Buying and Using an ENS Domain: A Guide, A Cautionary Tale, and a 1000-ft Review of Ethereum's Web3 by@utsavjaiswal

Buying and Using an ENS Domain: A Guide, A Cautionary Tale, and a 1000-ft Review of Ethereum's Web3

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Utsav Jaiswal

Reads. Writes. Reads. Repeats.

So, I went ahead and purchased an ENS (Ethereum Name Service) domain - dlized.eth. It wasn’t as easy as buying a domain on GoDaddy etc, definitely not as cheap, but I guess, there’s a premium to pay when you want to live the degen life - or is it?

How I Bought My First ENS Domain

Well, first, you go to the ENS Domains website and click on the ‘Go to app’ button.

Incidentally, this is also where the troubles start.

You need to have Metamask pre-installed (makes sense, else where’d you park your domain - yes, your ENS domain is an ERC721 NFT) and you need to be on the Ethereum chains (Mainnet preferably cos God knows why you’d need to be on their testnets unless you’re a dev).

Next up, you gotta search for the name you want.

Looked up utsav.eth - sold out. Fuck!

Their registration expires in 2046. You can click on the ‘Heart’ emoji to be reminded when it is back on the market. Click it, cos fuck John Maynard Keynes (economists laugh in the background).

I can also see who owns it (or at least which wallet address is the NFT bearing the name my parents gave me linked to). Thanks, Blockchain. Lemme screenshot it below as it is public knowledge.

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Never mind, I’ll go look for another domain.

Dammit! I’m not one of those people who have cool and unique nicknames that I can snag up on the ENS. Gotta think!

Ended up searching for the name of my company - dlized.eth, cos’ that’s how boring sometimes us creative people can be.

Found it!

Let’s buy it!

More problems ensue.

Looks like it takes two transactions to get the ENS domain transferred to you - just roll them into one and push them to the backend, devs. Just hit me with the final cost and I’ll decide whether it is worth it or not!

To buy it for 1 year, the cost is $5 but the GAS fee is 0.042 ETH ($134.71USD)

Anyways, I’ll buy it for 20 years aannnndddd, the total is now $233.21 WOW!

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You also need about $20 (at current GAS prices) to sign a God-knows-what-but-gotta-trust-the-devs-on-this-one transaction that you gotta pay every time you initialize a new dApp. It is the same as Uniswap’s ‘authorize’ transaction that you need to do before you can begin swapping that one pair. Want to swap another pair - that’s another ‘authorize’ transaction.

Guess that’s the price we pay for anonymity and decentralization - which is weird because I’m writing a blog post about it under my own name 🙃

Anyways, we proceed. I transfer some ETH to this wallet (muttering how I should have bought ETH before 2020) and it is game on!

Click Request to Register on the bottom right - pay the initial fee - wait 1 minute while the system checks to see if somebody else also reserved your name while you were mulling over the GAS costs on Ethereum.

The final step now is to hit ‘Complete Registration’ - pay the remaining $233 worth of ETH and as soon as the transaction is signed, you’re now the proud owner of your ENS NFT.

Let this be clear that at this point, my dlized.eth might look like a web URL but it is just an NFT. At this point, if someone transfers funds to this address, it’ll probably get lost - but I dunno.

Next, the system prompts me to go to ‘My Account’ and finish the final configurations - does not look reassuring but here I go!

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Yeah - nope!

You’re gonna make me read the documentation now, are you?

Here’s the link, for those of you more technically inclined.

Let’s move forward, click on ‘Make Primary Controller’ if it’s your first rodeo so that your wallet address gets linked to your ERC721 ENS Domain NFT - pay more GAS fee.

That’s another 0.012 ETH ($50 as of writing) - well, now I’m invested enough!

Lemme start receiving crypto via dlized.eth instead of that wrangely string of alphanumeric characters.

Looks like I gotta map my BTC, LTC, and DOGE addresses - that’s another transaction!

Adding my email. Twitter, Telegram, and whatever notice, avatar, keywords mean, looks like a nice touch but I seem to be out of my depth, and of course - that’ll be another transaction!

At this point it is clear to me - for understanding more of how to all works,

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There’s also the Forum and the Support Chat that you can check out - I won’t, cos I’m not gonna be that guy who posts on the forum without reading the documentation first - which is not very helpful, at least for non-devs.

The support chat goes to Discord and whoever made it, probably didn’t select ‘Never’ on the expiration of the discord link. Looks like there’s one thing that I know more than at least one ETH dev. Here’s the correct link to the ENS discord server - thanks, Reddit!

Key Takeaways from The Almost $300 Experiment

First off, it seems fun. When somebody asks you for your wallet address and you give them a human-readable name, you’re winning admiration of 99% of the people out there. The other 1% already have an ENS domain.

But then, you realize that you can’t do much because all your transactions are on Avalanche, Polygon, and Fantom - for one and only one reason - GAS fees.

So, your only option is to either bridge your assets over to these blockchains (or simply use an exchange, simply for the convenience)

Secondly, you can add more Blockchains (109 as of writing) as wallet addresses. While it might have some use in some magical way, I use MetaMask which means I already have the same address showing up anyways. Also, looks like Avalanche C-Chain is not supported yet!

In any case, you’re limited to the number of wallets (which is growing btw) that support these human-readable wallet names. For example, I tried to send some of my BEP20 BSC to this new shiny human readable address and got the ‘address not valid’ error. Which brings me to my pet-peeve (in case it was not evident already)

Thirdly, the GAS fees are atrocious (unless you’re a whale who hit the motherlode and has hundreds and thousands of ETH to spare). I added a bunch of addresses via the ‘add/edit record’ and the GAS fees to process that transaction jumped up to another $300.

I removed a few fields and just kept the BSC address and it dropped to $50. Paid it begrudgingly for the sake of this experiment - only to see that I cannot move funds from Binance.

A case can be made that a Google search would have told me just that but I was already too invested - just not enough invested to pay $300 again, but enough to pay $40.

Another case can be made that this is decentralization and blockchain - every thing that goes on the Blockchain, needs to pay the ferry-man. I get it. It’s just that despite the beauty of the Ethereum ecosystem, and the strides they’ve made, it is just the issue of GAS fees that other Blockchains fix, and then copy almost everything else. Looking at you BSC…

What I think It Means for those of who aren’t shadowy super coders

The heart and soul of the Ethereum people has always been at the right place (at least since the ETH-ETC debacle) and they seem to be the pioneers in the choppiest of waters we’ve ever seen.

I’s sure they’ll find a way to fix the GAS costs, learn to write better documentation and guides that work for the rest of us (so I don’t have to write this rant), and everything in between. With such as thing as an ENS domain, let’s see what I can do:

  • Use a human-readable word as my wallet address across supported wallets and Blockchains
  • Connect my .xyz domain with my .ETH domain (as a bridged web3 in the web2 world)
  • Show-off on Twitter (or as the investors day, ‘virtue-signal’)
  • Squat those NFTs and sell them on Open Sea (no restrictions)
  • Use emojis in my ETH address (why would I wanna do that?)
  • Fill that use case where I wanna enter my wallet address (on a supported wallet) but cannot use a QR code for some reason

But, in all fairness…

ENS domains has a better grasp over the global namespace ethics and conventions. In their documentation (yes, I finally read it), they advise people not to pollute the namespace and want to co-habitate with the DNS side of things. This ability to fill inside the lines and take what is not claimed non-confrontational mentality of ETH developers is most likely going to be the reason crypto-adoption happens.


What follows below is a very informative answer by serenae.eth in the ENS DAO Discord channel to provide some technical answers to the concerns I had. These will help you get a fuller picture of the work the ENS Domains community is up to:

We need more honest everyman takes like this to remind us where we are in web3 and where we'd like to be. Having worked support for a little while now, believe me I know how confusing it can be to newbies to Ethereum or crypto in general.

Some notes: -

  1. Registration is two txs to prevent frontrunning. If it was one transaction, someone could see that and front-run you with higher gas - It's true that there are a lot of transactions to set everything up. However note that you don't need separate transactions to set coin addresses, content hash, e-mail, Twitter, avatar, or any other records, those can all be done in a single transaction to save on gas. Yeah, it'll still be more gas the more records you update, but less than if you did each one in a separate transaction

  2. ENS works just fine on Polygon or other networks, assuming that your address is the same as the mainnet (which it usually is)! In all cases your wallet is just resolving the ETH address record and using that to send a transaction over Polygon or whatever - Wallet/exchange support is not 100% obviously, especially for non-Ethereum coins, but growing every day...

  3. Gas is a limiting factor for everyone on L1 these days, and I know the devs are hard at work on bringing L2 support!

  4. As you noted, ENS seeks full integration and compatibility with DNS. In fact, if you own domain.com you can already import that into ENS and use it like you would any other ENS name! There are high gas costs for that, but that will be addressed as well: Tweet link.

    Overall fair criticisms though! I know the team is also hard at work on a full refresh of the ENS manager UI too, so hopefully, it'll get even easier.

    I fully agree with you that there's too much "gotta go read the documentation" stuff today.

    https://twitter.com/BrantlyMillegan/status/1433886211324665859

    The more I get into web3 the more I realize we're still here:

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