Expiring Domain Name Help
July 5, 2006 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in buying an expiring domain name (currently it's in redemption period). Most of the info I've found is vague, outdated, or doesn't answer my specific questions. Help me strategize!

The name is made up of two short common English words which in combination make a very uncommonly-used phrase. It's not similar to any business or geographical name that I can think of. I know it's hard to assess the value of a domain based on just this info but I include it in case it's helpful.

I've read this extremely helpful post so I'm familiar with all domain-snatching services. The whole system sounds awfully shady -- not only during the auction process but after, when it comes time to transfer the domain to your preferred registrar and host. So I'd like to minimize my involvement in it while maximizing my chances to get the name (at the lowest price, of course).

The domain is currently with Dotster and, FWIW, I am currently have a handful of other domains registered with them. They say they release their names "exclusively" to namewinner.com first -- but if they offer any guarantees, I sure can't find them. Should I enlist the services of other domain snatchers as well? Or should I forget it all and go it alone?
posted by kmel to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Avoid repeatedly looking up the name's whois info, there are people who watch those searches and will snap up names that are checked.
posted by voidcontext at 11:15 AM on July 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I was worried about that.
posted by kmel at 11:18 AM on July 5, 2006

Voidcontext, where are WHOIS lookups logged/searchable?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:44 AM on July 5, 2006

The entire of the expired name industry has changed in the last year due to two things:

1. Contextual ads

2. Auctions

Auctions have been going on for a long time, but the contextual ad deal is the new, and in my opinion, anti-consumer game in town. But the two of them now work in tandem and that's even worse.

Essentially, after a domain name expires the larger registrars start serving up contextual ads based on the domain name. There may be a small window of time when the domain doesn't resolve, but it's getting smaller and smaller because they want to take advantage of the traffic moving to your site.

They milk that for all it's worth. If the name is a money-maker for them they will re-register it and continue collecting profits. A reputable regsitrar will let the original registrant renew it at the typical price (regular rate or redemption rate if it's in that stage). Registrars like [name withheld to avoid losing my job - it's one of the seven we partner with] will put it into auction and even the original registrant will have to pay "market value" for the name during what would have been their "[some word that means lengthier] Redemption Grace Period".

Depending on what it's worth to you I might suggest contacting the original registrant and offering to pay him or her a small fee on top of the redemption fee to get the name. He/she would have to contact Dotster and have it redeemed and then you'd have to have it put into an account you control. Otherwise you're taking your chances. But if Dotster tells you that's who they use, that's probably who I'd go with. But I've never had to deal with namewinner.com, so I can't tell you about their practices.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:52 AM on July 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

nakedcodemonkey: Registrar/whois providers can log what you're searching for as it goes through there sites. Those queries aren't available to the public of course and it's vastly unethical for the registrars to do any such thing. Which doens't preclude it from happening, of course.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:54 AM on July 5, 2006

I recently purchased (successfully!) a domain that expired using GoDaddy's domain-grabbing service. The moral of the story from my experience was that the whole domain expiry timeline that has been talked about in a few places is completely bogus.
posted by lowlife at 12:04 PM on July 5, 2006

Response by poster: Lowlife, who was the domain registered with before it expired, and how long was it past its expiration date?
posted by kmel at 12:20 PM on July 5, 2006

The moral of the story from my experience was that the whole domain expiry timeline that has been talked about in a few places is completely bogus

What the hell does that even mean? There is a timeline. Some of it is ICANN mandated, the rest of it gets sketchy now because all of the registrars are trying to further monetize domain names. Please don't spread misinformation like that. The domain name industry is already confusing enough for lay people, they don't need your help.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:40 PM on July 5, 2006

It wasn't renewed today, was it? Because today I alerted someone to the fact that their domain was expiring, as I didn't want some spammer to snatch it up. I respect the project they're working on and it was clearly an oversight on their part.
posted by twiggy at 7:27 PM on July 5, 2006

nakedcodemonkey, I can't find a citation for my claim. I could have sworn that I read it on Bob Parson's blog at godaddy.com, but I can't find anything in the archives.

What I remember hearing, and it sounded trustworthy to me at the time, was that since you're searching for whois info which is stored at domain's registrar, the registrar can tell who is looking at almost-available names, and it puts them in a position to snatch those up and move them to auction.

Also, if you are searching for an available name, that request goes out to all registrars to make sure that it is actually available, so in that case all registrars can see what you're looking for. There are so many shady registrars out there, I can't help but believe that some of them would use that info to their advantage.

I will keep looking for a cite and post back here if I find one. The advice that I heard was be ready to buy any domain that you look up, because someone else might be tipped off by your search, and if you backorder or put a bid somewhere on an auction for an expiring domain name, stop searching for it to keep others from thinking you're a motivated buyer.
posted by voidcontext at 10:09 AM on July 6, 2006

It goes to the REGISTRY for each extension, not to the individual regsitrars.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:14 AM on July 6, 2006

There was a story in eWeek about a company that automatically snaps up names that people search for.
posted by voidcontext at 8:16 PM on July 20, 2006

Just came back here to renew my knowledge (I'm looking to get another expiring domain).

kmel, Just in case you return, the registrar of the domain was Melbourne IT, they held it in the pending delete and other "not quite gone yet" stages for several weeks longer than they should have. It sat in the redemption period status for 60 days, not "up to 30" that you see everywhere online.

When I say "completely bogus", here's what I mean: you read that certain statuses should last for pre-defined periods of time, like the link the OP provided that claims the "entire process ends exactly 75 days after the listed expiration date". The experience I had, with the registrar I named above, contradicts that statment handily (it was about four months before the domain expired). Therefore, either it was a freak occurance, or that registrar was "having problems", or the timeline isn't being followed in all cases.

Does ICANN even have a domain lifecycle chart or document? I've seen people asking for them in ICANN's mailing lists, but something canonical would be appreciated by many people (including me).

Sorry for being ranty, but the domain market is, as stated above, far from being a level playing field.
posted by lowlife at 11:46 AM on September 11, 2006

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