Announcing the ENS 3–6 Character Auction

Planning for the ENS 3–6 character auction is underway. This post describes how we see it working, open questions, current planning status and target timeline.

The ENS team has started planning the 3–6 character domain auction. This will be a one-off event to auction 3–6 character .eth domains. This post summarizes -

  • How we see the auction operating
  • Open questions
  • Current planning status
  • Target timeline

The information here reflects our current thinking. We’re sharing this with the community to encourage feedback and discussion.

The timing is tight. If you intend to comment, please do so within the next few days.

3–6 Character Auction

The current ENS registrar allows registration of .eth domains only if they have seven or more characters. This restriction was intended to ensure that shorter, more valuable names were not snapped up by speculators before the system was widely known and used. The 3–6 character auction will now allow registration of shorter .eth domains.

The 3–6 character auction will run 45 days. It will consist of a 30 day bid period and 15 day reveal/claim period. It will be a Vickery style auction like the current 7+ character auction process. Unlike the current 7+ character auction process, all 3–6 character auctions will start at the same time.

Bidding for all 3–6 character auctions will take place during the 30 day bid period. All auctions will conclude at the end of the 15 day reveal/claim period. Note it will still be necessary to reveal a bid.

Failing to reveal your bid within the reveal period will cause you to lose the ETH you bid. There will be an option to allow a third party to reveal your bid for you, if you choose to allow them to do this on your behalf.

The winning bidder receives rights to use a name for one year. The start date will be the Permanent Registrar’s deployment date.

Winning bidders will have to wait until the Permanent Register deployment to use their 3–6 character domain. We’re planning to minimize the gap between the 3–6 character domain auction’s end and permanent registrar deployment.

Winning bid ETH gets locked in the current 7+ character auction process. This means a winning bidder can reclaim the ETH by releasing the name after a year.

Winning bid ETH gets spent in the 3–6 character auction process. This is another significant difference between the two processes.

Winning 3–6 character auction bidders won’t receive their ETH back. They’ll be entitled to extend their registration at standard registration rates for as long as they wish to keep the name.

Bid proceeds will fund ongoing ENS operations. Use of excess funds is open for discussion too. These points will also hold true for the Permanent Registrar.

Open Questions

There are a couple major open questions -

  1. Should there be a whitelist for well-known .eth domains, e.g. for well-known brands and organizations? If so, how should it operate?
  2. What should overflow funds, i.e. funds received that exceed ENS operational costs, be used for and how should they be allocated?

Planning Status and Target Timeline

We’ve initiated the auction design process. The intent is to finalize it early January 2019. Our hope is to deploy it in mid-March. This would open a 45-day window that concludes in early May, syncing with the plan to release the permanent registrar at that time too.

Please ask questions and provide feedback in the ENS discussion forum here. Don’t forget to do so very soon, as the timing is tight and design process already underway!

We plan to hold an AMA in early January too. Stay tuned to the ENS Gitter channel and Twitter account for the announcement.




News about the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) from the team building it. Follow this publication for the latest ENS developments.

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Chris Remus

Chris Remus

Crypto Project & Product Manager / ENS PM / Chainflow Staking System Operator / Aspiring Bodhisattva & Cyclist

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