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I used to type whois whatever and get a detailed answer, but now I only get an answer like: the so-so name is registered by Network Solutions and then some standard info, that is usually the same for any name I type.

It used to be that Network Solutions (NSI) was the only registrar out there, so all queries could be funnelled through them. Now that domain name registration has turned into a free-for-all, you have to go and track down the registrar for the domain in question in order to obtain the whois information.

For example, whois now indicates

Whois Server:
Referral URL:

So you should go to that URL for more information. Indeed, NSI has a link (near the top of the page) that will give a form for you to complete the query.

This annoyance will probably be fixed/simplified in the near future, by adding stuff to the whois client to automagically go to the relevant whois server. Your whois client may allow you to specify the whois server you want, so you don't have to bring up a browser, etc. Mine doesn't have this feature. :P
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