Mike Mann on Domain Tasting

Received this email from Mike Mann this afternoon:

First off I have never done domain tasting, nor did BuyDomains.com when I managed it, and our new domain trading and building platform, DomainMarket.com, doesn’t either. When we and others first began thinking about it around 5 years ago it was bad protocol at best, and really considered a Denial of Service (DoS) attack against the Netsol/Verisign registry system since robots slam the systems to buy thousands of name at once; so it was against NSI/VRSN rules and possibly illegal too.
However once Verisign realized how many domains would ultimately be registered to their benefit (eventhough I imagine 99% of the inventory is never paid for and is re-deleted back to the unregistered pool of potential new domains) they decided domain tasting for 5 days to measure the PPC traffic and value and buy the statistical gems was OK.
However domain tasting is indiscriminate and buyers end up having their robots purchase other peoples’ clear trademarks, as well as a lot of lewdly suggestive names, or names that once resolved to questionable content. So again its nothing Id want my team to take part in.
In the past I thought nobody should do it. Today I think it should actually be done by others carefully for one simple reason: It’s good for the economy. People are typing in and clicking on legacy domain links for expired domains, and if they get a 404 error it’s a waste of time, energy and bandwidth – and nobody gets paid, however if it lands on a tasting speculators PPC page or monetizable site then someone is getting paid, and they can pay their employees, taxes, and tips at the local restaurant, etc. So domain tasting while lame in most respects is still good for the economy.
I’ve rethought this subject and I think it’s good for others as long as they don’t buy trademarks or domains that they deem offensive. Outside of moral considerations they need to be concerned about being sued or harassed somehow, which could have negative financial consequences, balanced by the value of the trickle down economics accidentally applied to attorneys and their caddies.
Thats all, LMK what you think. Cheers

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. Bad, Bad idea. I’d rather see the 404 error than some creep “Domain tasting” and keeping domains out of circulation while he/she plays a shell game, tasting and kiting.
    Ms Domainer

  2. Totally disagree with Mike on this one. Using the “it helps the economy” logic is a big oversimplification of the issues at hand. There are a lot of things that would help the economy but that doesn’t make them a good idea.

  3. Everything has a “good” side and a “bad” side in life.

    Agreed. While economically what Mike described above has some degree of sense, there are people who “feel” it’s against what they believe anyway.
    Besides, one keyword Mike mentioned here is “carefully”. 🙂

  4. Hi Mike,
    I think you have a point here, except that I feel there should be some “token fee” involved (To me, PIR did it right).
    Using a grace period to register and delete millions of names has a toll on the performance of registrars in general. It affects other registrants and is the misuse of a policy that was put in place to be fair to customers. By affecting the general registrant public, it has caused misunderstanding and a general distrust of the registrars and registries. ICANN thinks that tasting is what caused people to suspect Front-Running (I’m still suspicious and think that it is more than tasting.).
    It’s kind of like what happened in retail some time ago. The very reputable retailers came up with “No Questions Asked Return Policies”. As consumers began to abuse that (e.g. buying prom dresses and returning them after the prom), there was a backlash and the retailers were forced to reconsider. I think that’s where the registrar/ registry community is at.
    My thinking is that when there is a “token fee” to delete a recently registered domain, it is somewhat of a natural check and balance and it prevents the kind of wholesale and blatant abuse that has occurred so far; but it still allows a reasonable use of tasting and testing. Returns or cancellations shouldn’t be completely free.

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