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Does GoDaddy register domains you search?
39 points by alexjawad on March 15, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 29 comments

Some time ago, I did a few tests on GoDaddy on available domain names and after some creative options, I came up with one that I liked.

I then compared the name with some other options against my targeted market and it turned out really popular. During the survey period, I checked the name a couple of times on GoDaddy to make sure it's still available. So when I today go to purchase the domain, hear hear, it is already taken. And WHOIS it if not GoDaddy owned company Domain's By Proxy?

Is this just a coincindence?

This is why I always use the command line 'whois' tool to look for domain names. I don't trust the registrars.

Interesting, I actually posted this to someone 9 days ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2292453

Here was my comment:

I'm not sure who doesn't do it. I just try to go to the domain and see if there is any server side activity (error page, holding page, etc).

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_tasting

"By February 2007, the CEO of Go Daddy reported that of 55.1 million domain names registered, 51.5 million were canceled and refunded just before the 5 day grace period expired and only 3.6 million domain names were actually kept."

"In January 2008, Network Solutions was publicly accused of this practice when the company began reserving all domain names searched on their website for five days,[7] a practice known as domain name front running."

Does this mean you could feasibly write a script that searches for a specific domain on networksolutions every 5 days to hold onto it until you want to buy?

As I just posted elsewhere in this thread -- the "go to the domain" idea is also flawed, in that ISPs sell that information to would-be domain squatters as well.

It's perhaps slower than losing it to a registrar, but it's no safer.

What is the safe way? I genuinely am interested so I know how to proceed in the future.

I've NEVER had a domain snagged from me by going directly to the domain (even when I wound up registering it a week or two later). I've had a domain taken from me multiple times by the domain registration sites... sometimes within a few hours.

I'm not saying that all registrars or evil, or that all ISPs are; but not knowing which to trust, I go with the one organization that has decried the practice as evil and sworn never to do it -- whois.sc.

I'm sure there are other ethical registrars / ISPs as well, I just don't know of any.

If the domain is for sale, visiting the page will bump its value.

You should just query the WHOIS database. At least, that's what I do.

The process of front running or domain tasting 'should' be a thing of the past. Last year or perhaps 2009 ICANN imposed strict fees on any registrar that pulled more than 10% of their monthly registrations in the first 5 days. Obviously this only counts for ICANN TLDs and not ccTLDs.

So... When you register a domain the registrar has to pay the registry com/net/org etc immediately. The registry will return the registration fees for any domains that are canceled. However if a registrar has >10% or their total monthly registrations cancelled within the 5 day grace, they do not get that money back.

This has essentially ended these practices.


Full Disclosure: I used to work for a registry.

Yes, but it doesn't stop with registrars. Certain large ISPs front run on domains that don't exist by recording domain names that don't resolve or exist, then trial register them while sending you to their 404 link bait landing page. We only go to the registrar when we want to buy, otherwise its whois in the terminal.

For interesting results, whois google.com

It is a coincidence. When I registered 1every.com, it was about 4 months between when I came up with the name and when I finally registered it. I looked the domain up at least a dozen times from several different computers and the domain was still available when I went to get it. There is a very important lesson here though. Now whenever I have an idea for a domain and it turns out to be available, I register it immediately. Worst case scenario is I lock up $10 until I can find a buyer for the domain and best case is I have the domain I want when I'm ready to use it. Also, domains by proxy is the company godaddy uses for private registration. My domain is registered under them if you who.is it.

If I remember correctly, Network Solutions does this as well.

Edit: Apparently there's a name for this practice. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_name_front_running

Thanks for the link!

Since a huge chunk of the identity of businesses is their homepage, coming up with a great name (or several, so you can test them) that also has an available .com-address is probably the biggest headache in branding in my opinion.

Shouldn't this be controlled better? Shouldn't it even be illegal?


There's no way for me to tell if it is truly a coincidence or not (especially without knowing the domain name), but I do want to let you know that Go Daddy absolutely does not participate in what is known as "domain front running". We have reviewed the domain name search system we have in place and are confident it is extremely secure. In other words, though there are potential explanations for what you experienced (including plain old coincidence), it is not the result of Go Daddy monitoring a domain search and registering the name before you could.

We encourage you and any other user to search for domains using our domain name search and/or WHOIS search system, and we would recommend NOT "searching" for a domain by simply typing it into your browser to see if a site resolves. In addition, you should maintain up-to-date protection on your computer to prevent malware/spyware that may infect it. And finally, we concur with others in this thread - as soon as you know you want a domain, register it immediately to avoid the possibility of someone else grabbing it first.

If you have other questions about our services, please feel free to contact GoDaddy.com Customer Support. They are available 24/7/365; contact info is here: http://x.co/Tz4q

As always, thank you for choosing GoDaddy.com.

Alon GoDaddy.com Social Media

A test along the lines of the one conducted by Google against Bing would reveal the correct situation. Essentially 'seed' the registrar with some crazy domains that no-one would want (google did this with unique searches) and wait. This would be particularly effective against less popular domains which gain less interest to begin with.

If you see any of these zero value domains get registered you have your answer, or at least a very high confidence in your initial assumption.

I think this is a coincidence. It would be quite an unethical service to let users search for possible domains and then steal them before we have a chance to register them because they identified it as being valuable.

That's not to say they don't register and own their own, but using your entries as a gauge to see if they want to register something is pretty unethical for a registrar I'd think, even for godaddy :).

I think it is not a coincidence. I have experienced this a few times with other providers.

On a related note, in addition to this domain name front running, who can I turn to, if I want to purchase a domain name anonymously (so my public info isn't obvious).

Something called a 'Private Registration' is offered by most domain registrars. It'll cost you a few extra $, but you will get total privacy in terms of Whois.


This actually happened to me, and the domain name was registered within the hour I searched it up. I definitely believe this happens, which is why I will immediately purchase a domain name I like. I won't take any chances.

In that case, it's outrageous! What provider should one use to securely search for available domain names?

whois.sc is the registrar that initially pointed out the 'domain name front running' practice to me, and advertises that they find it deplorable, and definitely don't do it.

I generally use them when I'm trying to iron down what domain I actually want, and don't hit a registrar until I've got credit card in hand, and am ready to buy.

According to the article they posted, ISPs also sell reports of popular mis-typed domains to would-be squatters as well. So in addition to avoiding most registrars, you should also avoid the popular urge of 'just type the url into your address bar' method of seeing if a domain is taken.

Here is the 'mothership' - I guess your searches should be as secure as they can be:


[From site footer:

InterNIC is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It is licensed to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which operates this web site.]

I use whois from a command prompt. Most of my registrations are done through enom. I avoid GoDaddy at all costs.

Whatever WHOIS server your network resolves is not necessarily on the up and up either.

That's good advice. Thanks very much!

I had an experience with the same. In frustration, I even mailed the guy who purchased it.

I've heard of that happening, and a quick Google search pulls up many reports of it.

This is insane and a not widely known fact, this question should be upvoted.

Whoa!! I had the same experience and I too felt that "what if some one is registering the domain we are searching for availability?" They are doing something like patent Trolling. when I wanted to register one with ".me" all names I was looking for are blocked for auction.why the hell they have to do auction, it should be FCFS.

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