Does this sound like a familiar situation for you?
- Went to GoDaddy (or name another popular domain name registrar),
- Searched for a domain name,
- Saw that it was available for registration,
- Decided to take a few days to think about it,
- Decided you wanted to register the domain name and
- Went back to GoDaddy only to find that it was already registered.
Then, of course, you think: GoDaddy stole my domain name!
How could it not be GoDaddy?
GoDaddy saw that you did the domain name availability search, the domain name is obviously brilliant, so they registered it and who knows what they plan to do with it.
But did GoDaddy really steal your domain name?
I received the following email from a reader recently:
I searched at GoDaddy a domain name and it was available, but I didn’t register it. A few days later I decided to build a website using that domain and found that GoDaddy registered it 2 days after my search and parked it in a phony web site saying “buy this domain”.
It’s heart breaking but a good lesson learned.
Why isn’t this illegal for GoDaddy to offer a domain search and then buy the ones people don’t register, like you write at http://www.domainsherpa.com/prevent-domain-name-front-running/?
Shouldn’t they have a warning, “if you don’t register the domain we may register and sell the domain name you type into our search”? It’s almost like they’re stealing my intellectual rights.
Obviously I’m new to all this but this is really questionable business practices.
Thanks for this article,
So, did GoDaddy really steal this domain name?
The answer is no. Let me tell you why.
You can determine who owns a domain name by doing a “whois lookup”, which is basically a phone book for domain names. (There are hundreds of sites that allow whois lookups, these are just two.)
If you visit https://whois.domaintools.com/ or https://who.godaddy.com/ and type in the domain name, you can see who owns a domain name.
For instance, if you look up “domainsherpa.com” here is what you see:
While difficult to read because it’s all one big block of text, you can see:
- The registrant is Michael Cyger (me)
- The email address and phone number are listed
- Even though GoDaddy is listed as the registrar, they are not the registrant
More than 80,000 .com domain names are registered on a daily basis. Those are brand-new, hand registrations at registrars like GoDaddy around the world. In one day.
In the “SLDs Added to / Dropped from Zone” graph, you can view the .com domain names registered (green) and allowed to expire (red) for the past few days.
Is it possible that another person thought of the same, great domain name to register as you?
You bet it is.
Especially if the domain name is a generic or really cool brandable sounding domain name.
The lesson learned (well, two lessons):
1. GoDaddy is in the business of registering domain names, not front-running domain names that you’re searching for, and
2. There are more than 7 billion people in the world and the likelihood that someone else thinks of the domain name you want increases with time. Don’t wait, register the domain name when you think of it. The worst case scenario is that you don’t renew it a year later and let it expire…and you’re out $10-15 for the one year registration. (You can even register a domain name for $1.)
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