For years now, I’ve been wanting the domain "sharding.com." In fact, I only picked up "sharding.org" because I couldn’t have "sharding.com." At the time, it was owned by a real estate agent in Bellevue, Washington (just across Lake Washington from here). A few months ago, I noticed that the expiration date for the domain was approaching quickly. That had happened before; the previous year, the owner came within days of it expiring before they renewed. But I kept an eye on the status, in hopes of getting my hands on the domain.
The expiration date came and went. This, of course, doesn’t mean it was actually available. It went into the "REDEMPTIONPERIOD" limbo for a few months. Then it went into the "PENDINGDELETE" status and I was poised to grab it. I seriously considered signing up for a service like Snapnames to better my chances, but I decided that it wasn’t worth $70 to me. Anyway, I didn’t think it would be a terribly popular domain. It isn’t especially short, and it’s not a single dictionary word.
This has been a frustrating experience, mostly because of the way the registrars do things. They give you no way to tell exactly when a domain will become available. In fact, I believe that they intentionally make it impossible to determine, though I don’t have any proof of that. It feels like the playing field isn’t level. I don’t know that Vertical Axis cheated. They may just have better processes in place for grabbing domains instantly as they expire, or they may have simply gotten lucky. But I do feel like I never had a chance. According to the data I got from whois, the domain went from being in PENDINGDELETE status to being owned by Vertical Axis in a matter of less than 20 minutes. Unless I was checking whois every 10 seconds, there’s no way I could have gotten in (and even then, it wouldn’t be a sure thing).
Maybe next time I’ll just shovel $70 into someone’s pocket by signing up for Snapnames. It’s not a solution I like, but it may be the only way to have a chance.