Earlier today I decided to register an ENS domain name for my wallet. As I read through the process on various sites about how it works, I think I understand it but I'm very surprised and confused about one thing:

Why are the domain names hidden until after the auction ends? And if they are hidden, what is the point of having an auction in the first place? Who would ever bid on a name without knowing what name they are bidding on??

At first when I read that I had to go through a 5 day auction process, I was disappointed. You mean I can't just buy a domain if it's not reserved like you do with internet domain names? But now that I know none of the other bidders will know what they are bidding on, I feel relieved--surely nobody is going to outbid me if they don't have any idea what they're bidding on right? Or are there really some people out there who just bid on random hashes hoping that it's a good domain name?

Like... hey everyone, I'm having a garage sale and y'all can bid on the items I'm selling... but I won't tell you what items they are until I see all the bids. Might be a chair, might be an old book or toy, might be a lawn mower--who knows what you'll get but be sure and get your bid in! Isn't that the same thing?

Yes, I'm aware that in some special cases the domain names are visible. (So I can see why an auction makes sense in those cases.) But as I understand it, that's not the case for most domain names. Why have auctions for hidden domain names?

Surely I must be missing something. While the whole thing seems absurd--all of the descriptions I've read of how it works seem to confirm that this is the way it works, and yet the strangest thing is--nowhere else I've seen has pointed out how absurd it sounds. So what am I missing here?

1 Answer 1


The way the name is "hidden" is that it's hashed. That means if two people try to buy the same name, they'll end up in the same auction.

If you're trying to buy a name that no one would guess, no one will bid against you. If you're buying something common, like an English word or a DNS domain name, you might find yourself with competition. (People trying to compete for ENS names can keep a mapping of words to hashes and jump in to an auction when they see a hash on their list.)

  • Oh ok, that makes more sense than I thought! I don't know why this is not explained in most how-to's I've seen that discuss it. Still seems to me like DNS is a better system though. First person to notice it's not taken should just be able to buy it, not have to wait 5 days to see if anyone figures out what you're buying and tries to jack the price up. Are there standard utilities or websites that act as ENS crackers, looking for any hashes they recognize? Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 0:34
  • Also note that the release of names for less than 7 characters is still coming up, in the permanent .eth registrar. Early indication is that auctions will only be used for the first launch, and then unallocated names would be available for immediate purchase.
    – carver
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 18:05

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