So long, farewell
auf Wiedersehen, goodbye.
The board of .uk registry operator Nominet has offered a series of concessions to its members in an effort to win back their support in advance of an extraordinary meeting that could see most of them fired. In a message on Nominet’s website, the board on Tuesday said it would freeze director pay as well as .uk domain prices …
No, not walk away scotfree, there needs to be recovery of all the misdirected funds, return of all unwarrented bonuses and criminal charges placed against those that subverted what should have been a community benefit.
The UK has lots of these kind of managers having fabulous pay and pensions paid for by people who do not get any say in how much they redirect from the core business, this is a good place to start changing the idea that managing other people's money comes without competent and proactive oversight.
There needs to be laws that limit what charity management can do without all the people funding the organisation being involved and that includes turning the clock back to before the changes and recovering redirected money back to the organisation. If this means bad managers who gamble with funds not their own end up loosing their homes then this is also what happens with companies.
There needs to be a fair balance of power against responcibility and in the UK at least there is rarely any responcibility just jobs for the boys and keep whatever you have grabbed.
The article ought to be evidence in a law suit to revover the misspent funds from Nominet during Haworth's tenure and from all three of the board who oversaw the efforts.
Just looking at the list of U turns they are allegedly wiling to make demonstrates that they know they are in the wrong. Time for the pitchforks, torches and the tar and feathers
> Just looking at the list of U turns they are allegedly wiling to make demonstrates that they know they are in the wrong.
Interesting isn't it. They've moved from "nah, we're fine mate" to trying to make an offering, but - in effect - generating a list of some of the things they should already have been doing.
Does seem fairly obvious, too, that they're likely to use it to "buy" survival so that they can change the rules further to prevent another similar uprising in future
Manage a system to support the sale of domain names for as low a cost as possible. Where is the need for marketing and "growth"?
I believe in the free market (etc), but things like this should be 100% not for profit - a lot of people and micro businesses use them, and they don't have "spare" cash to line the pockets of egotistical megalomaniacs who what to appear "successful" in developing sectors (autonomous vehicles, IoT, ...).
Just been listening to BBC Radio 4's reading of the Robert Maxwell debacle. How he borrowed from his company's pension fund to prop-up his grandiose but failing commercial ventures. Parallels with Russell et al using and abusing the uk domain space, its registrars and domain holders to finance their failing commercial ventures and their pay packets.
Sure if they had been a roaring success (and it would be natural to sell Nominet's IP in registry management to an exploding market) then payback to subsidise the uk domain system would have been welcome. But they failed at that - a bit like Trump failing to make a casino profitable and then awarding himself a massive pay rise. The mind boggles. Nominet's registrars do business in the real commercial world. If we make a commercial mistake we suffer. It hits our pay packets and if we did as badly as Russell - our careers.
I knew things were not right but not this wrong. If, as a member, I didn't know - what does this say of the board's responsibility to its members? They have failed. Their denial of responsibility makes it worse. Even worse is seeing them in a hole digging hard.
Are you listening Russell et al?
A Nominet Member
if any of those ventures had gone right, do you really believe the domain registration side would have benefitted? Or that the charitable donations would increase?
The only beneficiaries would have been the people on the board of that wing - ie the same old faces. You can bet the the subsidiary would end up claving off via a management buy out - to the same board members, no doubt.
Any natural monopoly should be either set up as a non-profit or under extreme regulation. Ideally both.
Think Openreach, National Grid, Network Rail, the local water supply companies.
Nominet has no oversight at all and was also slowly trying to push out members from any decision making.
So they awarded themselves double-digit pay rises, and now they are 'offering' not to increase their pay further.
So two of the board members, or 2/3rds of the commercial SPV directors were from a finance background, specialising in M&A. Yet most of Nominet's 'diversification' efforts failed miserably, costing money and wasting resources.
So why should failure be rewarded, and why shouldn't the membership fire the feckers*, and return Nominet to what it should be, ie managing the UK registry. Especially given-
Many members would be opposed to these forays into commercial markets, especially since they were paying for them.
In more ways than one given Nominet members may also be offering services in that same space, even if it's just registry services. Nominet would have almost certainly been bidding against it's members for new TLD registry/registrar services, but faced cost increases to pay for Nominet lowballing it's own bids.
*As in terminate with extreme prejudice, not allow resignations and leave Nominet on the hook for any fat pension payouts.
This is what it would have been funny if it wasn't so tragic: in times like these CEOs and other high paid directors take a voluntary pay cut or give up their bonuses in solidarity. These guys only think a pay freeze is in order and only after threatened with a p45.
It seems that they need far more than simply replacing the board. They need to change the articles of association to limit the ability to do anything outside run a registry without a vote by the majority of the membership, not just the turnout. They also need to ensure that the board publishes a full account of what it does.
A quick search shows that a Nominet Charitable Trust is a registered charity but I can find no such registration for this alleged non-profit itself. If it's really a non-profit then maybe the entire outfit should be registered so that the whole of its activities come under the scrutiny of the Charity Commissioners.
There is a "Private Limited Company by guarantee without share capital use of 'Limited' exemption", Social Tech Trust showing on Companies House. This was know as Nominet Charitable Foundation until May 2018, when "Nominet Trust" became "Social Tech Trust" - see https://www.nominet.uk/nominet-trust-becomes-social-tech-trust-announces-strategic-partnership-social-investment-business/
Coincident with the change of name, they replaced the Articles of Association - pdf available as a linked document (16 Jul 2018) from https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/06578379/filing-history.
There is also a charity with the same name (Social Tech Trust) - https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search/-/charity-details/4041073
This is a repost of something I posted on 6 Oct to an earlier article about Nominet companies:
The active personal-corporate relationships within and between the five companies with 'Nominet' in their names are captured in a graph here, (PDF). The Graphviz source code is alongside it, here (plain text).
Of course not. If Nominet cuts its prices - a very, very big if - the registrars who sell names to the public are highly unlikely to pass along that reduction. They'll pocket the difference as extra profit for themselves. That's what usually happens whenever a registry cuts prices.
The biggest registrars have high volume, low margin business models. A few pennies off the registration fees they pay to a registry will go straight to their bottom line.
Besides, if Nominet cut their fee by say £1 a name (a ~ 25% reduction), who's really going to notice if a registrar sells .uk names for £9 a year instead of £10 (a ~10% reduction)? Assuming they reduce their prices to reflect the lower wholesale price.
That's a little unfair. We put up prices in line with Nominet. We will pass any reduction on. It's up to the domain holder to choose an ethical provider who will do that. Again a reminder that you will find them in that list at the bottom of the publicbenefit.uk webpage.
But note because we get them for £4.68 (£3.90+vat) isn't the only cost. DNS management, support etc make up most of the difference. Even rendering an invoice and proceeds comes at a cost. Margins are pretty close to zero for most of us.
A Nominet Member
The concessions will not be granted - Nominet are masters of gaming the members. The members now have a one-shot chance to get rid of them and rebuild the pre-profiteering Nominet. It doesn’t matter what the executives say, or think, or intend to do, this is a numbers game.
How many other examples of this sort of shenanigans can we think of? Mozilla of course. As I recall, the Co-op Bank was nearly run into the ground by the CEO trying to run it as a business-for-profit.
I'm thinking non profit organisations need to find good organisers who didn't learn it in business school. They tend to get confused. (Insert Mediocre But Arrogant joke here.)
Apparently, it's a thing; nominet.fail
It seems this is quite a simple business, needing next to no marketing by nominet themselves, not exactly requiring a lot of staff, nor management requiring large salaries, its a registrar, that's it, one that has never coincidently enforced its own rules on things like .org.uk.
Nominet does randomly decide to throw its weight around and threaten you with removing your domain simply because its registered to a person and has a holding page as its no longer in use but has a single link to a business. This happened to me and I was forced to remove the link.
I once complained about a domain and was told
"Although the domain name is being used for business purposes, the domain name Registrant is an Individual, and so we would say that the details are correct. A domain name can be registered to somebody or something other than the end user."
Which rather contradicts what happened to me re the link.
If you report one that is actively clearly very obviously fraudulent (such as a clone of a bank site using a domain that has just been registered) they tell you to inform the police as its not their problem and they won't do anything without a court order.
I have held a specific domain-name as a .com, .net and .co.uk since the late 90s. So when the great .uk debacle happened, I was automatically given the equivalent to my .co.uk registration. All fine and dandy until it was time to pay for it. I paid for 1 year, then let it lapse, as I did not want to line Nominet's pockets. This has turned out to be a mistake. Early December 2020 I find someone has registered my previous .uk domain name and has started a business offering computer repairs. All well and good, except the individual concerned failed to check if the name he had thought of had been previously used. It is in fact a registered Trade Mark for computer services, and I own it.
Unable to find the 3rd party's address (remember the WHOIS issue?!), I had to open a DRS complaint with Nominet. Only then was I able to send a Letter of Claim (known as a Cease and Desist in the USA) to the 3rd party. He has ignored me and failed to take part in the Nominet DRS process. Their mediator would not accept that it was Nominet's flawed plans to sell-off the .uk space that has led to, and facilitated Trade Mark infringement. Their cop-out: it is a matter for the courts. The DRS mediation process has now drawn to a close as the 3rd party refused to engage. I can pay £750 +VAT to one of their independent "advisors" to rule on the domain name if I want it transferred back to myself. If I had £750 +VAT kicking around, I can think of more important things to spend it on!
So thanks to Nominet, I have no recourse to common law without spending money on lawyers to file a case with the courts; or I have to pay their fees to stop this person from infringing my Trade Mark. In the meantime, I am tackling this from another angle: I have been raising Trade Mark infringement complaints with Instagram, Twitter, and the website's hosting company. I have to tip my hat to Instagram - they were the first to bite and close the infringing account. I have had to email Twitter again, and I am still waiting for them to wake-up; and I am waiting on squarespace.com to clobber the website. Assuming all goes to plan, I can only hope the 3rd party gets the message and drops the domain name. I will then have to scramble to try and register it again to stop this from happening in the future. I have also had to pay to cover the .me.uk variant - just in case. This is all rather annoying, as it gets rather costly, both in money spent on domain renewals, and one's time trying to defend one's IP!
All of this could have been avoided if Nominet had not been so greedy in selling off the .uk namespace. Of course, it could have also given people their equivalent .uk domain name for free, for life; or at least as long as you maintained the .co.uk equivalent.
The entire point of the proliferation of useless TLD's is to force every business to own a dozen useless domain names. It is basically just a barely legal form of extortion; it's rather obvious that if they had of given everybody a free .uk domain name then they'd only make as much from it as they would have done from new registrations.
A captive market of every registered business being forced to register another domain forces huge numbers of people to double the money they are paying Nominet.
and whatever they come up with for the bit that's left.
"bit" as in singular? Rather wishful thinking!
Surely by that point we'll be well into the realms of .mercia, .wessex, .essex, .sussex, .kent, .(east)anglia .northumbria and .kernow (or .dumnonia depending which era you want to hail from)... by which time the Isle of Wight will probably have declared independence too.
"...by which time the Isle of Wight will probably have declared independence too."
And not before time. My first vote in a general election was for the Vectis Independence Party in 1970 and I'm still waiting. Being an island means that things are different here and it also means that we are literally on the fringes of the country and are easy to overlook.
So bring it on. I don't think that Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man etc. are suffering from being detached both physically and politically from the mainland.
I believe the multi-talented Lauri Say recorded a song on the subject of UDI For The Isle of Wight back in the late 60s... pretty sure it was on the rather rare “Songs for Singing Islanders” disc along with “Cowes Week”, “The Westlabd SRN Super Noiseless Hovercraft” and “It’s The Isle of Wight For Me”. Can anyone with a better memory than I confirm that it was Lauri? I have them all as MP3s but am currently without power due to a winter storm, and contemplating a 3-day weekend of shivering pre-industrial existence...
"Surely in a couple of years the options will be .scot, .wales, .ie and whatever they come up with for the bit that's left."
Already happened, see e.g.:
As an aside: I find it quite incomprehensible how Mr Johnson, as self-appointed Minister for the Union, seems to have a knack for playing into the hands of the SNP. I just can't decide if that's a carefully considered policy, or incompetent buffoonery.
I was there at the beginning of this, quite vocal at the time that Nominet should never have existed. Everyone knew that at it's creation it was a money grab by a second rate lecturer who happened to have discovered he was sitting on a pot of gold.
The idea that it was a membership organisation was laughable at the time, everyone knew that control of .uk had been passed to a private company operating under the guise of a not for profit membership led organisation. Members were seen from the start as a problem.
Naming Committee members like Demon had even offered to the run the entire registry for free, in part because it would have been a coup, but also because domains were merely a line in a database that didn't need to cost £7.50 or whatever it was at the time. A line in a database. Name serving duties could be carried out by any one of a 100 ISPs at that point. Again, just a line in a database on a machine that already was acting as a name server.
Instead, Nominet was pushed down everyone's throat, a plush new office in the Oxfordshire countryside, doubles for everyone. Guaranteed salaries from a money making machine.
It is long overdue for Nominet not to listen to it's members, but to be swallowed up by the DTI (or whatever it's been renamed to this week), which is where it should have been run from 25 years ago.
The sort of mickey-mouse registry and DNS setup you describe might well have been fine for the 1990s. But not today.
Ever since the dotcom boom DNS service for a major TLD is more than "a line in a database" - a lotmore. DDoS attack mitigations, anycasting, 24x7 operations, capacity for zillions of queries per second, no downtime, etc. The same goes for running a major registry - something else that has to offer 100% uptime. And let's not ignore all the other essential and expensive running costs: finance systems, tech support, interaction with law enforcement, dispute handling, community engagement, etc. If a registry for .uk started out the way you described, it would have had to morph into something that has the level of infrastructure seen at Nominet or any of the other big registries.
You're right Nominet has over-paid for fancy offices. And over-paid even more for executive salaries and bonuses to people that didn't deserve them. Something should be done about that. If/when those excesses are put right, it's still going to cost at least a few million a year to keep the lights on and make sure .uk queries get answered. There's no going back to "one line in a database".
Having the government run .uk is beyond silly. They can barely run a bath. Look at the government-run registries. DVLA or Companies House or the Passport Office are hardly beacons of competence or efficiency. Let's not forget that government-run registries also squander millions and reward failure with pay rises and bonuses. They're far less accountable to their customers or the public too. In principle, Nominet's members are able to take back control. There would be no chance of that if the government ran the .uk registry.
It's not much more nonsense than your "a domain is a line in a database" to be fair.
It also requires root name servers for the TLD.
It requires an API for registration.
To avoid abuse these days it requires some sort of verification of data.
These things cost, so it also requires some sort of billing platform.
All of this needs to be offered in a neutral fashion to the up stream registration companies.
but to be swallowed up by the DTI (or whatever it's been renamed to this week)
Although a reasonable idea, this would have currently got it run by our current government. If we think that Nominet is corrupt at present, this is tiny in comparison to what is being done with public money at present.
How do we know that this is not going to continue? Instead of a few hundred grand here and the odd million there, it wouldn't turn into something that spaffed hundreds of millions here and billions there as is being done with money that is supposed to be for healthcare etc.
From the article:
"I welcome a good, robust debate on all these points, conducted in the right way."
... without any way of conducting the debate because, of course, the members' forum is no longer available. I wonder what the Chairman believes "the right way" to be?
I was delighted to find that my preferred domain registrar (34sp.com) have already signed, and sent them an email to say so. If your registrar has - congratulate them, will help them fight any pushback internally. If they haven't - email to ask why not, and why you shouldn't move to one that has?
Possibly in a similar way that Wthe Which? Board was headed by the ex-head of P&G Europe and the Chairman of the Trustees worked in marketing specialising in the FMCG sector. The two people added to the Board from Unilever plc plus other industries shows how important it is that charities need proper control from senior businessmen who will obviously identify with the average subscrber and the aims of a consumer charity.
Bedazzled (1967). The Devil - Peter Cook.
Bedazzled (2000). The Devil - Liz Hurley.
Bedazzled (2021). The Devil - Guess Who
The Devil : Paragraph one states that I, the Devil, a not-for-profit cooperation, with offices in Purgatory, Hell, and
Los AngelesOxford, will give you seven wishes*...
Former(?) Devil Liz Hurley modelling her wardrobe for when hell freezes over... (or Nominet, under the current board change their ways and keep to their word)
* The message from the Nominet Board contains... 7 initiatives