It Was Always Going To Happen

Direct registrations were always going to get the nod from the current auDA Board. In my opinion, just too much concerted pressure to do otherwise.

All one has to do is read part of the public announcement yesterday to see where this pressure came from. Look who happens to be number one in the sentence!  (Bolding is mine).

• add value to all three main categories of users – registrars and resellers, registrants and ultimate users of the .au domain name system.

Surely that is getting the order reversed auDA? 😉

And let me suggest that you forgot two very important categories. Yourselves (being the administrator of the .au space); and the registry (yet to be decided). Direct registrations are certainly going to “add value” to the coffers of these two parties.

In my article “Follow The Money”, I did a few numbers. This table below shows the potential earnings of the Registry (not necessarily AusRegistry), and the auDA (based on current wholesale costs). If existing registrants are given “prior rights”, then they will be ultimately forced into defensive registrations.

Table 1A

They say that one of the surest bets of all is to back a horse called self-interest. Look at some of the board members and who they represent. I mean a Supply Class Director – no matter who he is – was unlikely to ever vote against the proposal of direct registrations. To do so would potentially be electoral suicide. Not to mention potentially having an impact on one’s career or business.

As for Demand Class Directors, I know of at least one who fervently wanted direct registrations to proceed.

I’m not saying or suggesting that anyone acted unethically or improperly. Quite simply, the push was on – and momentum flowed accordingly.

It Does Make Me Wonder Though

I’m not a conspiracy theorist kind of guy – but I am a grizzled old veteran. I’ve seen many machinations and power plays unfold over the years in politics and business, and my radar is finely tuned for such things.

I just put the following out there for consideration:

  • You’d have to say that AusRegistry has a lot of skin in the game – after all, if and when direct registrations are brought in, someone has to be the registry. There is potentially going to be a lot of money in new and defensive registrations.
  • Why did a well respected Chairman of auDA suddenly get replaced at the December 14 board meeting? Coincidental?
  • Why did the previous CEO suddenly have his contract terminated early? Also a coincidence? This snippet from the brief announcement made on March 24 was “interesting”:

“Mr Disspain’s contract was due for renewal later this year, but the Board agreed new leadership was required to take the organisation forward.”

  • It’s well known that the secret to getting the answer you want in market research has a lot to do with the framing of the question. Shane Warne would have been proud of the amount of “spin” contained in auDA’s written justification of their “sole question” survey. 😉 This was the question:

“If you had the choice to register a domain name directly under .au – for example, yourname.au – how likely would you be to do so?”

Imagine if this question was posed instead:

“If you had the choice to register a domain name directly under .au – for example, yourname.au – how likely would you be to do so (if there was an ongoing additional cost to what you currently pay for your existing .au domain name?)

  • Why was there not a more comprehensive engagement attempted with the majority of the 1.7 million registrants out there (many of these people wouldn’t have a clue what is being proposed)? After all, this is a MONUMENTAL CHANGE that is being considered. Governments of any level wouldn’t attempt something similar without proper consultation.

What Now?

As I’ve written so many times, I was never totally against direct registrations. I just believed that they were not necessary now.

However, I was always willing to give my support provided that we (Names Panel) were allowed to discuss and make recommendations on the “How”. Unfortunately, it was beyond the terms of reference (which seemed ridiculous to many). Therefore, I was not prepared to vote for direct registrations with the implementation issue being put off to the future.

Despite this decision yesterday, it’s only the beginning of the process. Now comes the interesting part.

More on this soon …


Disclaimer

Disclaimer 2

26 thoughts on “It Was Always Going To Happen

  • April 19, 2016 at 11:49 am
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    Well said Ned and a good analogy of what has transpired to get us where we are now.

    Don

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 19, 2016 at 12:39 pm
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      Thanks Don. The Nominet situation should indicate that there is a long way to go in this debate.

  • Ned O'Meara
    April 19, 2016 at 12:41 pm
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    Someone obviously didn’t like one of my recent articles.

    I see they’ve removed me as a connection on LinkedIn; and blocked me on Twitter. 😉

    What’s that old saying? “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?”

    I guess they don’t want to engage – or put their point of view across here.

    • April 20, 2016 at 7:31 am
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      Passive aggressive punishment… 🙂

      • Ned O'Meara
        April 20, 2016 at 7:39 am
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        Indeed Andrew!

        And I forgot to mention Facebook. Disowned there too.

        Given the amount of rejection I have had to endure, is it any wonder that I’m feeling mortified and in a depressive state. 😉

  • April 19, 2016 at 12:53 pm
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    Great coverage to date Ned.

    It would have been helpful to ask additional questions in the survey.

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 19, 2016 at 6:03 pm
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      @Richard – well one small mercy at least – they have overcome their fear of spamming. 😉 According to their newsletter, they contacted around 96,000 registrants with “that survey question”.

  • April 19, 2016 at 1:10 pm
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    “If you had the choice to register a domain name directly under .au – for example, yourname.au – how likely would you be to do so?”

    This question, without any further explanation, is quite useless. As a small business owner, I would have to answer YES, not because I would want this domain or it would be useful, but I would be forced to buy it for defensive purposes. This would add ZERO value to me, plus an additional annual cost.

    It’s quite obvious that whoever thought of the wording of this question, either had a self-interest in getting a YES vote, or they are incompetent as the response does not distinguish between forced defensive registration, and those that actually WANT .au domain.

     

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 19, 2016 at 6:04 pm
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      @Alex – preaching to the converted here. 🙂 I’m with you!

  • April 19, 2016 at 1:11 pm
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    Well said Ned.  Personally I don’t want .au at all.  It’s dumb and pointless and will only confuse the masses even further and cost anyone running a business more money to protect their assets by forcing them to buy the .au name as well.   If you have to have a .au and they REALLY wanted to create a fair system, offer the .au forever for free to those who continue to pay for a .com.au.  That would still leave millions of domain possibilities available to the masses.

    But aside from the cost it’s going to be so confusing having for example wedding.com.au and wedding.au with potentially both being different businesses (one would hope wedding.com.au will register wedding.au to save confusion, but others won’t be so lucky I’m sure).  As a business you’ll be forever telling clients – no don’t include the .com part in the domain name or you’ll end up at my direct competitor – it’s just “au”.  How painful and dangerous for business is that?  Really dumb move in my humble opinion.

    • April 19, 2016 at 5:09 pm
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      Absolutely agree with you on this Rudy. This is going to be the biggest nightmare. Definitely the biggest thing that is going to happen in the Australian domain name market since the beginning of Australian domain names around 1994…

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 19, 2016 at 6:07 pm
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      You’ve always had the ability to raise good points Rudy. Thank you.

  • April 19, 2016 at 1:25 pm
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    This .au development is like watching a car crash in slow motion. Where’s the  ‘market demand’ for the change and Australian business owners and consumers will not appreciate the confusion or unnecessary costs. Very poorly handled by the ‘authorities’, it’s hard to see any motivation other than flat out greed.

    Thank you Ned,  for your tireless coverage. Don’t know where you get your patience and resilience from.

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 19, 2016 at 6:10 pm
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      Thanks for the kind words Richard – I really appreciate them.

      There is a long journey to travel before the “fat lady” gets a chance to sing. Hopefully affected parties can at least have input on the choice of music (if you get my drift). 😉

  • April 19, 2016 at 1:40 pm
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    If this really is a supply class push for more revenue lets see if the implementation process includes auctioning the .au domain to the potential competing stakeholders (holders of the .com.au vs .net.au). Even more revenue if they do it that way.

    • April 19, 2016 at 6:22 pm
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      @Ashman,

      You bring up an absolutely crucial point.  There is 1 fatal danger to be be guarded against with 2LD implementation.  It’s this:

      If 2LD .AU domains enter an auction in which .COM.AU registrants are pitted against .NET.AU registrants, then there will be rampant exploitation of the process.  Latecomers will register .NET.AU domains that match existing .COM.AU websites.  They’ll do this simply to bid in the matching 2LD .AU auction.  I can see 2 possible motives: (1) Win the .AU in order to sell it to the .COM.AU owner; (2) bid up the .AU as a shill in order to extract more money from the .COM.AU owner, who’d win but at a higher cost.

      This very nearly happened with the .UK rollout.  For quite awhile it was suspected that .ME.UK registrants would be given equal rights alongside .CO.UK owners, even though .ME.UK is rarely used in Britain.  Anticipating an opportunity to seize a large number of valuable 2LD .UK domains, a few domainers began registering numerous .ME.UK domains for use as stepping stones.  Fortunately, Nominet ultimately adopted a policy that prevented this disaster, instead giving .CO.UK a 5-year window in which to register matching .UK domains … with no chance of the domain being registered by anybody else in the mean time.

      Australians will want to define priority rights in a way that excludes the possibility of forced auctions and eliminates this perverse incentive to use .NET.AU as a back door.  Either .COM.AU should take precedence, or else the earliest registration (regardless of extension) ought to take precedence.  Perhaps first documented usage.

      I’d recommend that special attention be paid to this issue while .AU implementation policy remains undecided.

  • April 19, 2016 at 5:13 pm
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    A lot of large companies have bought this in to make fast large cash money, it seems. I wonder if WE DOMAINERS are now allowed to do the same, by protecting our investments, or will they say something like, “oh no, WE are the only ones allowed to make money out of this, YOU are not allowed to take advantage of this situation we have/are deliberately creating…”

    Time will tell.

  • April 19, 2016 at 6:05 pm
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    This outcome is no surprise.  Yes, of course, organized financial interests prevailed; and the supply side voted themselves a new source of revenue at the expense of a large, disorganized body of small businesses and general consumers.  Yes, of course that survey question was – for lack of a euphemism – rigged.

    Similar things have happened repeatedly in the domain industry – with other ccTLDs (.UK and .NZ most recently) and with the whole nTLD program (.CAREER + .CAREERS, .PHOTO + .PHOTOS + .PHOTOGRAPHY + .PICS,  etc.).  The organizations and the faces differ, but the dynamic is invariably the same.

    Do Australians say, “It’s no use crying over spilt milk”?  Well, it’s no use.  Whether or not this was a foregone conclusion, it is concluded.  2LD .AU direct registrations are in the offing.

    Implementation is everything.  Australians can, ought to, must organize to apply pressure on policy makers.  There’s a world of difference between (A) unleashing 2LD .AU registrations tomorrow with no provision for existing rights … and (B) a controlled multi-year process in which existing domain owners take priority.  It’s also possible to control pricing.

    Australians ought to study the 2LD .UK rollout.  Confer with those who successfully lobbied Nominet (the .UK registry); ask them how they did it!  Compared to what might have transpired in the UK, Brits won a real policy victory, mitigating the damage (as much as could be hoped) with a 5-year grace period and clearly defined priority rights.  We won’t really see confusion erupt in the UK for a few more years, when .CO.UK grandfathered rights expire.  Ideally the auDA would have waited to absorb lessons from .UK.  Pity they didn’t, but their impatience is unsurprising.  At any rate, the case of .CO.UK / .UK may be the best model for Australia to follow.  At least as a starting point for discussion.

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 19, 2016 at 6:26 pm
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      @Joseph – you’re quite right about using the .UK example as a playbook / textbook guide. I’ve written about that many times on here.

      Implementation was always going to be the battleground.

      All the right noises were made last year about this (by a number of auDA Directors I spoke with). In fact, one of them even suggested that if a proper implementaion model couldn’t be agreed on, then it was always in auDA’s remit not to ultimately proceed.  (Can’t see that last bit happening though!)

      There is a long road to travel still. I for one am not despondent.

  • April 19, 2016 at 7:12 pm
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    Even with their biased “survey” they only got a 60% vote.

    auDA don’t have a mandate to implement this.

    The amount of bullshit that’s flows from the $upply side is undermining any credibility they might have once had.

  • April 19, 2016 at 10:23 pm
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    As you said Ned, it was never going to be any other way, auDA get their cut the registrars get their cut and the rest sort out the problems. The game has been changed and the rules will be explained when they work it out. As you said , always book a horse called self interest, you know it is trying.
    Cheers

     

  • April 19, 2016 at 11:10 pm
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    @Ned

    Your table is interesting

    ICANN is gaining huge revenues from the granting of the rights to the registrars who operate the new gTLD’s

    Will auDA seek a similar payment from the chosen registrar?

    (not sure if that what happening with the Sydney and Melbourne extensions)

    The next question is whether the registrar will be seeking premium registration and renewal prices

    The existence of these premiums may make it difficult fo encumbants to protect their IP; even if they are given that right

    There are definitely more questions than answers at this point

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 20, 2016 at 6:23 am
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      @Greg

      Good point:

      “Will auDA seek a similar payment from the chosen registrar?”

      That’s worth a letter to auDA to ask the question. That appears the best (and only) way to get answers these days.

  • April 20, 2016 at 2:58 am
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    Fingers crossed that common sense prevails in the next phase of this inevitable cash grab.

    I don’t disagree with the idea of .au but it’s definitely not necessary and not what I would call innovation as some have put it.

  • Ned O'Meara
    April 20, 2016 at 3:20 pm
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    Just received a post from a supposed first time poster.

    This particular post is critical of me – but I’m still happy to publish it.

    However, I do have rules given the perils that can await a blogger! You can remain anonymous by all means, but you can’t give me a fake email address like you have done. Whenever I have a new poster, I always send them an email to confirm that there is a real person at the end of it.

    Your email address bounced. dontwanttobenamed@email.com

    If you want to send me an email, I’ll publish.

    It seems from your IP address (IP: 203.31.198.100, king100.MelbourneIT.com.au) that you may well work for a registrar. (Which I don’t have a problem with).

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