The chief executive of .uk domain manager Nominet has called for the "domaining" community to "grow up" and start looking more respectable.
Lesley Cowley, speaking at the MeetDomainers conference in Manchester today, said that UK domain investors need to show "greater maturity" or risk governments riding roughshod over their business.
"If I hear complaints about people being threatening or abusive [to Nominet staff] on the phone, it's people from this industry," she told the intimate gathering. "What I would like to see is your part of the industry being more professional and being more respectable."
Oft misunderstood, domainers are people who speculatively invest in attractive domain names in order to resell them at a higher price or earn passive income from advertising.
Much as many white-hat hackers prefer not to be confused with "crackers", the respectable end of the domaining community dislikes being equated with the "cybersquatters" who infringe trademarks.
Cowley said that a domaining industry that looks unprofessional risks making the domain name business as a whole look bad, which invites stricter regulation by governments.
The new Digital Economy Act contains provisions that would allow the UK government to step in and take over Nominet, introduced in response to fears that it could be captured by domainers.
Cowley also pointed to the ongoing international debate about whether privately run ICANN or the government-heavy International Telecommunications Union is the best place to oversee the domain name system.
Speaking on the same panel today at MeetDomainers, Matt Mansell from the registrar DomainMonster.com suggested that the UK domaining industry needs to establish a code of conduct.
Some domainers present at the meeting went further, suggesting the formation of an industry body to represent them. The US already has such an organization, the Internet Commerce Association. ®