Domain tasters managed to make money with the practice, which essentially cost them nothing, in several ways. By registering variants of some domain name in bulk, it would be possible to direct them all to a simple webpage that harvested revenue from advertising services (Google, for example, acted to block the practice around the same time ICANN did). These could be used to quickly grab users looking for something related to a current event, or to sample a wide range of typos for a popular site; any names with staying power could be kept, while the rest could be discarded after a few days at no cost."Domain tasters" bitter as new fees put an end to their games (Thanks, Carl!)
An alternate approach was to track users as they searched for the availability of different domain names, then register anything they considered. If the user ultimately tried to register one, the domain taster could offer to part with the one they'd registered at an inflated price; if nothing happened in a few days, the name was returned.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.