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Punished by eNom for a Registration Placeholder - Comments

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I find it significantly disturbing that none of the comments seems to notice that not only were the sites with invalid information shut down, but sites with valid information and even sites you no longer own were shut down. That's practically mafia tactics -- getting you and everyone connected to you. Severely creepy.

Even if someone thinks it makes sense to shut down a site the second blatantly invalid whois information is added (which I don't), what is the justification for shutting down every site you ever had a connection to?

I'm also a little disappointed that several comments show a lack of comprehension of the difference between "I don't have a number to go here right now" and "I don't want to give a number" or "I don't have any valid contact information at all". For those who didn't catch it: An invalid phone number doesn't mean the rest of the information was invalid, and not having a particular piece doesn't mean you want to hide the lot.

I imagine that what your registrar did was completely within the bounds of the agreement you were provided with when you first registered the domains. I also can imagine that they may handle a large volume of domains and use extensive automation to meet the ICANN regulations that they must comply with. With this in mind, I don't think they necessarily did anything wrong.

On the other hand though...

My first action after my domains were restored - possibly after posting about it as you did - would be to transfer the domains to a new registrar. I personally have said many times that I'd be happy let you sell me a bag of crap, if you give me good customer service while doing it. The registrar that I use calls me monthly to make sure my sites are okay, and just to check to see if I need anything. The bonus is, their services are good too. I really can't picture them automatically bringing my sites down without some kind of warning.

I must say though, simply don't allow yourself to be in the position to let it happen again. While I know that some registrars give you the ability to have private registration for your domain - they register it by proxy with valid information - I prefer to use my own information. The effort to get a private mailbox address (not a PO Box, but in a private mailbox storefront business) was mostly minimal. For the phone number, I got myself a SkypeIn number, which includes a voicemail box and the ability to check it for free anywhere.

Sorry your sites were down, but don't let it happen again... at least not with this registrar!! (in other words... dump 'em!)

I had a similar problem with the .UK domain name registry a year or so back. They decided that there had been a small irregularity in the process of registering my domain ten years previously. They chose to contact me about that not by using the (correct) phone number, not the (correct) postal address, not through my website (with current contact information). Instead they sent an email to "postmaster@[example].co.uk" relying on a 25 year old internet standard requiring "postmaster" addresses for all domains - a fact which has come to the notice of the spammers, rendering the address useless. It was only by incredible good luck that I spotted their email amongst the spam. They wrote saying the domain would be surrendered unless I responded immediately. It is a highly desirable domain name for which I have been offered USD 40,000 and I could have lost it as a result of their laziness.

As someone who has been designing, implementing, and maintaining web applications for years, it seems to me that Enom missed one very important concept - data validation.

False information in domain registrations will always be a problem. However, if Enom did even rudimentary validation of the data initially submitted, they could then return to the information page and indicate "The phone number you provided (0000000000) is clearly not valid. According to our TOS, you must provide valid information."

Anyone who is intentionally trying to provide false information would simply provide a random phone number. However, if they had caught your situation with initial validation, you would have the chance to enter your real number and make a note to update it later when you get your voicemail line in place.

Any time someone attempted to update a record that was initially caught by the data validation could be flagged for further internal review. Let a human being (even one of their "associates" in the call center in Bangalore or wherever) look over the final information submitted and determine if followup communication is needed for validation.

Regardless, they had 15 days (business or calendar - doesn't really matter) to resolve the issue according to ICANN. Taking action within 4 hours without any attempt at validation is B.S.

The only thing worse than Zero Tolerance, is Zero Tolerance triggered by automated systems with no human supervision or followup....

This reminds me of something else that happened recently -- independent musician Jonathan Coulton posted to his blog that a YouTube video someone had posted for one of his songs had been removed for "copyright violation." Since Coulton releases all his songs under a Creative Commons license (meaning that derivative works are allowed and even encouraged as long as proper credit is given to him), and since the other company with a possible stake in this (Blizzard -- the video used images and scenery from their World of Warcraft game) also had no problem with similar WoW videos, neither Coulton nor the guy who made the video had any idea why it was pulled.

Eventually they found out that Viacom had done a keyword search on YouTube and demanded that they pull all videos that matched their keywords (which, as far as I know, have not been released), and YouTube, with no investigation or warning, pulled the videos -- not even bothering to require Viacom to offer any sort of proof that they violated any copyright.

After a week or so, the video's creator was able to get YouTube to restore it, but Coulton makes an interesting comment about it in his blog:

"Think carefully about who's displaying your photos, streaming your music, hosting your blog, etc., because they can stop any time they want to. YouTube could shut down tomorrow just for the heck of it, or they could suddenly decide to stop hosting videos with cats in them. Or they could decide that maintaining high average awesomeness levels is just not that important, and suddenly disappear a bunch of stuff that belongs to you and me and Spiff and the rest of us. It's events like this that remind me: the internet doesn't belong to the people who make the content, it belongs to the people who make the login pages."

The same applies to web hosting and domain registration, too -- as they did to you, Randy, they can shut you off without any warning and make it really difficult for you to do anything about it. No matter what it seems like, "we" don't own the Internet; the companies that control it do.

A similar thing happened to the well-known Internet marketer Mike Filsaime, this time at the hands of GoDaddy. Mike bought a software product and sent out a large promotion. Someone reported the promotion as spam to GoDaddy, the domain registrar. GoDaddy shut down the domain, but the previous owner had not yet transferred it to Mike's ownership, as required by the purchase contract. So GoDaddy would not let Filsaime contest or fix the situation. The previous owner had taken his new-found wealth and headed off to the Far East on a long trip, and wasn't answering his phone or checking email. It took many, many days and a lot of money for Filsaime to fix the problem. He published a rant against GoDaddy and yanked all his domains from them.

The big question is which domain registrar has customer service so good they will work with the customer to resolve problems instead of shutting them down?

I just have to comment on the "data validation" suggestion: One of the most frustrating experiences of being a US expat overseas is that many of the sites we deal with "back home" requiring information and enforcing validation do not allow for the fact that phone numbers outside of the US are often not ten characters, postcodes are not always five numeric digits, and why on earth can't I leave the "State" field blank when it doesn't apply?!? Some web businesses have lost us as customers simply because we weren't able to fill out their "customer information" forms appropriately.

I should also point out that I feel your frustration on having your domain shut down. We lost ours briefly a week ago - the second time in three years - when our domain expired. Even though we had set it up with automatic renewal after the last episode, or so we thought. No notification. No warning. No hint that "Your domain is about to expire; would you like to renew it?" Nothing. This is the new face of "customer service", I suppose I should just get used to it.

I recently had 29 domains shut down at 1and1.com it took almost two weeks and hundreds of dollars to restore them just because the credit card they had on file expired. They gave me no warning at all. They claim it’s in their terms and conditions that you must have a valid credit card on file even if nothing is due to be charged against it. I was even blocked from their support system during that time. And when I finally was able to get an email back from them it was an auto responder that said I would get an answer with 24 to 48 hours. It was a nightmare.

Some time ago I had a domain name held hostage by Hostonce in Australia. I could go on for ever with these stories. What we really need is some standardization and regulation in the domain name industry.

How about those registrars that allow someone else to 'hijack' your domain after it gets yanked, or expires? One good example of this is www.dohclan.net. This is a website for an in-game guild, an active one, in a text game called Aardwolf. A very active text game which is somewhat surprising in these days of graphical 'muds' (mmorpgs). Their domain expired or was yanked about a month ago, and the day it went down, this hijacking page went up. Needless to say, they still haven't managed to reclaim their website and I believe their guild leaders are looking to just create a brand new site somewhere.

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I have much less sympathy for those who let their domains expire. The expiration date is known the second you register it, and the date is part of the "whois" record. I go in and review my expirations at minimum of every six months and renew any coming anywhere near expiration (assuming I want to keep them) for several years. I've never "accidentally" lost a domain through expiration, and just don't understand those who do. It's like not noticing your mortgage and property taxes are due, and wailing "Unfair!!" when they're sold at auction to satisfy the debt. It's not like not knowing a rule, and having your property confiscated immediately and without warning for not understanding its importance. -rc

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