[arin-tech-discuss] ARIN WHOIS - An International Annoyance & Making the USA appear stupid

Always Learning arin at u61.u22.net
Mon Sep 12 19:53:56 EDT 2011

Hallo ARIN Technical readers,

Mark Kosters, Chief Technical Officer of ARIN suggested on the NANOG
list (Mon, 12 Sep 2011 21:14:54 +0000) I post my concerns on this list. 

The rest of the world look towards the US of A as the country that
invented the Internet. That formerly military system has worked so
incredibly well that it has become the great success story that created
the Internet we know and love today. It is a great tribute to the brains
and ingenuity of the American people. The English helped too with the
Web concept invented at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN -
that is the French way of naming it).

Being on Centos (the biggest Red Hat clone) I use software called jwhois
and type 'whois'. This is where the ARIN disaster manifests itself. It
is an avoidable disaster which, in its present broken-down state, does
an international disservice to the US of A's justifiably proud tradition
of promoting the Internet and giving the world good efficiently working

I have a BASH script called .w
It contains

        #! /bin/bash
        whois $1
        host $1

When I type


I receive a normal and conventional display of data because that IP
address is in Europe and it is not 'organised' by ARIN. When I type:-


I receive a one line summary of possible matches, which always
includes ARIN, but omits the details we used to receive before ARIN
implemented its much criticised "improved" service.

My second script .wa is more useful for North American IP enquiries:-

        #! /bin/bash
        whois -h whois.arin.net n + $1
        host $1

On some occasions I get a normal display of Northern American data. The
'n' and '+' are not part of WHOIS. They are ARIN's own parameters. This
example produces a 'near-as-normal' display:-


However when ARIN automatically forwards the query to a North American
RWHOIS the query is apparently malformed and nothing useful is
displayed. For example:-


The Internet was created in North America. Many people around the world
would genuinely appreciate ARIN's help in getting the ARIN version of
WHOIS to revert to normal WHOIS displays. 

At present the misguided and mistaken ARIN programmers wants enquirers
to click on web page after web page after web page to try and find the
information previously displayed in a single response. Frankly that
weird attitude is stark raving bonkers!

Here is what a few other users of ARIN's WHOIS system have stated in the
last few days:-


(private email to me) Mon, 12 Sep 2011 08:16:05 -0400

"I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who thinks the `new and improved'
ARIN site is NOT and it doesn't work in a standard conforming browser.
I had to do some scripting and install some new software to get any
information out of the Web site.  I complained when my old WORKING Web
link stopped working.

"I was told it wasn't a valid link and asked where I got the link.  (I
got it from THEIR Web site.)  I was told it was never a valid link and
shortly there after that link completely disappeared.  The person was
very rude.  I guess they had at least a few other complaints because the
new Web site got a little bit better after that.  The new site required
one to make one after another clicks to links to get information that
all used to be available in ONE click and on one short page.  It is
still crap.  It used to be short simple and to the point.  It gave you
all the information one needed and no extra crap.  Now there is a page
of junk before one gets to the real content and that content is now
spread out over a bigger area so one has to do more scrolling than

"I guess someone needed a reason to justify their position and

"I prefer the KISS principle, Keep It Simple, Stupid.  They bent over
backwards to make the new site as non-standard and complicated as
Jon Lewis, Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:32:20 -0400 (EDT)

"He's complaining that sometime in the past few weeks (or is 
it months now?) ARIN changed the behavior of their whois server.  New 
output for the query is (omitting comments):

"Internet Connect Company, Inc. ICC-1 (NET-209-208-0-0-1) - American Registry for Internet Numbers NET209
(NET-209-0-0-0-0) -

"The old behavior was that ARIN's whois server would respond with the
data from NET-209-208-0-0-1.  i.e.

NetRange: -
NetName:        ICC-1
NetHandle:      NET-209-208-0-0-1
Parent:         NET-209-0-0-0-0
NetType:        Direct Allocation

"This is rather an annoying change for anyone who uses whois much as it 
means every ARIN query is now at least two queries and there are
doubtless scripts in use to grab information from whois that broke as a
result of this change.  NANOG isn't the place to complain about this
Eric Krichbaum, Mon, 12 Sep 2011 11:46:05 -0500

"That was on June 25th according to Mark Kosters.  They started to
answer with both the parent and delegated objects.  That hosed the way
RWHOIS data was being reported to most things as the client won't know
which to send through to the rwhois servers.  Still works from an old
SCO box but not from anything current.

"A "+" flag on the query from some clients will get it to recurse, but
for my tests kicked back "%error 350 Invalid Query Syntax". 

"My issue with that response is that the general whois query shouldn't
have to have an extra flag passed to get the data you asked for in the
first place.   This traps out most of the standard users from ever
getting the correct data.  It also makes the rwhois data almost
impossible for the general public to get."
Jon Lewis, Mon, 12 Sep 2011 13:22:13 -0400 (EDT)

"It'd be nice if the NICNAME/WHOIS was left alone as far as default 
behavior is concerned.

"So, our tools that use the NICNAME/WHOIS service for lookups at all the
other RIRs, now need to be updated to support ARIN's overcomplicated
web/XML, which nobody else uses?...and it seems even with RWS you still
need to do multiple queries to go from having an IP to having the full
whois record.

"How does the community (other than some programmers) benefit from

So ARIN, how much longer are you determined to show the world ARIN does
not care and ARIN wants to make the Internet more difficult to use than

Mark Kosters, ARIN CTO, should be asking himself why he allowed this
regrettably confusing mess ever to occur. This mess has damaged the once
good reputation of ARIN. It is time for plain commonsense to poke its
head above the mass of world-wide criticism of ARIN. Who at ARIN is
man-enough (or woman-enough but women are generally more sensible than
men) to declare ARIN will restore its once very reliable and useful
WHOIS service.

With best regards,


Please excuse any spelling or grammar mistakes.

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