First, if you don’t know what WHOIS is, then you should read the WHOIS article on wikipedia. For those who can’t be bothered to read pages about it, WHOIS is a protocol to query domain info. The info it brings includes domain owner email address, postal adress, telephone number and other numerous info. That being said, WHOIS is actually a good thing. It is useful if you need to know the owner of a website. It also prevents spam… In a sense.
Now you might be asking one thing. What if I do not want everyone on the net to know my email address, postal address and telephone number? Rest assured, there is a solution for that. There is something called private domain at GoDaddy. What is does is dead simple. It masks your WHOIS information. Your info is masked by something like “Go Daddy customer”. This is all very bright, but the thing is it costs $25 a year.
Naturally, that is too expensive for some. So, they just put fake info in their WHOIS. You may think this is intelligent. I thought too but then I said why, why oh why would GoDaddy have a plan specifically for that costing 3 times more than the domain itself. The answer is shocking. Having a faulty WHOIS is against the rules set by ICANN (For your information, ICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Read more about ICANN on wikipedia) and these rules have severe penalties. It sounds crazy, but there have been cases where domain names have been cancelled. I read this post by Randy Cassingham lately, and it made me realize the importance of having an accurate WHOIS if you choose not to mask your info. I’d advise you to bookmark the post, because this is a complete must read. If you want a resume, Randy had all of his sites taken offline because he did not fill in all the info on the domain WHOIS. Among was “This is true” website (online since 1994).
So now you see how important it is to have an accurate WHOIS. There is also another article I read recently called “GoDaddy Makes Reporting Invalid Whois Easy“. This article is completely crazy. Just read the following excerpt and tell me if its not.
The party who had the domain backordered had met the owner of the domain previously and had found out that the email was invalid and that the owner was going to be out of town for a couple of weeks. So, they placed a back order and sent a complaint that the email was invalid to GoDaddy. GoDaddy then sent an email AND called the phone number they had on file for the owner where they left him a voicemail. When he did not respond in 10 days, per ICANN rules and regulations they were required to delete the account.
When the account became available, the person who had placed the backorder received the domain.
Upon the original owner’s return from his trip, he received the voicemail and contacted GoDaddy who advised him to contact the other party to see if they would release the domain back, which the new owner did not agree to do.
I cannot stop from asking myself if all this is not a way for GoDaddy to make some extra profit. This article about GoDaddy charging $9.95 for cheking onto reported WHOIS makes it more obvious that serious money can be had by playing with the ICANN laws. I conclude by saying; clean your WHOIS or get a private domain plan. And I’ll add, read the rules and regulations for once. Because your domain is the only contact point between you and your customers. 10 bucks for that for one year is dirt cheap and the domain registrars know you won’t mind paying more for it…