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Monday, October 15, 2007

GoDaddy Sinks the Inventors

This has never happened to me before. A few months back I designed a new site for a client called Meet the Inventors. The concept was to help inventors get funding for their inventions. Things were going well. The site had achieved top rankings for queries such has "invention backers" across all engines and was steadily climbing Google for "invention funding" which it had already achieved page 1 on MSN and page 2 on Yahoo. A number of clients had signed up and submitted their inventions.

Until one day when I just happened to check the site and got GoDaddy's default parked-domain page. What's going on?

This was a newly registered domain. It couldn't have expired already!

I tried to login to the account using the details my client had initially given me, but my login was rejected.

I contacted GoDaddy support. Their response was a cut & paste "this is how you set the nameserver details". I then pointed out that I knew how to do this, and had already done it months ago. The domain was now pointing back to them. Why? And why can't I login?

Their response to that was for me to prove I was the owner of the domain before they would give me any info. But I wasn't the owner. I was the webmaster.

Meanwhile, my client has apparently fallen off the face of the earth because I have been unable to contact him at all. I do hope he's ok.

So, why would this happen? If you read GoDaddy's terms & conditions, or any other major domain registrar for that matter, you'll see that they can reclaim your domain and do pretty much whatever they want with it, if you do anything they don't approve of, such as spamming.

Did my my client spam? Not a chance. He wouldn't know how to. A more likely possibility is a spammer has forged his domain (this is common practice for spammers, being the scumbags they are) and the recipient lodged a complaint with GoDaddy, who without further investigation reclaimed his domain. I can only speculate. There could well be more to the story. A copyright issue on one of the inventions perhaps? Who knows. The upshot is all my hard work was for nothing and a good site has gone down the tubes. A real shame.

The moral of the story? Always read the terms and conditions and choose your domain registrar carefully. Price isn't everything. GoDaddy may be innocent of any wrong-doing in this case, but I have heard of other similar instances of domains being lost. This was a fledgling small business, but what if it was a long established business with thousands of daily visitors and big profits? In one fell swoop that could all be taken away.

The funny part is, as I write this, the site is still #1 on Google for "invention backers" even though Google have indexed the GoDaddy page.

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