First, I don't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Ben. What little research I did on Adrian could be done by anyone.|
Second, I find it interesting that most of the research being done on the gaming of ICANN's new TLDs is being done by outsiders (in the sense that they aren't, SFAIK, part of any formal ICANN process like the NTEPPTF), and on a volunteer basis.
I am thinking here of Ben Edelman, Richard Henderson, Bob Connor, and to a much smaller degree my own efforts (though, inspired by these others, I have done some deeper research on a couple of parts of the rollout that I have yet to submit to ICANNWatch, hopefully I will be able to publish at least one of them in the next few days, both remain unfolding stories).
However, I would also like to mention the work of some of the posters on the ICANN NTEPPTF and earlier fora. While many of them are given to colorful language and are admitted speculators, I see little evidence that most of them would fit even a broad definition of cybersquatters. Their reasons for researching the gaming of names may be more self-serving (EG: why did that ***hole get that name ahead of me?), but it is nonetheless often good and valid research, and still done for free.
Finally, I will mention the research (the link is to his just released work, he has done earlier research as well) done by ICANN registrar Directi CEO Bhavin Turakhia. While again he may have been doing this for self-serving reasons, he was doing it for free (he says due to insomnia and boredom). He is also largely an outsider to the process, being rather controversial even amongst his fellow registrars.
The point I want to make is that ICANN's own NTEPPTF committee, a year old next week, is well overdue on analyzing, or apparently even seeking, such useful data. This underlines one of the major ways in which ICANN has gone so terribly wrong. The idealistic view on ICANN's formation was that the largely volunteer effort that brought us the internet would continue along, with ICANN acting as facilitator. Instead, at every turn, volunteer efforts, including by those with no conceivable financial interest to look out for with regard to their work, have been shunned, ignored, devalued. Instead we have top-down appointed committees of those with vested financial interest in the outcome, meeting in secret, or not meeting at all, but in any case producing no useful data, nor coming to useful conclusions (all the while continuing to make money off a thoroughly gamed system).
I would also like to stress that not only has the data been ignored, to the extent that the above outside volunteer parties have also suggested changes, I have found them to be, almost entirely, eminently sensible and workable. Again as near as anyone can tell, these suggested changes have been, and will probably continue to be, studiously ignored.
Third, and following from the above, I am not yet willing to accept that human screening of domain names for veracity cannot be done. Ben has (SFAIK) singlehandedly, and without pay, written software which can flag many suspicious registrations for possible human intervention (and .name already has software in place, they just want to make a buck off it). Why could a new TLD, let's take .name for example, not say:
Here's the deal. Do the research however you want. Turn in x number of names [let's say 10] that don't meet our criteria and have improperly passed through our own screening procedures, and we'll give you a free domain name registration. We will also make those names re-available at our earliest opportunity. If you do meet the criteria for any of the names you turned in, you will be given first choice to register them at normal cost. If you choose not to do so within x period of time they will go back into the general pool. Not only would this do a lot to clean up the drek, I don't think it would mean much of a negative hit to the TLD bottom line (how much of a negative hit has .info taken due to its self-challenges, to say nothing of the loss of goodwill amongst all the new open gTLDs?). It would also mean that all but the explicit gamers and cybersquatters would be pulling in the same direction. I could go on, but I gots work to do. :) -g