Network Solutions Backs Down, A Little

Won't register queried WHOIS domains

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After a fiery uproar, Network Solutions (NetSol) is backing down some from the recently instituted practice of automatically registering domains customers search for on the company’s site. If available, NetSol would hold the domain for four days and sell it for $34.99.

That’s about a $28 price increase, depending on where one does his domaining. The four-day hold is based on ICANN’s five-day grace period, during which refunds are available if domainers change their mind.

NetSol says it instituted the practice to protect customers from "front-running," an opportunistic tactic that involves trolling the WHOIS registry for recently queried domains with the intention of buying those domains and hiking up the price.

During the aforementioned grace period, front-runners might also test the monetizability of a domain, based on PPC ads and/or traffic, a practice known as domain tasting. If unprofitable, domain tasters would release the domain within the grace period. Other times, they may keep a domain tied up in perpetuity, also by manipulating the grace period.

Critics of Network Solutions saw little difference. The company was registering queried domains, raising the price during the grace period, placing an advertisement on the domain page, and then releasing the domain back into the wild.

NetSol denied accusations that they were also front-running, domain kiting, or domain tasting, but were merely providing protection for customers. Assumedly, the nearly $30 price-hike was the fee for that protection.

But after enough heat, spokesperson Susan Wade says that NetSol is working on "improvements to our protection measure." This includes only registering domains searched for on the NetSol homepage, and not via the WHOIS lookup, also on the site. Instead of a promotional page on the domains, the company will only place an "under construction" notification, and the reserved domain names will not resolve.

Still, NetSol has done little to differentiate between what the company is doing and the practice of front-running. Technically, they sound pretty much the same.

ICANN has announced their intention to look into the practice of domain tasting and other ways domainers manipulate its grace period. But don’t expect them to do anything soon. They don’t seem to be in any real hurry.   

Network Solutions Backs Down, A Little
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  • marge

    Network Solutions has registered a domain name that I had been interested in after I performed a WHOIS inquiry at their site.

    They still are squatting on the name – apparently they have it locked up for one year.

    Avoid Network Solutions WHOIS – or they will steal your name.

    They should be thrown in prison.

  • http://www.seofaststart.com Dan Thies is rolling on the floor laughing

    Network Solutions’ "solution" to front running is front running. What a twisted argument that is – thanks for breaking it down so clearly.

  • Guest

    Since February 17, 2008 haven’t been able to reach a multitude of websites hosted by  Network Solutions. I emailed Network Solutions over 72 Hours ago to inquire. All I have received back is an automoted message that I would receive a response within 24 Hours….

    For example two sites I can’t get to – and have had others try also…



    Anybody know anything? Is it a repeat of the 2006 Service Disruption?


  • http://www.gbaudio.co.uk GB

    Last year I bought a domain which was registered with NetSol. A month before the renewal was due I requested that they transfer the registration out to my ISP who deals with all my other registrations and hosting – which as the owner of the domain I’m entitled to do. They totally ignored several requests. The renewal came up while I was abroad on vacation and within a few days they sold my domain out from under me to a waiting buyer. When I got back from vacation my domain was gone. As the registrar, they obviously had an interest in the sale and the ongoing registraton fees. When I complained they said it was my fault! How about that?

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