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news Automated Domain Verification Arrives At Afternic

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Domain names listed on a marketplace by someone other than the owner are a problem. Often these are the result of the previous owner overlooking taking down the listing after the name expired or was sold at another venue. In some cases, the names may be deliberately listed in error for nefarious purposes.

In the past, if an invalid domain listing was up at Afternic, the only way to get it down was to email Afternic service, accompanied with a screen capture showing the domain name in your registrar account. That typically took a few days, and really was not that solid a verification technique.

Until now, at Afternic there was no automated way the user could immediately verify their ownership of the domain name and get the old listing deleted. That has changed, effective today. It is now possible for an owner to quickly verify their names, and have incorrect listings taken down.

In this article I do a detailed walk through the steps for the new Afternic domain verification method, and also review the existing verifications at Sedo, Dan and SquadHelp.

The Afternic TXT Verification System

The Afternic verification system offers two options. In one, you add a TXT verification record that is unique to each Afternic seller. The other option is to add a third DNS record unique to that seller.

Here is a step-by-step process for the Afternic TXT verification method:
  1. Log in to your Afternic account, using the Beta (not Classic) interface.
  2. On the left sidebar expand the Account, and it shows a section called Ownership Settings.
  3. When opened, it will show you your unique TXT verification record, as well as your unique NS3. Either can be readily copied using the copy icon. The TXT record verification will have the format afternic-verification-************, where the ending is unique to each user.
  4. I suggest copying and saving the verification TXT code somewhere you can readily access any time you are setting TXT records. The code is the same for all domain names in your Afternic account. I keep each of my marketplace TXT verification records in a little spreadsheet, along with other frequently used data such as DNS settings for the different venues.
  5. Before you try to verify a name at Afternic, go to the registrar where the name is registered, make sure that the DNS are at the standard registrar settings, then add under DNS Records a new TXT record that contains your pasted Afternic user verification code.
  6. Give it a little time to propagate. In my testing with a few different registrars not long was needed, tens of minutes or less, but depending on your registrar location, it may be longer.
  7. Now you are ready to add your domain name to the Afternic account, even though another user has the name incorrectly listed. Make sure you are in the Beta Interface, not legacy. From left sidebar, select Portfolio and then Add Domains. You will be presented with a big box to enter the domain name(s). You can copy and paste a number of names (up to 50), or just enter one or two manually. Then press Next button at bottom right.
  8. If some of the domain names from your list are already in other accounts, it will give you the message “This domain already exists in another account.” No problem, now select Verify Domains.
  9. That brings you to a page reminding you of your unique ownership TXT and NS3 codes. But you already saved those earlier, and assuming you already entered the DNS Records at your registrar, check the tick box “Yes, I’ve added the TXT….” and then press the button Request Ownership Verification.
  10. It takes some tens of seconds, after which it should say “You’ve successfully verified your ownership of DomainName.com.”
  11. You then set Buy Now, Floor (if desired) and Minimum pricing, and press Submit button at the bottom.
It may seem long written out in detail, but if you do multiple names that are at the same registrar at the same time, it is pretty fast and easy – see the workflow proposed in the next section.

Just as this article was being posted, the official Afternic account announced verification, and outline the steps, including screen shots.

You only need to use TXT (or NS3) verification for names already in the Afternic system, in another account, so there can still be incorrect listings. The new system makes it fast and automatic to replace an incorrect listing with your verified listing, however.

A Workflow

I use several marketplaces that employ TXT verification, so what I do as a first step when listing a newly acquired name is to put all of the TXT verifications in. There is absolutely no problem having, say, Sedo, Dan, SquadHelp and Afternic TXT verification records all up concurrently.

With some registrars, you are able to define a template
that includes the 3 or 4 TXT verification records, and then apply that to each newly acquired domain name. For example, NameSilo have an easy way to set up a template. Some registrars may not have a template, but do have bulk tools, so you can set many DNS records in a single step.

Here are the steps in the workflow I follow:
  1. At the registrar, with default DNS settings for that registrar, I add all TXT verification records at the same time, and before I list on any marketplaces.
  2. I wait for propagation of the DNS Records. In my trials, that only needs to be ten minutes, but your results may differ.
  3. I then go to each marketplace, and add the domain name listings. At Sedo, it will check TXT verification for all additions. At Afternic, it will flag the names from my list already in another account, and I will ask it to complete verification, as outlined above, for those names.
  4. Make sure that all the names have verified and been added to all marketplaces. You can use page refresh while at the Sedo My Domains to check when all have verified. With Afternic, you wait until verification is reported, usually just a matter of ten or twenty seconds in my testing.
  5. Go back to the registrar, and change the DNS settings to point to the marketplace where you want the lander.
See below for the details on verification at Dan and Sedo, but it is an almost identical process.

Tip:
For me at least, it seems that Dan pick up on TXT verifications faster than Sedo. For that reason, after I set the TXT records at my registrar for all of the venues, I usually list my names at Dan first, before I go to Sedo and list there. That gives Sedo a bit more propagation time.​

Sedo

The new Afternic verification system is very similar to the verification system Sedo has had in place for some time, and that Dan has had in recent years. Therefore the procedure above applies to Sedo verification as well. You will have more success if you first set the TXT records, and wait for propagation, and then add the names to Sedo, rather than adding the name and then adding the verification TXT at your registrar.

Note that Sedo require verification of all new listings, whether they are already in a Sedo account or not.

To find your Sedo TXT verification code, log in and under your name select My Account. Then select General Settings and your Owner Verification ID should be at the top. Use the copy icon to copy and then paste it somewhere, as you will use it many times. It will be the same code for all of your domains listed at Sedo from your account.

If you have an issue with TXT records and Sedo verification, you can try using their DNS as an alternative verification method.

So what if a name does not verify at Sedo, perhaps because you did not wait for propagation or tried listing before adding the TXT records at your registrar? While it rechecks periodically, so should eventually verify, I find often it takes a very long time. Here is a tip I discovered.

Tip:
If you have waited a while, and a domain name won’t verify at Sedo, try deleting the name at Sedo and listing again. To find the name, use the Custom setting, and search for the name, then select it, and choose Delete Domain. Almost always, that bit more propagation time does the trick, and Sedo will promptly verify it when you list the name again.​

If you use Efty, including their nameservers, you can use Efty Bulk DNS to verify ownership at Sedo, without going directly to your registrar.

Dan Verification

Even though GoDaddy own both Afternic and Dan, each have their own verification systems, although the methodology is very similar. Like Afternic, Dan only require verification of names previously listed. I find it simpler to set it up for all names, rather than figure out which ones require it.

After you add names with Dan, they will send you a message telling you how many were successfully added, and how many failed, or were already in your account and ignored.

If you are searching for your TXT verification for Dan, sign in and on the sidebar at the left, go down to Settings at the bottom. Open that, and the last entry is Ownership. There you will see the dan-ownership-verification=code*********, as well as unique ownership DNS settings as another option.

After that, the process is the same as for Afternic and Sedo TXT verification described above.

SquadHelp Verification for Standard Listings

When you add domain names to your ’white label’ standard listings site at SquadHelp, you must verify ownership either by pointing the DNS to SquadHelp, or setting a unique TXT verification record. The steps are outlined in this document.

Note that you need to use DNS or TXT record verification, but you generally need to also tell SquadHelp to verify the domain name after addition. It will flag this for you, and there is an icon that you press for verification.

If you have any unverified names, it will remind you.

After your name is verified on your SquadHelp white label site you do not need to keep pointing it there if you prefer a different lander.

For premium listings, they do need to be pointed at SquadHelp continuously.

Solving Problems

Problems with TXT based verification systems almost always are due to one of the following:
  • Not realizing that the DNS must be set to the registrar defaults. That is, if you set your DNS to point to a marketplace, any attempt to change DNS Records will fail.
  • Failing to first set the TXT verification, and waiting a little while, before you try to add the name(s) to the marketplace. Sedo in particular seems to often fail verification if you only add the TXT records after the name has been listed.
  • If a verification fails, and it is neither of the above two reasons, make sure that there is not an A record mapping the domain to a physical IP address, or some other redirection. This is most likely to happen if you have a name pushed from another user. In some cases the registrar will maintain these redirections with the new owner.
Tip:
A mistake that is easy to make when setting DNS Records at your registrar is to fail to click Save, or something similar, to actually make the changes. It is easy to think you have set the DNS Records, but you have not.​

If your verification is not working, and you are trying to sort out whether the TXT records are right, and it is some other problem, or if the TXT records did not get added, many forms of Whois will not help you. However, you can use tools such as TXT Lookup, part of the MX SuperTool, to check whether the TXT records are set right and have propagated.

Each registrar has their own way to add DNS Records. Here are a few tips.

Tip–Namecheap:
If your names are at Namecheap, you need to use Manage and then Advanced DNS. Then under Type choose TXT, under Name enter the @ character, value is the TXT record, and you must switch Proxy to say DNS only, not Enabled that probably comes up as the default.​

Tip–Sav:
At Sav, the process is through CloudFlare. You first select Manage DNS on the top right, and then Enable under Custom, and then say OK when asked to confirm. There is usually some seconds delay. Then under Type choose TXT, under Name enter the @ character, value is the TXT record, and you must switch Proxy to say DNS only, not Enabled that comes up as the default​

Tip–Dynadot:
Dynadot have useful bulk tools for both setting DNS records and DNS servers. From your domain list check the names you want to manage. Then under Bulk Action pull-down menu choose DNS Settings. From there you can use any of your predefined templates, or Dynadot DNS to set the TXT records. Once you click Save, the changes will be made to all of the selected names.​

Many other registrars have bulk tools. Investigate the routine for the registrars that you use.

Other Benefits

As well as making it fast and automatic to take down invalid listings, domain verification also helps to make sure that names are entered correctly.

Now that Afternic service staff will not have to deal with a never-ending stream of requests to manually take down incorrect listings, it should free them to deal more quickly with other problems.

During a short transition period staff will still help as in past, but going forward the plan is that owners will use verification as the normal method to remove incorrect listings.

Final Thoughts

Just to make sure there is no confusion, TXT verification is for listing domain names on Afternic, or at least those that are already in the system. The same is true for Sedo. Listing verification is separate from the process for fast transfer approval.

Those wishing to use the Afternic Fast Transfer network, or Sedo MLS, will still need to verify acceptance through their registrar.
You can read about fast transfer networks in this article: A Deeper Look at Fast Transfer Networks.

If you have a Dan account with Afternic integration turned on, your domain names will be listed at Afternic, but linked to your Dan account, and will not show up in your Afternic account. Yes, I find this a little confusing. But it does mean that if the name is already listed, make sure it is not by your own Dan account. You can readily check this from your Dan account. The integration seems very fast, with domains added to Dan appearing at Afternic just a minute or two later, at least that was my experience.

I tried a number of different domain names that had previously failed due to prior listings using the new Afternic TXT verification. Using the new Afternic TXT verification system, all were quickly verified without issue. I tried names held at a number of different registrars, and a few different TLDs.

I am delighted that we finally have Afternic TXT domain name verification. The manual email system was time-consuming, both for Afternic staff and for domain name investors. I personally hope Afternic verification will be expanded to be required for all new listings, not just those already in the system.

If you are wondering why the originators of the DNS system included TXT records in the 1993 specification, and some of the ways TXT records are used today, this short article from CloudFlare is informative.

While I concentrated in this article on the TXT record verification method, keep in mind that you also have a third nameserver (NS3) method with the Afternic verification method. The user can decide which works best for their situation.

Addition:
Afternic also announced today the ability to switch between inquiry, buy now, and cash parking landers from within the portfolio manager, rather than needing to change the nameserver settings at your registrar between ns3/4, ns5/6 and ns 1/2. I wrote a short description of that here.

My sincere thanks to James Iles for demonstrating the system to me, and also for answering a number of follow-up questions I had regarding TXT verification.
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
I read the article and honestly after reading it, it sounds like there shouldn't be any TTL setting for a txt record. So it could be I still just don't understand haha.
 
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I really hope that Afternic have set as very high priority to require verification not just on names already listed, but on all names added to the marketplace.

Why is this so important? Some of us have some names listed at sites requiring exclusivity, so we can't do away with incorrect listings by listing ourselves on Afternic.

Right now, as far as I can see, there is nothing to stop someone fraudulently listing the name on Afternic. If they do not try to set FT, you won't even get a notification.

It is really important to carefully read any requests that come in from your registrar to activate FT, since if you click, even though you did not list it yourself, then it seems to be possible, as far as I can see, that your name can sell, get transferred, and your account will not be the one that gets credited with the funds. Now, I presume, when reported, Afternic would try to roll the sale back, and probably can in most cases. But it is a risk, even if small, that is in my opinion not tolerable.

I know I am not alone as there have been recent warnings by several experienced domain investors to be very careful in approving FT. Let me relay what happened this week.

I have a dictionary word .com that I have had since 2018, and I have it renewed at Namecheap through 2028. I have it listed as SquadHelp Premium. It gets a fair amount of short lists, and I definitely don't want to lose it.

Since I do not have Silver status at SquadHelp, I can't list premium names at Afternic, even for the extra commission. So the name is only listed for sale at SquadHelp, nowhere else. At least not by me (I do know that SquadHelp have agreements with for example Sedo so they have listed it there at a slightly higher price).

There was no change in ownership or registration on this name for a long time, but last week Namecheap sent me a thing to approve the name for Afternic FT. I quickly checked that I had not by mistake listed the name on Afternic, but no, not in my Afternic account. Then it is weird, I can't find the name in Afternic search, but when I search the name it does say at top it is for sale at Afternic.

I first thought it was a Namecheap issue, and sent notice to them, with all the email headers etc. They responded within minutes to my ticket, and said that I had to contact Afternic, as the name was showing for sale at Afternic, and they could not control that.

I had already contacted Afternic, both through their form from my account, and using the service email. After a few days, I got two identical responses, both saying that in order to list my name at Afternic, then outlining the steps for verification. That was of course not what I asked them to do! 😡 I know how to do that B-), even wrote this article, and have smoothly used TXT verification dozens of times. :happy:

I was asking them to take down the fraudulent listing from someone else's account. I had provided with the email a screen capture showing that I owned the name. Anyway, I have now corrected their misunderstanding of what I wanted, and again requested that the name be taken down off Afternic.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I am increasingly concerned on this. It is particularly awkward at registrars that do not give you a way to individually deactivate FT on certain domain names. Some even give you no choice in approving but to approve an entire list.

@James Iles tagging you so hopefully you can continue to use your influence to try to get the second phase of verification to happen, so names not currently at Afternic cannot be listed without verification. I am not asking for help in my individual case, as I will persist until they take it down.💪

-Bob Hawkes
 
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I really hope that Afternic have set as very high priority to require verification not just on names already listed, but on all names added to the marketplace.

Why is this so important? Some of us have some names listed at sites requiring exclusivity, so we can't do away with incorrect listings by listing ourselves on Afternic.

Right now, as far as I can see, there is nothing to stop someone fraudulently listing the name on Afternic. If they do not try to set FT, you won't even get a notification.

It is really important to carefully read any requests that come in from your registrar to activate FT, since if you click, even though you did not list it yourself, then it seems to be possible, as far as I can see, that your name can sell, get transferred, and your account will not be the one that gets credited with the funds. Now, I presume, when reported, Afternic would try to roll the sale back, and probably can in most cases. But it is a risk, even if small, that is in my opinion not tolerable.

I know I am not alone as there have been recent warnings by several experienced domain investors to be very careful in approving FT. Let me relay what happened this week.

I have a dictionary word .com that I have had since 2018, and I have it renewed at Namecheap through 2028. I have it listed as SquadHelp Premium. It gets a fair amount of short lists, and I definitely don't want to lose it.

Since I do not have Silver status at SquadHelp, I can't list premium names at Afternic, even for the extra commission. So the name is only listed for sale at SquadHelp, nowhere else. At least not by me (I do know that SquadHelp have agreements with for example Sedo so they have listed it there at a slightly higher price).

There was no change in ownership or registration on this name for a long time, but last week Namecheap sent me a thing to approve the name for Afternic FT. I quickly checked that I had not by mistake listed the name on Afternic, but no, not in my Afternic account. Then it is weird, I can't find the name in Afternic search, but when I search the name it does say at top it is for sale at Afternic.

I first thought it was a Namecheap issue, and sent notice to them, with all the email headers etc. They responded within minutes to my ticket, and said that I had to contact Afternic, as the name was showing for sale at Afternic, and they could not control that.

I had already contacted Afternic, both through their form from my account, and using the service email. After a few days, I got two identical responses, both saying that in order to list my name at Afternic, then outlining the steps for verification. That was of course not what I asked them to do! 😡 I know how to do that B-), even wrote this article, and have smoothly used TXT verification dozens of times. :happy:

I was asking them to take down the fraudulent listing from someone else's account. I had provided with the email a screen capture showing that I owned the name. Anyway, I have now corrected their misunderstanding of what I wanted, and again requested that the name be taken down off Afternic.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I am increasingly concerned on this. It is particularly awkward at registrars that do not give you a way to individually deactivate FT on certain domain names. Some even give you no choice in approving but to approve an entire list.

@James Iles tagging you so hopefully you can continue to use your influence to try to get the second phase of verification to happen, so names not currently at Afternic cannot be listed without verification. I am not asking for help in my individual case, as I will persist until they take it down.💪

-Bob Hawkes
Yes, this is a huge problem, and Afternic needs to address it.

I now get emails almost daily from my registrar asking me to activate Fast Transfer for names that someone else has listed at Afternic.

It is really annoying having to reject the requests all the time, and imagine clicking "Approve" by mistake, and then one of your most premium names leaves your account just like that...
 
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@Bob Hawkes Afternic definitely needs to address this. What I did to solve the problem with some Squadhelp domains that somebody else listed was to submit these domains to Afternic, verify them so they appear in the account and then unlist them, a function that keeps them in the account but not actively listed. That way they're still in your account, but not listed and somebody else can't add them.
 
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keeps them in the account but not actively listed. That way they're still in your account, but not listed and somebody else can't add them.
Thanks so much. I had not thought of that. In fact, not even sure I knew making names unavailable for sale was a possibility at Afternic. I will definitely use that going forward. I occasionally use the Sedo not listed that way.

Once I, hopefully soon, get to 50 SH-P I plan to list on Afternic even with the +5% commission and higher price requirement, I think worthwhile and will keep these names out of someone else listing.

Bob

PS My name seems to now have been removed from Afternic.
 
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