Announcing the Short Name Auction RFP

ENS plans a to hold a one-time short name auction to start 3-6 character ENS name registrations. It will be preceded by a short name reservation process.

Outsourcing the ENS Short Name Auction

We planned to build the short name auction in-house. After launching the permanent registrar, planning the ENS roadmap and being approached by a couple projects who’ve offered to build the auction for us, we’ve decided to outsource the work to a third party.

ENS has plenty to do on our roadmap. Outsourcing the auction, since it’s a one-off process, felt like the right thing to do. Doing this will allow us to continue building core ENS functionality.

In the interest of inclusiveness, fairness and transparency, we’ve decided to release an RFP to the community. The intention is that anyone interested in building the auction can submit a response and have it considered.

The RFP describes the auction’s deadlines and requirements. It also leaves room for the respondent to decide how best to build the auction.

Here’s How to Submit Your Response

Note: Responses are due by 21 June 2019

1 - Review the RFP

You can find it in here.

2 - Let the ENS team know if you have any questions

Please add you questions as a comment to this RFP post :point_down:

3 - Prepare and submit your proposal

Send your proposal to rfp(at)ens(dot)domains.

We’ll keep responses confidential during the review and selection period. We will publish the selected response to the community.

The team submitting the selected response will have the option to exclude pricing information in the published version.

4 - Be available to answer questions

Let the ENS team know how best to contact you if we have questions.

Let’s See What You Can Build

We feel excited to engage with the ENS community through this process. We look forward to your response!

From @chrisdotn on Medium -

I’ve been reading throught the RfP and some other discussions on the ens forums. So far, my understanding is that the short name registration is a two step process:

  • A pre-auction phase that allows to register a name prior to the auction mechanism so that entities with valid claims to a domain actually get it.
  • The auction to sell off all remaining domains.

From the forum I understand that there is still some discussion on how the pre-auction phase will be handled. It remains out of scope for this RfP. The RfP’s scope is the actual auction phase. Is that the correct understanding?

Yes. We are calling the “pre-auction” phase the short name reservation process. This RFP does not cover the short name reservation process. It only covers the short name auction.

Another question is: What are your learnings from the long name auction process that you want to avoid by having the auction re-implemented? Is it mainly the ease of use or are there more reasons to it?

There are a couple reasons. Ease of use is probably the biggest.

We received feedback that the Vickrey auction felt quite complex to the end user. One reason we chose that type for the first auction was to work around limitations imposed by doing everything on-chain.

For this auction, if a respondent chooses to perform certain functions off-chain, the need to implement a Vickrey auction may be alleviated. @nickjohnson can expand more on the latter.

And to expand a bit on the RfP itself, could you answer these questions:

  • The RfP doesn’t specify a particular auction format; it mentions the english auction and the Vickrey auction. Both of them have different advantages and disadvantages. Are you considering both or is there a strong preference for a particular format?

We’re considering both equally, depending on the implementation.

  • The RfP mentions auto-reveal for a potential Sealed bid auction. Is that a necessary feature or is it acceptable to put the burden on the user to reveal the bid and thereby reduce the complexity of the smart contract?

We see it as a “nice to have” feature. It’s not mandatory.

  • Our current understanding is that we will implement another controller for the permanent registrar. This controller will handle the auction mechanism for the initial auction of the short domains. After the auction process has ended, renewal of short domains will be handled by yet another controller. What is the issuance contract’s role in this?

Please clarify. @nickjohnson is probably the best person to answer this.

  • What is the current timeline? The RfP sets the deadline for proposals to 2019–06–03, the intended launch date is the at the latest 2019–08–04. This medium post extends the deadline for proposals to 2019–06–21. Does that have consequences on the intended launch date, too?

I updated the RFP to reflect the correct due date, 2019-06-21. Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy.

We’re currently thinking about this schedule -

  • A reservations period starting July 4 lasting 2 months, followed by
  • Auctions starting September 4 lasting 1 month (or possibly less).
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