back to article Nominet boardroom battle may already be over as campaign to oust management hits critical milestone

The campaign to remove the CEO and non-elected board members of .uk internet registry operator Nominet may be over before the official petition is even filed. The PublicBenefit.uk drive, spearheaded by CEO of hosting company Krystal Simon Blackler, announced its intention to call for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sigh! If they could apply this same purging principal to the management

    of national political parties.

    1. don't you hate it when you lose your account

      Re: Sigh! If they could apply this same purging principal to the management

      Was my thoughts exactly. The facts were considered and debated. A call for a fair vote was organised and hopefully the shameful leaders will be sent packing.

      No horns, animal skins or made up bedtime stories were needed. Just the truth of the facts.

  2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Hear that whistling sound?

    That's the headman's axe slicing through the air as it aims for your neck. Your olive branch/fig leaf appeasement attempt won't stop the execution. In fact, the management beheadings will continue until morale improves. It shouldn't take long...

    1. Lon24 Silver badge

      Re: Hear that whistling sound?

      I'd rather wait until the fat lady sings though last week Robin Hood investors in GameStop humbled the hedge funds. This week that whistling sound may be Robin Hood's arrows heading unstoppably towards the Sheriff of Abingdon. Good article showing how clearly the close and mostly foreign interests of the big boys colluded with Nominet's directors to exclude the interests of the people for whom Nominet was set up.

      If it wasn't for the pandemic dominating political news - one would have expected some embarrassing questions to be put to the relevant minister.

      A Nominet Member

      1. gerdesj Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Hear that whistling sound?

        Sheriff of Abingdon? I went to skool in Abingdon back in the day. Can't recall seeing any shire reeves hanging around looking shifty.

        The bloke you want lives over to the right and up a bit.

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Holmes

    it makes financial sense for anyone with more than, say, 20 .uk domains to become a member.

    How many people went and quickly counted the number of .uk domains they have to see if it's worth becoming a member?

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      I must admit that I had my shoes and socks off in a jiify when I read that!!!

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Counting to 12 is easy on one hand (and up to 31 is very well possible), so why take of your shoes and sock?

        1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          I gave up counting in binary on my fingers cos it seemed that every time I got to four someone would start a fight!!!

          A 16 for you! ----------------------->

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > "so why take of [sic] your shoes and sock?"

          I assumed he wanted a sock for some self congratulatory reasons....!

          1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

            Eeeuuuwww!

            Fresh ones only please! Preferably bamboo! Mmmm ..... soft!

      2. Lon24 Silver badge

        Or get 'em this way

        If £500 upfront is a bit daunting - why not go into partnership with an existing member?

        PublicBenefit.uk have conveniently provided a list of over 100 companies and individuals who may share your principles - bottom of page.

        A Nominet Member

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      "it makes financial sense for anyone with more than, say, 20 .uk domains to become a member."

      It's a bit more than that really. 20 .uk domains with no membership is £200 per year. 20 .uk domains plus a membership is £178 per year. So you save £22 per year, but you also have to pay an additional £400 up front, which means it will take 19 years to actually start to pay off. Bearing in mind .uk addresses have only been available for public use for 6 years, a membership for a relatively small number of domains is only worth it if you're looking at it as a very long term investment, along with a gamble that the pricing and membership structure will actually stay the same for at least two decades. Really you need at least 40 or 50 domains before it starts making clear sense in the short term to become a member.

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        I take your point on the cost/benefit analysis but speaking as private individual, if I had the money, I might think it worth the cost just to stick it to the man.

        With luck and a following wind I hope that these parasites are thrown out but given that they have seven weeks to try and drum up support and/or indulge in a few dirty tricks I'll wait to see the result before breaking out the champagne.

        We shall see but I truly want to see the back of the current management of Nominet.

      2. Richard Cranium

        publicbenefit.uk has a list of those in support of change, 8 of them have fewer than 20 names which seems an odd choice from a simple cost-benefit viewpoint. Are there additional factors involved?

        One is voting rights. Even the guy with no domains gets an entitlement to 1331 votes but is it worth paying £100 a year for some voting rights? (Or paying a £400 joining fee and to join now to get some votes).

        Given past evidence of having been to the Trump school of management (e.g. the past statement that "The Register is Fake news") what else can they get from the Trump playbook? Fiddle the figures by spending £40k to create 80 new members and so score 100,000 extra votes? Or keep it simple by fiddling the way votes are counted, claim some votes are not valid, or just disregard the result ("Stop the steal!"). If I was getting £500k a year I'd go to some lengths to keep it coming...

        1. Keith Langmead

          "publicbenefit.uk has a list of those in support of change, 8 of them have fewer than 20 names which seems an odd choice from a simple cost-benefit viewpoint. Are there additional factors involved?"

          What it doesn't show is how long they've been members. I'd bet many of those with only a few domains are old members, eg companies who previously did a lot more domain business but have since perhaps wound things down, or changed direction, but maintain membership since it allows them to keep direct control of their domains. Hell, could well be a bunch of old nerds who've partially retired but like to keep a hand in the game for their own use and perhaps that of friends and family, for whom £100 a year to maintain the status quo is a small price to pay. And they're likely also the types who'd be all over a vote like this.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        >which means it will take 19 years to actually start to pay off.

        It probably be a good few less than that; if there isn't any change. This is because of the business model being pursued by the existing Nominet board.

        So look at that £400 up front a payment to avoid having to (repeatedly) pay significant price hikes in the coming years as the board milks the customer-base to further fund their windmill tilting hobby horses.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Surely any nominet price rises will affect resellers also?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I assume that's correct as many resellers increase their price whenever Nominet do - and in roughly the same proportion i.e. if nominet were to increase by 40p from £3.90 to £4.30 (~10%) a reseller currently charging £10 would increase to £11 increasing their margin by 60p...

            Except in 2011 I paid £5.98 to renew a domain at 123reg, if I'd not moved elsewhere it would now be £11.99 (before VAT). In the same time period the wholesale price increased from £2.50 to £3.90 so a near 60% increase at Nominet has translated to a 100% increase at 123reg.

            For those with just one or two domains there's little incentive to move reseller, £12 renewal is no big deal and it sounds like it might involve some technical hassle so not worth it just to save a couple of quid but in practise moving is no big-deal. Moving a dozen domains, especially for a bigger saving per name and bearing in mind that the saving is for every year, not just this, is worth the effort especially for a [not politically correct stereotype redacted] like me. Over the 10 years since I moved about two dozen names the aggregate cost saving has been around £1000. But not just that, I now get better facilities and responsive competent support.

    3. Richard Cranium

      ...more than 20...

      I've got over 100 under my management so this attracted my attention - however firstly break even on 20 names would take a while, especially as it seems to be predicated on an assumed retail price of £10 (I'm paying rather less) but also I assume a need for software to manage the names.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: ...more than 20...

        Unless it's changed, you have the option of using their API, or using the web interface.

    4. katrinab Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      I logged into my OVH account, and it told me I have 17 domains. I know they are all .uk.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "90 per cent of the membership is disengaged and rarely, if ever, expresses a view"

    Well there's your problem. A Byzantine voting structure and obtuse rules and you convince the small guys to not bother. Then you buddy up to the few who have actual influence and you spend years influencing things to your fancy. All is well.

    Until you end up having done a 180° on your madate and somebody wakes up and makes a fuss. And you're so busy burning Rome that you can't even hear the messengers that are clamoring for you attention.

    Beheading. It's the only solution.

    A new management is best - the existing one has proven its incompetence.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "90 per cent of the membership is disengaged and rarely, if ever, expresses a view"

      "Beheading. It's the only solution."

      Revolutions often end up with the leaders of the oppressed then behaving as their oppressors did - or even worse. Beware Robespierre!

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Linux

    Only got one domain

    ... so well down at the bottom of the pecking order. However I have been sadly noticing the degradation of the organisation.

    Hopeful that this will succeed.

  6. N2
    Mushroom

    I volunteer my services

    A fair few mentions of execution on this thread, I'll sharpen my axe

    icon if not>

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    monopoly

    The .UK TLD is a natural monopoly and it is an asset of the UK. It has become the plaything (cash cow) of Nominet with little regard for its smaller members and zero regard for the millions of organisations and individuals who are the end-users of domain names. As a web designer since the mid 1990s I've had plenty of experiences interacting with Nominet, in the early days it was excellent, I once got help direct from Willie Black (who was chairman back then), but in more recent times, several cock-ups (some I've written about on The Register).

    As an organisation it has a (recent) history of poor decisions and mismanagement as well documented on The Register and Sir Michael Lyons' report.

    From my perspective apart from the price rises there was the farce in respect of the release of .uk as an alternative to .co.uk

    The "benefits" of that were increased revenue for Nominet and their member registrars, it did not, as Nominet claim, increase the number of names available. For example Tesco own tesco.co.uk, had they not bought tesco.uk someone else would have. If they used it in manner in any way detrimental to Tesco then Tesco would have either invoked the Nominet domain name resolution process (more £££ for Nominet) or taken it to court (£££££ for lawyers) - so a no-brainer to buy the variant for a few pounds a year. And the name is of no other value to tesco, like many other large organisations, they don't use it, it doesn't even route traffic to tesco.co.uk

    Nominet suggest that a shorter name is easier to use - yes but saving 3 keystrokes? - for the small number of people that go to a website by typing the URL rather than following a link, bookmark or browser autocomplete? As it turns out many users are suspicious of the variant anyway: .com and .co.uk are familiar and so (relatively) "trusted" .uk just looks odd.

    As an end-user of uk domain names that means I need twice as many. Sure the wholesale cost is under £4 p.a. but for many end users the registrar adds a considerable margin to that and a bit of up-selling so at 123reg for example many are paying around £12 per name plus a further £12 for Domain Ownership Protection (whatever that is). Businesses with two-word names often hold variants with and without hyphens (domain-example.co.uk and domainexample.co.uk) so at 123reg they might end up paying almost £100p.a. And then some businesses have additional names perhaps those of well known products/brands, especially trade marked names, and historic names (for example I expect HSBC still holds on to Midland Bank related names). OK it's no big deal for HSBC or whoever but for struggling SMEs, start-ups and micro-businesses every penny counts.

    A major shake-up of Nominet is long overdue. There are two options: that the members succeed with the current initiative or that the true "owner" of this national asset,central government, takes back control on the basis that the original deal was non-profit with some charitable commitments, has been breached.

    We are uneasy about government being too hands-on, there is a risk that they might just hand the reins to their chums but also they aren't characterised by speedy action, by the time committees, enquiries, consultations and tendering processes were complete the present incumbents would have retired to spend their millions.

    Can the members succeed though? It's not just a matter of getting sufficient for an EGM but also gaining enough attendance and votes at that EGM. Do we really suppose Nominet won't be doing whatever is necessary to encourage some of those members to vote against? One can imagine all kinds of potential "inducements" to members so the end-users remain the only losers.

    What can be done to encourage members to vote for change when some are beneficiaries of this gravy-train?

  8. Richard Cranium

    "What can be done to encourage members to vote for change"

    Registrants could "vote with their wallets" and move domains away from member organisations who are not in support of change to those who are (partial lists of both can be found here https://publicbenefit.uk/). That's a load of hassle, not much can be done in the short time available before the vote and many registrants won't know there is a dispute or if they do won't care/understand.

    Better is to try to understand the reasons why some are not supporting change and see if anything can be done to identify flaws in their reasoning. Presumably it's fear that changes under new leadership will be detrimental to their interests. In what way? Can those fears be allayed?

  9. dca1

    I wonder what the articles say about abstentions counting toward the total. I could picture some large names abstaining to bring the total up and therefore the 3% cap to a higher number. Not exactly a vote of approval but serves the purpose of providing a few more which are. Either way I'll be here with my popcorn.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Severance pay

    Or whatever it might be called. As the parasites are facing rapid removal in the immediate future, what chance of them wangling huge pay offs for each other before or shortly after they receive their P45s?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    B4

    it was so much better before nominet, had a domain when they took over August 1996, I got a letter in August 2004, basically saying you sign up and pay otherwise we don't publicise your name servers and it will then be cancelled.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: B4

      You were lucky. They claimed my domain (premium name, worth £thousands) had never been registered, I had no rights and they were going to reclaim it (yes probably in around 2004, that's when Willie Black resigned - coincidence? The decline started when he left and accelerated as time passed and CEOs changed).

      I had to jump through loads of hoops to prove the domain I'd been using for 9 years was mine. It was first registered on the day Nominet replaced the original naming committee. If I recall correctly the naming committee would have charged nothing and I think Nominet originally charged a lot but it was for outright purchase (£100? £200?) but that was a quarter century ago so I could be wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: B4

        I had a feeling it was the other way round, I seem to remember paying £200-£300 to the naming comittee for life, only to then get the letter in 2004 forcing me to start paying but I may be wrong too, as you say it was a long time ago, fortunately sold my 3 letter .co.uk for a tidy sum just before the release of .anything to a set of solicitors which made the price I charged all the sweeter.

  12. FlippingGerman

    FUCK YES

    An end to a disgustingly horrible period, hopefully. Thanks for all you've done for this, El Reg.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    179 out of 2500 members

    Current numbers supporting the publicbenefit.uk proposal. That doesn't look good.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 179 out of 2500 members

      Better than it looks. Some people just become members to get cheap domains, they never participate in any voting, the only way they participate is by using the API to register/renew domains. A lot also probably don't even know about this action yet.

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