[NA-Discuss] Under COVID pressure, info providers choose QR codes over domain names

claudio di gangi ipcdigangi at gmail.com
Mon Aug 31 21:27:09 UTC 2020


Thank you for these comments.

As one point of reference, a marketplace provider of domain services
appears to have a very limited data on a small subset of resale domains
sold in 2018, available on its website:
>From an initial glance, it appears this data set does not contain the
information necessary to inform your comments.

Your note also tangentially reminded me of an old economic report
(commissioned by ICANN org in 2010), see:

I referred to this document as a "report" because a study would normally
include developing some form of a hypothesis, conducting observations and
testing the hypothesis, which could lead to a conclusion or additional
lines of inquiry. In other words, the way we would normally seek truth
through the scientific method, which unfortunately becomes quite complex in
the field of social sciences.

On page 52 of the above linked report, the authors describe a proposed
study on resale domains in order to assess the competitive effects of new
gTLDs. The study is described as follows:

"A more direct approach would examine sale prices in different gTLDs of a
matched sample of second-level domain names. Examination of the same
second-level domain name in each gTLD should control for many factors that
influence the value of a domain name and isolate the value of the gTLD
itself. Thus the study would shed light on the substitutability or relative
value of domain names on different gTLDs and on the extent of competition
between gTLDs."

I could be mistaken, but I do not believe that the study described above
(or any of the proposed studies described in the economic reports) were
conducted because of the manner in which the overall policy development and
implementation process unfolded in practice.

Without getting too deep into the weeds, the Board passed a resolution in
2006 calling for a study regarding "...the concerns relating to the
changing domain marketplace and specific concerns....regarding potential
abuses of ICANN rules as it relates to consumer interests". For additional
details, see Board minutes here:

This study was not conducted, and in terms of the new gTLD program, in
taking a quick search online, one can see how convoluted things became as
described in this article, written by former-Board member Mike Palage,
available at:

I believe there are a few important complicating factors that arise in this
context. One factor relates to the notion that ICANN org (including in some
circumstances, its contracted business partners) may have an interest in a
study's outcome, or in the outcome of legal analysis, that may diverge from
the interests of the public and community at large.

Correlated to this dynamic is the fact that when one party compensates
another party, one can see the proverb of "he who pays the piper calls the
tune" becoming relevant.

Of course, this doesn't happen through any type of informal agreement
between the parties, but arises because there are implied causes and/or
effects that are inherent as an offspring of the relationship between the

To provide an illustrative example, the ePDP team on the Temp Spec retained
legal counsel who were compensated by ICANN org. On these types of complex
issues of law and fact, where there are no easy answers - and if all else
being equal - a law firm, consultant, or economist may have an incentive to
err on the side of its "client's" interests or worldview. Of course,
in these cases, the client is ICANN org.

So on that basis, if a study were to be ever performed on ICANN's
coordination performance, the domain marketplace and consumers, I would
recommend that ICANN org not commission the work, but that a group such as
at-large take the helm, if there was adequate interest, justification and
resources to do so.

Finally, in an attempt to bring more color to your line of inquiry, I think
some gTLDs have registration requirements regarding the use of domain names
which may discourage or prevent the primary use being for resale purposes.
For example, I believe <.biz> has (or had) this type of requirement within
its domain registration agreement with registrants, although I'm not sure
to what extent the provision is monitored, enforced, or can be effective.
Of course, the issue comes full circle back to ICANN's contract with the
registry. So perhaps depending on the form of the registry agreement with
ICANN, and the provisions contained therein, the relevant parties'
interests, it is conceivable that other (perhaps legacy) registries could
apply restrictions on the use of domains which may affect their resale
value and/or potential.

Just food for thought...


On Sun, Aug 30, 2020 at 3:56 PM Evan Leibovitch <evan at telly.org> wrote:

> https://www.campaignlive.com/article/why-humble-qr-code-enjoying-marketing-revival/1690673
> No surprise to some of us.
> BTW, is anyone in ALAC -- or the broader community -- checking whether the
> average price of resale domains is going up or down? Hard to believe it's
> going up. With all the new gTLDs onboard, is domaining still seen as a
> worthwhile investment? Was it ever?
> Over the last few years I've been involved with numerous domain name
> acquisitions by companies and individuals. A number of patterns have
> emerged.
> In almost every case:
>    - The dozen most logical names were taken by squatters and otherwise
>    unused.
>    - The would-be registrant did not buy any of the squatted names.
>    - In some cases they enquired about the price, which was often more
>    than an order of magnitude beyond what they were willing to pay, and they
>    had a good laugh.
>    - In some cases their choice to bypass the squatted name would ensure
>    that the name would forever stay unsold. They had registrations and/or
>    trademarks that would immediately have any subsequent buyer subject to a
>    UDRP complaint.
>    - Nobody even made an effort to negotiate the price down, determined
>    to be not worth the bother
>    - There's no fear anymore using hyphens within domain names. The
>    introduction of hyphens always yields a usable registry-fresh domain. This
>    discovery usually increases the entertainment value of the original
>    squatter's price.
> I've always had the opinion that domain resale was a massive scam, and
> that the practise was long-term harmful to ICANN and broader use of domains
> as identification. Indeed the practise of one of the few that extracts
> value from (rather than add value to) the Internet. Furthermore, it has led
> to many of the most potentially-useful names being unused. As a result,
> "memorable" Internet domains have slipped from "need to have" to "nice to
> have" to "I'll take anything moderately close because it's not a primary
> source of identification".
> I look forward to the day when domainer portfolios inevitably achieve the
> same value as postage-stamp collections have now.
> Evan Leibovitch, Toronto Canada
> @evanleibovitch / @el56
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