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problem with registrars

you asked 2 questions:

>1) At least one of your registrars (eNom Inc.) is selling the right to
>apply for domain names first to the highest bidder.  This is against
>everything you stand for, I would think.  Why shouldn't the little guy
>get the same chance as everyone else?


>2) What keeps the registrars selected from grabbing the best names
>themselves when the new domain postfixes are enabled?

To answer your first question:

There is pent-up demand for names in new generic
top-level domains or gTLDs (you called them "domain postfixes").
This is a fact with which I believe you would agree.
As with any product that has a pent-up
demand, when the product is finally released,
either there will be an orderly exchange
(called a queue: picture buying tickets for a movie)
between the "buyers" and the "seller",
or an unorderly exchange
(called a mob: picture throwing bread off the back of a truck).
I prefer the queue.  I bet you do too.

Now, how should this queue be ordered?
I suggest there are many possible ways.
Whichever way it is ordered,
that particular ordering scheme will be based on
some attribute of the person/entity in the queue, right?
For example, a first-come-first-served queue is,
obviously, based on who got there first.
When you mentioned the "little guy" in your question,
I guess you mean a queue which gives everyone
in it the same "chance".  This type of queue is
called a lottery or draft, where the
luckiest guy has the first crack.  Another
ordering scheme may be alphabetically, based on
name the person wishes to register.
We are basing the order of our
queue on the fee the person is willing to pay
to register the name, which,
by the way, helps the unlucky person or the
person who did not have the opportunity to
get in a first-come-first served queue at the beginning.
Also, our model has a built-in bias against "gaming"
(see my answer to your second question below).

Additionally, eNom is not selling anything (when it comes to
name registrations), yet.  When new domains go
in the root, we hope to be able to offer a registration service beginning
on the day it is available to us to offer it.  We want to be able to
service this pent-up demand for names in new TLDs
and then continue to service registration demand in those TLDs.
We will only bill customers if we have performed a
registration service for them.  Customers
are not paying to be in our queue.  We have not collected
a dime from anyone in our queue because eNom
may not ever get the ability to register names
in any TLDs that are in the root.  When we do register
a name (if ever), we will bill the costomer for the agreed-on fee.

Lastly,  eNom is not "one of your [ICANN's] registrars".
Unless I'm mistaken, no entity is, yet (except maybe NSI-the registry).
You say that eNom's model "is against everything you stand for".
Assuming you are talking about ICANN here,
I would guess that ICANN stands for a diversity of business
models, and for fair and robust competition.
eNom's model is just one of many possible models.
If it is mandated that all registrars have the
same queue model, say a lottery, then there is less reason to
have more than one registrar.  Mandating "no queues" would
be the same as mandating "no demand": an impossiblity.

By the way, a lottery can also be "gamed" by the
participants in this way:
If there is no fee to be in the lottery (you seem
to suggest this), just submit many registration
requests, and have your friends
do likewise, on your behalf.  Obviously,
if there is a fee, just buy more registration
requests than the next guy.  So, is the lottery
model really the fairest of them all?  :)

To answer your second question:

"What keeps the registrars selected from grabbing the best names
themselves when the new domain postfixes are enabled?"

With a model such as a lottery, where, maybe, the "little guy
get[s] the same chance as everyone else", there is every
incentive for the people running the lottery to cheat or
"game" the system, and work it so that their friends
win.  Or, for the participants themselfs to enter multiple requests.
We believe, a registrar with a lottery
model or fist-come-first-served
model has the most incentive to "game" their queue,
eNom's model has the least.

The bottom line is that with a
system that allows a diversity of models,
you are able to pick and choose which one suits you best.
>From your two questions,
I would guess that a registrar that has the following
would suit you best:
a) a lottery queue which allowed
only one request per name (but wait, should that
*request* be first-come-first-served?), and
b) gives you an assurance (somehow)
that their lottery will be fair.

I think the final question boils down to:

Should ICANN mandate a particular registrar model
(say one that favors the "little guy",
or the rich guy, or the first guy,
or the smart guy, or the lucky guy,
or the loud guy, etc.)?
Should ICANN setup a fair system that allows
a diversity of competitive registrar business models?

If ICANN imposes one particular registrar model,
then that imposition will surely favor one registrar over another,
and will likely limit competition.

I'm on the diversity side, because I believe that,
in the end, a diversity of registrar (and registry) models
will provide the optimal benefit to the
Internet community.

Hope this answers your questions,

eNom, Inc.