Note: this legacy wiki page is in the process of being moved to the main Namecoin website. The new page can be found here.
Squatting is simultaneously the most commonly cited and least important issue facing Namecoin. From Wikipedia's article on bikeshedding,
"... a committee overseeing plans for a nuclear power plant spent the majority of its time on relatively trivial and unimportant but easy-to-grasp issues – such as what materials to use for the staff bike-shed – while neglecting the proposed design of the nuclear power plant which is far more important but also a far more difficult and complex task to criticize constructively."
While irritating in the short term, the solution to squatting is very simple: raise renewal fees. The reason we haven't done that is because .bit domains are not very usable at the moment:
- 99.99% of browsers cannot visit .bit domains.
- The average person cannot manage purchasing a .bit domain.
- Renewals must be performed manually.
- Registrars must hold their customers private key.
Until access to .bit domains is ubiquitous the price should reflect the limited utility of a .bit domain name. Raising the price of .bit domains now will likely just depress the market.
Finally, there are honest people holding domains for others. One developer owns d/zooko, d/aaronsw, and a dozen-or-so potentially important names. Raising the renewal price would make it so good Samaritans must pay a lot of money to perform a public service.
IP Red Herring
Intellectual property concerns are sometimes raised in connection to .bit domains. We understand this concern: Namecoin devs do not control namecoin.bit and we can’t even get the owner to negotiate with us. While frustrating, squatters holding onto domains are not going to receive the massive payout they are dreaming of.
While it’s true that no one can be forced off a .bit domain, any site masquerading as a trademarked brand will probably land themselves in the PhishTank and browsers will block the site on the client side. The end result is the same for IP owners but without anywhere near the abuse potential of the centrally controlled DNS system.
The market is flooded with TLDs: there are well over 700 TLDs with more on the way. The popularity of TLD’s follows a zipf distribution and .bit will be lucky to ever hit the numbers of tertiary generic TLDs like .info or .biz. Sedo (the largest domain auction house) reports that half of their 2013 sales were in .com. Just 10 TLDs made up 88% of their total sales and .com, .net, .org, and .info were the only generic TLDs in the top 10. Squatters dreaming of 1990’s domain name buyouts are in for a huge disappointment.
Second Level Domains
If the above analysis hasn't calmed your fears, remember that we can always add a second level domain or an additional top level domain in the future. We would not take these steps until .bit prices had been raised for an extended period of time, but we are not doomed to negotiating with squatters on important domains.
The development team thoroughly understands the need to raise renewal prices and one of the biggest challenges Namecoin has had to tackle is domain pricing. Changes to domain pricing lead to the collapse of development in the past and changes must be undertaken very carefully.
Thankfully, we have a solid proposal for how to set a floating price. We need to run some modeling to test our safeguards against various attacks, but the framework ensures that we can update these parameters and pricing without hard forks.
Fixing domain name squatting is an engineering problem. Satoshi provided all the tools we need in the form of a decentralized currency. We’re just waiting for the right time to raise prices.
If you want to hurry things along, pitch in on the development of the “anyone pays” renewal feature, the rebase, domain auctions, or SPV clients.