Domain Name Goldrush Part 5 – the Mother of All Drops

Lee Hodgson

As fast as Verisign Inc., the corporation that controls the .com shared registry, put the brakes on the expiring domains industry, it has taken them off again. They have announced a short-term technical solution which will allow for the immediate resumption of batch domain releases. From the 30th August onwards, 100,000+ names will drop in a matter of days. This many names have never dropped in such a short space of time before, so we are looking at a unique event which may never happen again – the ‘mother of all domain drops’ if you like.

But before we take a detailed look at this massive drop, let’s see what Verisign have actually done to help ensure the smooth running of the shared registry for this and future drops.

The New Solution

The solution they’ve implemented is quite complex. It involves three distinct ‘session pools’, where previously there was just the one. The first pool is called the ‘Guarantee Pool’ and guarantees each ICANN registrar 15 simultaneous connections to the shared registry. No ‘intensive batch processing’ (name-grabbing) will be permitted in this pool.

The second pool is called the ‘Overflow Pool’ and is a first-come first-served pool of additional sessions. Again, no name-grabbing is permitted in this pool – it’s intended for normal registrar activity. The third pool, called the ‘Automated Batch Pool’ is the most interesting. It has been designed with name-grabbing in mind, and registrars will actually use a completely separate host-name to access it.

So what happens if a registrar attempts to abuse the new system? Thankfully this time, Verisign have thought of this eventuality and announced a series of measures which should punish any registrars that fail to abide by the rules. In particular, they plan to deal harshly with any registrar using the Guarantee or Overflow Pool for name-grabbing purposes, by limiting their access to these pools. If a registrar continues to use them for name-grabbing purposes, they will eventually be blocked from using either pool for 30 days. It’s a serious punishment for most registrars, though maybe not a huge disincentive for the few registrars that seem to concentrate almost exclusively on grabbing domain names, rather than more normal domain registrations.

One curious by-product of the new system is that the days of the 6.30am domain goldrush are over. Verisign have moved the drop time to 2.00pm EDT, presumably because this is more convenient for them and their American-based customers. They have also stated that all names will drop within a strict, 15-minute period that begins at 2.00pm.

How effective the new solution will be only time will tell. Verisign’s last attempt at a technical fix proved totally inadequate, but this new solution looks to have been thought out much more thoroughly. If it works, it will see all ICANN registrars receive adequate access to the shared resources of the registry, and allow them to carry out their business activities without worrying about what time of day it is, or what other registrars are up to.

Another thing worth noting is that this solution has already been identified by Verisign as one for the short-term. They still plan to implement a completely new expiring domains system in the long-term. However, just how different the long-term solution will be is anyone’s guess at present.

How to Strike Gold From August 30th

OK, so that’s the technical details over with. If you want to get in on the expiring domains game, and in particular, grab one or more of the names that will expire in the mother of all drops, how should you go about it? In Goldrush Part 4 I discussed the Snap-Back(TM) service provided by SnapNames, which allows anyone to ‘back order’ a domain name on a first-come, first-served basis. As many of you have pointed out, this service only really comes into its own when you know which names are going to be dropped and when.

How can you find that out? You’ll need to subscribe to an expiring domains service. Domainsbot is the market leader, and has been widely featured in the media, including the New York Times and USA Today. For a subscription fee of $18.95 per month or $8.95 a week, they’ll allow you to perform keyword searches on millions of domain names that are on hold, soon to expire, or expired. So, for instance, within seconds you can see all the on-hold domain names that have the word ‘art’ in them, or all the soon-to-drop domains with less than 15 characters that contain the word ‘casino’. You also get twice-daily emails with new names. This means you can tap into up-to-the-minute information on the registration status of all the dot coms, dot nets, and dot orgs in existence. It’s great information for anyone who wants to research and register expiring domain names.

For your information, a few of the names that will become available during the mother of all drops are:


…but there are many many other good names about to drop. Good luck on grabbing the names you want! For the next update in the Domain Name Goldrush, click here.