We’ve all seen them while searching the web. Sites that are comprised entirely of click-advertisements. What I hadn’t realized before, was just how large a problem this is.
Bob Parson, CEO and Founder of GoDaddy.com, writes in his blog, Hot Points, about domain name “add/drop” abuse — the practice of registering a domain name, dropping the registration for a full refund just before the five day Add Grace Period ends, then re-registering the domain and doing it all over again. While the domain is registered, the owner puts up a page on the site that is comprised entirely of advertisement links based on, or loosely categorized by, the domain name. This abuse of the domain registration process can lockup domain names indefinitely without costing the abuser a dime while they turn a potential profit from the advertisement links.
I’ve personally watched as two domain names we’ve been patiently waiting to expire were caught up in this abuse. If we’re very lucky, they won’t be profitable and we’ll get a chance at them again down the road, but if they earn so much as a dime, they can be lost virtually forever.
Bob points out that this form of abuse is on the rise, increasing by 1500% in just one year — nearly 30 million domain names!
He also suggests a likely solution. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) currently collects a $.25 fee for every domain name registration kept past the grace period — a fee they are not getting from “add/drop” domains. Bob suggests ICANN change their policy to make the 25 cent fee non-refundable and collect it at time of registration. Although he believes this will cause the “add/drop” abuse to stop immediately, it requires ICANN to take action, something they have historically been slow to do.
Frankly, I agree that this would be a win/win solution to the problem. This small fee would definitely stop add/drop abuse, is not so much as to cause a hardship on a registrant that may make a legitimate error, and would provide a fractional increase of registration fees collected by ICANN due to these occasional errors.