I am getting more than a little irritated by the Hold on a perfectly reasonable questions that is marked off-topic with no explanation for how a particular rule applies.

This question does not appear to be about server, networking, or related infrastructure administration within the scope defined by the community -

I needed to figure out who the big registrars are and one way is to take a look at their client list. Also a good way to filter out the nasty creeps. Yet this question was put on hold in what appears to be a very arbitrary fashion.

  • What an odd way to vet the reputability of a registrar. Why not just do some market research on the many sites that do reviews of registrars? – Reaces Nov 2 '15 at 7:36
  • Do any of the websites list the methods they use to gather data? The only site that I found was this guy (fairly awesome analysis and really useful): blog.legitscript.com/2015/01/… unfortunately he says: "were able to grab a good chunk of them for analysis — just over 7,000." without describing how he was able to grab so many records and since its 2015 it's unlikely to be a zone transfer. Hence my question. (of course it contradicts the so called experts here, but end of the day he provides me with useful info) – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 8:38
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    @Vek.M1234 I think we just have fundamentally different opinions on what is important when choosing a registrar. As long as you stick to one of the larger players, the only thing I really care about are: how is their interface / what is their customer support like. I can't imagine choosing a registrar that ends up getting an ICANN breach notice. Those that do are generally not large, public, corporately used registrars. – Reaces Nov 2 '15 at 12:00
  • So as not to bother Iain further, I'll mention this here rather than on Iain's answer: A large majority of active ServerFault users voted to bring Sven in as a moderator, and his views on what is and is not on-topic were plainly stated at the time of his election run. Same with all other ServerFault moderators. If Sven closed it outright, and also no other moderator chose to re-open, then consider that a majority-consensus. This is, however, ignoring the fact that five ServerFault users voting to close a question would also be considered a professional consensus by StackExchange thought. – Wesley Nov 2 '15 at 17:37

There is no reasonably practical way to do what you want for many registrars.

Furthermore, the community limits the scope of Server Fault to Managing computer systems within a business environment. I don't see how your question reasonably relates to that.

Erm that's it.

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    Yes, that was my reasoning exactly - I don't see this as a system admin task, and I don't see a practical way how this knowledge could help to "filter out the nasty creeps" - I think that's just a made-up argument. – Sven Nov 1 '15 at 21:21
  • I don't follow: In a business environment one has to research registrars before purchasing from them - all the more reason to figure out who their clients are and what they do (a large number of shady pharmaceutical companies implies unethical practices). It MOST CERTAINLY is the sys-admins task! – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 2:18
  • "no reasonably practical way to do what you want for many registrars." that is not grounds for the question being marked Offtopic. – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 2:31
  • @Vek.M1234 "no reasonably practical way to do what you want for many registrars." that is not grounds for the question being marked Offtopic. Yes it is. – Wesley Nov 2 '15 at 4:01
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    @Vek.M1234 It MOST CERTAINLY is the sys-admins task! No it isn't. – Wesley Nov 2 '15 at 4:01
  • 1. cite please: link to where it says that the subject matter at hand has to have a practical way. 2. zone transfer is one way to do this (if the server was mis-configured) - so it's on-topic anyways. – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 4:10
  • @Vek.M1234 Close reason: Questions should demonstrate reasonable business information technology management practices. Questions that relate to unsupported hardware or software platforms or unmaintained environments may not be suitable for Server Fault - see the help center. The question would broadly fall under that, most comfortably. If 9 out of 10 sysadmins say something isn't a reasonable business practice, it isn't. Or in ServerFault parlance, if 5 users vote something as off topic, then it is. Or even worse, if a question is so awful that a mod has to hammer it dead, then let it die =D – Wesley Nov 2 '15 at 4:59
  • mm might is right we are the majority, we think this is right: therefore it is. – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 5:06
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    @Vek.M1234 You described an Ochlocracy, but in reality ServerFault is more like a Democracy. There's a difference between tyranny of the majority and professional consensus. For example, while there's plenty of evidence that could be presented by medical professionals to argue against binding wounds with duct tape, in a professional setting any question regarding duct tape as a medical instrument would simply be shut down as a matter of professional consensus for self-evident outlandishness, amateurs with anecdotal evidence of duct tape as a band-aid notwithstanding. – Wesley Nov 2 '15 at 6:00
  • it's only a professional consensus when all users vote (or a large majority) which is why 'voting' is compulsory. – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 8:50
  • I have said everything I have to say on this matter. Please stop polluting my inbox with your squabbling. If you continue to do so I will consider you to be harassing me and take appropriate actions. If you wish to continue this then take it to chat. – Iain Nov 2 '15 at 8:54

To put it succinctly:

This is not something that professional system administrators do. While we certainly might evaluate the reputation of a domain registrar, obtaining a registrar's customer list is not part of that process, because it's usually impossible anyway and because it wouldn't provide any useful intelligence that couldn't be found via other, more public (and more ethical!) means.

If you're truly curious, you may find that this question gets a better reception at our sister site, Webmasters.

  • this may not be what you do, that's hardly our concern. this place is indexed by google and has a large audience - the only criteria is whether it is Off Topic as laid out by the charter. The impossibility/practicability of the task is irrelevant to Topic. Ditto ethics. Ditto the 'webmasters' suggestion though (friendly advice is welcome). – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 4:05
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    Here's some friendly advice: The community decides what is on topic here, "charter" notwithstanding (and it won't stand, since it's editable). – Michael Hampton Nov 2 '15 at 4:10
  • then edit the charter to reflect the consensus - arbitrary and high handed behavior that violates the rules laid out in the charter is wrong – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 4:16
  • Do you have a specific complaint? I see nothing that "violates the rules laid out in the charter" here. – Michael Hampton Nov 2 '15 at 4:20
  • The charter states that questions regarding: managing information technology systems in a business environment. is a legitimate request. How is a question on determining the domains under a registrar illegitimate, when it is essential to determining if the registrar is disreputable (a large number of illegal pharmaceutical firms under one registrar is indicative of collusion) – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 4:30
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    You are mistaken: Determining what domains a registrar has registered is in no way essential to determine if the registrar is disreputable. It's actually not necessary at all. That is probably why you do not understand why your question has been poorly received. – Michael Hampton Nov 2 '15 at 5:40
  • tell that to this guy: blog.legitscript.com/2015/01/… "We were not able to identify every domain name that NetLynx has in its portfolio, but were able to grab a good chunk of them for analysis — just over 7,000. I asked our team to look at domain names that 1) are currently active rogue Internet pharmacies;" – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 8:49
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    @Vek.M1234 Repeating yourself again and again is not going to get you anywhere. – Michael Hampton Nov 2 '15 at 16:55

I don't have time to look for them now, but we've had discussions in the past about whether general business practices questions are on topic for SF or not and the general consensus has been that they aren't. For example, hiring, advancement, and so on - the community decided that those types of questions aren't about managing computer systems.

Your question falls into the same category - it's not specific to managing systems, it's a general business management question: how do I figure out if a company I might deal with is reliable/ethical or not.

  • I agree that general business questions need to be avoided (hiring, advancement). However note that: I am not asking for ALL ways to research a registrar eg: company SEC filings, annual reports etc (these are business filings and accountants handle this). My question was specific to computation of domains under a registrar and who they were. Zone Transfer is one way except that it doesn't work nowadays. Interpreting ICANN data is another way and this is a perfectly valid sys-admin job and on-topic because they are technical (only a sys-admin would understand)! – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 3:05
  • "Only a sysadmin would understand" is demonstrably untrue. It's generally speaking not sysadmins who code the DNS servers. And even if it were true, you are still not asking a technical question about how to administer systems - you are asking about ways to get information about other people's systems. There's a distinction there. – Jenny D Nov 2 '15 at 8:25
  • This is what was cited as a reason for the Hold: Questions should demonstrate **reasonable** business information technology **management practices** -- Wesley Ways to get information is a management matter which is perfectly legit. I stand corrected on "Only a sysadmin would understand" let that read "a sysadmin would understand" – user176193 Nov 2 '15 at 9:31
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    To Jenny's point: I'm no Paul Vixie, but I do eat DNS for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner when the occasional CERT advisory calls for it. I definitely do not consider this to be a reasonable approach. It is certainly possible to obtain the information that you're looking for if you know people who can provide the right data, but for most people (read: anyone without the professional contacts that come from a career in DNS, ISPs, Security, or similar) this is not a realistic approach. Your curiosity is best served by speaking to the person who wrote the original article. – Andrew B Nov 3 '15 at 23:42

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