The registry for all .org domains appears to have collapsed - meaning that all the details of who owns any .org domain are unobtainable.
We can't be sure when it vanished but it would have taken a few days to filter through the system so presumably whatever servers are hosting the registry went down at the weekend and no one has yet noticed.
Which it is all very sloppy and doesn't exactly encourage confidence in the company that now runs the .org domain - Public Interest Registry.
PIR took over the domain on New Year's Day this year after VeriSign was forced to hand over the not-for-profit registry to encourage competition. Of course, VeriSign got to keep .com and .net but then that's the advantage you have when you've got a very special relationship with ICANN and the US Department of Commerce.
Despite taking it over on 1 Jan 2003, PIR went through a 25-day "phase-in" period with VeriSign so that they could be certain everything was running smoothly and seamlessly.
In fact in the very early days of the transition, the PIR's chairman David Maher went on about how smooth and stable the transition was. And it was.
Unfortunately almost exactly four months later, something catastrophic appears to have happened and the registry servers (we are praying there are several servers but we sadly doubt they are in more than one location) have fallen over.
This will of course please VeriSign enormously, and if they know what's good for them will knock up a "Told you so" press release before you can say "DNS patent monopoly".
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
It would seem that the problem with the .org domain is in fact stemming from VeriSign/Network Solutions whose main Whois servers crsnic.net for .org domains are not responding.
Public Internet Registry's records in fact do appear to be up and running fine. This is the kicker though - from what we can ascertain PIR's actual .org registry (that it started running in January) has all the registrant details set to hide so it appears as though it's not working as no information is available.
To reiterate: VeriSign's crsnic Whois servers are having trouble. There was some problem with .net addresses at the weekend. It has therefore concentrated on getting them up and running first rather than .org since it runs .net domains and not .org domains.
With the .org VeriSign server down, queries have been coming in from PIR's server instead. Unfortunately, the Whois data on PIR's server is all set to hide, so no one is able to get hold of any useful details.
This is what we think has happened, but if VeriSign and PIR want to get in touch to clarify matters, that's fine by us. Besides, it will all probably be over in a few hours once VeriSign has got srcnic up and running again.
However, PIR's Whois records clearly need to be corrected to allow for more information to be shown.
Our thanks to Simon Perry for alerting us to this. You can find his blog here. ®
Public Interest Registry