.biz Is Tiny -- or Is It?
Date: Tuesday June 19 2001, @03:50PM
Topic: Alternate Roots

Dueling accounts of the size of the PacificRoot .biz TLD: Berkman Center's Ben Edelman has written a report suggesting that PacificRoot's .biz had fewer than 300 registrants before ICANN announced it would recommend that the U.S. Department of Commerce list NeuLevel as the .biz TLD registry in the legacy root used by the vast majority of Internet users. ARNI's Leah Gallegos responds that Edelman's statistics are based on a faulty assumption -- and that she would have explained it to him if he'd only contacted her before publishing his report.Updated

Mr. Edelman's Analysis of Registrations in the ARNI .BIZ Top-Level Domain relies on the reported registration dates for second-level TLDs in the PacificRoot WHOIS system. Based on these, Mr. Edelman concludes that almost no one had registered in .biz before ICANN chose NeuLevel as the .biz registrar it would suggest to the Commerce Dept., and thus set in motion what Ms. Gallagos calls a colliding TLD. (Strangely, however, Edelman's statistics show many people seeming to have registered in .biz after ICANN's selection of NeuLevel, at which point an registration in the PacificRoot .biz was presumably less attractive.)

Mr. Edelman's implicit point is that if almost no one is using an alternate TLD, there can be no 'collision' worth worrying about. Alas for simplicity, the actual number of registrations may be an order of magnitude higher. Ms. Gallagos has penned a reply to Edelman which states that the dates in the Pacfic Root WHOIS system on which Edelman relied are misleading because they reflect the date that pre-existing manual registrations were re-entered into an automatic system -- something she would have told him if he'd contacted her for information.

The .biz now operated by PacificRoot dates back to 1995, when it was started by the somewhat notorious Karl Deninger. Ms. Gallagos acquired it last year. Today it boasts fewer than 4,000 SLD registrations, which probably makes it a medium sized player among the alternate roots. IOD's .web registry, for example, has more than 26,000 registrations.

Of course, none of these numbers are large given the scale of the Internet (although they are larger than some ccTLDs). My personal opinion is that while size matters -- 'stability' is a function of number of users inconvenienced, a fact which gives new.net its leverage -- the underlying equities rely more on having reached some basic critical mass before some date now in the past. What that date should be is an interesting question, but ICANN's formation might be one possibility.

Note: Mr. Edelman's paper states that he set up a web-based discussion board, but my Netscape was not able to access it, even after taking all the cookies it gave me.

Updates: (1) this link works.
(2) I'm informed that .biz wasn't 'sold' in 2000; rather, Pacific Root re-delegated the management of .biz to ARNI due to what it termed 'abandonment' by the previous manager.

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Re: .biz Is Tiny -- or Is It?
by alexander on Wednesday June 20 2001, @08:22AM (#913)
User #22 Info | http://www.icannchannel.de

(Strangely, however, Edelman's statistics show many people seeming to have registered in .biz after ICANN's selection of NeuLevel, at which point an registration in the PacificRoot .biz was presumably less attractive.)

I wonder whether the AtlanticRoot .biz has not simply become more well-known after ICANN's decision that .biz would be among the new TLDs -- one would expect a lot of media coverage.

If you searched for ".biz TLD" on the Net after reading about a new .biz TLD, you probably found www.biztld.net, "The .BIZ TLD Registry(tm)", which is the AtlanticRoot version of it. ICANN's decision to grant .biz (and the ensuing media coverage) may have helped the AtlanticRoot .BIZ to get noticed.

- Alexander
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: .biz Is Tiny -- or Is It?
by joppenheimer on Wednesday June 20 2001, @09:22PM (#916)
User #5 Info | http://JudithOppenheimer.com
Edelman writes, "I want to be clear that the study is my own. It has not been approved or endorsed by the Berkman Center; I post it on the Berkman
Center's web server thanks to my ongoing affiliation with the Berkman Center, but that does not mean that the Center endorses my findings in any institutional sense." (See http://www.dnso.org/clubpublic/ga-full/Arc07/msg03414.html.)

Given the implied endorsement of publishing under the cyber.law.harvard.edu domain, perhaps Edelman should have prefaced his "study" with this disclaimer.

I also want to respond to a comment here by alexander that "The source of what you call "unverified data" is the ARNI-.biz Whois database of PacificRoot, so it's not "innocent incompetence" to use this data. "

I agree. Its not "innocent incompetence." It is by all appearances intentionally misleading, and attempts to hold ARNI to a higher standard than the rest of the industry.

NSI whois data is anything but accurate. The company has stated that it should not be used for ascertaining creation dates or expiration dates, nor has NSI an audit trail for past ownership of domain names.

Jonathan Cohen of ICANN's own IPC goes so far as to state, "Among the most serious problems with the current [com/net/org] WHOIS system are: (i) inaccurate and/patently false, and incomplete registrant data;..." (see http://ipc.songbird.com/apram.htm.)

If Ben Edelman isn't aware of this common-knowledge information about whois databases in general and their inapplicability for research conclusiveness, is he qualified to be addressing this subject at all (assuming his questions have any validity)?

If he is aware, why is he purposefully publishing misleading data?*


*Having been provided accurate information by ARNI after the fact (since he didn't interview the company before publishing), I asked Edelman if he intended to verify the information provided and then update his report accordingly.

He replied, "It remains my belief that every aspect of my report is in fact correct when understood in the context of qualifications given on that page," then, "We clearly see things differently here. I appreciate that you took the time to tell me your perspective, and hope you feel the same about my own efforts to date, but I don't want to waste your time, nor mine, with further back-and-forth on this topic. At the moment, I'm prepared to let my research speak for itself."

A textbook Dyson response, if you ask me.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: .biz Is Tiny -- or Is It?
by hofjes on Wednesday June 20 2001, @05:38AM (#908)
User #60 Info
Your analysis is based on trademark law. However, there are no trademark rights in top level domain names because they do not identify the source or quality of goods or services. Accordingly, the date of first use in commerce is irrelevant.

Strangely, there is no law governing domain name space. Most courts have found that domain names are not intellectual property. Rather, they are merely a technical device. Consequently, users have exclusive rights to use second level domain names pursuant to a service contract (not intellectual property), which is why a registrar can revoke a registration in the event a user fails to pay its renewal fee.

Even the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”) does not promulgate any intellectual property rights with respect to domain names. Instead, it simply acknowledges that use of a domain name similar to a trademark may cause or contribute to a likelihood of confusion with respect to the mark. The ACPA also implies that “bad faith” registration of domain names may be unfair competition. But, neither the ACPA nor any other United States federal or state law provides that domain names (TLDs or subordinate domain names including SLDs) are intellectual property.

Therefore, the trademark analysis (i.e., first use in commerce) does not apply.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
...and WHOARE you?
by alexander on Wednesday June 20 2001, @12:44PM (#915)
User #22 Info | http://www.icannchannel.de
If the statistics are derived on unverified data that is deemed faulty the statistical training and question of credentials are simply meaningless.
Excuse me: The source of what you call "unverified data" is the ARNI-.biz Whois database of PacificRoot, so it's not "innocent incompetence" to use this data. Ben Edelman has meticulously documented his research methodology.

For instance, it's a fact that the ARNI-.biz Whois contains 189 domains with the registrant ARNI. Leah Gallegos has stated that the domains were registered for other people and she stated that the Whois entries will be corrected. The analysis further shows that almost none of these 189 domains is actually in use (under http, I should add). We don't know how many of the other .biz domains actually are in use. Of course there is no obligation to use a domain name one has acquired. But it puts the claims that
The registrants of these domains operate Businesses such as catering and real estate companies, manufacturers and public relations firms, automobile dealerships and other organizations that may have thousands of computer systems dependent upon a single domain - and an employee behind each computer.
(PacificRoot Letter to Congress Members)

somewhat into perspective, methinks.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: WHOIS Ben Edelman?
by tlr (reversethis-{gro.tsixe-ton-seod} {ta} {relsseor}) on Wednesday June 20 2001, @10:23PM (#920)
User #34 Info | http://log.does-not-exist.org/
Instead of picking nits with respect to Ben's age or education, I'd suggest you take an example in his clarity of expression and thought, dear anonymous. Your comment is virtually unreadable, and in fact it hardly discusses or invalidates any of the facts presented in Ben's report.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: .biz Is Tiny -- or Is It?
by joppenheimer on Thursday June 21 2001, @06:26AM (#926)
User #5 Info | http://JudithOppenheimer.com
This "guy" has irresponsibly published subjective, incomplete and unverified data, neither contacting the subject company prior to publication nor showing any willingness to update his report as accurate information is supplied; under the "legitimacy umbrella" of Berkman's domain he has called into question this company's veracity and legitimacy, resulting in what appears to be intentional defamation of a small business ill equipped to incur the cost of such defamation and subsequent damage control etc.

I don't care his lack of age or education. Lack of integrity is another matter.

My prior contact with Ben Edelman has been re his hosting of the ICANN meeting remotes. Because I have only had respect for him I assumed a legitimacy of his report, deeming it worthy of examination and possible publication on ICB.

On this basis I wrote to Ben asking for explanation of various statements, for example, his "it seemed to me intuitively plausible that the ARNI .BIZ might in fact have had very few registered .BIZ second-level domains (SLDs) at that time, or conceivably even none."

Expecting a rational email dialogue, twice I asked why he proposed that this conjecture, accurate or not, was significant to the .biz issue. ie, why are these questions significant?

Twice he deflected word-for-word without missing a beat, "I'm afraid you'll have to draw your own conclusion re the significance of my findings."

In fact, each question I asked resulted in an ICANN-like "why do you ask?" or "refer back to what I said in the report."

With some disappointment it became evident that Ben cannot withstand the most elementary discussion of his report, to my mind calling into question *its* veracity and legitimacy.

So I suggest to you that it is not Edelman who is due "a break."

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: WHOIS Ben Edelman?
by Mueller ({mueller} {at} {syr.edu}) on Friday June 22 2001, @04:50PM (#946)
User #2901 Info | http://istweb.syr.edu/~mueller/
Ben's report is not "research." Nor does it qualify as scholarship, yet. He couldn't get it published in any reputable journal.

Not because there's something wrong with it, at this stage, but because it's incomplete. It's a data dump. He went and downloaded some zone files, the veracity of the statistics derived from that process are disputed.

In research, one formulates a hypothesis and uses the data to prove whether it has been proved or disproved. Ben didn't do that. And, unlike a real scholar or researcher, he refuses to participate in public discussion of it.

Ben's statement that he prefers to let the "research [sic] speak for itself" is a pretty clear sign that he is either naive (from a scholarly standpoint) or content to make a propagandistic point without taking any responsibility for discussing the validity of the conclusions people are drawing from it. One wonders whether Harvard instills in its students basic research methods concepts. Graphs and tables don't "speak." Propositions as to what they prove must be formulated and logically developed from the data.

I also find very implausible the proposition that the people signing up in the ARNI .biz think that it's the ICANN root. This too is an empirical question, however.

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