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Some personal comments on PENDR from a registrant

  • To: pednr-initial-report@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Some personal comments on PENDR from a registrant
  • From: Jothan Frakes <jothan@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2010 11:13:56 -0700

I am commenting in my own personal capacity.  I have no current
affiliation with a registry, registrar, or service provider other than
as a consumer and registrant at this point in time.

I’d like to state a pragmatic thing to start off with:

         The one universal consistency in domain names surrounds
         the fact that payment for the annual service contract seems
         to maintain quite a low frequency of expiration issues.

Getting beyond the expiry date of a domain name where appropriate and
prompt payment has not been made by the registrant, it gets a bit
higher in frequency where there are issues.

These issues seem to originate largely from misunderstanding over the
domain expiry process, and the inconsistency in the handling of these
situations from registrar to registrar (and registry to registry in
some cases).

I hope that the outcome of the PENDR might be some best practices
and/or consensus policies that would reflect some minimum responsible
baseline of conduct surrounding expiration of a domain name, from
which a consistent baseline structure of expectation can be formed and
then socialized to the community.

My compliments to the PENDR working group and ICANN staff for their
hard work and efforts in working to create a better and more
consistent manner for the post expiry handling of domain names.

I would like to note that I appreciated, as I visited the comment
section for this particular working group, the presence of a
questionnaire / survey.

I took a moment to answer it prior to this commentary, so I will not
place anything redundant to my answers in what will be a very brief
set of comments.

Misunderstanding, Inconsistency, something slightly obtuse to the
PENDR process, and an example of misunderstanding in PENDR.

Misunderstanding and the resulting expectations may be remedied by education.

There is a deep misunderstanding in the world of domain name
registrants about the lifecycle of a domain name as it pertains to how
the expiration process happens.

Once there are any best practices, consensus policies, or adaptations
to registry or registrar agreements that might be outcomes, I believe
some document or chart that outlined whatever those areas of
commonality were, and make it available on ICANN’s website along with
an FAQ about the expiry process.

A perfect example of where something like this exists now would be the
ICANN gTLD Lifecycle diagram.

This picture, along with its narrative, have been published on the
ICANN website, and have been used now by staff or members of the
community in many, many presentations, and reinforced by being
included in ICANN’s efforts at public outreach both at ICANN meetings
and beyond.

A similar diagram and narrative, making clear the expectations and
process surrounding the expiry of a domain name, would ease
misunderstandings and allow people to set appropriate expectations
about how expiry works and what happens.

Reduction in inconsistency will also help reduce trouble areas or perceptions
Adding consistency to the timing of billing notices, how they’re sent,
and what happens if a domain goes unpaid so that a registrant who uses
more than one registrar has a reasonably similar process.

I am the registrant of a fairly large number of domain names in
contrast to an average registrant.  In the course of managing and
maintaining these I use at least 60-70 registrars.

There are a number of different processes used by a number of
different registrars as they relate to the when, how, and what of the
process of expiration.

Keeping current all of these domains and tracking the registration
agreements and other agreements, policies, and rules across this many
registrars is a complicated and imperfect science.

That said, I can say that there is WIDE variance between different
registrars on their handling of domains beyond the expiration date.
and the net result of this is that registrants have a variety of
experiences which are not all consistent.

Something slightly obtuse to the PENDR, but related

I’d opined in the Survey / Questionnaire that the frequency and manner
of notice need to be minimally specified, in harmony with use of some
validation that the email address works, would be a very effective
manner to improve the accountability of the registrant for their side
of the renewal process.

I have had, on numerous occasions, registrars invoice me or auto-bill
my credit card for the renewal of a domain name that I had transferred
away from them in a previous year.  What appears to these registrars
is a domain arriving into PENDR status when in fact the domain is
fully renewed, but not with them.

As part of a responsible renewal notice process, a registrar should be
required to check with the registry that they are in fact still the
registrar of record for the name,  before sending any billing related

While there is the consequence to the registrar who is doing these
things of chargeback or fraud charges against the registrar, placing
these competent handling requirements into the rules would help to
expose if these billing practices as I have described are deliberate
or not.

An example of misunderstanding

In closing, I took some time reviewing the other comments, one stood
out to me from Axel van Almsick who described a scenario that I have
heard all to frequently in my dozen or more years of experience within
this industry and interacting with ICANN.

I am trying to reconstruct the series of events specific to his domain
name from his narrative, but it is clear that there is a
misunderstanding of the expiration process.

Looking at the whois record, it appears that the domain was deleted
and re-registered.   http://whois.domaintools.com/mondevana.com

A domain name that has been deleted and re-registered has undergone at
least 35 days and typically 80 days during which some remedy MAY have
been possible for the registrant during a variety of grace periods.

Of course, all of this began with not paying to renew the domain name.

I may have misread the narrative but I have heard it stated in similar
forms by many over the years.  This is a very common misunderstanding
among domain managers who obtain a trademark – that the trademark is
somehow an exemption from renewal fees or the consequences of not
renewing a domain name within an agreed period of time – this is a not
the case.

In any event, like with many areas of the complex issues, there are
many misunderstandings that would benefit from education, consistency,
and clarity.

The good news is that from looking at the registrant of that
particular domain name, they’re notoriously reasonable when contacted
in a friendly manner and dealt with reasonably by a trademark holder,
so there might be a happy outcome there.

Thank you again for the opportunity to comment and I look forward to
seeing the outcomes of this important work so that registrants will
understand what happens to their domain name if they don’t pay their
renewal fee in a timely manner.


Jothan Frakes
In a personal capacity as a registrant.

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