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Domain Tasting - A Short History

Published November 3, 2010

Domain tasting was a practice rampant up until relatively recently - one that has effectively been stomped on by ICANN, freeing up millions of domain names for legitimate registration.

When a domain name is registered, an AGP (Add Grace Period) applies whereby a registrant has five days (3 days for .com au) to request a refund. 

Some were abusing this grace period by testing multiple domain names to see if they could be monetised through the placement of advertising on a web page created for the domains. When domain names proved to be non-productive during the Add Grace Period, the registrant applied for a refund; keeping only the domain names showing promise; hence the name "domain tasting".

The scale of the problem grew to incredible proportions up until 2008/2009 as millions of domain names were being "tasted" and refunded. In fact, at its worst, it's believed the number of incidences of domain tasting far outnumbered legitimate registrations as some parties were tasting thousands of domain names at a time. It's believed some registrars were well aware of the practice, but turning a blind eye to it in order to scoop up the fees from a taster's successful tests.

The issue came to a head in 2008 when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) introduced a non-refundable charge for each domain name registration. Given there were far more "loser" domains than winners in the tasting process, the small charge was enough to discourage the practice.

In August 2009, ICANN released a report entitled "The End Of Domain Tasting" that stated measures introduced had resulted in a massive  99.7% decrease in AGP deletes from June 2008 to April 2009. 

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