Tag Archives: Domains

Ditching GoDaddy? Here Are Some Alternatives

Whether it’s because of the recent major outage, their brazen support for SOPA, or their longstanding questionable business practices, there are many reasons one may wish to avoid doing business with GoDaddy. (Archive.org has a mirror of the old NoDaddy site if you’re curious about some of the hijinks they’ve been behind in the past.)

There are countless alternatives for the services GoDaddy offers, but many newbies are not too aware of them. After all, they don’t pour money into TV ads during the Superbowl.

Since I’m frequently asked for suggestions, I figured it would make for a good post.

Domains

It is usually prudent to register domain names with a separate company from the one that actually hosts your web site. That way, if you have cause to switch for one reason or other, you can simply edit the DNS to point it to your new host, and you don’t have to worry about transferring the name from one service to another.

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Adventures in Buying Expiring Domains

I recently tried my hand at buying a previously-owned domain name. There was a domain that I had wanted for years, but it had already been taken. On a whim, I ran a whois search on it a couple weeks ago for some reason or another. I was surprised when I saw that it had expired back in November, and immediately began researching the domain name expiry process.

I found a good article on the subject, How to Snatch an Expiring Domain, from which I refreshed my memory on how the crazy business known as “Drop Catching” works. When a domain expires, it is marked as expired in VeriSign’s database. It remains in that deactivated state for forty days, unless the owner pays the usual fee to renew it. After that initial forty-day period is over, the owner still has a final chance to save the name before it is deleted, but they have to pay a $100 fee to do so. Seventy days after the expiration date, it’s status is changed to “locked” and it will be deleted from the ICANN database five days later during a three-hour window between 2:00pm and 5:00pm EST. As soon as it drops from the database, the name is available for registration.

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Despite Boycott, GoDaddy Still Supports SOPA

As if there weren’t enough reasons to not do business with GoDaddy, they recently made it clear that they not only support SOPA, but that they were involved in the authoring of the bill.

Polis pointed out that SOPA and Smith’s amendment already excluded certain operators of sub-domains, such as GoDaddy.com, from being subject to shutdowns under SOPA.

Even with that lesser-publicized fact aside, GoDaddy’s support of SOPA has spurred a large boycott, which they have met with a cavalier attitude (“we have not seen any impact to our business”) and some fuzzy PR-speak leading people to believe that they no longer support the bill, while they still do.

If you are looking to leave GoDaddy, or someone you know is, there are plenty of alternatives.

Domains: Name.com, Moniker, Gandi.net, Hover (Tucows), 1and1

Shared Hosting: HostGator, Media Temple, Site5, WPWebHost, A Small Orange, Nearly Free Speech

VPS Hosting: VPS.net, Linode, Media Temple, Rackspace

Domain Hijackers Hit Design and Development Blogs

There has been a sudden outbreak of design and development blogs having their domain names hijacked and held for ransom. It seems to have started with David Walsh’s site, when his domain name was mysteriously transferred from GoDaddy to Name.com and from there to 1and1. The DNS records have been pointed back to Walsh’s host by 1and1 while things are sorted out, but for now the domain is still not under his control.

About one day later, the same thing happened to Chris Coyier’s CSS-Tricks.com. Someone gained access to his GMail and GoDaddy accounts and moved the domain to PlanetDomain. From his detailed chronicle of the events, it’s a possibility that he may have a keylogger on his computer, as the miscreant has been able to get around password resets of the GMail account, and may have even accessed the Media Temple server CSS-Tricks is hosted on. Coyier also received the impeccably-penned threat “pay 2k to get ur domain back.”

This has recently happened to a few other big-name sites in the same field, including Abduzeedo, Kirupa, Design Shack and InstantShift. Abduzeedo was able to catch the transfer and stop it, though. (Interestingly, it has been almost exactly four years since the same thing happened to logo designer David Airey.)

Just to be on the safe side, you might want to do a quick WHOIS search on your own domain and make sure it’s still on your registrar.

Update, Dec 5: Planetdomain is reversing the transfer, and moving the CSS-Tricks.com domain back to Chris Coyier’s GoDaddy account.

AOL Hijacks WoW.com Domain From WoW Insider

WoW Insider is perhaps the largest World of WarCraft blog online. As part of the Weblogs Inc. network, it has similar traffic numbers and weekly post counts to Engadget, TUAW and Joystiq. It also shares the misfortune of being owned by AOL.

In their latest dubious management move, AOL corporate commandeered WoW Insider’s first-rate domain name — WoW.com — and used it to launch a Groupon clone.

WoW Insider now resides at wow.joystiq.com.

If you’ll pardon the pun, wow. I can hardly believe that anyone would think that a good move. It will hurt WoW Insider — in terms of possible search engine penalties, dead links, and confused users wondering why the domain stopped working with little or no warning — and there will be little advantage.

Someone at AOL obviously heard about the strange success of Groupon, and figured it would be easy to emulate it. Frankly, I’m surprised Groupon managed to do as well as they have been, monetarily. I highly doubt that, despite the simplicity of the service in itself, AOL will be able to replicate it. And it’s really dumb to re-purpose a domain like that. It reeks of bait-and-switch, like their plan to market the new Wow.com service is to trick a bunch of World of WarCraft fans into accidentally visiting it.

The Queue: Why did WoW Insider switch domains, again? [WoW Insider]

.CO: A Domaining Disaster

The .CO Top Level Domain is the geographic domain for Colombia. It has recently been made available for general registration, and the registrars are busy hyping it as “the new .COM.” Unfortunately, there is one major downside: you have to pay $30/year for a .CO domain.

Normally I wouldn’t be too worried about the high pricing. After all, .FM (Federated States of Micronesia) domains run in the $70-$100 range. The problem with .CO is the cybersquatters.

How many people prematurely tap the Enter key when typing youtube.com, resulting in youtube.co, in one day alone? It’s a very common typo, and cybersquatters will start snapping up .CO domains for everything. People running moderately-sized websites will have to choose between dropping $30 every year for typo protection or letting domain vultures pick it up. Behemoths like YouTube and Yahoo will be okay, since $30 is nothing to them, but what about everyone else?

I highly doubt that .CO will be used legitimately for much other than name protection for a similar reason. It looks like a typo. If you see a business card with www.shawnspencersdiscountpineapples.co on it, is it really “.co” or did the designer make a mistake that somehow wasn’t caught? This is particularly bad when the masses still seem to expect everything to be a .COM.

The .CO push is going to make some people a lot of money, but it’s going to cause a lot of problems for everyone else.

Wordoid: Creative (Domain) Naming Service

I probably don’t need to subject you to another rehash of “Oh, it’s so difficult to find domain names. All the good ones are taken…” You’ve likely heard that story at least a few times by now.

Wordoid.com is a website that hopes to help you solve that problem. Enter a word, set the language, maximum length, and a few other options, and out comes a list of “wordoids.” Wordoids are, as the name suggests, made-up words that sound just like they could be real words. Words like underful, intendings, outwittery, or, conspiffy. It’s an easy way to find suggestions for a catchy domain name. (Outwittery sounds like it should be some sort of Twitter-connected word game…)

I wonder how they generate the words. My best guess is some sort of Markov text generator.

Are Unicode Domains Really a Security Risk?

I recently read an interesting piece from Mashable that suggested that ICANN allowing non-Latin (Unicode) domain names is a security risk. The problem is that Unicode characters can be rendered in browsers as Latin characters, which opens a new window of opportunity for phishers.

If the domain, created using Cyrillic scripts “raural.com” was registered, the way that Unicode-browsers will actually render that domain in latin is as “paypal.com.” In theory, phishers could pass around that link and set up a fake version of the PayPal site to harvest logins and credit card data.

It is impossible to tell the difference visually. It’s pretty scary. At least, I thought it was until I realized two things:

  1. You shouldn’t click links in emails claiming to be from PayPal or your bank anyway. Just don’t. Type the address in manually.
  2. Websites dealing with money, or other things that require a higher level of security, generally have an SSL certificate signed by a reputable third party.

So if you don’t click links in emails, and make sure that the SSL certificate checks-out, you’ll be safe.

It’s not that big a deal for those of us who have a good general knowledge of computer security, but it still is worrying that phishers are gaining this tool. I’m sure you know plenty of people who could easily fall into this kind of trap.

WP.com Step 1: “Get WordPress”

Automattic recently acquired WP.com for their WordPress.com hosted blog service, as you may remember. They still don’t seem to have quite decided what to do with it, aside from redirecting it to WordPress.com. Users seem to want their blogs to be available as subdomains of the new domain, and some want it to be used as a URL shortener for their posts.

It was recently discovered that there’s a new subdomain of WP.com now, get.wp.com, that was put up to help dispel the awful confusion surrounding WordPress. (i.e. WordPress vs. WordPress.com) The new microsite helps newbies differentiate between the two, albeit with a strong bias for WordPress.com.

So this is the first thing that WP.com is being put to use for. Nothing major still. Let’s hope that Automattic finds something useful to use it for. It’s a nice domain.

VeriSign at Fault For Climbing Domain Prices

The Coalition for ICANN Transparency (CFIT) is trying to persuade the courts that VeriSign, with their exclusive contract to manage the .com domain registry, is breaking antitrust laws.

According to a group of disgruntled registrars, the whole situation is an antitrust nightmare, one allegedly perpetuated by lobbyists, astroturfers, planted news stories, and “stacked” public meetings.

Ars Technica has the full story: Paying too much for .com domains? One group blames VeriSign.

I remember a few years ago, when control of the .com registry was handed to VeriSign, thinking it was a bad idea. I still maintain that it should be the responsibility of ICANN, and that it shouldn’t be thought of as a source of profit, but as an essential service that should be subsidized by the bare minimum fee required to keep the system afloat.

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