Unraveling Obfuscation

ob fus cate – 1. to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy 2. to make obscure or unclear

The Evil Still Lurks

Posted by Todd McKinney on February 16, 2008

I really thought that something was going to get solved in the whole controversy over Network Solutions frontrunning domain names when someone queries on them. Sadly, no. As I remember the controversy from a month or so ago, there was an uproar over the way network solutions was reserving domain names whenever a query was performed. They were called out, publicly ridiculed, and essentially flogged in the town square over the issue. As with most people, I figured this would be enough to get them to change their behavior. I was wrong.

This evening, I happened across a post by Robert Scoble, calling for a community effort to document obsolete skills. I thought it was an interesting enough topic, and Robert mentioned that he would like to see someone set up a wiki. He queried for the domain name, and it’s open, but I’m assuming he doesn’t have the time to deal with it. Thinking I could do my good deed for the day, I headed over to godaddy to see if it was still open season. According to my query, someone had beat me to it. Being somewhat curious, I thought I’d see what enterprising person got the domain and maybe send ’em and email and offer some encouragement or something. This is what I got from the whois…


Hmm, that’s a little fishy looking, so I went an took a look at network solutions. Here’s what came back:


So, it turns out that the domain is quite available (or was when I queried just a bit ago) but ONLY if you register with Network Solutions. I could go on and on about my feelings on this one, but I’ll just say this – over my dead body.

edit: replaced the word dustup, because I seem to use it on almost every post. “Controversy” is the term that I now plan to overuse.


8 Responses to “The Evil Still Lurks”

  1. Louis Gray said

    Interesting. I think there’s a pretty good chance one of Scoble’s followers grabbed it and that NetSol hasn’t caught up yet, but you might be on to something.

  2. todd said

    Yep, I’m sure someone will have ended up registering it, but as I was looking back on all the noise and heat from Digg, the blogosphere, and everywhere else from mid-January, they just took the approach of “hey, we’re doing a good thing here” and never even conceded that it’s purely a lock-in tactic to force people to use their service. Then, as these things do, it just went away.

    I doubt that there’s anything that can be done to fix it, but it just seems wrong that they can operate like this and not be held accountable.

  3. Hi Todd,

    I work for Network Solutions. Wanted to assure you that Network Solutions is listening and as the “listening post” for Network Solutions I make sure the feedback is disucssed. After the feedback from the community and customers from a few weeks ago we made several changes including not reserving any domains searched from our whois page.

    For the domain obsoleteskills.com to appear as reserved – someone had to have searched in the Network Solutions home page domain search box.

    I know a lot of people read Scoble’s post and on Twitter I saw @bck Brad Kellett (http://www.pantsland.com/)tweet to Scoble that he registered the domain and is going to start a wiki.


  4. Let it be know that the domain was on ‘ClientHold’ status BEFORE I registered it. I was going to register it through GoDaddy, but had to do it through Network Solutions because of their stupid hold.

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  6. KPR said

    I had to pay premium ($75 for 3 year domain name) to Network Solutions because of their stupid practice.

    Does any one think of filing a law suit against Network Solutions for taking the CHOICE away from consumer? It would be worth millions.

  7. Matthew Crews said

    I had this happen to me. I managed to beat Network Solutions at their own game, though. I called them up (there’s a published 1-800 number), got ahold of a live person, and demanded either:

    a) They let me pay $10 like GoDaddy charges, or
    b) They release their hold on the domain so I can register with whatever registrar I wanted.

    They quickly opted for option b)

  8. todd said

    Matthew, that’s a good point. I forgot to mention that, but I do seem to recall seeing it in my tracking down their policy. I’m pretty sure that if you call, you can get them to release the hold. I’m still not clear on who is allowed to do this, but as a practical matter it’s probably anyone that cares enough to call them.

    Personally, I just wish they would quit with the dumb policy. As I understand it, they’re claiming to protect against frontrunning based on threats that are easily mitigated (e.g. spyware). This all just strikes me as the cure being much worse than the disease. Well, actually it strikes me as a lie by a company that’s fairly desparate.

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