Currently, people inside the domain name industry have recognized that their industry frequently gets a bad name. This is represented in the domain blogosphere (see below). In the words of ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade: "Our industry is not a well-established or well-received industry." Domain bloggers and domain investors lament the industry's poor standing, and some have even called for increased industry policing. Additionally, past associations between the domain industry and cybersquatting has lead to the general misinterpretation that all domainers are involved in illegal or unethical activities; in some cases, domaining (and other forms of the term like domain investors, domain squatters, etc.) is viewed as synonymous with cybersquatting.. However, this "bad reputation" has not been supported by much evidence other than personal anecdotes up to this point (at least none that I can find). According to a DomainIncite article, ICANN has commissioned at least two fairly recent surveys that looked at how people view the DNS industry. The surveys apparently found that the DNS industry is viewed as "four times worse the IT industry average." However, I cannot find any data from these surveys. The only ICANN reputation studies I can find were performed by Echo Global Research and were specifically related to how ICANN is perceived without reference to the greater industry.
I was successful in finding one article from outside of the domain name industry that addressed it's bad rap from a more public perspective. This article was published by The New York Times in 2008. The angle of the article was that domain investing was gaining favor as it became more lucrative and widely accepted in the financial world. However, while stating this moderate degree of acceptance, the article also included many reasons that domain investing and the domain name industry were viewed as unsavory, stating outright that "Domainers have generally had a negative reputation". It brings up that fact that many perceive domain investors as lazy because they rely on pay-per-click advertising, parked pages, and trading instead of actually building content on the domains they control. The article also states that many people believe the industry "was dominated by offshore players and secretive, if not illegal, tactics” in its early days, creating deep-seated mistrust with non-industry populations. After explaining these reasons, the article goes on to mention the presence of specific behaviors such as typosquatting, domain name hijacking, domain tasting, and it even alludes to drop-catching.
In addition to finding resources, I did a scan of major news websites as a personal experiment (I realize this is not necessarily representative and is TOTALLY anecdotal). I went to major news sites and searched their databases using the key terms "domain names," "dns," "domaining," "domain investing," and "domain investors" to see what kind of news coverage these topics were getting and if there was a trend of either predominately positive or negative stories. I found there were both positive and negative stories but generally the searches left a negative impression, assuming that they had any results at all. Many of the results were related to cybersquatting, phishing, hackers, downtime/going dark, DDoS, and copyright infringement. Positive stories focused on new technology/software, globalization, and technological booms. Searching the term "domaining" lead to hardly any results. Apparently it is not a term often used by non-industry media. The search terms "domain names" and "dns" returned the most relevant results.
- I searched The New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC, MSNBC, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal.
- Domain Incite: quotes Chehade's statement that the domain name industry has a reputation problem, and mentions a possible solution (a good housekeeping seal).
- Wikipedia Says Domainers Are Cybersquatters: this post talks about how domainer and cybersquatter have become synonymous terms in many minds.
- Domain Squatter Defined by Reputation.com: this post also discusses the confusion the public has in regard to what makes a cybersquatter different from a domainer.
- How the Domain Industry Can Clean Itself Up: this post highlights that bad actors reflect poorly on the whole industry and that the industry loses face when domain name auction sites sell names that qualify as typosquatting.
- Do Domainers Deserve Their Reputation As Cybersquatters Because They Fail To Police Their Own?: expresses the need for the domain industry to police themselves.
- TechCrunch Slams Domainers: Why Domaining Has A Bad Reputation: this post relates to a shill-bidding scandal and a scathing review by a former domain insider. It characterizes the industry very negatively.
- http://domainincite.com/11717-its-official-people-hate-the-domain-name-industry DomainIncite
- http://domainnamewire.com/2008/09/04/editorial-how-the-domain-industry-can-clean-itself-up/ by Andrew Allemann (September 4, 2008) Domain Name Wire
- http://tcattorney.typepad.com/anticybersquatting_consum/2008/09/do-domainers-de.html (September 4, 2008) Traverse Legal
- https://domainnamewire.com/2009/07/30/wikipedia-says-domainers-are-cybersquatters/ by Andrew Allemann (July 30, 2009) Domain Name Wire
- http://domainingtips.com/reputation-com.html (February 12, 2011) Domaining Tips
- http://beijing46.icann.org/node/37081 Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/business/worldbusiness/31iht-domain.4.9648956.html?_r=0 by Brad Stone (March 1, 2008), The New York Times
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