More on the YummyNames Announcement
In addition to the news release about our new service, YummyNames, we’ve also put together a short video explaining what YummyNames is all about with Bill Sweetman, General Manager, YummyNames:
And we also have a social media release (SMR) which is a special webpage loaded with nearly a dozen videos, images, quotes and links about the announcement. You can view that here.
Of course, we’d also like to invite you over to the brand new YummyNames website where you can try a search or two and see what the portfolio has to offer.
One Web Day: One Question
As part of our participation in the One Web Day project, I thought it would be interesting to talk to some of our people about one of Tucows’ core values: we believe that the Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has ever seen. I asked around to see what the greatest change the Internet had made in the lives of our employees. Here are some of the responses:
Bill Sweetman: I apparently have an “inner teacher” so I love to share my passion and expertise, and the Internet allowed me to do that on a global scale in a highly efficient manner. Before the Internet, I could only reach people in my immediate geographical vicinity. Now I hear from people all around the world who say they have benefitted from reading my blog, listening to my podcast, or visiting one of my web sites. Bill Sweetman is the General Manager of the Tucows Domain Portfolio.
Stacy Reed: Besides the obvious benefits of having a world of knowledge at my fingertips, the biggest changes the Internet has made in my life have been personal in nature. For instance, I can thank the Internet for giving me a humbled ego that desires the knowledge of truth over the desire to always be right, as well as a greater appreciation of our global cultural differences, a bad case of carpal tunnel and a slightly larger arse. Stacy Reed is a software librarian with Tucows.
Adam Elliot: The main thing the Internet did to change my life was to give me a job! I started tech support for an ISP back around 1996 or 1997 and have worked in the Internet industry ever since. The .com bubble burst when I had a whack of stock options from a buy-out of my former ISP by a huge international ISP which afforded me my first-ever sabbatical, and now I’m working at Tucows as a Credit Card Fraud Specialist which has opened even more doors for me careerwise. I love my job, and I feel proud to be an “Internet Superhero.” It’s an immensely gratifying job. People whom I inform about credit card fraud against them often call me back weeks, even months later, to thank me again for notifying them before they found out from any other source, thus saving them even more identity theft damage. I give all my friends great Internet advice and educate them about Internet fraud so they don’t fall victim themselves. It’s been a great ride so far! Adam Elliot is a fraud control officer with DomainDirect.
Kari Dykes: I got stoked on the Internet the first time I IM’ed a friend across the country in the mid-90s, when keeping in touch was the main reason the ‘Information Superhighway’ and I got along. Almost 15 years later, I do everything online; but now and then I’m still surprised by what it can do. In 2006, I hooked up with an organization called Kiva that uses the Internet to connect micro-lenders with entrepreneurs in developing countries. Because of Kiva’s online business structure, overhead is kept to a minimum and admin fees are voluntary for lenders. The money that’s loaned to people is tracked in an online portfolio and returned to the lender through an online refund when the loan is paid back. Plus you can email the business owners to track their progress and growth. Did I mention you can also use it to shamelessly promote good causes you believe in? Kari Dykes is the Customer Success Manager for OpenSRS.
Kevin Hartmann: Yesterday, I gave one of my friends the directions to my housewarming party. I didn’t give her the directions over the phone, like I might have 20 years ago. Instead, I emailed her the invitation, along with a web link to an online map, complete with colour satellite photographs of my house. That map is so detailed that you can see the colour of the cars parked along the side of the roadway on the day the photos were taken, and all the shortcuts through the back alleys are clear and obvious. I couldn’t do that when I was young. Kevin Hartmann is a software developer with Tucows.
Sharon O’Rourke: As a part time ‘mature’ student at university and a full time executive assistant, the impact the Internet has had on my life is almost immeasurable. At work I can book travel – flights, hotel, car – the works without picking up the phone or leaving my desk. I can order office supplies, arrange offsite meetings, find answers to almost any request my boss can make – the Internet makes it all possible. On a personal level, at university the Internet is an invaluable tool – I can do research from home, find articles and books online and if they’re not online, then I can use the Internet to reserve them at the library. And I have found old friends and classmates on social networks and can now keep in touch in a way that was simply not possible ten years ago. I have to tell you, I’m a fan. I love the Internet. Sharon O’Rourke is an Executive Assistant with Tucows.
Nabil Altai: On a personal note, since 2003 I have had more chances for staying in contact with some members of my family in Baghdad through the Internet, instant messenger, email, etc. Without the Internet I would have been at the mercy of the telephone network and lines in Iraq, and pay for my phone calls. I also have family members in a few countries that I keep in touch with mainly through the Internet. Nabil Altai is a data warehouse analyst and developer with Tucows.
Jody Stocks: I’d have to say that the biggest change the internet has wrought in my life is…banking.
Consider what we used to do in a given month:
- flurry of bills arrive in the mail. I start writing cheques and noting them in my account book.
- oops – ran out of cheques. Call up (and then pick up) some more cheques.
- now, into the envelopes. Hey – I actually have enough envelopes!
- …but not enough stamps. Gotta go to the post office.
- Do I have enough in my account to do the grocery shopping? Let’s stop at an ATM and find out.
- Wow – where did the money go? Transfer some more in and we’ll do the forensics when we get the statements.
- Speaking of forensics, check out this credit card bill we got!! If I’d known we’d put THAT on credit, I’d have moved money differently.
- OK – now we have the statements and know where the money needs to go. Let’s go to the bank and make the 7 transfers we need to do to set things to right.
Ouch. I can’t imagine going back. Now, I don’t need to even do half the stuff up there and the other half takes up about 10 minutes of computer work each month, with no waiting in line or anything. Jody Stocks is the Director of Software Engineering at Tucows.
Ken Schafer: Well, I owe pretty much my entire professional career to the Internet. Over the last fifteen years I haven’t had one job that existed when I graduated from university.
But the biggest change I’ve seen has been the ability of my mother – who is now almost 88 years old – to use email and instant messaging to stay actively engaged in our lives and the lives of her grandchildren. She was born before radio, TV and even phones were common and here she is popping up on my desktop at work to see if I’m getting enough sleep and taking good care of the kids! Ken Schafer is the Vice President of Marketing and Product Management for Tucows.
Claire Lam: As any technologist would say, you can never be too rich or too thin and you should never live without the Internet. The Internet has affected my life tremendously. First of all, it’s a huge addiction of mine, and going on an Internet “fast” would be a difficult endeavor. Secondly, it’s simplified communication and truly connected the world together. I remember being 10 years old; while my friends were outside playing in the sun, I was sitting at home logged onto CompuServe through my 14.4 Global Village modem, typing on a black and white terminal and watching lines go across the screen. Today, I’m doing the same thing but on a grander scale. The online community is a phenomenon, allowing us to archive our life histories in words and pictures. The Internet has changed my view of life by giving me diverse points of view, made me find love, lose love and offer new ideas that makes the Internet media so rich today. Claire Lam is the Manager of Implementation Services for Tucows.
Heather Leson: Carleton University had Freenet when I started school. I immediately got an account and was hooked. Being a library girl, I quickly realized that my dream to have information at my fingertips was just a website away. Internet access and availability is quickly becoming an essential service. When I think about the wonderful projects out there such as OLPC or Little Geeks, I can only dream that anyone who ever wants to learn or explore can travel online much like a library. The Internet is full of opportunity and big dreams. We really are becoming Pico Iyer’s global citizens when the boundaries are only a connection away. Heather Leson is the Customer Communications Specialist for OpenSRS.
Chris Mercer: The Internet has changed the way I’m able to consume media and absorb information. Before the age of the Internet, it was difficult to get instant answers to questions and to experience different points of view on a given topic. This also includes information in the form of media and being able to send and receive music, videos, and photos all over the world. This ability has allowed us to discover potential interests that otherwise may have gone unnoticed, especially if you lived in an area where your social circle didn’t introduce you to those kinds of media. In short, the Internet has given each of us the ability to share our perspectives and interests with the world and to find others who might share our personal tastes. Long gone are the days of faxing photos and making mixtapes. Chris Mercer is a Business Development Manager with OpenSRS.
We’d love to hear some of your stories. How has the Internet changed your life? Post a comment and let us know!
Elliot Noss on the Power of the Internet
In honor of One Web Day, taking place on Monday September 22nd, we spoke to Tucows President and CEO Elliot Noss about one of our company’s core values: “The Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has ever seen.”
And then we asked him how the Internet had changed his own life:
We’ll be featuring stories from a number of our employees on One Web Day on Monday. How has your own life changed because of the Internet? Post a comment below.
Making a Difference in Canada, and Beyond
One Web Day is being celebrated on Monday September 22nd and as part of our participation, I thought I’d point to some of the great work being done by Canadians, either on issues that affect the Internet or using the Internet to do some good locally and around the world.
Fair Copyright for Canada (Ottawa) – Law professor Michael Geist has been a tireless crusader for reasonable copyright laws in this country and he’s taken his opposition to the latest proposed legislation, Bill C-61, to many places both offline and online. His Facebook group has attracted more than 90,000 people and has spawned local chapters right across Canada. His use of the the Internet to educate and inspire ordinary people about a fairly dry issue has been exemplary. By framing this legal and political issue in terms that individual citizens can understand, he’s creating a grassroots organization that will undoubtedly have a voice in whatever legislation does end up becoming law in this country.
Little Geeks (Toronto) – Andy Walker created the Little Geeks Foundation in 2006 in order to help get computers into the hands of children who would otherwise not have access to them. People can donate their old computers and Little Geeks volunteers refurbish them, deliver them and set up software and even Internet access. It’s a great way to help young people access the technology tools they’ll need to succeed.
Give Meaning (Vancouver) – Tom Williams created Give Meaning in 2004 to help non-profit organizations benefit from the incredible power of the Internet. The service hosts fundraising pages for charities, non-profits and grassroots projects. By breaking down barriers between donors and worthy causes, Give Meaning is helping organizations who may not have technical expertise or resources to engage people online.
Akoha (Montreal) – Austin Hill and Alex Eberts are long-time friends and entrepreneurs who were inspired by attending a TED conference to create a new type of game where playing could actually help make the world a better place. Using the slogan “Play it Forward,” they’re creating a system that combines the power of play and the social nature of communities in order to achieve positive social goals. The game is currently in beta and accepting new players. Learn more here.
I’m sure this is just a small sample of all the great stuff that’s happening in Canada. Do you know any other worthy Canadian examples of people using the power of the Internet to do good deeds? Post in the comments below.
All About One Web Day
Since we’re participating this year in One Web Day (which takes place on Monday September 22nd), I thought I should spend a little bit of time discussing the project and its aims.
One Web Day was started in 2006 by Susan Crawford, a professor of law specializing in Internet issues at the University of Michigan. Using Earth Day as her inspiration, she decided that this now-vital part of the infrastructure of our daily lives needed an event focused on both supporting and celebrating it as well as advocating for its protection.
Crawford explains, “Peoples’ lives now are as dependent on the Internet as they are on the basics like roads, energy supplies and running water. We can no longer take that for granted and we must advocate for the Internet politically, and support its vitality personally.”
On the day itself, there will be both online and offline events taking place all over the world, with large events taking place in New York, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago and Cleveland, as well as in various international cities. A number of Internet superstars are supporting the event, including Lawrence Lessig (Creative Commons), John Perry Barlow (EFF), Craig Newmark (Craigslist), Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Joichi Ito, Doc Searls and David Weinberger.
This year’s theme is participatory democracy, not surprising considering it’s an election year in the U.S. In my next blog entry, I’m going to focus on some Canadians who are using the internet to encourage participation in our political process, to spread good deeds, to enable fundraising for charities and to extend access to technology to children of lower-income families.
How can you participate? Check out the ideas on the One Web Day site. If you plan on doing something in your city or on your site, we’d love to hear about it. Post a comment below.
A note for our RSS Feed Subscribers
Just a quick note for those following the Tucows Corporate blog via the RSS feed:
This feed will now provide news releases and posts related to Tucows Inc. OpenSRS Resellers (and those interested in hearing more about our Reseller Services) are invited to visit our brand new Reseller Blog at http://opensrs.com/blog/ You can also subscribe to the RSS feed for the Reseller Blog at http://opensrs.com/blog/feed/
Thoughts on ICANN’s ‘Open’ Domain Namespace
I recently did a brief interview with Tom Sullivan of Fox Business News on the topic of ICANN’s recent move to open up the namespace and create a large number of new top-level domains. I’ve been somewhat distracted by personal endeavours for the past month, so the interview gave me the opportunity to really think hard about what ICANN’s decision means for the industry and where it might leads us in the next three to five years or so.
New TLDs mean new competition:
New competition is a “really good thing” in this market. For too long the registry management space has been dominated by a very small number of players. Lack of choice hampers innovation. Worse, it has lead to increasing prices for what is otherwise, a commodity product. It may not happen immediately, but I believe that increasing the number of competing TLDs will keep rising prices in check, and possibly even lower them over the longer-term. Further to this, not a lot of innovation is coming out of the existing players. .MOBI, for instance, has done some interesting things, but no one is really going out on a limb and doing exciting things with a TLD. Give everyone the capability to get a TLD and I guarantee you, interesting things will start to happen.
The namespace will finally internationalize and personalize:
Since the origins of the Internet, domain names were limited to ASCII strings. This restriction will quickly evaporate as IDN TLDs come into existence and we will see massive growth in non-English, non-ASCII, top-level domains serving various communities. This is huge by itself! Making it even bigger is that the additional choice will make it even easier for regular people like you and me to get a meaningful domain name that relates to our personal identity. When .INFO opened up, the first thing I did was register rader.info because I had missed out on rader.com, net, org and ca. The mass market represents a huge growth opportunity, but I don’t think that .com, .net, .org, and the others have enough upside left to adequately capitalize on the demand it represents. New TLDs and innovative use of existing TLDs will make it easier to tap into these opportunities.
New TLDs are great for trademark holders:
They just don’t know it yet. Right now, rights holders are rabidly opposed to new TLDs because they believe it will create a nightmare for them in terms of protecting against trademark abuse in all of these new TLDs. On its face, the argument looks valid. After all, it’s tough to protect Tucows’ trademarks and copyrights in a small handful of top-level domains. Creating hundreds, or even thousands, of new top-level domains makes it almost impossible for us to protect ourselves, right? Sort of. The UDRP will still be in place to deal with any inevitable abuse, but there is a real opportunity here for rightsholders that I don’t think has been properly recognized yet.
This announcement clears the way for big brands to create their own top level domains and build trust mechanisms into those domains that will go a long way towards getting the upper hand in the rights battles that are occupying so much of their time. What I mean is, Chase Bank will find it a lot easier to create a trusted online service relationship with their clients if they do it within the context of a .chase top-level domain. It won’t eliminate phishing, but it will raise the bar. Over time, I believe internet users will start finding meaning in top-level domains that doesn’t exist today. The same way an average computer user recognizes the difference between .jpg, .xls and .pdf files, they will also recognize the difference between a .com, .fox and .nike domain extension.
New TLDs will force software developers to deal with security issues:
I don’t necessarily think that new top level domains are going to make it easier for phishers to phish, spammers to spam and scammers to scam. But I think there are enough people that are worried about this that it will force the issue to some sort of a resolution. The first step lies with the browser and email client vendors. Implementing URL authentication and verification tools will take some time and trial and error, but I think it will be a great development for overall consumer satisfaction and safety.
ICANN should, and will, get out of the way:
The Internet is a decentralized, unregulated space. Domain names aren’t. ICANN needs to get out of the way as much as possible and allow the namespace to develop its own characteristics along the same lines as the rest of the Internet. ICANN has been a centralized chokepoint for far too long, mostly at the behest of telco interests. This move clears the way for ICANN to do more coordination and less regulation. Strangely, this development comes at a time when most are calling for ICANN to regulate even more. I don’t think that this is either practical or desirable and will have strong negative effects on the viability of the DNS over the long term if they go this route.
This isn’t really news for .com domainers:
Domain names are a little bit like real estate. Quality domain names will always be quality domain names. Short, memorable, easy to spell – all hallmarks of a great name. Great names with great extensions, like fox.com will always be great. But, for specific purposes, perhaps fox.news is a better name? It all depends on what you want to use the name for and how strong your existing brand is. I don’t think that this necessarily leads to any sort of real negative impact on .com name valuations, but it will create new opportunities for buyers and sellers.
Overall, I don’t think that anyone actually recognizes the true size of the opportunity that is facing the Internet. I’m quite excited at the prospects hinted at by this announcement and look forward to capitalizing on as much of it as possible.
Domain Auction Ethics – the Tucows Response
There’s been a fair bit of discussion surrounding a number of issues that happened around the time Tucows announced our transition from using our in-house auction service to working with Afternic.com to provide expired domain name auction services.
In reality, there are three separate issues here, and while they are seemingly related, in fact, they all took place independently and coincidentally.
- First, there was an incident involving domain names that were won by bidders at our in-house auction service, and then withdrawn.
- Second, there was a technical issue with our integration with Afternic.com that resulted in the withdrawal of a small number of domain names from Afternic.com after they had received Pre-Orders (but before the Live Auction process had begun).
- Third, there’s an ongoing discussion about employee participation in auctions.
In this post, I’m going to focus almost entirely on the problem we had with our in-house auction service. Read the Afternic blog for more on the second issue. We‚Äôll address our policy for employee participation in auctions in a follow-up blog post later today.
Before I explain what happened with our in-house auction, I’m going to quickly summarize the lifecycle and rules of our in-house auction. When I refer to “in-house auction,” I mean the ‘old’ Tucows auction platform at http://www.tucowsauction.com/. We’re working towards the final shut down of this service right now because, as of June 12, we‚Äôve teamed with Afternic for expired domain name auction services.
When a domain name that had been registered through Tucows expired, it used to end up in our in-house auction. Domains that were sold in our in-house auction were not transferred immediately to the winning bidder. They were, in fact, placed on hold for 60 days (referred to as the “Escrow period”) so that if the Original Registrant wanted to reinstate the domain name they would have the ability to do that.
In short, that means the Original Registrant could reclaim the domain even after it sold at auction.
If this reinstatement happened, the winning bidder was automatically refunded the amount they paid for the domain name. Specifically, if the winning bidder paid by credit card, the refund happened almost immediately as a reverse charge on their credit card. If the winning bidder paid using their Tucows Reseller account, that account was credited the next month.
Once the 60 day “Escrow period” passed, and if the domain had not been reinstated by the Original Registrant, only then was the domain transferred to the winning bidder.
This policy of our in-house auction is very clearly documented at http://documentation.tucows.com/domainauction/enduser/index.html. This was also clearly documented in the auction documentation available to Resellers in our Reseller Resource Center (RRC).
These rules have been in place since the auction service was first launched in 2006.
Quoting from the documentation:
If won in auction, a domain is placed in escrow and held for 100 days total from the expiry date, with a 24 – 48 hour margin. The domain will be released to the winning bidder at the end of the escrow period.
Note: The original registrant can redeem the domain during the escrow period. If the original owner redeems the domain, the winner of the auction will not be granted the domain, but will be refunded the bid amount paid.
What Happened in this Incident
While we were working on the technical transition between our in-house auction and our new Afternic.com solution, a number of domains – approximately 5,800 – from Tucows’ own Domain Portfolio of over 150,000 domain names accidentally expired. Unfortunately, the script that we normally run to handle renewals of these domain names every month failed. Because of this script failure, approximately 2,800 of the 5,800 names were subsequently and automatically listed in our in-house auction.
To be clear: all of the domains in question were ones that prior to expiry and listing in the auction were owned by Tucows, not a third-party. These were domains that had been a part of the Tucows’ Domain Portfolio for at least a year.
Of those approximately 2,800 domains that mistakenly went into our in-house auction service, approximately 260 received bids from approximately 25 different bidders.
When the Domain Portfolio team realized what had happened, and that a substantial number of valuable domains had mistakenly been allowed to expire, we immediately attempted to reinstate all these domain names through the various methods available to us, as the Original Registrant. Those methods included simple Registry renewals and redemptions.
In the case of the domains that had been won at auction, when the names were reinstated the winning bidder was notified automatically that the Original Registrant had reclaimed the name.
This reclaiming of the names was completely within our rights as the Original Registrant, and within the publicly stated, publicly available rules of our in-house auction service.
This was all done during the window of time (Escrow period) that the Original Registrant has to reinstate a domain name that was sold in our in-house auction.
Three of the approximately 25 winning bidders contacted us about this, and we replied to each of them and explained the situation to them.
That explains what happened, and it explains how we reclaimed the names that were mistakenly allowed to expiry.
Do we regret that this happened? You bet. And we’ve made sure it won’t ever happen again. But, mistakes do happen, and I’m sure you’d understand that we have a duty to our shareholders, as a publicly traded company, to protect the value of the assets contained in the Tucows Domain Portfolio.
There’s not a lot we can do to change the perception that some might have about this incident, other than to explain it fully. I think I’ve done that here, and I’ve tried to make it very clear that we acted in a way that was consistent with our rights as the Original Registrant of the domain names, and in a way that was within the publicly stated rules of our in-house auction service.
Tucows and Afternic.com Team Up for Expired Domain Auction
Tucows has just announced that it is collaborating with Afternic to auction Tucows’ large daily inventory of expired domain names. You can read the full news release with further details or visit our Reseller services site for further information.
To answer some of the questions our Resellers may have about expired domain name auctions, we’ve prepared a video with Bill Sweetman, General Manager, Domain Portfolio, Tucows.
Fostering the Next Generation of Geeks
The Little Geeks Foundation has an event coming up in the Toronto area in a couple of weeks and so we thought we’d bring this worthwhile cause to your attention.
Little Geeks works to enhance the lives of children by providing computers to the underprivileged families within the community. They hope to expand across Canada, and beyond in the future.
On June 12th, the Foundation will, thanks to the generous donations of individual and corporate sponsors, hold a special event here in Toronto to give refurbished computers, complete with Windows XP and Microsoft Office to one hundred families of underprivileged children‚Äìcompletely free of charge.
Thanks to our sales engineer Neville Thomas who brought this to our attention. He adds that you can visit the Little Geeks website if you are interested in volunteering as a “big geek” to repair or deliver computers to these kids and their families.
For those outside the Toronto area, there are similar organizations around that are more than happy to take older computers, clean them up and get them out into the homes of those who might not otherwise be able to afford one.