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How do you feel about a possible collectively owned domainer registrar?

  • This poll is still running and the standings may change.
  • I don't see a need for one, and would not use it.

    40
    votes
    22.6%
  • I like the idea in principle, but it would be too difficult to set up.

    60
    votes
    33.9%
  • I am enthusiastic about one, and would definitely use it.

    40
    votes
    22.6%
  • I would be willing to help lead the initiative.

    19
    votes
    10.7%
  • I think we should discuss it, but not sure if I am in favour or against.

    39
    votes
    22.0%
  • I am against the idea of a collective registrar, or even discussing it.

    11
    votes
    6.2%
  • This poll is still running and the standings may change.

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As part of the discussions around the locked domain names and registrar terms of service, the idea of a collective domainer-owned registrar came up. In order to not take the thread off-track, it was proposed that I should set up a thread for just that topic.

The following comments offered by @oldtimer broadly outlines both what would need to be done.
We probably first need to create a legal entity through some kind of an Association or Corporation so that it can apply for being a Registrar, but you need to check with ICANN to see which legal entities can actually qualify for this according to their rules.

I guess we have to come up with a nice name for our Association and select all the people who are going to run it and probably charge some kind of an Association Fee so that it can become self sustaining by itself.

In my opinion, the primary reason to consider a registrar co-operative would be to make sure that the terms of service protect domainer (and other) rights in a fair and transparent manner that includes due process. It would have a transparent, fair and rapid process for dealing with allegations about domain names. Of course, any registrar would be subject to UDRP, court orders and associated processes.

I think it is very unlikely that a collectively-owned registrar could offer services at lower prices. Some existing registrar is always offering major legacy registrations or transfers below their base cost, and occasionally renewals.They are able to do that because they anticipate additional revenue through services like web hosting, or make commissions when the domain name sells. If a collectively owned registrar was simply a registrar, it would have to charge higher registration fees to break even.

This is not an exclusive list, but some points that might warrant discussion here.
  1. How would it be structured legally, and what might be requirements for membership?
  2. Would there be an annual cost of membership? If so, what range?
  3. What domains would it handle, e.g. just major legacy, almost everything including many country code, or something in between?
  4. I presume it would need ICANN accreditation to be widely accepted. Is that right?
  5. What things bother us about current commercial registrar offerings?
  6. Would it offer other services, and if so which ones? e.g. a marketplace, an expiry stream process, insurance or legal services, etc.
  7. Would a domainer-collective registrar face trust issues with the general public, who would probably be unfamiliar with the registrar?
  8. Do you see in addition to registrar it having a wholesale marketplace? A retail marketplace? An expired domain process?
  9. Would it have the advantage, since starting from scratch, to be able to use modern technology like blockchain record keeping and support for fractional ownership and payment plan record keeping?
  10. How do you feel the existing marketplaces would feel about it, and would they work with it?
More broadly, there is the question, with thousands of registrar choices, are we not well enough served already? At least a number of registrars were started by domainers and therefore were focussed on serving domain investors.

There is a thread started by @equity78 asking the main registrars domain investors use to state their ToS and dispute practices. That background is clearly relevant.

I have a few other thoughts, but will leave them for later. Just to make clear, I am not pushing this idea, and definitely not willing to help lead such an initiative, at my age, background and investment level. I do hope to do some research on past efforts along these lines, similar co-operatives in other sectors, and ICANN requirements. Please provide background and links on initiatives like this that have been tried in the past.

Look forward to seeing what everyone thinks.

Bob

(Please vote in the associated poll -- note that you can select multiple items, if desired.)
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
It is a reasonable idea in theory, though in practice I think you are going to run into a lot of logistical issues when it comes to tech, customer support, compliance, legal, etc.

Brad
 
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twiki

Top Contributor
Impact
21,733
This is a very nice utopian idea.

And I'm going to explain why.

Say you have 20,000 people that collectively own the registrar. Do you think these people will decide what the registrar does, and what kind of culture is being uphold, and so on?

Nope. The board does.

The board will always be a small number of people that would be in power and control. Sure they can be eventually replaced, but later the same thing will happen. And people in power and control have personal interests, business relationships, favors to uphold to others, and - most importantly! - their own pockets to fill.

Being a minute owner of shares in such a firm will not make your voice heard. Not really.

And in the end, predatory tactics of the registrars are all for the $$$. And the interest of the shareholders are not some nice but utopian culture, but their dividends and share value. Therefore the board will also be pushed in the direction of satisfying their shareholder's pockets, thus resulting again in predatory and/or abusive tactics at some point. And of course, first and foremost, their own pockets. That's where all nice ideas end.

You can't really mix today's capitalism with such nice but unfeasible ideas. And I'm not even touching the 1000 topics of ownership,management, compliance etc etc. That's just the cherry on the cake.

Everyone bows to the mighty dollar. So this will eventually happen anyway. I'm looking at how many organizations have started with, and what they ended up with. Do no evil? Yeah, right.

Edit: The problem is not in the firm's design. Funny, it even resembles to me the original communist ideas that seemed so grand and revolutionary initially. Look where that ended.

The problem relies in the grander design of our modern society, how business works in this capitalist world; and especially human nature which is socially unstable, and predatory by birth. We are a predator species. We all have grand ideas, but we also have to be fair to ourselves and admit the naked truth.
 
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18,471
Interesting thread here. A few thoughts:

1. The notion of a co-op is not new. Farmers and guilds were doing it 1000 years ago, where shared mission and shared economy created a justification for shared infrastructure with aligned incentive.

2. The rise of DAO / Tokenized economies provides a transparent framework for governance and ownership. The majority of the DAO ultimately owns and governs. That is a blessing and a curse.

3. Governance is destiny -- the non-revokable charter will likely mean more than the ownership framework, since a world with printed money can ultimately buy ownership in an efficient market.

4. Anticipate the future - go where the puck is going, not just where it has been. The rise of DAO and NFT economies, means that a coop for conventional domains may grow quickly.

5. Domicile wisely - Identify a suitable domicile for the venture, e.g. I have recently been in discussion with the incoming government of a Caribbean nation, as safe harbor for digital property.

6. Align the vision - the debates about acceptable use have been frequent. The terms of service should be relatively enduring.


Practical input:

1. Choose your battle wisely around value creation rather than control - Rather than sweat the registrar compliance topic, consider placing the emphasis on efficient clearing and/or shared ownership of domains using NFT tech overlaid with approved registrars that are contractually bound by operating covenants. The goal is (a) low cost of domain ownership, (b) asset protection from policy abuse, (c) shared upside, e.g. from monetizing expiry stream.

2. Don't underestimate the technology development task of building a resilient registrar. It is large and you will likely want to have the coop own it. The Epik technology platform is capable of being licensed on a perpetual, non-exclusive basis. We own it all from the ground up and could fork the technology for an adequately capitalized coop project, If someone wants to explore pairing the Epik tech platform with a token offering and a new accredited registrar that is strategically domiciled, happy to cooperate there.

3. Appoint or recruit a project champion - Leadership by committee tends to be much ado about nothing. To attract adopters, the governors will need capable executive leadership very early. 24/7 access to a registrar where domains don't go missing requires a leader that will keep trains running on time, and will keep stakeholders apprised of progress. People with these skill sets tend not to work for free but will be essential to the mission if it is to attract enough domains to become viable and self-sustaining.

4. Crawl, walk, run -- ambitious "utopian" projects can easily falter due to lack of continuity as the energy runs out when the starting cash proves insufficient.


Ultimately, I think the stakeholder energy that is being released into this thread may ultimately be better suited to solving the root problem of misaligned objectives. For example, a "Domain Owner Bill of Rights" or "Magna Carta" was once put forward but died quickly on the vine. See related article:

https://www.verdict.co.uk/magna-carta-for-the-web-domain-name-bill-of-rights/

Codifying these rights is a reasonable and achievable goal, whereby domain owners essentially unionize or brigade their market power in order to achieve concessions from the suppliers so they are not abused. The registrars that agree to be governed by this code of conduct are then vetted for having sufficient capitalization, insurance coverage and operating transparency to deliver on their promise with adjudication through binding mediation in the event of non-compliance. Registrants who buy domains at the consortium registrars then also agree to their own code of conduct, e.g. to verify their identity, to not knowingly traffic in stolen domains, to not use stolen credit cards, etc.

Good luck with this process. If the industry no longer wants to be a "wild west" there is a way to get there.
 
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14,068
Hi

collectively...
how many know how to run a registrar?

collectively....
how many have expendable resources to fund/support it?

particularly....
on a forum where most everyone claims to be a reseller, not an enduser?.

however....
in the theme of a proposed NP marketplace, if they could pull that off, first -
then, the next step could be domain registrar or partner services.

imo...



.
 
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oldtimer

SaveThyWorld.com Let's not leave anyone behind
Impact
6,308
@Bob Hawkes ,

Thanks for getting this thread started,

Regardless of whether this idea comes to fruition or not, but the discussions around creating a perfect Registrar for Domainers will at the very least shine a light on what is wrong with the status quo in the domain Industry.

We need to keep in mind that our Registrar does not necessarily have to be open to the public (at least not at the beginning), it could be treated as a private club that only caters to the needs of its members.

Below are the posts that I had made in the original thread that you have mentioned in your opening post here, interestingly enough the last one was the only one that since has been deleted out of that original thread.

Either way I believe that my posts are more appropriate to be in this thread so that they can be used as a point of reference as to how we got here.

The rest is up to the Domaining Community here to get this thing on the right track and to make sure that it stays on the right track.

By the way thanks for all your efforts and thanks to everyone else for their input and advice.


In all fairness to everyone things could get a little complicated at times even if the Members here at NamePros collectively owned a Registrar of their own (maybe not a bad idea :xf.wink:)

While most domainers are not doing anything illegal, but we can't deny the fact that there are some bad actors whom the domain Industry has to be able to deal with in certain situations.

Adding to that all the politics involved with domain names being used as a vehicle for free speech,

And putting into consideration the intense competition that exists in the domain Industry,

It seems that certain issues and problems are bound to arise even with the best of Registrars,

The important thing here is to have transparency and accountability across the whole Industry by having a set of Uniform Standards and Policies that can clearly define everyone's Responsibilities and Rights.

The most important of these Standards and Policies should be the fact that Registrant Rights should not be allowed to be overridden by anyone without a court order from the proper jurisdiction and that the Registrars and Registries should not be permitted to get in direct and aggressive competition with their customers over their domains and other digital assets.

IMO

@Bob Hawkes , I am not 100% sure if the idea of the Members here collectively owning a Registrar has been discussed here or not, but theoretically I don't see any obstacles in the way of bringing this idea to reality.

We probably first need to create a legal entity through some kind of an Association or Corporation so that it can apply for being a Registrar, but you need to check with ICANN to see which legal entities can actually qualify for this according to their rules.

I guess we have to come up with a nice name for our Association and select all the people who are going to run it and probably charge some kind of an Association Fee so that it can become self sustaining by itself.

Bob, since you asked about this I guess you should create a thread to see how everyone here feels about owning their own Registrar, and at the same time it would be nice if you used your research and journalistic abilities to find out all the requirements from ICANN.

It's worth noting that once the Association is created it can also provide other services to the Members such as help with legal issues and disputes or help with facilitating domain sales and transactions (amongst many other services such as providing Insurance against loss of domains or for different kinds of liabilities).

IMO

My current health condition doesn't allow me to take on any big projects like this,

But my head is still full of good ideas,
:xf.wink::angelic::xf.smile:

And as someone who cares about the Registrant Rights (and People's Rights in general) I will keep a close eye on anything that comes out of this project.

IMO

If it's being run by domainers themselves maybe making a profit won't be the first priority (of course the operating costs have to be factored in).

Our Registrar has to be everything that others are not, as far as providing the best customer service and being fair and unbiased when it comes to protecting the Registrants Rights and respecting the freedom of speech for the law abiding people.

And more importantly there should be total transparency and accountability in the way that things are being handled and we have to make sure that it won't engage in behaviors and actions that are in direct and aggressive competition with the Registrants.

Of course we also have to make sure that our Registrar is not hijacked by any ideological or extremist groups and or individuals from any side.

By the way lets wait for Bob to make a thread for this before our posts get deleted here for being off topic.

IMO


This was deleted from the original thread:
and one last thing, although we welcome all advice, input, and assistance from those who have experience in creating and running a Registrar (and or an Association) and are familiar with their related products and services, but it's very important for everyone to realize that this should be an operation run by Domainers for Domainers and as such all matters related to decision making and management and the direction that this project is going to take has to be determined by all the Domainers involved and not by just a single person.

If we have been unhappy with the status quo in the domain Industry then we have to make darn sure that we don't create the same situations ourselves.
 
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FolioTeam

AMDB.tv
Impact
6,669
particularly....
on a forum where most everyone claims to be a reseller, not an enduser?.

.

Wish I could give this more than 1 like
 
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Lox

_____
Impact
8,062
  1. Would a domainer-collective registrar face trust issues with the general public, who would probably be unfamiliar with the registrar?
1. .... general public, who would probably be familiar with the registrar & most frequently cited by complainants.
 
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HotKey

Made in Canada
Impact
10,001
With the proper groundwork laid beforehand, anything is possible. Even if, as Twiki mentioned, we have 20k people vested, as long as there's rules implanted of a percentage majority count for decision making, it leaves the onus on participation for the results, regardless of number.

But as Mugford said, the logistics seem a nightmare with so many fingers in the pie. So not for it though would be an interesting experiment.
 

oldtimer

SaveThyWorld.com Let's not leave anyone behind
Impact
6,308
There are probably enough Registrars in the domain Industry already,

If a new Registrar is created it is with the assumption that it’s going to be different than all the other ones that are already out there which in the most part are driven either by ideological agendas or by greed which as we all know in many cases have resulted in some unfair, discriminatory, overreaching, or illegal practices.

So this can’t be like just another Registrar that has succumbed to the status quo in the domain Industry, this has to be something revolutionary in all its aspects.

The Domainers' Registrar perhaps could only be made available through membership at the beginning and offer limited services until we can figure out what direction we want it to go.

Maybe members can chip in $1000 each to get the Registrar started and then pay $750 per year to keep it going and in return get .com domains for $7.85 , this could work if we got enough people interested (like at least 1000 members).

It's worth noting that whenever discretion is involved in making a decision or a choice all matters at hand should be put to a vote amongst all members, so that there will be no single person who can decide for example to lock anyone's domain or change any of the prices.

IMO
 
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CraigD

Top Contributor
Impact
11,566
If a registrar exists mostly to serve domainers, I think it would quickly become a target for a number of reasons.

The legal costs to fight litigation would become overwhelming, forcing registration and transfer prices up.

IMO it's not tenable.
 

oldtimer

SaveThyWorld.com Let's not leave anyone behind
Impact
6,308
If a registrar exists mostly to serve domainers, I think it would quickly become a target for a number of reasons.

The legal costs to fight litigation would become overwhelming, forcing registration and transfer prices up.

IMO it's not tenable.

There certainly are going to be some problems that are going to arise no matter what kind of venture is started by a group of people, hopefully there will be enough smart and capable members joining this project that will make it possible to overcome all those problems and become successful.

The biggest problem that I see is what appears to be the differences in ideologies amongst Domainers themselves. It turns out that the big Registrars might not be the only ones that are driven by certain ideological agendas. Domainers too seem to be divided in several ideological camps which can cause a problem if each group wants to take the Registrar (and or the Association) to go in their direction.

Although there is still some hope that everyone would forget about the differences in their ideologies and decide to work together once they realize the kind of benefits that owning their own Registrar can bring to them as Domainers as far as them collectively start seeing this Registrar as the best and safest place to keep their valuable domains at.

But nevertheless we still need to put some safeguards into place to make sure that no ideological groups or anyone who doesn’t believe in our shared standards for the Registrants and Members Rights is going to be able to hijack our Collective Registrar (and or our Association) whether from the outside or whether from within the Membership itself.

IMO
 
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oldtimer

SaveThyWorld.com Let's not leave anyone behind
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I know it's probably too early to choose a name for our Collective Registrar,

But I would like to reserve this as a possible candidate:

dnFortress.com

:xf.wink::angelic::xf.smile:

The best and safest Registrar in the World for Domainers! © (Membership Required)

(All Rights Reserved)
 
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Impact
30,624
Thanks to everyone who has left comments and suggestions. There seems more belief the idea might be good in principle than that it would work smoothly in such a diverse community.

Maybe members can chip in $1000 each to get the Registrar started and then pay $750 per year to keep it going and in return get .com domains for $7.85
I personally doubt that enough would be willing to pay that much a year for wholesale prices, when they can pay about 1/10 to a commercial plan for same pricing, or by shopping around without plan.

I tend to agree that it might be easier to start with something less complex and costly to set up than a registrar, as @biggie suggested, possibly a collectively-operated marketplace.

Thanks in particular for your detailed comments @Rob Monster As you say cooperatives and guilds have been around a long time and work in many sectors. It is possible that the idea could grow quickly propelled by new technologies.

To me the most reasonable route might be rather than try to start a registrar, some group through discussion with community decide on key elements of a ToS and then indicate which registrars adopt those standards. Even that is probably challenging, but more doable. I had no idea that it had been tried before. Thanks for the information @Rob Monster
Ultimately, I think the stakeholder energy that is being released into this thread may ultimately be better suited to solving the root problem of misaligned objectives. For example, a "Domain Owner Bill of Rights" or "Magna Carta" was once put forward but died quickly on the vine. See related article:

https://www.verdict.co.uk/magna-carta-for-the-web-domain-name-bill-of-rights/

Codifying these rights is a reasonable and achievable goal, whereby domain owners essentially unionize or brigade their market power in order to achieve concessions from the suppliers so they are not abused.

Thanks everyone for input, and look forward to more comments.

Bob
 
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oldtimer

SaveThyWorld.com Let's not leave anyone behind
Impact
6,308
I personally doubt that enough would be willing to pay that much a year for wholesale prices, when they can pay about 1/10 to a commercial plan for same pricing, or by shopping around without plan.

Bob, they are not paying that money to get wholesale prices as the Registrar might be setup as nonprofit to begin with,

They are paying that money so that they can be in charge of their own destiny as a domainer. People might even give more in the way of donations once they realize that they are not going to be at the mercy of the ideologies and other agendas of just one person or entity.

But nevertheless, as I mentioned before even if this project doesn't come to fruition at the very least talking about creating a perfect Registrar might shine a light on what is wrong with the status quo in the domain Industry.

IMO
 
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11,167
Personally, I think this is too big a project to get it off the ground and to fruition. Why not just find a registrar whose policies you like. That's why I left eNom and then GoDaddy many years ago. After all the money I spent with them, I didn't like how I as being treated. I've been extremely satisfied with my current registrar, for maybe 10 years now. A registrar owned by a disparate bunch of people like domainers is going to be a headache for sure. Would they ever reach a level of stability without fear of being taken over?
 
Impact
14,068
A registrar owned by a disparate bunch of people like domainers is going to be a headache for sure. Would they ever reach a level of stability without fear of being taken over?

Hi

speaking of domainer owned...

ya'll memba Uniregistry,
it blew up with domainer regs , sales and ppc
then it got sold to go dad dy

but being taken-over or bought-out, is the end game anyways, right?

imo...
 

oldtimer

SaveThyWorld.com Let's not leave anyone behind
Impact
6,308
but being taken-over or bought-out, is the end game anyways, right?

imo...

Hi biggie,

Not necessarily, remember the .org where most people including a lot of the domainers were against the takeover.
 

dande

Premium Domains
Impact
1,949
Good idea but bad management won't let it succeed. Cooperatives run businesses are like government run businesses, corruption always finds a way to creep in easily and damage it.

Membership is a bad idea too. It has to be an investment/venture with share holdings. It has to be run like professional business in order to survive. Experts in domain registrar-management must to be hired to run the company, irrespective to whether they're domsiners or not.

Good idea but difficult to pull off.
 

oldtimer

SaveThyWorld.com Let's not leave anyone behind
Impact
6,308
Good idea but bad management won't let it succeed. Cooperatives run businesses are like government run businesses, corruption always finds a way to creep in easily and damage it.

Membership is a bad idea too. It has to be an investment/venture with share holdings. It has to be run like professional business in order to survive. Experts in domain registrar-management must to be hired to run the company, irrespective to whether they're domsiners or not.

Good idea but difficult to pull off.

I believe everyone has to set their priorities straight first,

Do they want to make money off of this Registrar,

Or do they want to have a safe and secure place to keep their domains at.

If I am not mistaken there are a few domsiners who have their own individually owned private Registrars that they use for keeping their large portfolios, we can do the same thing here but expand it to cater to more than one person.

IMO
 
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karmaco

Top Contributor
Impact
10,780
I like the idea alot because there are minuses to every single existing registrar. Which begs the question— how would this one be any less flawed? Even if you get past all the other hurdles why would people put up money for a biz that doesn’t really make money?

A domainer owned marketplace makes more sense to me as that can at least be profitable if done right.
 
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3,042
I think this idea will only work if it is a non-profit organization, other than that it will be just another business with profit as main objective.

So I think it will be more clear if we agree about what are the objectives and purposes of this idea first.
 
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2,554
Does it mean that every "owner" will get to see the entirety of other "owners" portfolios? :whistle:
And after that we'll open a domain market with mutual peeking at offers and transactions? :xf.rolleyes:
 

oldtimer

SaveThyWorld.com Let's not leave anyone behind
Impact
6,308
There are many things that have to be ironed out here, but once a legal mechanism is created like an Association then the Members can vote on all the issues and questions at hand.

As I have mentioned before, it's probably best to keep things kind of simple at the beginning and later on if everyone votes to do so more options can be added such as having a marketplace or other domain related services.

To get things started we need to create the Association first and so it's probably best to discuss how best to go about doing that.

IMO

I like the idea alot because there are minuses to every single existing registrar. Which begs the question— how would this one be any less flawed? Even if you get past all the other hurdles why would people put up money for a biz that doesn’t really make money?

A domainer owned marketplace makes more sense to me as that can at least be profitable if done right.

I think this idea will only work if it is a non-profit organization, other than that it will be just another business with profit as main objective.

So I think it will be more clear if we agree about what are the objectives and purposes of this idea first.

Does it mean that every "owner" will get to see the entirety of other "owners" portfolios? :whistle:
And after that we'll open a domain market with mutual peeking at offers and transactions? :xf.rolleyes:
 
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