Almost 10 years ago, before the first ever T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference, there was no Domain Industry - just a bunch of guys, and a few gals, hunched over their computers, trying to make some money buying, selling and monetizing domain names. But the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and all that came after created and sustained an industry that has given charities like Waterschool an opportunity to raise funds for good causes.

This didn't come easy. Howard, I and our families have worked very hard and have put our necks out to hotels and suppliers for millions of dollars over the years with nothing to sell except the furtherance and development of the domain name industry.

During these years, there have been those who sought to do business with the Attendees at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. without paying a dime to attend or sponsor including GOOGLE, YAHOO and OTHER SCABS. Companies and domainers that can afford to pay their fair share but feel entitled and superior to others and can't seem to see what they are doing is not ethical. Stealing our efforts for their own benefits.

We have always taken the position if these individuals and companies take advantage of us at T.R.A.F.F.I.C., then they will do the same to the domainers that they are trying to get to put their money with THEM. We have publicly pointed them out when they do unethical things.

We have nothing against the Water School, and, in fact, have supported it over the years both financially and giving it a platform at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. to raise funds. We applaud Richard Lau for taking this worthy charity and running with it to benefit those who do not have clean water.

The purpose is to raise funds for the Water School by using T.R.A.F.F.I.C. attendees as a base. That is fine. Where it goes off the rails is inviting ANY other domainers or companies who wish to network with domainers to the party with the express intention of not purchasing a ticket to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. If there was no T.R.A.F.F.I.C. there would be no Water School, no GlobalFest or any of the other domain gatherings that have come and gone like Mardi Gras and Roundtable.

When the organizers state 'the event is an open one as it is for charity and limiting it would take away funds from the WaterSchool charity” – but what would that be compared to the funds taken away from the Water School if TRAFFIC was not holding the event that will provide – most likely – at least 90% of their ticket buyers? So it is ok to undermine T.R.A.F.F.I.C.??

Therefore, it is our position that we encourage the Water School to have its fundraising event at the time and place in Las Vegas, but the price of admission for domainers and domain companies should include a badge showing that they registered to attend T.R.A.F.F.I.C. at the Bellagio Hotel. Howard and I are tired of the offenders (and they know who they are and we will remind you again OFTEN) of stealing from us to benefit themselves.

Travel hundreds or thousands of miles to take advantage of the hard work we do, the risk we take and then expect us to remain silent?? While folks undermine our efforts?? NO WAY! We just ask folks to HONOR the integrity of the show and the way you do that is coming in the front door and paying their fair share instead of LEECHING off others and PAYING attendees!

Shane Cultra asked if his mother, who has no interest in domains, could attend a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. party, and we said that there would be no charge, because there is no benefit. However, if KNOWN DOMAINERS or KNOWN SPONSORS etc. should happen to show up, they MUST pay as they are receiving a benefit from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. or they would not be there to begin with. So WHY should THEY get a FREE RIDE while others pay? What makes THEM special? Certainly does not show much character.

Rick Schwartz
Howard Neu

23 thoughts on “NO WAY Jose!! ZERO TOLERANCE at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.

  1. TaxElitism

    Really! Send the Water School a check, instead of pay a ticket to party where your intention might be misconstrued.
    Whole-heartedly agree with you on this one, @Rick!

  2. Jeff

    Makes sense to me Rick! Realize this could back fire on reaction but lets look at it from the owners view point of Traffic.
    Rick has given donations over the years to charity causes. He is not afraid to step in and help. Rick-you should do a blog post on this and how much funds you have donated to causes.
    He has helped all of us in the domain industry and calling companies out in stealing domains. He also helped me and I am a no one.
    Traffic conference would be donating and supporting the cause. That simple.
    People can trash Rick whatever way possible but I see Ricks view.
    Just my 2 cents.

  3. Joao

    I have no problem paying that party ticket. All i need to know is where i should pay and where i should go. I know nothing about Vegas and if this was a Traffic only event it would be much easier for guys like me…but if they dont make it easy, im not going because my concern is…Traffic.

  4. UFO

    Using a charitable front as a trojan horse, that sucks as far as professional ethics goes. If it was an oversight in terms of the conflict of interests then you’ll get an apology and they’ll stop the conflict, if not, well, thats their true colors.
    I’m always circumspect of commercially orientated people engaing in ‘charitable work’ because it’s like having a fox guard the chickens..

  5. KW Boswell

    You are completely right Rick. In order to circumvent the issue, the Water School should issue I.D.s specific to the event based on the method of solicitation i.e. T.R.A.F.F.I.C or other. In my opinion, since the Water School has been supported by the trade show hosts all along, (and I remember meeting them the first time in TRAFFIC NYC in 2007) it is really only appropriate to attend the event by showing your dual supportive credentials…TRAFFIC and The Water School.
    I actually signed up right away when I read about it, but now feel a bit hesitant unless TRAFFIC is credited and supported.

  6. AlanR

    I totally agree with you on this! I finally got around to tearing off the next page of my calendar and guess what?
    Happy Birthday Rick!

  7. Francois

    I also think it’s not a very nice attitude. They should have contact you and talk the details in which their party (even if is is for a good cause) could accomodate with your event, because without your conference they will have never decided of this date nor location.
    I am not sure if the communication is still possible there between both parties but it’s sad because we are a small industry where nobody can hide.
    I hope a fair solution will be find and this will not happen again.

  8. John Daly

    What about people outside of the domain industry that may wish to attend the Water School event? Is it possible this is in reference to local companies and/or individuals who wish to support the cause? I realize it includes the obvious leechers but I don’t think the wording was created maliciously..

  9. Rick Schwartz

    We told them that folks outside the industry would be no problem whatsoever.
    The problem are with KNOWN domainers and KNOWN sponsors that are KNOWINGLY avoiding coming in the front door and doing things the RIGHT way! That is wrong and that is THE problem.
    Originally we were told only folks with badges and then it changed! But nothing was ever even coordinated with us before the fact to avoid any issues. Their charity could have ended with MORE $$$ had they done this right to begin with.

  10. Rob Sequin

    Some might say this is”mean spirited” but I think you are right for coming out publicly about this.
    Also, a non-TRAFFIC event may take away attendees from a paid sponsor event which would not be fair to your sponsor.
    Maybe offer a”charity night” inside TRAFFIC and let people represent their favorite charities… bring them under the tent so to speak.

  11. Rick Schwartz

    Instead of getting blindsided, they could have contacted us at the planning stage and I am sure we would have found a way to completely integrate their event. They could have even been the big party if we had coordinated on Thursday night for example.

  12. Rick Schwartz

    However the issue is allowing non TRAFFIC attendees with no badges in when they are in town because of TRAFFIC to begin with.

  13. Richard Lau

    Hey Rick — I was hoping we could continue talking privately but happy to post publicly too. I absolutely encourage everyone to attend Traffic, and obviously I lead by example.
    Let me be clear to everyone – Rick and I go way, way back and I’m on Rick’s side. I’ve publicly thanked Rick and I’ve followed his example and have paid it forward many times by donating 1000’s of hours of my time to domainers.
    Rick – I agree with you about people hanging around the lobby where Traffic shows are without paying to attend — that’s not good and deserves your wrath.
    When I contact you and Howard last week (Apr 30) to let you know I was going to try and put together a non-conference party, that it would be on the Open Party night as per your schedule, and to invite you, Howard, and your spouses, and to offer to personally pay for your tickets (over and above what I donate to WaterSchool every month), I got a reply the next day from Howard saying you’d be there. I was honored and flattered, and encouraged.
    Last Friday I again sent more details. But then apparently you were told incorrect info from someone other than me on the weekend. I thought emailing you a week ago would establish communication and that if you had any questions or concerns come up you’d contact me directly by replying.
    As for the not coordinating, I’d thought my two messages last Wed and Friday were a good start. What should I have done differently? I only started planning this on the very day I messaged you (Apr 30th).
    Also, I’d interpreted the”Open Party” night on the schedule as the night to hold non-conference parties so that they wouldn’t conflict with any sponsored ones.
    Gregg and I have been hosting parties for years. It’s only recently that we’ve started calling them WaterNight and having them outside the hotel. So, the phrase:”Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence” comes to mind. I admit, I didn’t even think about integrating our little parties into Traffic — for the big party on Thursday? That would have been great! But I’m not so competent as to have started planning before 6 days ago!!!
    So, what is the issue here? That we aren’t going to close our doors to specific people? We can’t! It’s at a public bar. If people want to crash WaterNight, they don’t have to donate!!!! Of course, they won’t be able to help themselves to the open bar, and they’ll look cheap. The venue has already told us we can’t exclude.
    Who is coming and who is not? We won’t know til the night. In Santa Monica 25% of ticket sales were to people who, not only weren’t registered for Domainfest, but had no intention of attending WaterNight either. They just bought the tickets to show their support.
    When I go to Vegas to grab some sunshine, inevitably I get a group of a dozen or so who will fly in on 72 hours notice, just to hang and have a couple meals together. I do think people will come to Vegas to come to WaterNight and will leave the next day, OR will register for Traffic after getting a tiny taste of what they will be missing at the show. This is just a small party, the real action will be at Traffic.
    Buy a ticket to Traffic. I did. Months ago.

  14. Rick Schwartz

    Thanks for the comment.
    I sent you a detailed response on Facebook just before reading your comment here to clarify our position.
    The issue is WELL KNOWN domainers and WELL KNOWN sponsors benefiting from TRAFFIC without paying a dime while hundreds of attendees and sposnors did.
    Your main sponsor is not even registered at TRAFFIC and as I can tell never hosted any TRAFFIC event.
    My responsibility is to point out which domainers and sponsors have BENT ethics and identify them as being”Cheap” at best to all attendees so they know these folks may be ethically challenged and less than trustworthy and they can choose to ignore what I say or choose to think they are low life scum that are stealing our hard work.
    In a small industry founded on a handshake, 75% will think this is unacceptable.
    So the problem would be easily solved by making a TRAFFIC badge a requirement to those type folks I described above.

  15. Richard Lau

    Hey Rick — I just replied on Facebook. Thx! Seems we are playing commenting tag. lol.
    The sponsor has been to Africa to see WaterSchool’s work first hand and is really supportive of WaterSchool. They aren’t going after the domainer market so it wasn’t a good fit. As you say, you’ve never seen them host any Traffic event, and they barely attend non-ICANN conferences afaik. They’re after the retail market so it was a stretch for me to ask them to sponsor this one. Having said that, they generously said yes, because at the end of the day it’s about the kids, not about a small 8’x8′ banner.
    As for domainers attending who aren’t registered at Traffic. They should be. I’m not their mother.
    Let’s talk about the badge requirement offline.

  16. Rick Schwartz

    Look it comes down to this:
    Shane Cultra asked if his mother, who has no interest in domains, could attend a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. party, and we said that there would be no charge, because there is no benefit. However, if KNOWN DOMAINERS and KNOWN SPONSORS they MUST have badges as they are receiving a benefit from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. PERIOD!!!!!

  17. Rick Schwartz

    Excuse me Donna but this is bullshit.
    You are not banned from TRAFFIC nor have you ever been banned!
    So what is this about? You know you just made this up!
    Not very cool. Not at all.

  18. Rick Schwartz

    And there is NOBODY that is BANNED from TRAFFIC when they come in the front door.
    We dropped the invitation only some FIVE YEARS ago and you were never banned then either.
    So now that is cleared up, I look forward to seeing you at TRAFFIC!

  19. Donna Mahony

    Actually, our memories differ and that’s ok by me. I just might have the email though.
    I’ve seen where you applied the issue to knowns and well knowns and I wondered how some of the rest of us in”other” categories fit in is all.
    I hope TRAFFIC is the wonderful show I always hear it is..kudos, but I won’t be there.
    And I hope you will wish me well also should I chose to visit Vegas to see some of my friends.
    Some might come to support Water School and choose to stop by TRAFFIC.
    Some might come to TRAFFIC and support Water School
    Some might do both and some might do one OR the other.
    And you, of all people, WebFather, should be basking in the glow of knowing our great industry and all of us who have been here from the beginning can act as brothers and sisters to reach out a helping hand without running a balance sheet of who gets most from it.

  20. Rick Schwartz

    Donna, it applies to everyone.
    I put in the”Knowns” because these are people that are known in the industry and CAN AFFORD to pay and do it the right way and CHOOSE not to do that.
    I realize there are people out there trying to get a leg up on life. I have helped more folks than I can count get into TRAFFIC. When I see passion and desire and a person that needs a break, I give them that break when I can. But when folks that make a good living and can afford to do it right and don’t, I just have no sympathy for that whatsoever. That is how I am wired. Can’t help it. Don’t like leeches. Don’t like those that think they are entitled to get something free when others pay.
    So I hope you understand the difference. Folks that get a benefit and don’t pay are scabs.
    And NOBODY in this industry has reached out more than me and had my hands bitten for doing it. There are only two types of people for me. People that have love in their hearts and those that have hate in their hearts. The haters have gotten a lot of benefits and have no reason to hate. But that is how THEY are wired.

  21. Rick Schwartz

    Also, we will be announcing that the Water School and TRAFFIC have come out to an amicable agreement on how to handle things and we will be issuing a statement soon.


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