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Sitefinder style implementations are frought with downside

  • To: <tralliance-comments@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Sitefinder style implementations are frought with downside
  • From: <franks@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 09:51:35 -0500

The problem with services like this is that they set very poor precedent for 
other more significant namespaces and the larger registries that govern them.


The dominant namespaces are .COM, .NET and .ORG, or the CCtld of the Country 
you reside in. In the CCtld instance these namespaces are dominant because of 
nationalistic reasons. In the .COM .NET .ORG instance they are dominant because 
they were always 'open', free and unencumbered by regulation, restriction and 
prohibitive prices.  As a result (in the mid 1990's) people gravitated to these 
spaces and built sites there. Others followed the leaders and that's why today 
(14 years after Netscape 1.0) you have most people 'typing in' .COM .NET or 
.ORG names to navigate the web, as opposed to .SOMETHINGELSE names. This 
evolution has created a huge incentive for the biggest registries to try to 
capture the merchantable traffic within inactive URL searches by implementing a 
Sitefinder style service (in effect activating all inactive URLs); and then 
monetizing that traffic through paid search advertising.


The dominant registries that control the most popular namespaces want to add 
tether lines, taxes and controls to bleed additional profits from these big 
domain economies. The large registries tacitly support new 'services' proposed 
at smaller registries such as Tralliance's (.travel) Sitefinder so they can 
later point to the fact that there are limited or manageable "technical" 
problems with such an implementation and do the same in their larger sandbox.


The difficulty with that dynamic is:


1. The large registries have sub-economies of entrepreneurs and companies that 
offer services of their own, generating profits, employing people, and better 
incentivised to manage intellectual property issues than large registries. What 
is good for a small underused namespace such as .travel, is not good for the 
registrants, businesses and trademark holders that operate websites in larger 

2. The vast majority of the latent traffic that remains at this late stage of 
the evolution is trademark internet traffic or typographical variants of 
trademarks. The generic defensible domain names have long ago been screened and 
registered by media companies and cottage-industry domain name entrepreneurs.


With children it is difficult to give one child a piece of candy and withhold 
it from its sibling.  Similarly it is difficult to allow a Sitefinder style 
service for the small registry and then justify withholding it from a larger 


In the Tralliance .travel instance it is difficult to imagine a great deal of 
revenue benefit for the registry operator from "generic" traffic in their 
space. A cursory review of popular search engine queries shows very little 
organic un-trademarked traffic destined for the inactive names of this TLD.  
The benefits of limited advertising revenue to one small registry operator 
outweighed by the "me too" desires of larger registries with far more latent 
traffic and larger pools of registrants and trademark stakeholders who could be 
effected by similar changes.


As a result I would encourage ICANN to: 


1. DENY this request for change. 

2. Set terms that make it clear that this service is not open to all namespaces 
AND make clear that the catchall typo squatting that "universally occurs" in 
such Sitefinder implementations is actively managed by the registry operator.



Frank Schilling.

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