Part of the Internet technologies glossary:

Domain tasting is the practice of purchasing numerous available domain name s and then exploiting a five-day grace period to determine which names would be profitable to own. The usual intent is to resell domain names likely to command high prices, although there are a number of ways that domain tasters (sometimes called "domainers") make money from the practice.

As of March 2008, the cost to register a domain name is less than $10. Moreover, the registrant has five days, the add grace period (AGP), during which any money paid is refundable. Even a minimal transaction cost is waived. The AGP was originally intended to allow legitimate purchasers to return names registered in error (with a typo, for example) at a time when the cost per domain was considerably higher.

Domain tasters make money from the practice in a number of ways besides selling profitable domain names. In some cases, they repeatedly register and unregister domain names, in effect obtaining the use of the name for free. A domainer may also register a large number of domains and then set up Web sites containing nothing but advertising links. The domain taster monitors the activity on each site and keeps the domain names that generate the most clickthrough revenue or produce the highest clickthrough rate s.

In volume, even pages that are only registered for the add grace period can make a great deal of money. According to Jay Westerdal, the CEO of Name Intelligence, Inc., a Google AdSense partner was making $3 million per month from the practice -- after Google's cut.

Domain tasting can be a problem for individuals and businesses interested in setting up new Web site s. The domain name they want to purchase may be unavailable even though no one is using it for legitimate business. Domain tasting also clutters the Internet with essentially useless Web pages, consuming server resources and generating superfluous Internet traffic.

There are a number of approaches being considered to make domain tasting unprofitable and so end the practice. For example, Google may disqualify sites less than five days old for their AdSense program. However, there are similar programs available for domainers to exploit. ICANN , the organization that regulates the domain name system, announced a proposal to do away with the grace period for registration. The cost per name is not significant for a legitimate registrant, who is unlikely to want to register a great number of names. However, it would be prohibitive for the domain taster, who -- like the spammer -- relies upon volume to make a profit.

According ICANN, in January 2007, the top ten domain tasters were responsible for 95% of all deleted .com and .net domain names: 45,450,897 of the total 47,824,131 deleted names.

See also domain kiting , cybersquatting

This was last updated in March 2008
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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