Domain Scalping, How To Fix?
October 10, 2015 10:58 AM   Subscribe

So the domain for my personal site got scalped? I thought the problem was with billing for Hosting Direct but they said Network Solutions is giving a wrong redirect - I called Network Solutions and some organization? in Japan? Has claimed my domain? I already shot them an e-mail asking for it back but, how did this happen? What recourse do I have? How can I stop it from happening again? And How do I deal with wanting to set all my computers on fire?

I wouldn't be so upset except everything I've written or published in the past decade has a link to that site. Cause I thought having a personal domain was more stable then a blog.
posted by The Whelk to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like it probably expired in July? You get a 30 day grace period after expiration to renew, and then it's up for grabs by anyone who wants it.
posted by primethyme at 11:07 AM on October 10, 2015

Yeah, seems like it expired and got snagged. It is possible to purchase it back for 500 usd and I suspect that's the easiest and fastest way to get the domain back.

Sorry you have to go through this, The Whelk.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:21 AM on October 10, 2015

On the domain itself:
- It's a squatter. They own more than 15k domains. They have it listed as "for sale" on domain tools, so it's being actively offered.
- I'd expect about $5k, but it really depends on their strategy. I normally use an anonymous broker to buy and sell domains however.
- If you expired, there's no real recourse besides buying it back
- The more desperate you look, the faster you want it, the higher the price.
- The good news is that there's no Alexa data on it.
- However, and this sucks, all the traffic you're getting from Twitter and Metafilter is actually making the price go up. You may want to email a mod to remove the reference. Every hit gives them a sense that it's valuable to you.
- The longer they sit on it without another offer, the cheaper you'll get off because the traffic will slow down, they won't get additional offers, etc.

My plan if I were you would be to do an alternate bomb for SEO -- set up a new website with the copy "formerly" and have your name all over it. Set up a LinkedIn, etc. and include a link to that new site. Basically, redirect the traffic if people look for you through search.

At the same time, try to buy it back. Offer some money, go back and forth on it -- these kinds of things are the worst of scammy haggling, so don't put your best offer first, etc.

This sucks and I'm sorry.

With your next domain, transfer lock and autorenew attached to a credit card.
posted by Gucky at 11:23 AM on October 10, 2015 [7 favorites]

Also, to prevent this from happening in the future, make sure that the email address you've provided to your domain registrar is up to date so that you get their domain expiration emails.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:27 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm ...not paying anything out of spite at this point so the SEO bombing seems like a fair idea.
posted by The Whelk at 11:29 AM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you need to recreate, you can grab much of your content from the Wayback machine - recent months show nothing; July 15 shows inner pages but not the front page - the most recent full grab looks like February 20.

Good luck, this sucks. It is a nightmare I have about my client sites.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:47 AM on October 10, 2015

Is your hosting account with Hosting Direct in good stead and has continuously been so? Because if so, the files and content of your site are still there, you just need a new domain name. In theory it should be a matter of buying a new domain name and pointing it at the hosting account. Then going about the spot on advice above vis-a-vis the google bombing.

If not, then unfortunately you'll have to rebuild from a backup if you have one, or scrape as much as you can off the way back machine.
posted by romakimmy at 12:07 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I think I'm out of the woods with a new domain

posted by The Whelk at 1:01 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Don't forget to update the link on your profile page!
posted by Rhaomi at 1:26 PM on October 10, 2015

Also, get a free DomainTools account and set up a whois watch for the old domain. It's my experience that squatters won't hold on to a domain for more than a couple of years - especially if nobody is bidding on it, so don't make any offers!

The DomainTools whois watch will alert you any time the domain name information changes, so you can just wait it out and snipe it back when they let it lapse.
posted by tomierna at 6:04 AM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, be aggressive about domain renewals. For many TLD's, you can pay for up to ten years in advance. Do so, and then pay yearly, and you've suddenly got a nine year grace period if you get forgetful or don't get the renewal notice or whatever.
posted by jgreco at 4:48 PM on October 11, 2015

Response by poster: I live, i die, I live again
posted by The Whelk at 8:06 PM on October 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Even Google lost their domain name for a quick minute recently.
posted by Sir Rinse at 7:40 AM on October 12, 2015

Ugh. Stahp. Google didn't lose their domain name. Their brand new domain tool for selling domains was broken. (Sorry. This news cycle non-story is so inaccurate it drives me crazy.)
posted by Gucky at 8:01 PM on October 17, 2015

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