Domainmonster.com Domain Editorials
If you've ever tried to register a domain name, you'll know that finding a good name is a difficult business. You may have had to resort to hyphens, prefixes or other tricks to find a name you like. But it may shock and anger you to learn that there's a good chance a name you found was unavailable was being held by someone who didn't really want it, and who got a refund for it a few days later.
The this is the practice of "domain tasting", a process whereby "domain speculators" (or "domainers") can try out hundreds of Domain Names, and cancel the vast majority of them free of charge within a five day grace period. It's estimated that only about 1-2% of domain registrations result in an actual domain sale; all the rest just get refunded. The practice has become so prolific that it is putting a huge amount of strain on registrars' businesses, and this can only increase prices for legitimate domain name registrants. What is more, it is extremely frustrating for those looking to register domain names.
The practice is so popular because the five day grace period allows domainers to test the traffic to a domain name before they decide to keep it, completely risk free. They do this by placing a page full of pay-per-click advertisements or pornography links at each address, and then counting the number of clicks they generate. Only those that will generate more income than the yearly registration renewal fee are kept permanently. Often these more profitable domains are those which have recently had their registration expire, or else they are misspellings of popular trademarks and websites, such as "www.mircosoft.com". This means that sometimes, domain tasters are also guilty of trademark infringement, but catching them is difficult, as many provide false information when they register their domains.
The grace period was introduced to allow domain registrants to notice and alter any spelling errors they might have made when registering their domain name, but many have expressed their exasperation with ICANN for introducing the policy, with critics arguing that it has turned domain registration into a free-for-all for the "big players" and registrars to exploit the system, whilst individual domain registrants have to suffer the consequences. It has also been argued that the policy would have been useful when domains cost £20 a go, but now that one can be registered for less than £10, it's hardly a huge loss to the individual if refunds are not permitted. Some have suggested a middle ground where there is a charge of a few pence as an "administration fee" when a domain registration is cancelled, making domain tasting a slightly more risky business for speculators.
A related practice is "domain kiting", which involves repeatedly cancelling and re-registering domain names just as the five day grace period is about to expire. In this way, domain registrants can keep a domain essentially free of charge, albeit with quite a lot of effort. However, this practice is mostly perpetrated by individuals who do not want to pay for one or two domain names, rather than speculators with hundreds of domain names.
Another worry for legitimate domain name registrants is what's known as "domain spying", a suspected trick whereby the searches done with domain name checking services, in order to find out whether a domain is available or not, are monitored by some third party. It is thought that available, searched-for domain names are then snapped up by the third party, on the assumption that they must be worth something to somebody. These domains will then either be parked and stuffed with pay-per-click ads, or the registrants will sell them on at a profit. Whether or not this actually happens is debatable, but to be on the safe side, if you are thinking of registering a domain, and you find that it's available, do it straight away
By Natalie Catchpole