. “ICANN rightly curbed domain tasting by putting in place specific rules that succeeded in making this practice commercially unviable. This problem no longer exists — it was created by fewer than 10 companies, none of which was based in India,” said Divyank Turakhia, president of Directi, a web services company involved in the domain registration business.

“The practice of registering profitable generic domain names solely for monetisation is a very legitimate and substantive business,” he pointed out when TheHindu sought his response to the ICANN report.“Some people got confused about domain tasting, and thought the whole business of domain investing and domain parking is bad,” Mr. Turakhia added.

He was referring to buying and selling domain names for profit and also registering them for future use or sale.

'Parked' domains are often used to generate advertisement revenue from the traffic that automatically or accidentally flows to the site until the particular domain is actually made use of or sold for profit. Apart from posing various problems, domain tasting made it difficult for individuals to get their domain names back if they accidentally allowed these to lapse (since it was being picked up and dropped by automated systems), ICANN said.

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