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Ring ring! I don’t want registrars, but do you still want to sell my extension?

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A few months ago I wrote about the fact that – despite our brand promise – we do not really offer allextensions. Recently, I received a phone call from Hassan from Intracom Middle East. I am unsure whether Hassan had read that blog post or just found our name on the ICANN registrar list, but it is a fact that he provided me with input for a nice follow-up blog post.

Let me refresh your memory a bit: there are a few registries that we refuse to connect to because of their ridiculous financial requirements. I cannot dive into too much detail because an NDA applies, but I think I don’t break this NDA by telling you that this registry belongs to the group of registries that ask “deposits of up to half a million US dollars before we can even start acting as a registrar.” In that blog post, I suspect them of wanting to end up with a controllable situation of just one registrar: their own.

Exactly that suspicion slipped into my mind again when the phone rang. “Good afternoon! I am Hassan from Intracom Middle East, and we are registrar for .gdn, providing reseller services! Do you want to join?”

Immediately the private detective hidden in me awakens. My colleagues can confirm: as soon as an opportunity arises I open a couple of browser tabs and check website, statistics, registers, everything. Yes: Intracom Middle East is an ICANN accredited registrar. Strange: their website is overpopulated with .gdn information, not what you’d expect from a ‘normal’ registrar. Hmmm… the .gdn registry is located in Dubai, as is this registrar. My belief is that registrar Intracom is the same company as the registry strengthens.

So, let’s ask this guy directly. He could not confirm, but he was neither willing to say that I was wrong. For me, that’s sufficient confirmation: I know that I am talking with the registry.

Good! My job is to talk with registries, and this is a great opportunity to denounce the restrictive registry policies. Openprovider always tries to achieve openness and standardized procedures. In our opinion it is not a problem if registries put some requirements (let’s be honest about it – we’re doing a great job at SIDN, DENIC, gTLDs and others just because of their financial obligations) but registrars must be able to develop a business case. For .gdn – a new extension without any previous experiences – there is no such business case to make yet.

But, what is “gdn”?

Maybe it’s good to halt here to ask the question “what is gdn?” That’s an interesting question, to be honest. Initially the extension .gdn was requested by two companies for internal use: The Guardian intending it for own use aiming at high quality, open journalism and JSC “Navigation-information systems” intending it to be a “new generic top level domain name avenue for global navigation satellite systems industry and users”, giving it the meaning of “Geo Domain Network”.

The Guardian has withdrawn its application. JSC “NIS” got the extension, but for unpublished reasons (probably the stricter rules of ICANN regarding closed extensions) they have rebranded it and it is now an open extension with the meaning “Global Domain Name”. Nothing on the registry’s website talks about ‘navigation’ anymore.

Back to the call

I do not know the exact reason why .gdn aims at a single-registrar model. It could be because of an urge to control, but it can also be more calculating: having no registrars, the registry may be trying to get around ICANN regulations, for example regarding contractual changes. Without real registrars, the registry does not have to be accountable for whatever decision.

I guess you already sensed that I do not like this behavior. Registries must be open in what they do, they must provide equal and realistic access to registrars wanting to sell their product. A registry with a good business case creates awareness for its extension(s) and uses the worldwide registrar channel to target its registrants rather than funneling all orders through its own company.

Hereby I urge all registrars, worldwide, to block registries with such extreme business models. Let them see that without changing to a more open model, they lack the combined power of a worldwide network of registrars. Let them know that you’re willing to contract them, but under more realistic conditions.

Update: just before publishing this blog post, the registry sent a contract amendment notice: they are about to loosen their financial requirements. Still, the deposit amount is pretty high compared to the value of the extension as we expect it. Nevertheless, we will investigate further and maybe we can skip one TLD from the list of “not really all” extensions. I am really glad to see that this registry listens to the registrar’s input and takes this input seriously. Thank you, Hassan, for passing our concerns on to your management.

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