Verisign removes .tk and other Freenom domains from industry brief

Company excludes five free top ccTLDs from its calculations.

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Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN) released its Q4 2021 Domain Industry Brief today, and at first glance, it looks like domain registrations have dropped a lot. But that’s because Verisign has removed .tk and other Freenom domains from its counts.

As the name suggests, Freenom gives domain names away for free. That has made the tiny island nation of Tokelau seem like a behemoth in domains, as people registered tens of millions of free .tk domains. Other Freenom domains include .cf, .ga, .gq and .ml.

Freenom domains have always distorted domain name data, and Verisign had some difficulty getting reliable numbers for these domains for Q4. In its brief, it notes:

Since it was first published in February 2004, the Domain Name Industry Brief has become widely regarded as a credible and accurate source of statistics relating to the domain name industry. The continued accuracy of this brief and the reliability of the statistical information it contains are of paramount importance to Verisign and our readers.

We have therefore taken the decision to exclude the .tk, .cf, .ga, .gq and .ml country-code top-level domains from the applicable data set and trend calculations, due to an unexplained change in available estimates for the .tk zone size and lack of verification from the registry operator for these TLDs. The applicable current and historical data presented in this edition of the DNIB have been adjusted accordingly, and applicable quarterly and year-on-year trends have been calculated using those adjusted figures. This enables us to continue to provide accurate overall trend data.

Removing the domains resulted in Verisign’s total domains calculation coming in at 341.7 million at the end of last year, down from 364.6 million at the end of Q3 2021. But Verisign has removed Freenom domains retroactively to create comparisons. That resulted in a 1% increase in total domains across all TLDs from Q3 to Q4 last year.

Frankly, I think this change will result in a more accurate picture of the domain name market.

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