Web Design Articles

Buying a Doman Name

Prima facie, the question of buying a domain is trivial. Once you decide that you need a website now or in the future, one of the first steps you take is secure a domain name. So you go to your favorite registrar and search the availability of a few domain names that you think best suit you. So far, so good. 
The problems start when you finalize domain name(s) and go back after a few days to purchase the domain(s). It just might happen that the domain that was available a few days ago is suddenly snapped up or worse yet, offered for sale at a higher price. While all registrars deny this practice – called domain name front running (DNFR) – it is an ugly fact of life.  This is akin to insider trading in shares and is looked down upon by ICANN. * Nevertheless, it has been proven time and again that this practice does exist. 

Domain Testing and DNFR

Till March 2008, ICANN allowed domain registrants to book domains they thought looked promising, and simply return the unused domains. The typical grace period was 5 days. This allowed unscrupulous operators to make a killing by blocking a large number (running into millions) of domains, selling the lucrative ones at a higher price and simply returning the unused domains. This process was called as domain testing. By the start of 2009, ICAAN stopped this unhealthy practice, resulting in a drastic decline in domain testing. Since domain testing and DNFR worked hand in glove, banning of domain testing too resulted in fewer DNFR instances.

There are two implications of DNFR:

1.The cost of a domain increases as the domain is typically offered for sale at a higher price
2.The hapless client may need to buy domains as soon he / she thinks of a few names to prevent DNFR from happening. This increases the acquisition cost unnecessarily. 

How do Registrars Benefit?

The most obvious benefit is the selling of a domain at a higher price. Apart from this, domain registrars also collect a database of names that people search for, and put it to good use for later on.

What to do to Prevent DNFR?

There are some technical things you can do to check domain name availability incognito.  While we will not discuss the nuances here, it basically involves bypassing the registrar’s front end and directly querying the registry database.  That way, any snooping domain registrar will be bypassed.
However, an easier way is to request your trusted hosting service provider / web developer / web designer to search and book the domain for you. They have professional experience to search for domain names without falling into the DNFR trap.