How can I contact an anonymous domain name holder?
December 7, 2007 9:24 PM   Subscribe

So I'm starting a business and someone has registered the domain name that would go perfectly with it, and then done nothing. It still has the " is coming soon to" page at the domain even though it has been registered for several months now. Now here's the tricky part: They use's private domain feature which means that all the whois information goes to domain discreet, a company which shortstops all your whois information for clients.

I know from personal experience that unless you call and check with them that your anonymized email address is working correctly there is a good chance that domain discreet is forwarding all queries sent to you straight to the circular file. So, how do I get in touch with the actual Registrant?

Now I know from reading the requests of sketchy people in the past that this might make me sound like a creepy stalker or particularly tenacious spammer, but I don't actually want to know who the registrant is, just get a message to them with some confidence that they will actually receive it. Anyone have any clever ideas? Google searches semantically coupled to the domain name to somehow reverse engineer out who the registrant's identity are not viable (I've tried them).
posted by frieze to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
There must be 100 questions like this in AskMe. If you contact the company that hosts the address, you can track down the register.
posted by parmanparman at 9:40 PM on December 7, 2007

What you're probably dealing with here is a domain speculator, someone who registers a large number of domains in hopes that someone like you will come along and pay a premium price for the rights. (Extreme cases of this are known as "cybersquatting".)

The odds are that your mail through the domain proxy will arrive -- but what you're going to find is that the quoted price will be high -- thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. That's because they register a LOT of domains speculatively, and only get the chance to sell a few percent of them, and have to make their money back plus a profit.

It would be far, far better for you to come up with a different clever name, one that's within your reach. Please seriously consider giving up on ".com" entirely; it's a mined out lode. Odds are that "" is available, and though NuNames will charge a somewhat higher price for it than the dot-com registrars, they won't outright ream you.

I've been using a ".nu" domain since 2001, and believe me it's really nice to not be in the dot-com free-fire zone.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:46 PM on December 7, 2007

You have tried emailing, right? Right?
posted by SlyBevel at 9:55 PM on December 7, 2007

A speculator would have placed a form on the site to receive bids, or left a generic email address as contact information in the DNS. I would check for the domain on domain resale sites like Sedo and GreatDomains, and if it's not there, contact the registrar to see if you can get an email through to the owner. You should also try to think of alternate domain names. Domains can be construed as less valuable today than they were in the past because people tend to find site through Google, rather than by directly typing in keywords, and, as more companies use weird, made up, or contrived domain names, people are more used to it and no longer expect a laundry business to be at '' or a food business to be at ''. In fact, in my opinion these generic words imply generic businesses and are poor choices for branding. Personally I would not go with a nonstandard top level domain, such as ".biz", ".info", ".nu", or ".cc". With the exception of ".tv" for video-related sites, or clever combinations like "" or "", these tend to be harder for people to remember, and convey the idea that owners wasn't creative enough to come up with a unique dot-com domain. I personally associate weird domains like that with small-time mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar businesses.
posted by lsemel at 10:33 PM on December 7, 2007

Seconding going through Domain Discreet.

Unless you're willing to pay a premium, don't contact them. Chances are they registered the domain for a year, so wait it out and be sure to snag it once it becomes available. I've actually purchased a domain name like this.

If you don't want to wait, think of a different name. You don't want to get anything other than a .com for a business for the simple fact that if you purchase, the guy who owns is going to get all the traffic and will control your branding.

Dot com is king.
posted by 913 at 2:11 AM on December 8, 2007

lsemel is off the mark with regard to generic domains. They are rarely used for branding today, instead for the type in traffic or direct navigation, which is what many, many people do.

Generic domains sell for hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. There are individuals/companies that have purchased generics such as and built a thriving business around it.

Either do everything you can to get the name you want or find another .com. 913 is spot on about .com version controlling your branding. It's one thing for you to have a personal site at and entirely different when you rely on a domain name for money. There's a reason why .nets got for about 10-20% of a .com in the aftermarket.

Feel free to contact me directly. I do this kind of stuff for a living. I'll help if I can.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:40 AM on December 8, 2007

Anecdotally, back in about 1996 I wanted to grab, which had been registered by some Larry Sterling guy in, I don't know, Kansas or Iowa, something like that. There was no site setup, not even a coming soon, so I sent him an email asking if he'd be willing to part with the address. No response. Over the next several years, I'd try him again every once in a while, to no avail. It turns out that Larry Sterling...of Sterling Jewelers...owns the Jared chain of jewelry stores, whose website finally launched in 2002. And here I'd been pestering the poor guy for years, when I only wanted it as a vanity site.

I guess all I'm saying is that several months is not all that long to give someone to get a site up and running, and that just because someone is apparently "sitting on" a domain name, it doesn't necessarily mean they're a domain squatter.
posted by JaredSeth at 9:20 AM on December 8, 2007

You're assuming that the lack of a website = "done nothing" with the domain. HTTP is not the only protocol on the internet. If the page is your only evidence that it'd be available for sale, don't get your hopes up.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:53 PM on December 8, 2007

Somebody who is ready and willing to part with an item for sale would be easy to contact.

Being hard to contact does not bode well for your cause, but hey, it's always worth a shot.
posted by dhartung at 10:20 PM on December 8, 2007

« Older There and Back Again: An RSS Tale Leopard Mail ->...   |   I'm gay -- but do I only like straight guys? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.