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Is it a known practice of domain name registrars (in this case, godaddy) to buy a domain name very shortly after someone searches for the availability of that domain name?

I was searching for the availability of a domain name on whois.com, and seeing it was not available, I checked the whois info for that domain. Turns out it's owned by godaddy.com, but was created just a few months ago, right around the time I had previously searched for it and found it to be available. Should have snapped it then!

Is this just a fluke or is this a known practice?

If I was a domain name registrar, that's probably what I would do, i.e. monitor interest for available domain name from people's searches, and buy those available domains when a certain threshold has been met.

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This is called domain name front running. Apparently it is not illegal although certainly a questionable practice.

  • The problem with this is that domain tasting went by way of the do do very quickly. The practice only lasted a couple of/few years and ended after a ton of complaints. As well, the top registrars stayed away from this practice, though they did share some information publicly. What was common was using a tool to see what keywords were searched for in search engines and then using the tool to bulk register the most likely domain names to have value using algorithms within the code. It was a tool that did the dirty deed using search engine data not necessarily a human. – closetnoc Jun 1 '15 at 2:24
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Think about it. What good would it do them?? None.

Network Solutions 15 or so years ago used to share in real-time any search with domain monetizers and caught holy-hell for it. Hence why GoDaddy became such a success so fast. NetSol was charging nearly $50 a domain name and sharing searches and selling domain names for very little to those who will bulk buy.

The top quality registrars do not do this, but 3rd party whois sites might- but not likely since they want you to buy through them. They make a small mint off you buying through their site. Why would anyone ruin that??

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    The do benefit from this. They expect you to pay them a small sum to be able to use it. A couple of hundred $, for example. I can confirm that GoDaddy has in fact done this to me when a domain I had registered, expired. GoDaddy is not a "top quality registrar". They are basically dirtbags. – Octopus Jun 1 '15 at 20:05
  • @Octopus Your situation is different from what the OP describes. In this case, GoDaddy does have the right to sell the domain after it has lapsed for whatever they can get. The 30 day grace period does cost them something. I know this business very well having been in the business before and a leader in the ISP industry very early on. – closetnoc Jun 1 '15 at 22:15
  • I'm sorry, but I did notice this exact pattern happening years ago. I would search to see if X.com was available (using a GoDaddy domain search tool) and days later it would be registered to GoDaddy.You are claiming they have nothing to gain, but if you want X.com badly enough, they are hoping you will pay them for it. It costs them next to nothing to do it. I have thought about "what good would it do them" and the answer is obviously more money. – Octopus Jun 1 '15 at 22:27
  • You are likely talking about domain tasting that did occur years ago. This was a mechanism that forced the domain registrars to place on-hold a domain name for 30 days while the viability of the domain was tested by a potential buyer. Domain monetizers would do this by the thousands every day and the registrars had to go along with the abuse. GoDaddy was not and has never been a speculator in the field. It is that plain and simple. You are working from anecdotal speculation and I am working on facts having owned similar businesses during that time and working as a leader in the industry. – closetnoc Jun 1 '15 at 22:35

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