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Re: Dot Com Directory - Some Comments. NSI Please Read! (fwd)

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Subject: Re: Dot Com Directory - Some Comments. NSI Please Read!
From: rb1000@ix.netcom.com (Ron Bennett)
Organization: Netcom
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Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 03:05:12 GMT
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In article <7nion9$npl$1@calcite.rhyolite.com>, vjs@calcite.rhyolite.com 
>In article <2A0n3.1769$db.358051@news1.epix.net>,
>Ron Bennett <rb1000@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>> ...
>>1. It's being created from information that was intended for administrative 
>>technical purposes to maintain domain names. ...
>That's contrary to reports I've read.  For example, the "Wall Street
>Journal" on July 26 said:
>]    Businesses must register their Internet address with Network
>]    Solutions in order to get a free listing. Those businesses
>]    that register with a competitor will have to pay Network
>]    Solutions a fee to be included.
>If you want to be paranoid, worry that the purpose of the new directory
>is to replace the `whois` machinery and the database behind the three
>TLD's.  I *do not* think that's the plan, but I can see a more potential
>for mischief in eventually saying "that whois stuff is obsolete; to keep
>your .com domain, you must have a listing in the dot.com directory."

No. Use an alternative Registrar like CORE and problem is solved. Only 
registrations via the NSI Registrar are affected. Though at the moment that 
constitutes about 99% of all registered domain names in .COM.

>> 2. Many people expect such information to remain private or at least 
>> difficult to get in masse.
>As long as they get permission first, what's the problem?  
>What could they copy from domain registration forms that would interest
>users of such a directory and that is not already public and mostly
>search-able with `whois`?   No, they must intend to include far more than
>the registration forms.

You'd be amazed the number of people who provide NSI with information they 
don't usually give out since they're under the impression that the information 
will be used for administration purposes of their domain name only.

>>3. People were never warned that such information would be sold or marketed. 
>Never mind that for years, domain contacts have received spam.  Just note
>that since NSI itself has been sending email spam, such warnings would be

Two wrongs don't make a right...and NSI doing it doesn't make it anymore right.

>>Furthermore a fair amount of the information contained in NSI's database was 
>>derived before NSI existed. The 1974 Privacy Act among others could come into 
>>play for persons who registered domains before aprox 1992 and possibly later.
>I registered more than one domain before 1992.  However, I'm confident
>NSI's lawyers would find ways to avoid Privacy Act problems.  The annual
>payments and requests for changes in the records sound promising.  I hope
>the Dept of Comm eventually liberates my registration data from NSI's
>copyright claims, but when my domain itself finally escapes NSI's clutches,
>that problem will be moot.

They'd probably find a way around it, but certainly a valid point.

>>4. Of concern to NSI should be the database's value will most likely drop 
>>a rock as people realize what's up and change/erase their information. 
>>I've noticed many contact records recently modified with phone numbers 
>>and addresses changed. People already are taking action to protect their 
>>privacy. This hurts the value of the database and there's little NSI can do 
>>stop it. All the fake information in the database doesn't help matters 
>For one thing, you're years behind the times on bogus contact info.
>Spammers have for years used obviously bogus contact info.  For another,
>that which has been available for years with `whois` was never very
>confidential and so unlikely to become more bogus merely because NSI
>provides yet another way to search it.

So perhaps NSI has a database of a million legitimate people and the rest junk. 
I just can't see how database containing a million records of mostly 
administrative and technical contacts is of much value and in the end will 
probably cost NSI much more in business - let's not forget that registrations 
via CORE and other competing Registrars aren't included. Here NSI really shot 
themselves in their foot...if they'd chosen a more comprehensive registry model 
that contained all information including Registrant and Contact info, NSI would 
have total control - for once NSI's insistance in going with the 'flat' 
registry model has backfired. But then NSI didn't ask me my opinion...:-;

>>5. Who will use it? Since the database contains primarily administrative and 
>>technical information, how will the average person be able to use it? I mean 
>>calling amazon.com's technical contact isn't going to help a customer ...
>That's a real problem.  If NSI is planning on a directory that does more
>than map widgets to domain.com, then they're late to the party.  If not,
>then who cares?  If you've been a contact for commercial domains for a
>few years, you've received many solicitations for directory listings from
>outfits like Dunn & Bradstreet to established paper catalog publishers to
>startups.  All have seemed to me so unrealistic and ignorant of the
>SuperHypeWay as to be surreal.  The free commercial search engines have
>far more useful and *used* directories, and they're free.  No one cares
>to know which .com domain names are used by widget vendors.  Instead,
>people want URL's for widget spec. sheets and price lists.  They also like
>price comparisons, such as <http://www.pricewatch.com/>.
>But while that is a major problem, it's none of anyone's concern except
>of NSI's management and employees, NSI's stockholders, and those who
>contract with NSI to be listed in yet another directory.  I'm none of
>those, and I doubt you are.

I agree, but trying to point out how short-sighted their Dot Com Directory is.

>>p.s. NSI would do much better to bundle or somehow market webhosting 
>>services, etc that will help business...
>How could an outfit with limited technical clues switch from barely running
>a trivial database (e.g. see NSI's frequent public chest pounding about
>their heavy lifting) to being a full service, large scale internet service
>provider?  Aren't there are lot of other outfits in the ISP business with
>both track records and employees and consultants with technical clues
>instead of sillinesses such as the impossibility of distributed databases?

Outsource it. Basically let someone else like Verio provide the service and 
market it under their brand. If I recall AOL was planning to do something 
similar to that since they're a ICANN test-bed registrar.

>NSI had earnings of less than $6M on revenues of only $47M and last quarter
>(see <http://biz.yahoo.com/snp/990723/nsol_dtp_i_1.html>).  That's not a
>lot of free cash to buy the people, networks, and computers needed for a
>serious web hosting business in 1999, at least compared to what the telcos,
>cable TV companies, and others are investing.  If NSI tried to switch to
>to the ISP business, would you really buy their stock?

Exactly, which is why NSI needs to wise up and dump the Dot Com Directory and 
go into things like webhosting that have far more profit making potential.

>$6M is also not a much profit on $47M considering what I figure their
>costs should be.  Then there are ICANN's money problems.  Is there
>something about technically trivial databases that make people unable to
>handle money?

Politics and attorneys...need I say more :-;

Ron Bennett