RIPE Whois database is not being maintained


I reported to the RIPE WHOIS database maintainer a problem with the contact details for an address allocation within their range - emails to the contact email address were returned with the comment "Name service error for name, type=A: Host found but no data record of requested type".

The response from the RIPE Database Manager [] was enlightening:-

"Thank you for your email regarding out of date contact data in the RIPE database.

There may be options we could pursue to check the validity of the contact data in the objects in the RIPE Database. Where we have a direct relationship with the owners of these objects we could request that they update this information. But we do not have a mandate from the RIPE community to allocate any resources to this activity. If you feel this should have a higher priority then you may raise the issue on the Database Working Group or Antispam Working Group or Address Policy Working Group mailing lists."

In simpler terms - our database is out of date but we couldn't care less about updating it even when you point out an obvious error.

Way to go. I have suggested that their logo should be an ostrich with its head in the sand.

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In my experience, when someone says that they don't have a mandate to do something, it is often (but not always) code for "*We* think it should be done, but we haven't been able to convince the people who control the budgets or set the priorities."

Keep in mind that even if the change is obvious to you, that internal policies would require that someone cross-check the data, communicate with the appropriate contact, and so on. Those activities take staff time, also know as staff "pay" or "resources". Probably there are literally thousands of similar changes to be made, but if the staff can't get authorization to use staff time for that class of activity...

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Walter Roberson

Hi Walter,

I realise that money is ultimately the reason.

What is the point to having the database, and making its data available to users, if the database is not being maintained? How can we trust the information provided?

Luckily, I haven't struck this type of attitude from the APNIC and ARIN database maintainers.

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You haven't presented any indication that the database is not being maintained. The discussion you presented was evidence only that third-party- initiated changes are not processed.

You look at the last-modified date. If it isn't fairly recent, then you don't trust the data.

The accuracy and concurancy of APNIC data is a farce, particularily with respect to systems in China, even those at universities.

The difference is that sometimes APNIC puts up notices along the lines of "This data has been reported to be inaccurate, and we've tried and tried and we haven't been able to find anyone with authority over this data".

It is my belief that the people who set priorities for RIPE's staff looked at the APNIC and TWNIC experiences and said, "Sod that, trying to track down the current authorized owners for inaccurate data takes *way way* too much staff time and produces far too few successes. We can't afford that, so from now on, we only want you {the RIPE staff} to take action where the owning party initiates the change. Don't waste your time trying to clean up the thousands of bad entries: it isn't worth the effort!"

And it is my further belief that the RIPE staff responded along the lines of "But trying to keep the database up-to-date is important!!", and the management responded with about "You heard us: we don't want you using staff time on this; you have enough to do and chasing the owners is a real money loser. If the decayed data contributes to spam and related problems, let groups such as SORBS spend the time investigating; we want you to concentrate on the live accounts and technical infrastructure."

These are -beliefs-, and could be wildly wrong. But if they are more or less true, then the RIPE staff might care about the bad data but not be allowed to do anything about it. And even the RIPE management might abstractly care about the bad data, but be in a position of having to choose between the abstract principle of "best possible data" and the practical reality of limited staff and budgets, in which spending the time on fixing bad data might the difference between surviving and not.

Reply to
Walter Roberson

Not quite enough details to make heads/tails out of the problem. The original error seems to be a DNS problem (quoting)

emails to the contact email address were returned with the comment "Name service error for name, type=A: Host found but no data record of requested type".

The message above would _appear_ to be a DNS error - there's a MX record pointing to a non-existent host. That certainly wouldn't be RIPE's problem if that is the case..

I'd tend to agree with this.

It does make the world go round

I haven't had much difficulty in getting RIPE to at least look at the problem, and correcting things that they had control over - mainly inconsistent data between databases.

Not only. Trying to get information on a registration in Myanmar (Burma) is virtually impossible, but this is true for a lot of other places as well.

I've also seen such notices in RIPE, ARIN, and LACNIC query results.


One also has to look at the charter they are working from. RIPE is somewhat better than (say) ARIN in that there is some relatively low level contract law involved. But the whole Internet thing has no legal basis - and virtually nothing is enforceable in a court of law. About the best thing that can be done is peer pressure. I don't have a URL handy, but there are some documents on the RIPE ftp server that discuss this problem. They may be mirrored at the other RIRs, and those RIRs may have published similar documents.

as pointy haired managers often will. Sometimes they are seeing "the big picture" - sometimes not.

I don't think they are that far out of line with reality.

I doubt it would degrade to a survival issue, but I suspect that if they did put the effort into fixing errors that are not under their direct control, they'd let the ball drop elsewhere.

Old guy

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