Announcing the ENS 3-6 Character Auction


Bid proceeds will fund ongoing ENS operations. Use of excess funds is open for discussion too.

As I understand it, this means that rather than fees getting burned like in the current 7+char auction, they’ll be going to a wallet the ENS team controls. They’ll decide what they need for their operation and what happens with the excess. I know you guys and trust your judgement but this model stands out in contrast to the way I expected things to work. I respected the original financial model because it didn’t give any extra power to the contract owner, nobody else was going to be able to come and undercut it in some way.

If the ENS team get payed by the bidding process then they are trading trustlessness for eth. Regardless of how the bidding system is set up, the team can almost guarantee that a person of their choice receives the name they want, they can win the auction by putting down an unreasonable amount and simply paying it back from the ENS wallet it goes into. It incentivises corruption.

I don’t have a great solution that doesn’t involve burning the coins but I’m still not a fan of this one.

As for the bidding process, I’m not a fan of having all the short char bids go live at once, a lot of people,(me included) have a very limited amount available to spend on an ENS name. They can either go all in on one they really want or they can split up their already small bid and go for a few in the hopes that they end up with something. I’d be surprised if this didn’t turn a lot of people off of the idea completely.

One last thing, did people not like the idea where the higher a bid is, the longer it gets account locked for. I.e. a name won for 0.01 eth isn’t locked at all and one won for 1000 eth gets locked for 5+ years. You could complicate it a bit more by allowing the bidders to choose the lock time they are comfortable with, someone registering their own name will be happy holding it for 10 years but a squatter certainly won’t be. This makes the auction more complex in return for adding a lot of friction to resellers.

Apologies for the long message, I’m sure a lot of what I mentioned has already been tackled and it’s very possible that I’m missing things.


Not really, the money would likely go into the root keyholder multisig, which is not controlled by the ENS team. You would need to corrupt a lot of external actors along with the ENS team for this to work.


This discussion seems to have gone off the rails from the original post (which was only asking a couple specific questions) but I wanted to pipe up on the topic now being discussed.

The only problem I want ENS to solve over existing DNS is censorship! Anything that allows for any kind of censorship makes ENS, IMO, no better than DNS. When some state power decides that I am doing something that goes against its agenda, I want my ENS name to continue working regardless of how many wars they start, people they wrench attack, other states they apply pressure to, etc.

While it would be nice to do something about squatting, that isn’t the real problem with DNS IMO. It is an annoyance but DNS still largely functions fine with it. Any solution to squatting that opens the doors to censorship of any kind is a non-starter IMO.

It would also be nice to solve the problem of scammers hijacking names, but again any solution that opens the doors to censorship is a non-starter IMO.


I don’t know anything about this root keyholder multisig, could you point me towards some more info? Happy to be wrong.


The root multisig is mentioned in the FAQ. The current keyholders are Aron Fischer, Dan Finlay, Nick Johnson, Jarrad Hope, Piper Merriam, Taylor Monahan and Vlad Zamfir.


In terms of censorship, this will never happen in ENS. The dispute resolution system to ENS which we plan on creating will run as a second layer which dapps and users can choose to acknowledge or ignore.


If all auctions start at the same time, what will happen to names that didnt receive any bid? Will it be possible to start an auction for shorter names later? Will it be the same 30+15 day procedure?


Point 1: I believe the market regulates itself. Being a company friendly it’s a good standpoint and below you may find my point of view and my suggestion.
Blockchain domains are not a breaking news on the blockchain, therefore company Ethereum’s friendly are already aware of this. If the scope is to involve companies not already aware about it yet you can consider a couple of articles / interviews on Bloomberg: none can can complain to not be informed.
I help companies in retrieving blockchain domains won in auctions by someone else who doesn’t have any entitlement to the company or the brand and the majority of them were not informed about auctions in May 2017.
30 days auction? In terms of hype I believe that the actual timing (3+2) or longer timeframe like 7+5 combined with a scheduled calendar can be the right recipe.

Point2: I strongly agree with the Paolo Rebuffo’s point of view (ref. Announcing the ENS 3-6 Character Auction) I suggest to take into consideration this point of view.
The suggestion of Vitalik Buterin about the fees make sense. Regarding that suggestion, the right question is what is the value of the domain?
Please be informed that a project about that was already developed and deployed.
@nickjohnson @vbuterin2 if you’re interested in going deeper into that project I can put you in touch with the team that developed that project.


That is not the issue. I already own a ENS domain name and i am pushing for my compagny to adopt ENS. They are very interested but are afraid someone will outbid them. It’s really stressfull to think that even if you are aware of all the details (and part of my assigment is to follow that closely) we might still lose to someone that would be ready to pay thousands of ETH to blackmail us. What to do in that case ? Do we abandon the ENS ? Do we look for another name ? Do we pay ?

Not being sure we are getting the name (that is not a common english name) is halting all integration of the ENS in our product, which I believe is a shame. @ethereumkev said “I can’t think of anything that would help ENS as much as teams in the ecosystem putting the domains to good use”, I’d go further and say that is crypto compagnies struggle to get their ENS domain and develop solutions on top of it then the whole ENS is pointless.

Also, I really don’t think a layer 2 solution would work. When you go to you expect to end up on the right place directly, having a warning tell you to go somewhere else is like having a warning for a non up-to-date ssl certificate, it kills the UI. The question of who controls the layer is also important has anyone controlling it would have a censorship capability.

Funfact, my former school is called ENS (, I’m glad to say I have a PHD from ENS, but then it get me wondering, who should get ens.eth ? :stuck_out_tongue:


Hello Amxx, thanks for sharing your opinion.
The point you raised is interesting, and I suggest to have a look at it from a different perspective.
You said that the company you fork for is very interested in getting an ens domain (I assume the is the same name of the company or the brand). Let’s say that the name of your company/brand is “xyz”.
Probably around the world there are other companies or brand with the same name “xyz”. Therefore - from my point of view - the auction is best way to give the same chance to all interested people.
I try to explain better the point I was raising: can all the companies with the same name “xyz” be aware about the auction, the timing and the rules of the auction? If there are some articles on the international press, probably all the companies have the chance to get the info. Then it’s their choice to partecipate in the auction and how much they want to invest on the “xyz.eth” domain.
Thank you.
Have a nice day.


It’s not the case of our compagny. I understand that whitelisting names like “Apple” or even “Golem” would be complexe, but there are cases where the compagnie’s name is not a common world and is not used by any other compagny. For example I can’t find any good reason why tether.eth or sonm.eth would legitimately be claimed by anyone but the crypto compagnies we know.

What is the risk of some random, unknown shop from somewhere in south america missing the auction for tether.eth (if there is one with this name) compared to the risk of crypto projects being blackmailled (and moving away from ENS) ?


Point 1:
Unless the offers are totally public (ie everyone can see the amount of each single offer), expanding the auction time seems useless, since in a blind auction extra-time won’t provide any further information to the bidder.

As far as the idea of reserving some (brand) names is concerned, I fear any selection mechanism could be arbitrary, in the sense that there won’t be a unique method to decide which names shall be reserved and which ones shall be available for auctions. Moreover, reserved names could be assigned to a price much different (maybe lower) from the real market price, so unless a serious evaluation algorithm is available (check Elgort message) reserved names could bring to a double standard.

Point 2: I agree with Paolo Rebuffo proposal


All 3-6 letter domain auctions run within the same 30 day window. There’s no need to wait 30 days to bid for another name, after a first bid is placed. The idea is you can place a bid for as many names as you’d like, at any time within the 30 day period.


Adding to this, the ENS team could submit an operating budget, say annually, that the multisig would have to approve, for the funds to be transferred to the team.


Thanks for adding this perspective. It’s one I hadn’t considered before reading your post. It’s one I will consider moving forward.


I believe any name that doesn’t receive a bid during the initial 30 day auction will become available for registration through the permanent registrar. Is that consistent with you thinking @nickjohnson?


I’d be curious to learn more about how you do this :point_up:


After reviewing all the above responses, here’s my current thinking -

1 - Let’s not use a whitelist for the Auction. Let’s let the layer 2 dispute resolution, mentioned by @decanus, sort out disputes for 3-6 character domains. This would allow consistent handling of all disputes, regardless of domain length.

2 - Maintain enough funds to cover ENS team costs 12 months into the future, at six month increments. The ENS team could submit forward-looking operating budgets every six months. The multi-sig would then review and approve or deny the budget request. Overflow funds get allocated toward a grants program intended to increase ENS adoption. Adoption could include overcoming technical, societal and legal hurdles.

On the harberger tax idea, first mentioned by @vbuterin2, one concern is the approach opens the door to scamming. For example, if mycrypto.eth or radarrelay.eth get purchased from the rightful owner, a scammer could replicate that site, without a user knowing. This is like what happened to Etherdelta a while back.

That said, maybe the renewal feel gets calculated as a % of the initial sale price.


Dear Chris,
thanks for asking.
This project took 1Y of time and investment from our side. That’s the reason why we prefer to not disclosure criteria and technicalities publicly.
If the Ethereum Foundation is interested in, we’re open to a conversation about it privately.
In any case, please take into consideration that the retrieve of each domain has a significant part of tailor made job: each situation is different form the next one.
Have a nice day.


I’m a big fan of the multisig approval method, I wouldn’t call it perfect but it’s a lot better than the alternatives. Thanks for addressing my concern!