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Time for a change in our Domain Name System

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Real-time updates, social status changes across multiple websites instantly, push notifications, even instant RSS notifications. There are many things in the leaps and bounds we have made with technology today (even since last year) which prooves that we have truly moved to an instantly-notified world. My question is why have these changes not applied in the world of ICANN, domain registrars, and domain name systems?

I am not talking about DNS, as there is a reason these changes often have delays, but I am talking about the actual process of transferring registrars. In the 13 years that I have been developing websites, hosting websites, and moving registrars for clients, not a single part of this process has improved. Actually, it has moved in reverse with the introduction of "private" WHOIS information and locked domain transfers.

Please don't get me wrong, I realize that some of these are good things, but what has happened is we have now taken an already "simple" (yet incredibly frustrating and confusing) process and turned it into something that can take weeks or even months to complete.

So, for those of you who are confused about what I am referring to, let me explain the process:

1) You decide you want to transfer a domain name, but don't have any information other then the domain name. This situation usually arises with clients that have purchased a domain in the past, and for some odd reason, it always seems to end up linking to a mal-nurished company. My primary example: Tucows. Tucows is a 3rd party registrar, meaning that they provide vendors the ability to sell domain names, but claim no support responsibility when it comes to transferring the domain. The other downside of their service is that they have a completely separate login system from whatever vendor you used, and they don't share these credentials. They are not the only 3rd party registrar out there, as my intention is to give an example and not exploit Tucows.
2) The next step in this process is changing the WHOIS information to point to your email, and waiting 24 hours for this data to be reflected across the board.
3) The next step is unlocking the domain for transfer, depending on the registrar, this can be either instant, or a variable time of up to a week.
4) Next step is to initiate the domain name transfer, which you do with the registrar you wish to transfer to. They start the process by sending a notification of transfer to the current registrar. This is the part that really frustrates me. Some registrars seriously drag their feed hoping you will quit the transfer process all together out of frustration. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes all the way up to a month.
5) After the transfer has been approved, you have to obtain a transfer authorization code from the current registrar, and confirm the process on your end. Once again, depending on the registrar, this can take anywhere between 1 minute and 2 weeks.

I hope you are all seeing the pattern here, the pattern being that there is no pattern. What I mean by that, is depending on what registrars you are working between, this process can take an hour, or can take 1.5 months. We need a regulating body that can enforce and require that registrars are actually complying with user demands within a reasonable amount of time. It is absolutel insanity that it can still take up to 1.5 months to transfer a domain name. There is no reason that a registrar admin should have to click a link to approve a transfer. The days of slow email and waiting on end users have come to an end. The only person that should be required to click a link is the owner of the domain.

In the day that we live in, it is ridiculous in my mind that we still lend to the politics and waiting games of registrars. ICANN oversees the assignment of domains, but they are not a regulatory body. I can't believe that I'm saying this, but we need an over-seeing and regulatory body that can enforce policies on these registrars so they can't make the end user suffer like they currently do. I don't know if this is the right resolution or not, but what I do know, is that the system as it is right now does not works, frustrates everyone, and is simply not working. If a user can't move their domain as they please, when they want, then in all reality they really don't "own" the domain name.

Domain Name Rantin' Tom Out.

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