It’s time to “rock the boat” a little bit – and I hope that my stance will be perceived as constructive.

As mentioned previously, I am a member of the current auDA Names Panel which is considering / discussing / debating the potential introduction of “direct registrations” of .au domains.

For those not aware, that simply means (for instance) being able to register the domain name Domainer.au – as opposed to say Domainer.com.au. This potentially will have a huge impact on our domain space – and on individual / small business registrants of existing com.au / net.au / org.au domains (and others).

Voicing opinions

Throughout the consultation period of the Names Panel, I have publicly respected the process, and kept my opinions to myself.

Recently I’ve noticed a few members of the Names Panel have been publicly voicing their preferences for .au – in particular there was this blog article on TPPWholesale by Brett Fenton (Brett is currently the Chief Customer Officer of Melbourne IT Group). The obligatory disclaimer states that this is his personal view and not necessarily reflective of the company’s views.

I like Brett – and have always found him to be a straight shooter. However, he does represent entities that have “skin in the game”.

What fired me up was this quote from his blog article:

The other area of resistance to the proposed change is from the ‘domainer’ community. Domainers buy domains purely to sell later at a profit, and monetise their domain portfolio through the traffic that arrives at the domain. You could say domainers have a vested interest in the discussion around opening up second level registrations as more choice in the marketplace could potentially make their existing .com.au domains less valuable.

The reason I am upset by this is that I am a TPP Wholesale customer with many hundreds of domains under their management.

I submitted a comment in response on the blog, but to date it hasn’t been published or responded to.

This is what I said:

@Brett – I note your comments re the “domainer community” and their supposed “resistance to the proposed change”.

My understanding is that many domainers and domain investors would ultimately support such a change – provided that existing registrants rights are protected (like what happened in the .uk and .nz space).

Are you suggesting that there should be no rights offered to existing registrants?

If this is what you’re suggesting, I’m interested to know how you see the allocation of the new .au domains working fairly and effectively?

Hopefully Brett will respond on here – and I respectfully invite him to do so.

In tomorrow’s article

  • Needless to say, I mostly disagree with Brett, and will be explaining why in detail.
  • I’m not averse to the introduction of .au if the majority of people really think it is necessary (I don’t).
  • However, should this be sanctioned, I believe it should be conditional upon existing registrants being entitled to “first rights” just like what happened in the UK and NZ.
  • These will be my personal views, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Names Panel (or individual members thereof).

Finally

I again encourage stakeholders (being anyone who is the registrant of an Australian domain name) to have their say on proposed changes. This needs to be done by no later than 30 September (three weeks today).

If you feel strongly about the subject one way or the other, then you must make a submission. Not to do so is to get a result that you may not like! You can put the most simplest submission in – it doesn’t have to be long and involved. Send an email to the address in the link; or complete the survey. If there are parts of the survey you don’t want to comment on, simply write “No comment”.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Important Disclaimer

  • I am a member of the auDA 2015 Names Policy Panel.
  • I am also a domainer / domain investor with a substantial portfolio of com.au domain names.

33 thoughts on “Rocking The Boat

  • September 9, 2015 at 11:33 am
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    When you have a massive vested interest such as what Brett does, his role in this needs closer scrutiny.

    He and his company stand to gain massively from this grab for cash.

  • September 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm
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    There are only 3 million domains in Australia. I think there are about 110 million dot com domains. Why do we need more right now?

  • Snoopy
    September 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm
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    Domainers undeniably have a vested interest, but so does Brett. The comment about it being his personal views doesn’t mean anything, I’ve never seen as example of someone stating personal views that are against the best interest on the company they work for.

    If Brett stated he was against .au, he’d probably be in the CEO’s office come monday morning.

    • September 10, 2015 at 1:39 pm
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      Snoopy and Tim. I’ve never been asked by the CEO of Netregistry nor the CEO of MIT to tow the company line on any of the panels I’ve sat on, nor my participation on the auDA board. Ned has met me and I think he’d agree I’m not likely to be a person who represents any view other than my own. Many of my views I’ve posted on public forums under my own name have been fairly contrary to the company view/position – some of them inflammatory enough to have made the press.

      • September 10, 2015 at 3:47 pm
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        So is any part of your remuneration tied to your company’s sales or profits? (which would most likely benefit massively from direct registrations)

        Would that impact your personal view at all?

        • September 10, 2015 at 6:25 pm
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          The major part of my my at risk and by major, most of it, is against customer NPS.

          So if I was to buy into the argument that customers don’t want it, it will cause confusion and make customers unhappy at the prospect of having to protectively register, in theory NPS will plummet and I’ll lose my at risk.

          I think if we’re going to be logical about this. Lets say the yes vote gets up and the board endorses the idea – the names panel will have effectively run for a year. auDA will then look an implementation working group, which I’d guess would run for a similar period of time, with rounds of public consultation.

          That takes us through the end of 2016 – we still haven’t made a razoo off the idea. Next the Registry contract is up for tender in 2017, before the successful vendor takes the contract in mid 2018. It would seem very likely that registrations in the second level would form part of the RFT in 2017 and 2018 we’d go through a sunrise/contended names process. It’s likely to be then 2019 before we see any dollars come through, and if we look at how NZ has progressed about 6 months post launch they have actual registrations at about 10% of the total .co.nz space.

          So even if 100% of my at risk fell into profit – I’d need to have the patience of a saint and be gambling heavily that we do way way better than NZ in uptake. Which is ironic as I’ve publicly supported the NZ model/approach.

          The domainer camp can continue to cry greedy registrars, but the argument simply doesn’t pass any kind of objective review.

          • Ned O'Meara
            September 11, 2015 at 6:59 am
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            You are a patient man Brett. 😉

            The key point in the overall discussion is your comment:

            “I’d need to have the patience of a saint and be gambling heavily that we do way way better than NZ in uptake”.

            Both the NZ and UK implimentations have not been resounding successes in terms of uptake. Isn’t it fair to say that what numbers there are have basically been bolstered by defensive registrations?

            So why are we even bothering to promote such a change? A change that will no doubt pee so many people off when they realise they have to cough up to protect their interests (if they are even able to do so)?

          • September 11, 2015 at 9:26 am
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            I think it’s too early to call whether they are successful or not. NZ as an example people have 2 years to reserve a domain at no cost – which a lot of people have done. Those are broadly defensive, but haven’t cost anyone a cent. More than that by definition a sunrise period where you’re seeking to protect existing rights will by definition have a large element of defensiveness about it. You have supported that model Ned, you can’t have it both ways!

            What I’d expect over the next few years is as new businesses form and they want a brand new registration, that they’ll have to make a choice or .nz or .co.nz. Today if you look at the DNC stats, new .nz registrations on a monthly basis at 50-60% of the total number of .co.nz.

            Will that percentage go up or down over time? I’d speculate it’ll grow – but the only thing that really matters is the actual data not my or your speculation on the trend. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes after the 2 year reservation window closes. But happy to bet you a beer or two that within 5 years, the largest active space (as in domains registered an in use) will be in the second level, not the third.

            We keep hearing from domainers that opening the second level will either confuse people, or piss them off, which they say is all about ‘small business’, it sounds like a bad Joe Hockey-ism. I think it’s fair to say it’s likely to piss off domainers. But domainers while they may be small business, are not a reasonable representation of the vast majority of small business.

            Small business simply doesn’t care. We run a brand Domainz, that’s dedicated to servicing the NZ market. Our experience was that end users were pretty excited about the opportunity. Did we get concerned calls into the call center? Did we get angry customers calling in to voice their anger? No. I really wish domainers in general would stop trying to speak for the wider use case for domains, be it small or large business. Sure lets have a conversation about how it impacts domainers and their asset. That’s a completely fair and reasonable conversation to have.

          • September 11, 2015 at 10:45 am
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            I’d be surprised if your company doesn’t have a 5 year plan.

            Registrations are for 2 years so 2019 is just 2 cycles away.

            Why would customers blame you? They’ll bitch and moan and in the end suck it up as you well know.

            And you’ll make sure the .au are twice the cost as .com.au’s so will get a much higher return than just looking at the registration numbers.

            And if we’ve hit peak registrations it’ll help too.

            The bottom line is it’s good for your pocket.

  • September 9, 2015 at 4:19 pm
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    Why is .au even being debated? There is no need for it.

    So what – everyone who has a .com.au now also has to register the .au version of the name they thought was already theirs?

    The only winners here are the registrars. A quick way to get an extra 1,000,000 or so domain registrations which will mainly be from existing business owners trying to protect what they own but aside from that it makes no sense. We don’t need it.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 9, 2015 at 5:15 pm
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      If some people have their way Rudy, you might not even be able to register your equivalent .au. It might be “first come, first served” which allows your competitor to grab it from under your nose. I’ll be writing more about this tomorrow.

  • September 9, 2015 at 4:43 pm
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    I currently have 575 names with TPP Wholesale, some names I own myself, as well as my AussieNames.com.au customers.

    Although I do not agree with Brett’s pro-.au stance, I can understand why Brett and Registrars want the ccTLD space to be opened up. Obviously, there are 3 million Australian domain names registered now, over 85% of them being .com.au – and a majority of businesses will need to “protect their brand” by registering their new equivalent ccTLD version of their name. Meaning a MASSIVE and INSTANTANEOUS influx of CASH into the hands of Australian Registrars, ausRegistry and auDA. So, OF COURSE Registrars are going to want .au to be given the green light. Who wouldn’t in their situation?

    If .au comes in – Domainers and the Australian Business Community are going to need to protect the years and thousands of dollars they have spent marketing their existing .com.au names, by purchasing the ccTLD equivalent.

    As Ned has said, I too am not 100% against the introduction of .au if the majority of people really think it is necessary, but I don’t personally think it is necessary, and I think a majority of Australian businesses would NOT want the new ccTLD to come in, given all the information – especially once they are made aware of how much it is going to cost them.

    As I mentioned above, I am an Australian Domain Name reseller. So, in theory I could aim to make a lot of money myself from selling the new ccTLD to my existing clients, as well as the massive influx of new customers I could secure by informing Australian businesses that they should consider registering their .au version of their respective business names through my service, AussieNames.com.au(.)

    Still, I’d rather not have to do this. I don’t think we need the .au version of a perfectly working Australian domain name system, invented by Robert Elz in 1986, then fine-tuned into what it is today. Introducing the new ccTLD option would literally make the last 30 years for every business who invested in .com.au a complete waste of their time and money.

    IF – and I do mean IF the new ccTLD came into play – There is no way I, or many other Australian businesses would allow the system to just give-away the new ccTLD versions of our domain names without a fight. Releasing ccTLD’s to “first-come, first-served” customers would not only be crazy, but would be a spit in the face to all those hard-working Australian businesses who invested incredible amounts of time and money for the past 30 years, marketing their .com.au space.

    There is also no way I would allow without a fight, massive drop-type services to run sophisticated DOMAIN-GRABBING programs that secure 100s of premium names in minutes, only to have them sell the names back to us at 100 times the amount they paid for them originally. This is a dodgy practice that has occurred elsewhere in the world, especially with new releases of ccTLD’s. Now that we have seen what it does to the domain name markets in those territories, I believe a lot of Australian Domainers and Businesses will not let things go down this way again in our own backyard.

    I have submitted my opinion in the Policy Panels Survey, and like Ned and a lot of people in the domain name industry are saying, you and everyone you know who has a domain name should be having a say too.

  • September 9, 2015 at 8:30 pm
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    .au is a huge cash grab situation so offering first rights to existing .com.au domain holders is a no brainer. Fight worth fighting Neddy!

    I personally think every .com.au domain owner should be sent a short email overview of the changes and invited to voice their opinion in a survey. Shouldn’t everyone get a say in this?

  • September 10, 2015 at 10:06 am
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    I had not heard about this scheme to have another Aussie domain until a mate alerted me to this article yesterday. Why hasn’t the department responsible for domain names emailed everyone who has a domain. This is bullsh*t if it goes ahead without a proper mandate.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 10, 2015 at 12:39 pm
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      Make sure you do the survey then Steve – or email a response.

  • September 10, 2015 at 2:21 pm
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    Hi Ned. I’ve purposely stayed off the Domainer forums in this discussion. It becomes a religious debate where there is little objectivity.

    I actually toned the paragraph down you highlighted. But I’d note two things. Every comment I’ve seen from the domainer community speaks (very loudly) to Registrars and the Registry making untold millions of dollars. I’ve written about this, the profit in 1M domains is about $3-4M across the entire Registrar industry of around 30 players. MIT could make more than that entire amount in a very small incremental shift in it’s hosting customer base. Domainers rather than objectively talking the number on it, simply continue to muddy the waters by ignoring the facts on the financials.

    My reason for advocating is that is simply a better system. I’m a mildly reformed tech guy, and I prefer elegant solutions to ugly ones – A view I’d say I’m not alone in holding on the panel.

    What those same domainers rarely seem to acknowledge is their own self interest in maintaining the status quo. The arguments are masked in, “oh people will get confused”, rather than “my portfolio of domains I’m speculating on might be worth less tomorrow than they are today”.

    Which brings me to your final point about the model of implementation. It’s a really long bow to draw Ned from me advocating a ‘yes’ vote and calling out domainer self interest to this must therefore mean I don’t support preservation of existing rights. I’ve on the panel and in public forums spoken quite strongly to the NZ model. Was it perfect? No, probably not. I don’t think you’ll ever find a perfect model that will make everyone happy. The only real change I’d suggest to the NZ model is that I’d shorten the 2 year reservation to 3 months. Reserve at no cost for 3 months if your eligible and if you choose to not register in that time the domain goes into the pool for others to register.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 10, 2015 at 3:43 pm
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      Thanks for responding Brett.

      I guess what got me fired up was your comments about the domaining community having “vested interests”. Everyone has got a “vested interest” – from your “Ma and Pa” small business with one domain; to your corporates; to domainers; to resellers; to dropcatchers; to registrars; to the registry; to auDA.

      More on this tomorrow.

      I’m glad to hear you favour protecting existing registrants rights via the NZ model (with a twist). I was under the impression that you favoured first come; first served. My apologies.

      Anyway, there is a new post out. http://www.domainer.com.au/im-in-the-maybe-camp/

      Regards, Ned

      • September 10, 2015 at 4:14 pm
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        I don’t believe in a hierarchy of rights. That’s one of the foundation pieces in the .au space today (and is worthy of it’s own discussion – for example domainers are only allowed to moneitze .net.au domains. This is a rule that would create second class citizens in the space).

        Which is why I like the NZ model. I’m against simply conferring rights to a registrant in one space – com.au for example as a default position. I’m not looking to line my pockets by then driving artificial growth in .net.au – Just pick a date after which having purchased the .net.au allows you to participate in the contested domain process. What’s that a Registrar just said they don’t want to sell more domains? I’ll wait quietly in the corner for the CEO to admonish me 🙂

        I also don’t really like things being tied up and not being utilized. Hence the 3 months. Give people a chance to get in, or not. If they decide not, then allow first come first served. The market will decide the relevance (or brand strength) or not of registrations in the respective second or third levels. Having a long period artificially slows down the market making its choice.

        You may have confused my strong stance on first come first served for dropping domains over some kind of central wait list which is as stupid an idea as I could imagine and spoke to my thoughts.

    • September 10, 2015 at 4:04 pm
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      I think it’s great you’ve commented in here Brett. Neddy is obviously a well-respected Domainer and valuable voice to the Names Panel. It’s clear that yours is too.

      For the record, I’m enjoying my time with TPP. I think James is a great account manager and I always enjoy how fast the chat support is, for the odd technical drama.

      I agree with your recommendation about IF the new ccTLD came into being, that existing .com.au holders should be able to RESERVE their .au equivalent at NO COST before going into a public pool, whatever the length of time.

      Another positive step forward would be to ensure registration fees would not be inflated as “premium ccTLD” prices, and remain at one regular price across the board for eligible reserve name holders. If inflated prices were to be introduced, this would surely be seen as double-dipping, because the Australian business domain name holder would already own their dream name. They would only be purchasing the new ccTLD version of their name for protection reasons. There would be no good reason for them to be charged so aggressively for a digital name they don’t necessarily want, but are being forced to defend themselves against, against their will.

    • September 10, 2015 at 4:11 pm
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      Elegant solution number 1 – convert all .com.au to .au or pair them.

      Also, introducing less red tape will just kill the trust built up in the .com.au – just like the $1 .info sales. Does anybody trust .info or any other .shonk domains?

      I also believe you aren’t taking into account the majority stakeholders, the business website owners who have built goodwill into the .com.au. You will reduce that goodwill whether you want to acknowledge it or not.

      Consider kogan.au – where is the benefit? why should current .com.au or .net.au owners (the 97%) have to make defensive registrations? It’s just a cost to the majority so the minority can get a .au domain or type less.

      • September 10, 2015 at 6:33 pm
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        As I’ve noted it’s really up to the market to consider the value in .au vs com.au assuming it progresses.

        If Kogan decide kogan.com.au is better and they want to retain all current branding than that’s entirely their choice. If they decide .au is stronger then they can choose to rebrand accordingly or simply wait till a normal business rebrand which most businesses do every 3-5 years.

        The ABC brands around abc.net.au, the com.au simply directs traffic to their core brand. Confusion factor about nil.

        You also ignore that 40% of the com.au space today is less than 2 years old. So around 1M domains are between 0 and 2 years old. How many of those new businesses/registrations do you think would go for .au over com.au … So yes technically 40% is a minority, but 1M domains is hardly a minor consideration.

        • September 11, 2015 at 10:31 am
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          Why does Kogan and other business owners have to pay the cost of this change.

          The ABC has chosen to adopt the .net.au based on the current rules at the time and they bore the cost as a choice.

          You are suggesting that is ok to stuff the 97% of current registrants around be enforcing this new rule change on them.

          I’m not ignoring the new 40% but thanks for saying I am.

          The new 40% chose their domains on the basis of the current rules and will be in the same position as the others. How many who would choose the .au will also believe they have to defensively register the .com.au?

  • Ned O'Meara
    September 11, 2015 at 10:04 am
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    @ Brett – couldn’t reply underneath your actual post. Must be too many replies!

    I agree with some of your sentiments again with regards getting a balanced opinion (and not just domainers). Therefore I wrote this new article early this morning – and have just published it now.

    What do you think?

  • Ned O'Meara
    September 17, 2015 at 8:10 am
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    In the article above, I said that there were approximately 116 million dot com domain names.

    Verisign have just produced their 2nd Quarter Report for 2015, and this shows that .com is still growing. https://www.verisign.com/assets/domain-name-report-september2015.pdf

    “As of June 30, 2015, the base of registered names in .com equaled 118.5 million names, while .net equaled 15 million names”.

    The obvious question remains: do we really need to effectively double our .au market when we are still only sitting at 3 million registrations?

  • Ned O'Meara
    September 24, 2015 at 5:43 pm
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    Have just been deluged with emails from the Melb IT stable of ZipHosting, NetRegistry and TPP Wholesale.

    They want everyone to just vote “yes” to every proposal on the survey.

    In fact the TPP Wholesale one goes even further:

    Every vote counts! Help secure a simpler domain in .au

    Dear The,

    Would you like to see .au available for registration directly in the second level?

    If so, you’re far from alone. We get a staggering number of requests from our retail clients for shorter and simpler domain names in the .au space.

    Recently, auDA’s panel have put together a proposal which, if approved, will see direct .au registrations become a reality.

    Going by the volume of demand and the outstanding success of similar proposals overseas, this should be extremely popular in .au.

    To ensure the proposal goes through, make your voice and those of your clients heard:

    • Cast your vote before Wednesday 30 September — vote here.
    • Encourage your clients to have their say by sending them an email with the link to the survey. We have written a whitelabel email you can use to streamline the process — download it here.

    If this proposal goes through, it will:

    • Create more options for businesses
    • Allow the registration of shorter, easier-to-remember domains
    • Reduce the risk of misdirected traffic (for example, customers typing .net.au instead of .com.au)
    • Provide shorter addresses without sacrificing the visibility and trust afforded to those with an .au domain

    To find out more, refer to this month’s blog post by Brett Fenton or talk to your account manager.

    It’s time the .au space joined the rest of the world in the 21st century, and every vote counts!

    Voting closes on Wednesday, 30th September.
    Kind regards,
    TPP Wholesale Partner Services

  • September 24, 2015 at 5:54 pm
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    wow…..reduce confusion between com.au and net.au

    how about the increased confusion between com.au….net.au… and just plain old.. .au

    why wouldn’t they present their clients with an unbiased detail of the pro’s and con’s; instead of telling them what to do?

Comments are closed.