This is the first in a series of reports on notable zonefile movements and anomalies we see when preparing our numbers each day.
As explained in an earlier post we collect data for each TLD via the zonefiles every morning usually around 8:00AM UTC. This data forms the basis for many of the graphs and analysis on NameStat.org. A zonefile for a TLD is never static and changes daily reflecting events such as new registration surges, changes to nameservers and domains removed (dropped) from the zone. For an active new TLD these changes can amount to thousands of domain additions and subtractions per day.
The headline figures of total domains seen on the Top 10 gTLD lists and elsewhere are the sum of these additions and subtractions. These figures are useful and widely reported as an overall gauge of a TLDs progress, historical trends or relative performance against a comparable TLD. However the finer detail of the underlying movements can often point and highlight other aspects of a TLDs current state that may not be apparent from the headline figure.
As part of our daily stats routine we track these additions and subtractions on a name by name basis. For example we know when a domain enters the zone for the very first time (a new registration), when it leaves (redemption/delete period or missing nameservers) and when it re-enters (re-registration after delete or addition of nameservers). We also have a number of triggers highlighting potential issues which may need further checking. One such trigger occurs when a TLD has more than 100 drops on a single day:
In the table above .CASA (meaning 'house') is the only TLDs with less than 1 year of GA. The rest are in their first year renewal period after General Availability (365+ days). For these TLDs you would expect to see a gradual drop of domains on a day by day basis usually when domains are not renewed and enter the 30 day Redemption Period. For a healthy growing TLD these drops will be masked by new additions. However .CASA is only on day 124 of its first year of General Availability (GA) so a drop of 1641 domains here warrants a closer look.
Of the 1641 dropped, all were registered at the same registrar, Minds + Machines between June 8th to June 12th. Minds + Machines also happens to be the Registry for this TLD. Many of the domains are random text with the odd 'meaningful' name such as 'streamingmovie2015'. Also the 'randomness' of the domain names appears to cycle in groups of 10 names. All of the domains are already fully deleted and available for registration by another party. But the domains were only registered starting on the 8th with no time for a Redemption or Pending Delete stage before removal. From experience we can say these were most likely test domains and not real registrations. This is not an unusual occurrence and depending on the registry or back-end provider can happen frequently.
On the same day as the drops .CASA also gained a respectable 2794 new registrations. A cursory glance reveals these names as genuine and not test domains. However a significant proportion of registrants registered up to 10 domains in one hit, sometimes on a loose general theme. But why 10? It appears from this press release that ending today (15th June) M+M are running a one week Free Domain promotion for .CASA and .WORK.. with a limit of 10 domains per customer. Ah ok, now it makes sense.