Domainz outcry deafening

The hue and cry surrounding Domainz is reaching such a crescendo that it's hard to hear myself think at times.

The hue and cry surrounding Domainz is reaching such a crescendo that it's hard to hear myself think at times. I'm sure the help desk staff at ISPs around the country would agree - they're in the front line at the moment, even more so than usual.

To recap - Domainz is the company wholly-owned by the Internet Society (Isocnz) and is charged, according to its owner's site, with providing "robust DNS infrastructure and deliver[ing] quality, cost effective, registration services for the .nz space in line with policy".

That quite clearly is not happening and has not been happening for some time.

The latest round of accusations and smirking, and it is only the latest round, is centred on the new IT system put in to replace the old, wobbly University of Waikato system that has been running for donkey's years.

Waikato used to be the only gateway for New Zealanders to get out to the Internet at large, but decided some time ago that it wasn't going to be an ISP and would slowly extricate itself from that role. It has kept on the running of the registry of domain names while Domainz sorted out the new system, built for a cost estimated at somewhere between $400,000 and $700,000.

Sure, the Waikato system was old and didn't offer all the functionality people would have liked. Name holders with more than one domain name to control would have multiple user names and passwords to deal with - under the new system there would be only one name and password. Good idea, but as I write this Domainz still hasn't managed to email names and passwords out to all those who need them.

Here at IDG, Domainz has, for some reason, made contact with Bob Pinchin, our associate publisher. He doesn't have his name listed as a technical contact or as domain name holder, but Domainz has decided to send email to him about domain names.

We have around 70 names to manage but have yet to receive a user name or password to manage them. In fact, Domainz went so far as to delete the record of the 70 names in the process of handing it to our ISP, who is in no way involved with the managing of those names.

I'm not suggesting we need preferential treatment because we're a publishing house - far from it: if we were the only company experiencing problems I wouldn't even tell you about it.

But we're not - in fact, we're far from the only one and our problems are relatively minor compared with those of the ISPs who are also registrars. Their help desks are being flooded with phone calls from confused name holders who are being emailed by Domainz.

But the problem goes far beyond simple teething troubles with the Web site (www.domainz.net.nz). It appears Domainz simply will not listen to its users.

If it weren't a monopoly it would be, in my opinion, out of business. The Isocnz news group is a prime example. Yes, people post messages in as aggressive a manner as possible to make sure someone reads it. Yes, it's the perfect forum for griping and moaning about Domainz so attracts those with an axe to grind.

As far as I can see, Domainz is ignoring this valuable source not only of problems but of solutions as well. It even seems to go so far as to believe there will seldom, if ever, be a valid point of view expressed on the news group and I find that offensive.

By rejecting its own user base, Domainz treads that path all monopolies seem to tread - it moves further and further away from its true purpose, serving its users, and alienates them more and more. Whether that is going to help or hinder the development of the Internet in New Zealand, I'll leave to you to decide.

The good news is that the annual general meeting is coming up soon, and despite Domainz apparently ignoring the wishes of its clientele it will have to face the music. The sad thing is that the Domainz board seems to be made up of players who are also on the Isocnz board and as such have what seems to me to be a conflict of interest.

How can you vote no confidence in a management team when you're part of that team? Have a look at this site to see whether Domainz is currently working or not: Patho.

Paul Brislen is a Computerworld journalist. Send email to Paul Brislen. Letters for publication should be sent to Computerworld letters.

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