Last Friday, I saw a post from Afilias (on LinkedIn) which motivated me to write this article.
The topic was a short interview with Steph Viljoen from auDA. Her position is “Compliance and Analytics Manager”.
On the positive side, there was some very sensible advice for registrants.
On the “splutter side” (I was drinking coffee at the time), this quote left me wondering if auDA operates in a different universe to domain registrants? In particular, to domain investors.
“We are here to help with all of your .au domain name queries because, through increased engagement with the general Australian public, we are able to understand the real issues at hand and can continue to be transparent and empathetic in our communication.”
- “Understand the real issues”. Really?
- “Transparent”. By whose definition?
- “Empathetic in our communication”. There are many who would disagree. We can’t even phone and speak to someone like we used to.
Last year, the then auDA Board and CEO finally acknowledged that domain investment was an acceptable and important part of the .au ecosystem.
However, I am aware of a number of domain investors (including myself) who have come under attack in recent times, and the response from auDA has seemed to be anything but empathetic. e.g. check out this recent story on Domainer about the domain investor who was effectively stripped of hundreds of domains.
It all starts with an “anonymous complaint”
These can be lodged online by anyone for free. Generally this is done by someone who doesn’t want to acquire a domain through the aftermarket. They don’t have to give their real name – and they can quickly create a temporary email address.
I may be wrong, but It seems to me that when the auDA Compliance team gets one of these complaints against a domain investor, there is an “agenda” to proactively look for potential transgressions of policy or guidelines. That’s right – there are “guidelines” to try and interpret what auDA really means in their policies. And in recent times, decisions that were made in the past (precedents) are seemingly worthless.
I have been dealing with auDA for over 15 years (and never lost a domain because I follow the rules), but have never felt as vulnerable as I do now. The goalposts seem to be constantly shifting. And judging by the number of concerned calls and emails I have received recently, I’m certainly not “Robinson Crusoe” either.
So much for the “new auDA” we were all looking forward to!
Some real understanding, transparency and empathy would be wonderful. As would consistency.