Networking

You still have domains registered on GoDaddy? Why?

Patrick Lambert discusses the numerous instances of GoDaddy.com turning off domains for questionable reasons and with very little notice. Would you trust GoDaddy with your domain name?

It's almost to the point of a movie plot. A company that rose to be one of the most popular providers of online domain names suddenly goes evil and shuts down businesses around the net, sparking mass exodus protests and campaigns. Hollywood may not have the movie rights quite yet, but ask many techies or site admins what they think of GoDaddy, and the picture is usually not very pretty. But is this deserved? How can a company go so far to anger its customers so thoroughly that when anyone mentions that they own domain names on GoDaddy, the response many people have is: "You still have domains registered on GoDaddy? Why?"

We don't have to go far back to see their latest PR blunder. Just last week, the latest case was unfolding with JotForm, an online service that allows anyone to create forms to use for their businesses or websites. The company is a few years old, and hosts over 2 million user generated forms. So this isn't a case of a brand new site being registered. Like so many cases before it, the owner woke up to a non-working domain name. JotForm.com had been disabled by GoDaddy without notice, no warning, not a word. According to the founder of the service, the site had a fully established process to report bad forms, and they complied by removing any illegal user-generated content that they were made aware of. Yet, a single phone call from a U.S. federal agent was enough for the registrar to redirect their DNS to NS1.SUSPENDED-FOR.SPAM-AND-ABUSE.COM, the address that they use when they want to suspend a domain name. Not a pretty picture for the small business. All they were left with was a phone number to the agency, and then hope that they would be so kind as to reverse their decision. No due process, no hearing.

What happened in this case was fairly appalling, and there's no question that they should have had advance notice. For over two days their business was shut down for no good reason. Still, some could say that GoDaddy is in a difficult position when asked to do something by an actual law enforcement agency. But that isn't always the case. Last year, we saw another troubling story, very similar to this one, that was narrowly averted. Another business owner behind weebly.com, which hosts millions of websites for small businesses all around the world, got a phone call from a GoDaddy employee saying they were about to "turn off" their domain. The reason? One of the small businesses had a bad customer review, and they had received a complaint about it. The whole domain name was minutes away from being turned off because of one person complaining to GoDaddy. Again, no due process, and in this case, it wasn't even because of a government intervention.

But perhaps the most scary story was back in 2007, when the domain SecLists.org was suspended, with a simple voicemail left saying it had "been suspended for violation of the GoDaddy.com Abuse Policy." No reason why, nothing else. For those who don't follow online security news, this is a domain that hosts some of the most popular security mailing lists, things like NMAP development talk, Bugtraq, and vendor-specific disclosure lists. After many calls, they finally found out that the reason GoDaddy suspended the domain was because an employee of MySpace called them and asked for it, because one of the mailing lists linked to a recent disclosure of thousands of MySpace usernames and passwords. As a security site, that's exactly the type of news that goes around these lists, and what the white hat hackers rely on to find out about security news. But because of that one phone call, everything went dark, thanks to GoDaddy.

So here we are, after many PR mistakes and the SOPA deal fresh in mind -- because GoDaddy supported the bill until a mass protest made them quickly change their minds. There's no doubt at all that thousands of domains have been transferred away from the registrar, if not more. But to get back to the original question, are you one of those who ask, when you learn someone has a domain name there, why? Are these isolated cases, or did you follow the Reddit protests and transfer your domain names away, assuming they were with GoDaddy in the first place? It's puzzling how a registrar, a company who clearly knows how important domain names are for businesses and organizations on the web, can be so careless in answering abuse complaints. Are they justified in acting first and asking questions later? Let us know what you think.

About

Patrick Lambert has been working in the tech industry for over 15 years, both as an online freelancer and in companies around Montreal, Canada. A fan of Star Wars, gaming, technology, and art, he writes for several sites including the art news commun...

19 comments
Renaissance Havanese
Renaissance Havanese

I am not surprised. I am wondering if I am part of a scam whereby my email addresses (yes I had two listed with them) were changed, so that, after seven years of being a customer in good standing and the owner of a business which relied heavily on my website, I did not receive any notice of renewal in 2012 NOR did I receive a period of expiration, a grace period or given the opportunity to redeem my domain name because not only did I not receive a notice because of botched email addressed (both were mysteriously incorrect) but my site never went down! My site address NEVER changed nor did I experience ANY interruption whatsoever, until it was too late! My site went down & I knew immediately because it is a very active site. I called them within hours, they made me pay for a back order EVEN though Go Daddy had ALREADY SOLD my domain name to someone else! Now people are getting advertisements for loans and get cash fast scam notices when they go to my site. I have been in business for a decade, my site was ranked high, I believe I was the victim of a scam. So am I still with Go Daddy, hell no! So the question is how many of YOU will wait until it's too late?

tmm63
tmm63

I had already been thinking of moving my domain name because of the commercials and the questionable character of the owner. When the SOPA protests occurred, it reminded me I needed to take care of this. BUT each time I go to take care of it the process defeats me. I will take care of it this week. Thanks for the reminder.

SHCA
SHCA

Another cute behavior of GoDaddy: when one of their client URLs is close to expiring, GoDaddy will routinely camp on it and steal it from their own client. Nice way to treat paying customers! I agree with your title. Why? When I hear of a business running on a GoDaddy site, I know they are 1) cheap, 2) have no business sense whatsoever.

Htalk
Htalk

From what I can tell from this article, it sounds like this is happening because they don't appear to have a policy relating to their customers. If their support staff happens to get a complaint call, then they just say "Okay" and shut off the domain? Not very responsible.

Extremelydangerous
Extremelydangerous

For me, I never use a domain from USA... never... use an european or russian, it is safer...

raid0
raid0

Yes, I am one of the ones with a few GoDaddy domains out there... Never had any problems with server crashes, prices are reasonable, they host my exchange. So far, no problems here. Granted, if this article is true, I do not agree with their policies. What is my alternative? Cheap, reputable, exchange service???

spglmn
spglmn

I'll admit it: I've thusfar been staying with them, largely for a few reasons: [ul][*]Their support is pretty good. [*]Their interface is pretty easy to work with, yet sufficiently powerful to do the work I need to do.[/ul] What hosting companies do you recommend?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm just tired of their cheesy salacious TV advertisements. My loyalty to NASCAR sponsors only goes so far. I've been registered with and hosted by 1and1 for almost a decade.

AtlantaTerry
AtlantaTerry

So even if a US "official" wants them to shut me down for no good reason it's quite likely the Frenchies won't do it.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

The more recent incidents that Go Daddy has been involved in are just the newest of a very long line of problems with that company. Col

ejcaputo
ejcaputo

To answer the question posed in the article, "Are they justified in acting first and asking questions later?", in my opinion ABSOLUTELY NOT! They have a long complicated service agreement, which has fine print sufficient to let them do whatever they want without justification. However, when they react to a simple complaint by someone, including a law enforcement agency, they SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO ACT IN GOOD FAITH regarding the service agreement and insist on DUE PROCESS before acting. They should require sufficient proof that the person complaining will prevail in an Arizona court of law, where they are located. They should NOT REACT to the simple threat that *maybe* someone will sue THEM unless they act against their own customer.

Galdang
Galdang

It's not only tech, it's also the elephants and comments and the non-ability to take any negative on whatever what. service was not very good either for what i have encountered. SOPA was the last drop for me, i moved my 10 domains elsewhere.

ejcaputo
ejcaputo

It isn't only that they shut off non-deserving webs, they also have a history of disclosing the names of owners of webs which are registered under their supposedly "private" registration service! With NO DUE PROCESS!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You think having a Russian-registered domain is safer than one registered in the US? Care to elaborate on why you feel that way?

Garrett Williams
Garrett Williams

For hosting, I chose Hostgator because of great reviews and the fact that they actually HELP YOU MOVE YOUR STUFF OVER. That emphasized part was the selling point because I was hesitant to download all 10GB of site and re-upload it. No other host I looked at did that. Also, they use an industry-standard control panel that is easy to use.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I've been happy with 1and1, but I run an small site (less than 100 pages) with a small audience (less than 30 people). For my purposes, they do a good job. $75 annually covers both URL registration and site hosting. That includes more than one e-mail account, but I don't remember how many since one is all I need. Ditto other features; I know they're out there, but since they aren't anything I need I can't remember what they are. I've never noticed a problem with downtime, but the site normally sees traffic only on Tuesdays and Sundays. I've only had to contact support a couple of times over almost ten years. I must have been happy with the resolutions, since I'm still with them.

Garrett Williams
Garrett Williams

I don't know if I should vote that up for agreeing about the commercials or for being hosted elsewhere for almost a decade. Voted up, either way :-)

fishystory
fishystory

I would like to know which domain name registrar you use? After all, I've only ever used American registrars. With the SOPA and PIPA bills (and their various reincarnations), I've become more interested in doing business with reputable European and Asian companies.