PIR Project Seeks To Improve Quality of Domain Name Space

PIR is on a mission to improve the domain name space for fellow registries, registrars and registrants. More than a year and a half ago – in May 2019 – the .org registry introduced the Quality Performance Index, or QPI. In doing so, they created a roadmap to identify best practices and incentives for registrars to reduce abuse rates and increase renewals of .ORGs.

This is not an isolated effort. It is part of PIR’s ongoing work to strengthen the trustworthiness of the domain space and Internet more broadly. It was only a in mid-February that Public Interest Registry launched the DNS Abuse Institute as part of their ongoing efforts to protect Internet users from the threat of DNS Abuse such as malware, botnets, phishing, pharming and spam.

QPI was created to create responsible registrations in .ORG while implementing proactive steps to reduce DNS Abuse. It is calculated by analysing data for each registrar based on a number of core Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)—abuse ratings, renewal rates, domain usage, DNSSEC enabled, SSL encryption usage, and the average term life of a domain name registration. The weighted scores are then combined to form a single QPI score. Of these factors, DNS Abuse is the primary metric; if a registrar fails on DNS Abuse, it will not qualify for QPI no matter its scoring in the other criteria. As a result, QPI incentivises .ORG registrars to make domain health a priority and identify and remedy DNS Abuse such as botnets, malware, phishing, and related spam.

The goals of QPI are clear—to recognise and reward those registrars aligned with, and committed to, the mission of maintaining and growing trust in the .ORG domain; identify areas of improvement so PIR account managers can work with registrars to increase their scores by improving the quality of their registrations; and promote the overall quality of the .ORG domain name space and the Internet as a whole through this proactive approach to combating DNS Abuse.

The results have been meaningful.

The creation of QPI has improved the quality of .ORG domains registered and renewed. This is evidenced by the fact that .ORG remains the least abused of all large generic top-level domains (gTLDs); participating registrars saw a marked improvement (4 percent) in renewal rates; approximately 50 percent of all .ORG new creates were registered through the QPI program; and PIR has observed direct changes in some registrar behaviour—registrars that had previously high abuse rates have worked to lower their abuse percentages in order to qualify for QPI and gain financial incentives.

QPI has the support of many in the industry. One expressing their support was Michele Neylon, CEO and Founder, Blacknight.

“We like the idea that our company’s stance on abuse mitigation is finally being rewarded by a registry via its marketing programs,” said Neylon. “Keeping our network clean is usually a thankless task, so it’s nice to be able to get some fiscal benefit from PIR.”

In light of its success, PIR is now expanding the program and making it available at no cost to all registries. To do so, PIR will make its QPI roadmap and toolkit available to other registries seeking to improve and grow the quality of their domain name spaces.

The roadmap identifies best practices for how to implement QPI for top-level domains (TLDs), and the toolkit enables registries to incentivise reduction in abuse rate and increase renewals of the TLD. The roadmap and toolkit will also allow registrars with resellers to implement their own versions of QPI.

QPI reflects PIR’s responsibility as part of its non-profit mission to operate for good and improve and increase registrations in a responsible way. In making it freely available, PIR hopes to expand QPI’s positive impact across the domain name community.

Once implemented, QPI will help registries and their registrar partners prevent abusive domains by addressing registrations made for malicious activity, working with third parties to identify abusive registrations, and improving promotions to avoid dramatic spikes in DNS Abuse.

Ultimately, we believe the QPI will help achieve a cleaner domain space for everyone, combat DNS Abuse, and improve the quality of domains across the Internet.

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