This is a good article.
Extra points for not mentioning AI.
A campaign to convince the Slovakian government to halt the sale of the .sk registry has nothing to do with money or politics, it is claimed. Earlier this month, we reported on a string of articles, speeches and open letters that alleged the country's top-level domain was effectively stolen in 1999 – and that the goal of this …
"does not mean that you don't passionately believe that that is the right thing"
Indeed it does not.
But when you use lies, smear tactics and outright fabrications, it does mean that you are a scumbag using the whole affair to further your personal agenda.
This is a not-isolated example of divide and conquer partisanship being used on the gullible. It's everywhere.
I can't run a science youtube channel and a website without the buffoonery of American political partisans trying to use them as free platforms. Other youtubers doing things as far from political as it gets (how about colonial cuisine?) are having the same problems...Some are pulling their stuff down in horror and disgust.
Which set of false-dichotomy partisans try to take over your stuff might depend a little on where you are, but the patterns are the same everywhere. This is a good example as for most of us the basic issue boils down to "who cares" so we can see the raw manipulation for what it is more clearly.
EU and UK have their little spats too - Brexit almost ate this whole site and it has not much to do with "biting the hand that feeds IT", now, does it. (At least the patent office is kind of funny from a distance, ours stinks too, for what it's worth)
I've had to avoid some of the tech sites I used to frequent just to reduce my exposure to all the unreasoning hatred taking the place of any possibility of constructive thought or action. The pain isn't worth it.
Gosh, I hope it's just chatbots gone while, else I'm about to be embarrassed to be a human.
Even though this article is much closer to reality than the previous one, I still see it has been built on top of some unfounded claims. Let me react to them:
> The accusations of .sk being "stolen" are simply not true.
You keep repeating that and support this claim by fact that EUnet Slovakia was really in charge of managing .sk registry since its inception in 1993. You are still ignoring the fact that from 1993, there was an informal group named EUnet Slovakia, operating under the Comenius Unversity. Then in 1995, some completely unrelated private company named Softwarehouse, s. r. o. renamed itself to EUnet Slovakia, s. r. o., which is, despite of its name, completely different entity to former EUnet Slovakia.
The sole fact that the company that is now known as SK-NIC, a. s. was named Softwarehouse, s. r. o. until 1995 makes your claim that ".sk domain has been in private hands since the 1990s" false. Until 1999, .sk was operated by Comenus University, which is a public, state owned institution.
People from NasaDomena.sk claim that the takeover in 1999, where ICANN redelegated operation of the TLD from the university to the private company, was done **without consent of Comenius University**. Since you keep repeating that this theft did not happen, I wonder whether you succeeded in getting some evidence that this takeover was approved by the University.
> Instead, SK‑NIC decided to go with software developed by CentralNic, which SK‑NIC has largely failed to keep current.
Just out of curiosity, where is this information sourced? I would presume Euroweb developed their own registry back in 2002, but if they bought it from CentralNic back then, it would explain why CentralNic is now trying to get the registry.
> The slurs against CentralNic are unfounded.
What exactly is unfounded? The [rise of spam originating from .PW reported by Symantec]? Or [seizing valuable names in .LA]? Or marketing ccTLD of Laos as the world's first city TLD? Or [operating registry without properly implemented permission system]? There are lots of problems with domains operated by CentralNic so you could hardly call this unfounded.
Nevertheless, it's certain that even with CentralNic, the .sk domain would get into much better technical condition than the current one. It would at least get a proper registrar API and DNSSEC support, as there is no doubt CentralNic is capable of that.
> Campaigners were arguing among themselves about what the policies of a new .sk registry operator should be – particularly whether it should retain its policy of only allowing those based in Slovakia to register .sk domains.
Do you have any sources for this? I haven't noticeed anybody defending keeping .sk only for Slovaks. I'm glad, though, that unlike the previous article, you don't claim that people behind NasaDomena.sk "criticize any move away from the current outdated registration system, and any effort to open up registration of .sk domains to people living outside Slovakia" which was simply untrue. Those false claims were what "attracted ire" of Slovak and Czech people.
In the rest of your article, you are building upon these claims and accusing the people behind NasaDomena.sk of "spreading misinformation", which is simply not fair.
Ondřej Caletka, CESNET (I'm the author of the linked story of stolen Slovak national TLD)
You're like clockwork. We're happy with the story - we disagree with your interpretation of the situation. For example, you can bang on about companies changing names and so on all you like, but it doesn't negate what we said:
> [.sk] has been in private hands since the 1990s, resulting in a number of different organizations running it
> You're like clockwork. We're happy with the story - we disagree with your interpretation of the situation
Chris, surely the fact that Ondřej a) understands Slovak and b) has first-hand knowledge, puts him in a much better situation than yours to "interpret the situation". Therefore if you disagree, wouldn't that be due to gaps in your knowledge?
> For example, you can bang on about companies changing names and so on all you like, but it doesn't negate what we said:
>> [.sk] has been in private hands since the 1990s, resulting in a number of different organizations running it
He is absolutely not denying that. He is asserting, backed by available records, that the *way* it changed into private hands was fraudulent because it was done without the consent of the prior, legitimate administrator. Are you or are you not in a position to refute that statement with evidence that consent was indeed freely given? If you are not in a position to deny that, how do you justify the claims in your article?
As far as I am concerned, Chris, this is not really about what the Slovaks get up to, which frankly I couldn't care less. For me this is about not undermining democratic discourse through what, to those of us with nothing more than a mere linguistic ability to check primary sources, looks very much like substandard journalism.
My name is Ondrej Jombik, mentioned in article. My comment in previous article was rejected (censored), so I hope I will have more luck with this one:) First of all, thank you for the follow-up article. It is much better than the previous biased one, which showed only one side view, and failed to ask for other side opinion. Previous nonobjective article still needs remedy and apology.
Now there are definitely sentences which we can agree on, and also some where we cannot agree:
We agree that there are .SK registrars behind the campaign, as it is clearly stated on https://www.nasadomena.sk/english/ It is pretty understandable, that subjects who are affected the most by the change would do the campaign. We agree that .SK registry and registration rules are outdated, and need change. It is just upon discussion how this change should be.
But the problem is, there is no discussion. They planned to sell stakes to CentralNic silently and behind the closed door. Only because this information has leaked from SK-NIC earlier this year, this shady business was interrupted, and we were able to start the campaign and discussion how .SK should be managed, to the best interest of Slovakian people.
We do not agree this is political, because it is not - one member is in politic, no one else is. Also we do not agree with CentralNic-way of maintaining registries, notably .LA, .PW and also .XYZ. CentralNic is a ccTLD nightmare, and we do not want that happen in .SK. We love our TLD, we want it, and we need it. Let's not demolish and devaluate it a CentralNic way. Let's make .SK healthy and stable!
> It was accepted - go back and check.
Funny. You somehow forgot to mention that it was accepted after being rejected in the first place ;)
But maybe that's just yet another of my interpretations you disagree with, isn't it?
personally I support this stance... whats so wrong with wanting to reclaim a TLD representing a nation by the people and business's of that nation
contracts you can argue about... but the actual logic of the people and businesses who deal with dot sk is correct in my view. This coming from an australian go figure...
Many thanks to, I presume, Chris for arranging a follow up of the previous article but I'm sorry to say this one is still crap. Very opinionated but extremely thin on actual evidence of any of its claims.
If I may say, it is not easy for someone from a different continent who does not speak the language and does not know the local realities to write a piece on what is fundamentally a local story. But what that said, not bothering to interview any of the figures implicated, or researching evidence to refute someone else's claims or back one's own, I find that difficult to explain and well below the standard of journalistic practice that I expect.
For the record, concerning this:
"Following our report, we have received heaps of aggressive and critical comments both on the story and through Twitter. Virtually every one has come from a signatory to the petition and every one that we have looked into works for or owns a company that would directly benefit from the .sk registry contract being taken away from the privately held SK‑NIC and given to a new non-profit organization based on the .cz model."
I have no idea what has gone on through Twatter since I am not a subscriber, but I did write some robust criticism of the previous article in its comments section. I am however absolutely not involved with anything to do with .sk or .cz registries beyond having registered a couple of domains at the latter for someone else some time ago. I am not even a Slovak or a Czech, for that matter. But I happen to speak the latter language and know something about business and politics in both of those countries so I felt compelled to cross check the article, which turned out to be extremely lacking, for which reason I offered my criticism and a few suggestions on how it could be improved. Btw, that those who are directly involved (and therefore have first hand knowledge) would react and offer their own criticism is hardly surprising, all the more when they could have been interviewed beforehand and when in some cases words have been put into their mouths.
While emphasising that I have no axe to grind here (and Chris can easily view my posting history to see how unlikely I am to be a party to this), from the point of view of a consumer of journalism I am very unsatisfied with this follow up which has many of the same faults as the previous one (including lack of basic research and absence of sources).
Kieren, I almost certainly do not know you and in any case I have absolutely nothing against you personally. I do offer my criticism, fwiw, purely in a constructive spirit, hoping that you will be able to produce better researched and more reliable stories in the future. It is not an attack, it is free feedback.
To the reg, thanks for the follow up in any case.
> What horse do the Czechs, apart from registrars wanting to flog domain names, have in this race?
With the caveat that maybe someone from CZ may have commented on this so-called story via Twatter, I think the "ire" that K describes may refer to some of my comments on the previous appalling story. The funny thing is that although I speak Czech and I have used a .cz email address to contact el reg, I am pretty fucking far from being a Czech. Then again, fact checking and not jumping to conclusions have never really been two of el reg's strong points.
I do not think however that anyone from CZ posted on the previous story. There was only one possible Slovak and his comment was fairly neutral.
Seems like a case of thin skin to me. But then again, if you write a non-researched article out of Google translate full of innuendo about a group's motives and casting aspersions on a whole country, you can't exactly expect a pat on the back, can you?
Well, I'm Czech and I did comment on the previous story. (The comment was rejected at first, then published.) Couple of other people also did, I believe, and some of them wrote to Twitter, mostly directly to Kieren. (That dialogue then combusted a bit, and I don't want to point fingers.) But it was likely that the previous article was written with poor sources and with a shallow dig into the history of why this had actually happened. And that was one of the reasons why SKs and CZechs got worked up.
Revealed in the Slovak media today: http://www.dsl.sk/article.php?article=20100
"According to Root.cz's current information based on a trusted source familiar with the case, it has offered EUR 20 million for SK-NIC.
"However, the offer has not been accepted as sufficient and negotiations with CZ.NIC have already ended in spring, according to the DSL.sk information from the SK-NIC owner's environment. There is no disclosure of any details of the offer by either party as they are bound by a confidentiality agreement."
Can't wait to read more squeals of protest now they've been exposed a hypocrites with their cocks in the cookie jar!
...if some journalist did a bit of research into the common history of Slovaks and Czechs, it would make a nice article in its own right, though possibly off topic at TheRegister.
Being a native Czech, I myself have to be super-cautious not to assume a patronizing position. When our federation broke up in 1993, just four years after the commie era formally ended in 1989, as a teenager I was confused, I had no problem living in a Czechoslovakia... Later on I found out that many people in both our countries had actually felt that a divorce was perhaps due, so the politicians merely did their job and followed public opinion - and whatever we may think about the motives and methods of the leaders who arranged the split, the one thing both of our nations are nowadays proud of is: how smooth and organized that divorce went. During the various periods of our common Czechoslovak existence, the formal capital city has always been Prague, and the Slovak autonomy was always somewhat limited by the rule of Prague, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the government or regime at the helm at a given time... In that sense, the Slovaks have peacefully gained sovereignty, at long last, within a Europe where they were no longer menaced by any of the neighboring nations. And, the now independet country flourishes without the rule of Prague, and I'm holding my thumbs up for them. In some important developmental respects, the smaller Slovakia is ahead of the Czech Republic, has ventured into some needed reforms earlier. Slovaks go to study and work in Prague and vice versa. We understand each other's language. We are civilized neighbors.
The community of people around the internet infrastructure in SK and CZ is still relatively small and tight, people know each other, today's seniors have grown up together building the Internet since early/mid nineties. As for the administration of our ccTLD domains, I believe we used to start out with a similar model in the early nineties, we also had a for-profit company called EUnet.CZ run the administration for several years, and it took I believe two major steps 1) for CZ.NIC to get established and 2) for the for-profit businesses involved to hand over control to the "non-profit" CZ.NIC. I don't know the details "behind the scenes" of how and why and on what conditions it went in that direction in the Czech Republic, but I'm proud of the way things are now. (Check the "about" section of www.nic.cz for details of who is behind that "consortium". Not sure if "NGO" is the right word here.)
The team of CZ.NIC labs are the authors of FRED, apparently a well designed OSS system for running a national register, serving to a flock of delegated commercial registrars... CZ.NIC sponsors FRED's development (and other OSS packages and public-interest activities) from the domain registration fees. There are lone voices that the fees could go even lower if the "loosely related activities" were curbed... On my part I don't see the point in lowering the fees even further.
(So much to debunk some ill-pointed references to FRED in the original article, and this is probably what made some other Czechs respond to this "Slovak" topic.)
Apart from the reference to FRED, I believe many Czechs feel for the Slovak neighbors having... what seems like a difficulty with their ccTLD. Don't get me wrong, us Czechs we have our own "tough topics" (unrelated to the Internet). The one thing we should not do is finger-pointing.
Should someone suspect offended patriotism that CZ.NIC did not acquire SK-NIC... well that's quite a primitive explanation :-) and perhaps I'm not alone in thinking that the idea of paying 20M EURO from "our" cash coffin to take over a friendly neighbor state's ccTLD, would necessarily bring back some unhappy connotations of the past, of the "rule of Prague" that Slovaks seem pretty happy without.
I don't have any vested interest in CZ.NIC, in the ISP business or anything remotely relevant to this whole topic, except that 15 years ago I quit working in that area.
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