auDA Complaints – The Good; The Bad; & The Ugly

Complaints DFCI don’t have a problem in making complaints to auDA and registrars about scammers who engage in “stealing” legitimate entities ACN or ABN in order to register Aussie domains. In fact, I wish more people would do it! The integrity of the .au space is something that is in everyone’s interest to maintain.

The Good

Overall, I believe auDA do a great job with complaints. As I wrote last September:

  • “Because auDA operates on a “complaints based system”, you will only ever get a complaint if someone makes a formal online complaint – and auDA deems that the complaint has validity. In other words, some part of policy has not been complied with.
  • Every week auDA gets many complaints. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that a huge percentage of these don’t even get past first base (because they are not valid complaints for a variety of reasons).”

The Bad

Many people – including currently serving auDA Directors – have opined (in the past) that the current system which allows anonymous complaints to be made to auDA is both unfair and wrong.

Currently, anyone can make a complaint online. You don’t even need to use your real name; there’s no fee to pay – and a disposable email address will suffice.

That doesn’t sound fair to me – particularly when 9 times out of 10 the complainant is probably someone who wants a domain name, but is not prepared to pay market value for it. So they roll the dice with a complaint – safe in the knowledge that they can do so hidden behind a keyboard.

Back in 2012, the auDA Board approved the “Accountability and Transparency Framework”. This is worth a read for a whole lot of reasons! For the purposes of today’s article, let me focus on two submissions that were made.

The first was by Simon Johnson – and in relation to complaints, he said:

“auDA – Deleting Domains

In the interests of transparency and fairness, auDA should make available:

a) the names of people and companies who make complaints against Registrants.
b) the basis in which auDA gives instructions for domain names to be put into Pending Delete.
c) The basis in which auDA engages in proactive reviews of domain names held by registrants.

This information will help businesses who respond to auDA complaints, as well as others who are unaware of auDA Policy and have their domains deleted. It may also help to reduce the number of complaints made to auDA.”

The second was by Erhan Karabardak – he said in part:

“Finally, I urge auDA to provide copies of complaints (received from complainants) to domain name registrants, who are subject to those complaints. This will enhance transparency and go some way to reducing bad faith complaints.”

And then there is this old thread on DNTrade which features comments from both Erhan and Stuart Benjamin (also an auDA Director and now Chairman). In part, Stuart said:

“But my gut feel is that it is unfair for someone to make a complaint (when they benefit from the outcome) anonymously.”

I totally concur with Simon, Stuart, and Erhan. And so I ask the question:

Now that you are auDA Directors, what’s happening in this regard?

The Ugly

Like a lot of fellow professionals in the domain industry, I am totally against people making complaints to auDA (or using someone else to do so) in order to score a domain for themselves or someone else.

That’s the line in the sand for me. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

I wrote about that in “Fair Means Or Foul”; and then followed that up with “”.

There is nothing wrong with legitimate backorders where you may know that a domain is going to expire because of other circumstances. Like an expired ABN; deregistered company; registrant email that bounces etc. I’ve seen some excellent acquisitions made by people who have good intel! It’s just a matter of being patient; and watching the expired auctions.

My fervent hope is that we do away with “ambulance chasing”. Perhaps if complaints were no longer anonymous, that wouldn’t happen as much?

Having said all this, I accept the fact that there may occasionally be exceptional circumstances where a complaint is appropriate. If people are prepared to put their names to such a complaint (and justify it), then at least there is some transparency.

What do you think?


Disclaimer 2

26 thoughts on “auDA Complaints – The Good; The Bad; & The Ugly

  • Avatar
    September 19, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    In my opinion unless you are prepared to provide your name and contact details you should not be allowed to submit a complaint.

    I understand that people are reluctant to have their names disclosed and i am not saying that the names should be disclosed as being the Complaintant….. but they should be recorded and used as validation that the complaint is legitamate.

  • Avatar
    September 19, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Spot on Ned. It’s un-Australian to be a dobber.

  • Avatar
    September 19, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    “Spot on Ned. It’s un-Australian to be a dobber.”

    I dont think for one minute Ned agrees with your statement. I think you have misconstrued what he is saying, which is that he doesnt like people making complaints purely for personal gain  or simply to cause trouble for some one else.

    I believe that Ned actually endorses people making legitimate complaints when a complain is justifiable. Though, perhaps Ned needs to clarify this for us

    So i guess if you ever see a person assaulting a female and the offenders are escaping in a car, that you you wont dob them in to the Police?  Mmh….. I wonder what your wife would think of that attitude.

    Each to his own i guess……..


    • Avatar
      September 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      Tony, I didn’t explain myself well. My bad. Legitimate complaints are fine but dobbers trying to line their own pockets are pricks.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 19, 2016 at 9:23 pm

      @Tony – all good – Jeff meant well. We’re on the same page. He’s a good bloke, and he even barracks for a decent footy team. Unlike someone else I know. 😉

  • Avatar
    September 19, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    I agree with that totally mate.

    There is always some scum bag wanting to gain at another persons expense. 🙁

  • Avatar
    September 19, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    I love the snippets you included from Simon, Stuart and Erhan, and I couldn’t agree more. Especially and AT LEAST with what Erhan said. If auDA won’t make complaints public, then the person having the complaint made against them should AT LEAST be privy to who is making the complaint against them.

    Better yet though, as I (too) have said all along, auDA complaints should be made public. Full stop. In fact, my new idea (I’m dreaming though, right?) is to have the drop-platforms include the NAME OF THE COMPLAINANT next to the domain name that is in PD, so the public can see who made the complaint against the name. This will ensure full transparency, as to who made the complaint, and then give the open market a fair chance to bid against the complainant scoring the name, or to let them have it, perhaps?

    In my role as a professional domain broker, I feel I have to address your paragraph:

    Like a lot of fellow professionals in the domain industry, I am totally against people making complaints to auDA (or using someone else to do so) in order to score a domain for themselves or someone else.

    Especially where you say “or using someone else to do so” because this directly relates to me.

    I have clients ring me up and ask me how they can make a complaint against a domain name. It is happening more often.

    So, in this light, I would like to be transparent about my (DBR’s) process.

    Our current ethical procedure for helping a client make a complaint against a domain name is here: make a complaint or defend a complaint at auDA


    I admit we have shown a client how to make a complaint in this case (obeying our own ethical policy) in the recent past and we will be happy to do so again in the future. But!!! only in following our own ethical policy as publicly listed on our website.

    In this specific regard, as noted on our website, I don’t have a problem with “speeding up the process” when all contact options have been severely exhausted.


    • Avatar
      September 19, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      And what will you do with the details of the complainant? Why do you need to know? Imagine the possibility of abuse or perhaps even more if someone is provided the details of a complainant and over reacts. Publishing or providing the details of a complainant is a poor idea.

      • Avatar
        September 19, 2016 at 8:53 pm

        What people do with the details of the complainant is up to them. If someone made a complaint against one of my names, or my client’s names, I would reach out to them and let them know they have wasted their time, and they won’t win the complaint, but if they like, we may consider selling the name to them at a realistic price.

        If we all start to see the same person complaining over and over again, then we can all do something about it.

        I don’t think people should be able to hide behind complaints, like they can at the moment. Is it just the same people, making the complaints over and over again?

        I don’t think people should be scared of making a complaint to speed up the process of the name coming to market, either, as long as my “ethical complaint process” is followed, that appears on my DBR website.

        I’ve got more to write, but I’ll save it in my response to Neddy.

        • Avatar
          September 20, 2016 at 12:25 pm

          It sounds like you just want the details of the complainant to sell a domain name. I think you need a better reason than that. It’s too easy to see the privilege being abused. Can the details be obtained under the freedom of information act?

          • Avatar
            September 21, 2016 at 7:32 pm

            I can’t see how you think it “sounds like” that at all.

            When you say, “it’s too easy seeing the privilege being abused”, it’s also too easy right now for “not seeing” the complainant, for the current privilege to be abused.

            Your freedom of information act is quite a good concept. I have thought about this myself. I’m not sure anyone has ever tried this against auDA though?

      • Ned O'Meara
        September 19, 2016 at 9:35 pm


        As I’ve stressed before, whilst no one likes complaints, I don’t have a problem if someone wants to make a legitimate complaint. If they have a genuine grievance, then they shouldn’t have a problem putting their name to it. Just like they would do if they file an auDRP complaint.

        What I object to is that it is so easy for an anonymous keyboard warrior to make a complaint – perhaps with a fictional name and a throwaway email address.Why do they make this complaint? In my experience from talking to other domain investors, it’s because they didn’t want to buy the domain.

        If they had to authenticate their identity to auDA (and perhaps even pay a small fee), I believe then that only genuine complaints would see the light of day. Imho.


        • Avatar
          September 20, 2016 at 12:01 am

          Paying a fee to make a complaint is a solid gold idea.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 19, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      @Robert – you’re a good mate, but as I’ve told you privately, I don’t agree with you on this issue.  I particularly don’t like the fact that you advertise this as a service that you charge for.

      Others may disagree with me and my stance regarding complaints. But I have always been consistent. Having been in the industry 10 years +, I also believe I’m entitled to this opinion.

      Was the person or entity you complained against a scammer? No, they weren’t. You just couldn’t contact them, and you (or your client) got frustrated. So someone made a complaint to short circuit the wait to try and acquire the domain.

      In your recent guest article on here, you railed against an anonymous complainant that was having a go at you. You don’t like it – and you think it is unfair. That’s my point. You can’t have it both ways.

      As I said in my last paragraph, I accept the fact that there may occasionally be exceptional circumstances where a complaint is appropriate. I’m not sure if this falls into that category though?



      • Avatar
        September 19, 2016 at 9:25 pm

        I am enjoying this open platform to discuss these matters and be transparent in my new “ethical complaint process” over at DBR.

        I have only just added this as a possible service over at DBR, because of an increase in demand for this service. It’s why I have created our new process and why I am openly discussing it.

        Was the person or entity you complained against a scammer? No, they weren’t. You just couldn’t contact them, and you (or your client) got frustrated. So someone made a complaint to short circuit the wait to try and acquire the domain.

        I can assure you I didn’t personally get frustrated. My client couldn’t understand what the hold-up was, when no one was claiming the name after weeks of trying. At that exact moment, I remembered it is the year 2016, not 1996. People and businesses move fast and want things to happen instantly, like they should these days.

        After spending two months talking to a bunch of people who could have owned this domain name, I came to the conclusion beyond reasonable doubt that none of the parties who were supposed to own this name wanted it. The business in this case had been sold. The previous owners said they sold the name as part of the deal to the new owners. The new owners said they didn’t have control of the name and didn’t want or need it. Both parties were informed again and again they were missing out on free money. Both parties didn’t care, in this exact case. Which follows DBR’s new “ethical complaint policy” that pretty much came out of this first case of this kind that I had ever seen.

        As I was saying, my client was saying similar to: if no one owns it or wants it and doesn’t want any money, and the business has been deregistered……?…… isn’t there a way we can speed up the process of the name coming to open market?

        Yes. Yes there is. I said. If you want to go down this road….

        And my new sparkly DBR “auDA ethical complaints policy” was born.

        And it sped up the process (maybe shaved 6 months off the expiry if it ran its own course). Which in this case, I was fine with. Why waste sitting around for 6 months on a name not being used by anyone and that no one wants.

        I walked my client through the complaint’s process and he made an official complaint. The complaint was legitimate. The name dropped to THE OPEN MARKET (WE DID NOT PLACE A NETFLEET BACKORDER) and we fairly and squarely won the name against multiple bidders (which included you, Neddy) on the day.

        So that’s where I and DBR stand on this matter. On this occasion and moving forward.

        As with any successful business, when I perform a service and use my years of experience, I charge for that service. So, yes, I will be charging for this service from now on, if anyone decides to use it. But the service will be strictly obeying our “ethical complaint policy”.

        Now to clear up when you said:

        In your recent guest article on here, you railed against an anonymous complainant that was having a go at you. You don’t like it – and you think it is unfair. That’s my point. You can’t have it both ways.

        I didn’t rail against an anonymous complaint, Neddy. I would have been fine with an anonymous complaint. I wouldn’t have minded that at all.


        I believe this particular complaint was MADE UP. As documented. And I still do. This is ongoing and I hope this is sorted soon…

        I don’t mind if an anonymous complaint is made against me because whoever makes those complaints simply won’t win. I have all my ducks in a row. My own ducks and my client’s ducks. They won’t win. And in the MADE UP complaint that was made against me, I won that too.

        This is another major reason I believe complainant information should be made public. As I questioned before, how do we know if the system itself, isn’t just making up complaints?

        By publicly displaying who is making complaints…. I don’t believe it’s naming and shaming complainants. What is does is filter complaints. If someone makes a complaint, and they know their own name is going to be attached to it, they will ensure they are doing it for the right reasons.

        And in the exact case I mentioned above, but where names would be attached to complaints, my client (with the help of DBR) would have submitted exactly the same complaint. Then we would have gone to the open market and bid as high as we could, like we did anyway, in the fair and square open market.

        In closing, I respect your viewpoint on making or not making a complaint. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this particular issue, as I have now publicly stated how DBR will be moving forward, ethically.

        Hopefully more domainers and general business people will give their opinion on this complaints issue.


        • Avatar
          September 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm

          @Robert, perhaps you should contribute another guest article? Whilst I’m sure you are making some great points, these comments are TL;DR for me 🙂

          • Avatar
            September 21, 2016 at 7:34 pm

            I do have a tendency to type really fast as it is spewing out of my head, haha. And sometimes the formatting doesn’t work well in the comments section.

  • Avatar
    September 20, 2016 at 1:30 am

    Excluding TM issues, isn’t making a complaint to acquire another party’s domain known as Reverse Domain Name Hijacking?

  • Avatar
    September 20, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Trusted domain industry definition of “Reverse Domain Name Hijacking” appears over at Domain Sherpa.

    Reverse Domain Name Hijacking is defined in paragraph 1 of the Rules as “using the Policy in bad faith to attempt to deprive a registered domain name holder of a domain name.”

    In my client’s case. They did NOT use policy in bad faith to attempt to deprive a registered domain name holder of a domain name. We were engaged to pay up to $10,000 for the name (a name worth about $2000 current retail value) and exhaustively spoke to many people from the last business, and new business to buy the name and pay whatever they needed for it. My client was NOT trying to “deprive” a registered domain name holder of their name. No one was using it. No one wanted it.

    Reverse domain name hijacking (which is also known as reverse cybersquatting) happens when a trademark owner tries to secure a domain name by making false cybersquatting claims against a domain name’s rightful owner through legal action (e.g.,cease and desist, lawsuit) or UDRP. These actions often intimidate domain name owners into transferring ownership of the domain name to trademark owners to avoid legal action and costly expenses, particularly when the domain names belong to smaller organizations or individuals without financial resources to fight the action.

    As above, “reverse domain name hikacking” occurs when someone tries to “secure a domain name by making a false cybersquatting claim through “legal action”.
    My client didn’t make a “false claim”. Neither business wanted to deal with the domain name and passed the buck back to each other. They were informed they were missing out on “free money”. The claim wasn’t “false” because the company and associated ABN were deregistered. The fact that the two businesses couldn’t be bothered dealing with the ownership of the name meant they were holding up the plans for the future owner. We are proud to have sped the process up in this case and our client is over the moon. Knowing he did everything he could to try to pay someone for the name, but ending up with the name anyway.
    So, NO, in my client’s case, they were NOT Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. DBR would not be involved in Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. Which is why we were happy to walk our client through the complaint process following our new “ethical complaints policy” and in this exact case and following our policy moving forward, we will be happy to perform these services again.
    Your intentions with your post are clear. You might want to do your research before you throw out accusations like that in future.

    • Avatar
      September 20, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      Good spin. You acquired a domain by making a complaint to auDA. No doubt you benefited financially?

      • Avatar
        September 21, 2016 at 1:52 pm

        My client did. Ethically. I don’t work for free, just like you.

  • Ned O'Meara
    September 21, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Emotions seem to be running fairly high in the comments received on this article (published and unpublished). Whilst I’m a passionate advocate of free speech and constructive debate, there are occasional times when I simply have to moderate responses (as per my disclaimer). Like I had to yesterday.

    I don’t want to do that! It’s stressful. For a man with a current heart condition, I don’t need that in my life. 😉

    But this is my blog; and it’s not a forum for slanging off against fellow contributors. If I wanted that type of interaction, I wouldn’t have sold DNTrade a few years back!

    Disagreements and opposing views are always welcomed – provided they are constructive, civilized and respectful.

    Last night I closed comments on this article because of my concerns where this was all heading. (Well actually, Luke did it for me because I didn’t have a clue how to do it!). They are now open again.

    Personally, I think that all opinions have been canvassed already, and there’s no need for any more. All that’s going to happen is that people will have a need to keep defending their pov; and it goes on ad infinitum. Everyone wants the last word – it’s human nature.


    • Avatar
      September 21, 2016 at 9:36 am

      Take it easy Ned

    • Avatar
      September 21, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Agreed, mate. I think all opinions have been canvassed too. Happy to leave it there. Take it easy and onward and upward in this awesome period of Australian domaining! The industry is healthier than ever at the moment and it’s so exciting to think how the next stage is going to go, in regards to direct ccTLD .au registrations coming into being, or not?!


Comments are closed.