Last night, I was poking around to try to find a domain name for a little hobby project I’m working on. I’ve always found Network Solutions’s domain search tool to be pretty useful because it comes back with a grid of all common TLDs and their availability, and it keeps a list of all the ones you’ve searched for in your session, which is handy if you’re having to try a lot of fairly similar versions of the name you’re looking for. Finally, last night, I found a name I liked, but I wanted to sleep on it to make sure. This morning, I went to my usual registrar of choice (GoDaddy) to buy the domain, and it was listed as unavailable. I went back to NetSol’s tool to see if they had the same result (surely somebody hadn’t purchased the name in the few hours since I had discovered it). NetSol showed the domain available. Hmmm. So I looked at the whois info and found the domain registered to NetSol with a creation date of yesterday. I’ve always been a little suspicious that registrars might log domains searched for and hold them or sell them to squatters for a hefty fee, but I’ve never personally been bitten by the practice. But here we have confirmation that NetSol is essentially squatting on domains that people express interest in. So, why is this a big deal? Two reasons. One, it’s a pain to have accounts with multiple registrars. I did it for years and have finally in the last couple of years managed to consolidate my domains with one registrar that has proven to be a good vendor. Two, there’s a substantial price difference. NetSol charges $35 per year for a domain, while GoDaddy charges around $10. I went ahead and bought the domain through NetSol and immediately did a transfer request to move the domain to GoDaddy. I guess NetSol sort of has the right to do this, but it seems pretty crappy. I searched on a bunch of names last night, and a few that were available, I wound up deciding not to get. That means that the next time somebody searches for those domains through another registrar, they’ll show as unavailable and won’t be purchased. I guess I paid a $15 service fee for using NetSol’s tool. Had I known that a search constituted license to squat and gouge, I wouldn’t have used the service, and henceforth I won’t.