I Don’t Like Being Intimidated

On Saturday morning, someone posted a comment on my site which reflected their opinion in relation to a recent article I wrote entitled “Come On auDA – Please Be Accountable”.

Without going into all the details, the gist of their comment was that they were unhappy with the whole process of direct registrations. They lambasted the current survey being conducted on behalf of auDA; as well as expressing their opinion that a current auDA Director had a potential conflict of interest (given his day job of being Director Product Management at Neustar, Inc. (they purchased AusRegistry last year).

For those not in the know, AusRegistry is the current Registry Operator, and they manage all current and open second level .au Domain Names, including: .com.au, .net.au, .id.au, .asn.au and .org.au. They also manage the restricted government (.gov.au) and education Domain Names (.edu.au).

Blogs and forums that relate to domain names in Australia have fired up over direct registrations in the past 12 months.  There have been many points of view expressed on both sides of the fence – and as you would expect, sometimes opinions have also been quite colourful! No different on my blog; or that of DNTrade.

What Happened Next

I received an email at 10.15am on Saturday from George Pongas (sent to both my “Domainer” email address; as well as the email I used for the auDA Names Panel).

The subject heading was all in caps; and read thus:

CONCERNS NOTICE: PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL NOT FOR PUBLICATION

In essence, he “informed” me that he felt that the comments made by the poster were defamatory to him in his capacity as an auDA Director, and amongst other things said:

I require that this post be removed immediately. Please confirm in writing by no later than 4:00PM (AEST) today Saturday, 9 April 2016 that this has been actioned.

I reserve all of my rights at law, including the right to seek damages, legal costs and including the identity of the individual posting under the alias handle ‘——‘.

This is a Concerns Notice for the purposes of section 14 of the Defamation Act 2005 (Victoria).

Wow! Talk about over-kill. I’d never received one of these before.

So I assessed the situation, and decided to delete the comment on the basis that it contained some fairly colourful language and opinions. I certainly didn’t think it was defamatory though. What I was encouraged by was the fact that George was actually reading my blog – and I thought that there was an opportunity to engage him on the subject of direct registrations (for the benefit of my readers)!

So I sent him this email at 12.11pm on Saturday:

George,

Thanks for your email. Sorry I couldn’t respond sooner, but I’ve been out buying a car for my son.

I’ve just read that particular post, and whilst I think you are being particularly oversensitive, I have deleted it as a gesture of goodwill.

Having done so, I do not believe that it was defamatory – it was simply stating an opinion and point of view.

You know as well as I do that emotions are running high on the subject of direct registrations, and many people (particularly my constituent readership) have robust points of view. Including yourself. 🙂

In my opinion, you would be better served by responding to that post, and giving your point of view. You are never backward in coming forward. Let me know if you want to do that.

Alternatively, I would be happy for you to author a guest article on Domainer.com.au which outlines why you believe in direct registrations – and to refute any perceptions people may have. Over to you.

Regards, Ned

The only response I got back from George was a “one liner” sent from his phone at 2.08pm:

I note you have removed the post.

So much for any potential engagement! 😉

However, I do live in hope. The invitation remains open.

And Then …

I cogitated over this issue overnight, and I woke up really peed off.

I’ve known George in different roles over about 8 years, and have always liked him. He’s a determined individual, and someone who strives to succeed in whatever he is doing.

However, I experienced a different side to George during the Names Panel process. I had a difference of opinion with him, and things deteriorated from there. We exchanged some emails, and I felt then that he was trying to bully me. Whilst we tried to patch things up subsequently, there was always the “elephant in the room”.

That’s why I have decided to publish this article. I won’t be bullied or intimidated.

Domainer.com.au allows me the opportunity to write about all things concerning domains. I’m an extremely positive person by nature, however I’m never afraid to “call a spade a spade”. I’ve written many positive things about auDA, but I’ve also on occasion taken them to task. That’s how I see my role as a blogger. Without fear or favour.

In this instance, I choose to constructively criticize what I believe is an unsatisfactory approach by auDA to the issue of potential direct registrations. It also allows others to have their say.

My main concern (which I have expressed ad infinitum) is that the majority of the 1.7 million individual .au registrants have not been properly consulted about the pros and cons of direct registrations. Read this.

The second concern I have is that I don’t know who’s doing what at auDA at the moment (with regards direct registrations). The reason being is that we’re all in the dark – no Minutes have been published for either the December 14 or February 15 Board Meetings. That’s why I wrote to auDA and published this as an open letter.

Potential Or Perceived Conflicts Of Interest?

Tomorrow I’m going to give my thoughts on this.

The fact is people on both sides of the argument of direct registrations are potentially conflicted – however, in my opinion, some people have the opportunity to wield power and exercise influence, whilst others don’t. That’s where I believe it can become unfair.


 

Disclaimer

Disclaimer 2

28 thoughts on “I Don’t Like Being Intimidated

  • April 13, 2016 at 11:09 am
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    Big business will always try to squash the little man. Threats of legal action etc are always thrown around last time i checked i was sure we had freedom of speech and was aloud to express an opinion . But what i have learned in life is that money and power drives all . There will be changes coming through for dot com.au as money will be the big factor not easier use fir the customer just another way to grab more money

  • April 13, 2016 at 11:20 am
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    Well I hope George replies in a civil manner.

    I’d certainly like to hear his thoughts on direct registrations.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I for one am against direct registration.

    Don

     

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 13, 2016 at 4:16 pm
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      @Don – I also hope that George chooses to engage. Have certainly offered him the opportunity.

  • April 13, 2016 at 12:27 pm
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    Good on you for speaking out Ned. Certainly seems a bit heavy handed.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts tomorrow.

  • April 13, 2016 at 12:44 pm
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    Hi Ned

    Well done for sticking to your guns mate. auDA need to be held accountable for what they do. They cannot be a law unto themselves. I think their recent survey was lacking in detail in particular the subject / questions regarding Direct Registrations. It felt as if it was being swept under the rug.

    I would also like to know where the heck are the auDA meeting minutes from the December 14 or February 15 Board Meetings?? That is disgraceful and need to be rectified ASAP. or did the Dog eat auDA’s homework!!

    I would have thought George Pongas would be open to putting his viewpoint forward unless he has something to hide?

    I think George should come on your podcast (or mine) to discuss the pros & cons of Direct Registrations and let the informed public make up their own mind on the matter. How about it George?

    Thanks for having our backs Ned, greatly appreciated mate.

    Ed

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 13, 2016 at 4:20 pm
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      Thanks Ed. Well said!

      George probably won’t want to do anything with me, but given that you’re offering, he may hopefully take you up!

  • April 13, 2016 at 12:44 pm
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    I’d be more worried about conflicts of interests.

    Does the board have a conflicts of interest register or requirement for declarations?

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 13, 2016 at 4:31 pm
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      @David – I believe they do. What for my article tomorrow.

  • April 13, 2016 at 1:04 pm
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    Ouch, that hit a nerve!

    I wonder how many emails like that Twitter or Facebook get per day?

  • April 13, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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    I must say I am in awe of you Ned, standing up for not only your own beliefs, but of the beliefs of many domainers and Australian domain name holders who seem hesitant to rock the boat of large companies who seem to be insistent on doing whatever they like, as long as they make a huge profit.

    It definitely seems as though certain companies are trying to railroad the introduction of the first-level cctld, which we simply know as possibly being “.au” perhaps eventually eliminating the “.com.au”

    Now is the time for us all to join you Ned and make a lot of noise about the way this new cctld (.au) is being pushed on EVERY Australian business. A large majority still don’t seem to know what is happening.

    It is very simple. For any senior executive of AusRegistry to also be an auDA Director, in my humble opinion, seems to be a conflict of interest in having a say whether or not direct Australian cctld “.au” registrations should be allowed, let alone even talked about.

    Why? Because any senior executive of AusRegistry “may” DIRECTLY PROFIT from the new cctld (.au) being allowed to happen. And, any COMPANY who owns or controls AusRegistry “will” DIRECTLY PROFIT from the new cctld (.au) being allowed to happen.

    Because… if the new .cctld (.au) is to come into effect, you would think at least 1 million Australian businesses (out of the nearly 2 million current Australian .com.au domain name holders) would register their equivalent .au to protect their online presence. And I think that’s a conservative figure. But let’s do the math for fun.

    Using DigitalPacific as an example of price where most Australian business’s may choose to register their new .au, we see…

    1,000,000 x $12.45 = $12,450,000

    That’s twelve and a half million dollars, a conservative figure, made within a month or two.

    This of course is just my own personal estimation. And I believe it is conservative. Imagine if all nearly-two million domain name holders decided to “protect” their .com.au by buying their “.au” equivalent? More money.

    And who will greatly benefit from a lot of this money?

    Any company who controls AusRegistry.

    And…

    AusRegistry.

    And…

    Registrars who are offering the new “.au” TLDs for sale.

    And…

    auDA.

    There are plenty of articles on this site that demonstrate why we DON’T need the new cctld (.au) to come into existence. Be sure to have a look a few pages back on this blog if you’re new to this.

    I believe if anyone hires a lawyer to write a letter to have a blog comment deleted from any industry-related blog site, they “may” be protecting something quite big. Otherwise, why not just post themselves and say, “that’s not true!” Or tell their friends about it, so they can hop to their defence on the blog site?

    Everything I say here is my opinion. What I say may be true or false. I speak of no one in particular. I will vehemently defend my right to have an opinion on anything, especially Australian domain names that are part of my core business. Like Ned and many others on this site, I will not be bullied from having an opinion.

    I welcome an honest and transparent discussion regarding WHY WE SO BADLY NEED “.AU” to come into existence, if not only so a few large companies can make some very fast profit.

    Thank you Ned for allowing us domain brokers and domainers a space to openly discuss this topic with any Australian business domain name holder and/or Domain Name Company who chooses to do so.

    On another note: it is extremely unprofessional that auDA have not publicly posted the minutes from their last 2 board meetings over the last 6 months. Hopefully their next board meeting will see them rectify this going forward.

    • April 13, 2016 at 4:04 pm
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      Internationally we are not the most competitive nation, a shorter domain is a benefit. A million businesses that have employees all saying and writing ‘.com’ multiple times a day for websites and their email addresses is a cost, in particular wages to have staff do that. I guess your concern is not efficiency Robert DBroker.

      • April 13, 2016 at 5:45 pm
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        My concern definitely IS efficiency, mysterious “Matt”.

        You only write it once. Then auto-fill does it from then on. Time wastage is irrelevant in this case. The main point you don’t consider is most normal people, who aren’t very tech-savvy, believe that anything “.com” literally means “the Internet”.

        Try saying to people, “oh, just visit PerthHotels.au” and right there, you will see your massively inefficient time wastage when people get confused and don’t understand what you mean. Say “PerthHotels.com.au” and they know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. THE INTERNET. Which is why Google haven’t changed their search address from Google.com to Search.Google and BHP haven’t changed their website address to bhp.mining and why tradies don’t get those gtld’s painted on their work vans.

        Millions of Australian companies and businesses have spent BILLIONS of dollars over the past 20 YEARS marketing this fact.

        People don’t change. They stick to what works and what they know. “.com.au” is CONCRETE, very well known and respected, thus making it inefficient and messy to try to change it.

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 13, 2016 at 4:33 pm
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      Thanks for taking the time to make such a lengthy post Robert. Some excellent points as usual.

  • April 13, 2016 at 2:01 pm
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    @Ned

    The whole issue of  administration and change appears to be dominated by vested and self interest

    Change is inevitable!

    Vested interests will always exist

    The responsibility of those in power is to submit a balanced message to the persons they serve

    Those most affected are current registrants and your concerns in the post “Come On auDA – Please Be Accountable” articulate the problems very well

    One of my clients (a tradie) recently stated to me “I own the ‘dot com’ and must have the “dot com dot u’, I do not want it to be displayed on my competitors van”

    The introduction of “au” and, particularly, direct registration (without pre-emptive rights) increases the problem for small businesses like this and has the potential to severely impact on the goodwill they have created (often at significant cost) through their online strategies

    I agree with the widely-held view that those with the most to loose have the lesser voice and there needs to be a concerted effort from management to ensure that they are well-informed, their voice is heard and their interests are protected

    Greg

     

  • Paul Shaw
    April 13, 2016 at 2:18 pm
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    Props to you for posting about this Ned. Best thing you can do with these types of threats is give them sunlight.

  • April 13, 2016 at 3:17 pm
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    Don’t stop asking questions.  You have the support from a diverse range of people from the industry.

    The core issues are transparency and accountability.

    If those are broken, then auDA will fail to meet the expectations of stakeholders.

  • April 13, 2016 at 4:06 pm
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    Silencing people rarely ought to take precedence over listening to them and addressing their comments.

    That said, some people disagree; and they will often mffhmmfph mffph pfff …

     

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 13, 2016 at 4:12 pm
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      @Joseph

      they will often mffhmmfph mffph pfff …

      Is that code? 🙂

  • Luke Summers
    April 13, 2016 at 9:01 pm
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    The lack of transparency is pretty disappointing. No meeting minutes, no Names Policy Panel reports.

    Good on you for at least trying to get some answers and open up a discussion on these issues – even if it’s being met with silence from auDA or indeed legal threats from its directors!

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 14, 2016 at 1:02 pm
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      @Luke – I’m still hopeful that auDA will want to constructively engage.

  • April 14, 2016 at 6:24 am
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    Kudos for standing up to these kind of tactics.

    How embarrassing for George, and by connection auDA and AusRegistry.

     

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 14, 2016 at 1:00 pm
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      @Andrew – I suspect my name has been crossed off a couple of Christmas card lists. 😉

Comments are closed.