In an email recieved on November 4th I was informed that a top executive at Snapnames was fired for shill bidding. For those unfamiliar with the practice it’s when an insider is falsly bidding on an auction to artificially inflate the price. The accused is Nelson Brady who was the VP of Engineering.
While many are understandably visibly upset about recent events I think it’s more constructive to consider how to change it. What we need is some obvious regulation on the industry starting with dropped names. ICANN is useless imho as they seem to not have any enforcement power at all. Places like the ICA concern me because they are suppose to be a domainers lobby group but their interest lie with big business instead of average domainers.
Domain drop auction houses like SnapNames and NameJet need to be shut down. I have always considered their “service” to border on criminal and 100% imho unethical. They have been gaming the domain system for years and milking it for millions of dollars. Everything from TM domains to unscrupulous practices and now shill bidding. Feeding off the expired domains is like digging up the dead for organ transplants. Those that previously owned domains never recieve a dime from the millions made from drops. Even if they had the domain for a decade. I see no reason why drop houses should benefit so immensely when a domain is not renewed. The system is flawed. ICANN has done little to nothing to curb the practice. I would deem this similar also to scalping. Drop houses are not registrars and have no place selling domains in the way they do.
I don’t see why anyone even uses their services or why more domainers don’t stand up and cry about the practice being unethical. Oh, that’s right, many domainers have the ethics of a camel. Before you criticize me for that statement realize I been here for many years reading daily the various actions of fellow domainers. The attitude is “just make money” more than anything else. But this might be a reflection of our society more than domaining.
So let’s get back to my statement about being constructive. I have some possible solutions for you to consider.
- 1. All dropped domains sold have to give a percentage to previous whois owner.
- 2. Have a cap on the sale of any domain based on the original registration year. Maybe $100 for each year it was registered as an example.
- 3. Create a regulatory body with enforcement power. ICANN doesn’t seem to have teeth.
- 4. All dropped domain sales are to be sealed bids. This will prevent shill bidding completely as long as it’s regulated well.
- 5. Allow registries (NetSol) more power over drops and auctions.
- 6. Disallow completely the ability to grab drops en masse by any single entity. This would effectively close down existing drop companies.
On the plus side, let’s give some credit to Snapnames for not covering this up and firing the guy before someone external found out.