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Name.com: Another Unscrupulous Registrar (nathanhammond.com)
95 points by nathanhammond on April 13, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 88 comments

Here's how to clean the ads from your domain.

Name.com's DNS editor won't let you remove the DNS record that serves the ads. You need to switch to a real DNS provider.

CloudFlare is a free DNS provider - generally people use it to hook up the CloudFlare security and auto-CDN system, but you just need it for DNS hosting.

1 Create an account and add your domain: www.cloudflare.com

2 Disable the orange cloud icons

3 Follow the steps that tell you to switch your name servers - that makes CloudFlare your DNS provider

4 Go to "Edit DNS Settings"

5 Find the "A * (some IP)" record, and remove it

That's it. No more parker ads. DNS and name server changes can take a while to propagate to the whole web so the change can take up to an hour to affect everyone.

Edit: this is the "*" record you need to remove: http://i.imgur.com/jc48t.png

Correct. I found if you have an A * record to an ip you control, and a plain X.TLD record it covers everything.

This policy is infuriating to say the least. I have sent them several emails about it and gotten various, "we don't care," responses. It's very hard for me to describe how enraged I was when I found out, even after finding a solution on my own.

If I could find a registrar that didn't treat me like crap I would switch instantly.

> If I could find a registrar that didn't treat me like crap I would switch instantly.

Namecheap has been excellent for the domains I've bought through it. I haven't yet had to talk to their customer service, but their management interface is simple and flexible enough that I haven't had to.

I have used Namecheap's customer service (my fault entirely) and it has been super excellent. They usually have a turnaround time of a few hours and are 24X7.

They also have a forum where you can request for specific features - a couple of months back I posted requesting for account management pages to be made HTTPS.. and now they are. Dunno if the post made a difference.

However, their branding is stupid: I cant get my clients to register their domains on anything called "cheap" - especially corporate ones. I suggest gandi.net in that case.

I believe the whole idea and argument is here, that you shouldn't have to go to this much effort simply to have full control over your domain.

It's like buying a brand new car but always having one seat occupied by someone the car manufacturer thinks needs a ride.

As an anecdotal counterpoint, I'm an extremely happy Name.com customer. I transfered several domains to them a year or so ago from GoDaddy. They support two-factor authentication, their interface is uncluttered, I pay them less money than I paid GoDaddy, and I haven't had a single issue. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a registrar.

That being said, I don't use them for DNS. If this is a feature of their nameservers, I do find it strange that they don't offer a way to opt out (other than using alternative nameservers).

This is what initially drew me to name.com, they seemed to have their act together. Unfortunately there just isn't a way to fully evaluate a situation without trying it first.

Just as I don't give GoDaddy business any longer due to their poor corporate ethics, I can't recommend name.com as a registrar because I must take into account the way in which they run the rest of their business. I will be ceasing my relationship with name.com as soon as reasonably possible.

I'm also a happy customer that doesn't use their nameservers.

Yeah, I'm in a similar camp. I like name, and I set my default nameservers to a hosted DNS service run by my friend.

Pretty lame of them to do though.

It's a simple case of the company lawyer(s) overdoing a CYA clause and standing by it. However, the company seems to have gladly taken your call to discuss it with you, and then consult their lawyers regarding the potential for a change. While you didn't get what you want, it seems like they were fairly considerate.

So, just change the nameservers after registration and move on. I understand if you disagree with their policy, but there is nothing forcing you to keep their nameservers beyond the 5 minutes it takes you to change them post-registration.

I have nothing bad to say about their support, and I hopefully made that clear in my original post. That doesn't, however, relieve them of their responsibility in my opinion to provide good services.

The problem I have is that it wasn't immediately apparent that I was serving ads on my domain because they weren't respecting the way in which DNS is supposed to work--basically typo-squatting me.

Disclaimer: I work for a web hosting company. They are NOT affiliated in any way with name.com

The problem is that you don't understand how domain parking works. If you want to just own a domain but don't want it to go anywhere yet, you need to make records for that. "Domain parking" is the shady practice of putting up a "palceholder" page filled with ads.

Also...you don't know what "NXDOMAIN" is / means. Here are the RFCs:

http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2308.txt -- " "NXDOMAIN" - an alternate expression for the "Name Error" RCODE as described in [RFC1035 Section 4.1.1] and the two terms are used interchangeably in this document."

http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1035.txt "RCODE Response code - this 4 bit field is set as part of responses. The values have the following interpretation:

                0               No error condition

                1               Format error - The name server was
                                unable to interpret the query.

                2               Server failure - The name server was
                                unable to process this query due to a
                                problem with the name server.

                3               Name Error - Meaningful only for
                                responses from an authoritative name
                                server, this code signifies that the
                                domain name referenced in the query does
                                not exist."
That's right, NXDOMAIN = "domain name referenced in the query does not exist", which is FALSE in this situation, so why would their DNS server return that?

Name.com provides a FREE nameserver service which happens to have some strings attached. If you don't use their FREE DNS hosting service, those strings are NOT attached. I have been using name.com for years and have never had any problems. They don't do the same BS that places like Network Solutions do where they monitor what domains people are searching for an increase the prices based on that.

Seriously, learn what you're talking about before bashing a company publicly as much as this. I'm sure that a quick call or e-mail (also, who sends an e-mail requesting that a company call them? Protip: people in tech support HATE that...just ask your question in the e-mail) with a properly-worded question like "Yo, why does my domain name NOT return an 'nxdomain' code when I query your nameserver?" would have resulted in a clear and concise answer from them.

Is it BS that ads are put on parked domains? Sure, but then again, YOU DON'T HAVE TO PARK A DOMAIN.

From the article

"at a non-existent subdomain of Typewire's site"

Surely a non-existent subdomain should return a Name Error?

Unless you explicitly asked for a wildcard subdomain (which I realize the T&Cs _say_ you did, even though you never intended too), then I'd expect ww.realdomain.com and qqq.realdomain.com to return NXDOMAIN.

(and I agree with the post, adding a wildcard domain and putting ads on the parked pages is nasty, insisting it's a core part of your business model when called on it is evil, trying to then claim I'm somehow responsible for the ad content on this pages is beyond stupid! I'd certainly never use a registrar that chose to do that to me.)

i'm confused. I use name.com free DNS. I didn't park anything and thought I was doing everything right.

  adsfkjhasfasdf.dustingetz.com <--- name.com content
I expected it to time out. Name.com shows no * record, but cloudflare showed me this (I think it rotates through a few IPs). I guess I'd have to move off the free DNS to remove the * record.

  A record *	points to

No. Their policy is completely indefensible. They control what goes on the typosquatted page, but you're responsible for its content? Absurd.

Would such a thing hold up in court?

I agree. There is likely no legal precedent. Someone or a consumer rights group with have to take a registar/hoster to court to litigate the actual language and what the related rights are.

Until then they can and will insert arbitrary rules to their advantage... as they should? Maybe, I dunno, depends on whose ethics you're living by.

I've used name.com for many years and have always been satisfied with their service. The advertising the author is complaining about only shows up if you do not configure the DNS records or name servers after buying the domain. Usually I spend 30 seconds setting this up as soon as I buy the domain, so the advertising doesn't even cross my mind.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought this practice was pretty standard across the industry. The "unscrupulous" registrar tactics that I'm more concerned about are registrars that take domains when they sense demand (such as from searching or whois lookups) and hold it from you until you pay a premium. I've never had this issue with name.com and have found it very easy to transfer domains with them as well.

I configured the DNS immediately. However, one thing I'm not willing to do is set up a wildcard A record for my hosted zone when the request should be returning an nxdomain instead. There is no way in name.com's setting to enable that.

On an ethical level this is closer to typo-squatting, something that there are rules against.

Not that it addresses your complaint, but a wildcard CNAME will also work.

> One thing I'm not willing to do is set up a wildcard A record

Why not? I'm being earnest here, I'm a name.com customer and I do have such a wildcard record. Are you building a network service that relies on nonexistent subdomains being resolved at the DNS level (rather than a 404 page or a redirect to a subdomain that does exist)? Or is it more of a philosophical thing?

1. I don't want to provide multiple entry points. As an intentionally vulgar example, http://f***you.example.com would resolve if using a wildcard address. That is unacceptable.

2. I'm in the process of setting up a self-assembling system that will need to be environment aware (public, staging, dev). If I redirect everything to a single A record I actually have to perform logic on my end. A failed request will instead mean to simply move to the next in the list. (Or that is how I am scheming for it to work anyway, not being built yet I don't know how it will turn out.)

For most people the solution is very simple. Use a rewrite rule in your web server config. In nginx:

  if ($host !~  "^(example.com|beta.example.com|valid.example)$") {
      rewrite  ^/(.*)$  http://example.com/$1  permanent;





This is good practice in any case, so that you're always serving up the canonical URL.

I would much rather http://fuckshit.example.com/ end up at a browser error page instead of being redirected to my site. This prevents the clever person who decides to link to me with http://fuckshit.example.com/ as the URL. (And I use mod_rewrite for naked domain to www redirect, so I'm familiar with this.)

Actually, this isn't just if you don't setup DNS records for your domain name. If you configure some subdomains with name.com, then all other subdomains for that domain go to a parked page.

For example, my wife's website is jesleephotos.com. The subdomains store and www (along with some others that I don't wish to advertise :) go to the correct destination. The subdomain stuff, x, random, mail, etc all go to parked domain.

I might end up adding an A record for *.jesleephotos.com as a catchall and point it to some IP address I can get that will forward everything to www.

I do not run my own mail servers anymore, but I do run my own DNS servers. Being able to have full control over all the records my system responds with is very nice. Made setting up things like Jabber servers drastically easier, etc.

So, don't use name.com's name servers if you don't like what they are offering?

Yes, that's the logical conclusion. But purchasing a domain with the thought that dns hosting is included in the purchase price only to find out the the service doesn't work as it should, is valid a reason to be upset IMHO.

Setup the store/www server to accept any subdomain and then put your catchall A record in. Done.

Downvotes? For a suggestion that will save this person time and money since they seem to think they need more resources to redirect requests which is inferior and will length time from request to content anyway?

The voting on HN is just crap lately. This is third time in as many days that I've been downvoted for accurate technical information. I'm frankly growing weary of it.

I know that GoDaddy and Network Solutions both do the same thing or at least have in the past. I've never really given it much thought because I didn't figure the 20 or so ad impressions that a brand new domain was going to provide wasn't really worth much.

I'm far more bothered by the huge variance in pricing from one registrar to another for the same domain.

The nonstandard part seems to be that the owner of the site ends up being responsible for any of the ads that show up on the parked page. So if I were to register kidsexchange.com and forgot about I would be liable for any ads being shown there containing child pornography.

Have you tried Namecheap? I register all of my domains with them and they've always exceeded my expectations.

I second this, I have used namecheap for the past 5 years and have had no problems.

really happy namecheap customer here, have converted serveral friends and never had problems, live chat support and cheap prices always :)

I too am with Namecheap after getting totally disgusted by Godaddy's terrible interface. I'm very happy with it. Plus, I think Namecheap was actually cheaper than Godaddy for my .net, anyway.

I too am a GoDaddy refugee at Namecheap. Very happy so far - responsive support, half decent interface and no upselling.

But you do wonder about the name... given they're a domain name company you'd think they'd have a better one.

I've had several domains with Namecheap - never had any problems whatsoever with them, and as far as I know they don't have the lack-of-ethics baggage several of these other really questionable registrars seem to have.

I estimate I helped 50-some people to switch from GoDaddy to Namecheap after GoDaddy's last meltdown. I haven't heard any complaints, and they're all happy not to be doing business with the likes of GoDaddy any more.

This is disheartening to read because I have been using name.com for over year now and over, I had been happy. I did check one of my domains and found this issue, but since for most of my domains, I don't have DNS managed by the registrar, it doesn't affect me that much.

I guess I have to mull this over.

It is the predatory behavior that basically amounts typo-squatting a domain that I find most repulsive. I'm completely technically capable and yet I was serving ads on my domain without being aware of it because they aren't respecting the way in which DNS is supposed to work.

Basically, you were using another aspect of their service without being aware of what that service was. Making assumptions isn't smart, no matter what company is involved.

Personally, I rank using a registrars DNS beside using a registrars hosting service: it's common sense that you don't do it. I mean, do you really feel sympathy for people who stick with GoDaddy's hosting service?

As with everything, you have to learn the hard way the first time. The difference though is that no other registrar I've used (6 of them) has used such an aggressive tactic that breaks DNS for monetization purposes. Typically you change the default A record and you're rid of their parked page for good.

The conclusion of my post was that one should not use name.com for DNS at all, and, if you have any ethical concerns with their aggressive monetization strategy (which I do) to not use them as a registrar, either.

Who do you use? I'd like to switch.

I have very good experiences with both namecheap and gandi... Gandi is by far my favorite but they are a bit pricy...

"breaks DNS for monetization purposes" It's not their DNS that is broken, it's your understanding of how nameservers work. Also, failure to read terms and conditions doesn't make it their fault. It's kind of sketchy, yeah, but no one who is serious about a site / hosting should ever use registrar-provided DNS service when it's so easy to set up with your hosting company / by yourself.

For those of you looking for a good registrar.

My hands down favorite is Fabulous.com right now. Caveat is they cater to large portfolios and certain extensions (com/net/org/info). They don't screw you over on anything though. Even if your names expire and someone buys it through drop process, you get a cut of the sale. They don't keep any domains for themselves. Prices (for portfolio holders, retail side is as expensive as Netsol/register.com) are barely above cost.

Since Fabulous isn't available for most of you (unless you want to pay retail). I would recommend NameCheap.

Fabulous requires that your portfolio either makes $750 a month (with their parking services) or have at least 750 domains with them.

I have a personal goal of one day consolidating my domains with at Fabulous :) I'm getting there. In the short term I have my own private label registrar through Directi that isn't to shabby.

I think I'm paying around $8.50 USD per domain, with privacy included.

Bulk management is a bit of a pain - but that's what DomainManager is for :)

If you've got a few hundred I may be able to help you out in getting an account. Contact me from my profile.

I've been using iwantmyname.com and I have yet to have any issues. Sorry to hear about your troubles, Nathan. DNS hijacking is bad enough, but the fact that they claim you're the one who is liable for what they happen to put on their parked pages is completely unethical.

Am I the only one that uses DynDNS? Their service is excellent.

I use DynDNS for all my Registrar and DNS-related stuff; I couldn't be happier with them. Whenever I change a record, it populates hella-fast; and considering how wishy-washy I am about sticking with an email provider, it's very helpful.

I am, technically. A few years ago, I donated $20 to EveryDNS for an account that never expires. DynDNS bought EveryDNS last year and have so far honored that deal.

DynDNS is my go to DNS provider as well. They really are a great bunch.

From the looks of it their DNS hosting is $30 per domain (let me know if I am seeing that wrong). As just a small entrepreneur and someone working for a low hourly wage that is a lot of money, especially with the 14 domains I have.

I've heard good things about their service, and would love to try it, but unfortunately it is out of my reach.

I've been using DynDNS for years. I have nothing but good words.

Another vote for DynDNS. I'm a little surprised to not see them mentioned more - especially here, they're pretty "geek friendly".

I use name.com for quite a few domains. They have a very convenient way to do bulk changes, so you can, for example, select 50 domains at once, and tell name.com to change all of them to your name servers. They email you a few minutes later when they've done it. I always just change them to linode as soon as I buy a domain.

I don't begrudge them this income stream from people who buy domains but don't do anything with them for awhile. What's the harm?

> I don't begrudge them this income stream from people who buy domains but don't do anything with them for awhile. What's the harm?

There are 2 main issues I have with this:

1. It's not "unused domains" that get this treatment. It's any domain that uses their DNS. I had several active sites and was shocked to find that blahblahblah.mydomain.com pointed to one of their spam pages.

2. If you went to spammysubdomain.realcompany.com and found a spam page, who would you think was responsible for it, realcompany.com or realcompany.com's registrar? I'm guessing almost everyone would think that the company themselves did it. By name.com doing this for active domains, they risk damaging the domain holder's reputation, for anyone who happens to stumble on to one of the spammy subdomains.

The harm is that they're effectively typo-squatting my domain, as well as all the rest of their customers' domains which don't use wildcard A records. They're breaking DNS.

Typo-squatting is addressed by both the ACPA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anticybersquatting_Consumer_Pro...) and the UDRP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Domain-Name_Dispute-Res...).

And worse, you're held responsible for the content of that page.

And worse, you're held responsible for the content of that page.

I feel like you're not. When the subpoena is served, it will be to the owner of the IP with the content on it, not the owner of a random DNS entry that happens to resolve to that IP. Even if it does, I imagine the exchange going like this: "Your honor, I have no access to that server and can't control the content in any way." "Right, this is a waste of my time."

Contracts can say whatever they want. Whether or not they are actually enforceable is a whole 'nother ball game.

Why not just set your default nameservers, so that any domain you buy has the right nameservers automatically?

I've managed thousands of domains over dozens of countries. This is NOT standard practice and should never be accepted to be so. After using many, many registrars there are only a few to recommend..

- Namecheap (my favourite, all my domains are here, excellent customer service - the Zappos of domains - instant support, live chat 24/7, friendly/educated staff, and just a real pleasure to use)

- Domain Monster - UK/European based domains. Good services, good response times

- Europe Registry / Instra - used this commercially, more expensive, not the greatest of control panels, but more than likely you will be appointed an account manager (hence good for businesses) and pretty much have the largest database of domain extensions to register against. If you are interested in moving to them, I can also put you in touch with a very friendly chap who can help you make the move.

I hope this information helps - reply me up on @o6uoq if you'd like to chat about anything else :)

So, um, what's a good alternative to all of these?

My next registration will be with these guys: http://www.gandi.net/

I can't speak from experience but I've heard good things about them.

They're very good. I use them for several domains, and I have never had any issues with their service.

I have used them for years. No problems.

Two that I've liked: nearlyfreespeech.net (low cost and strong ethics) and gandi.net (more comprehensive).

I'm very satisfied with http://www.inwx.com/. They give you full control over the DNS entries, prices are good and their interface isn't cluttered.

And of course they don't do any of these shady things common with big-name US registrars - it's your domain, they just provide DNS and registration.


"I am now convinced that domain registration is the seedy underbelly of the entire Internet and only attracts companies with questionable ethics."

this is the market equilibrium, in any industry, for companies that compete on price.

I know I'm late to this thread, but I'm curious: how come actual entrepreneurs, people that get things done, do not set up a catch-all the Record Host "*.example.com" immediately after setting up their domains? I did that with mine (not worthy of being published), with Name.com, and had no domain parking ever.

By the way, to me the most incredible part is this widespread practice of domain parking by default and without sharing revenues, not the threatening legalese. Not much domain ownership there!

I sometimes use Bluehost for domain registration and they do the same thing. I don't really have a problem with it because I know that once a domain is registered, my work isn't done until I've pointed nameservers somewhere else or set up a site on Bluehost and changed the default.html.

For $10 a year, I don't mind doing this.

Having said that, I do agree that it's hard to find a good domain registrar that covers lots of TLD, has a good interface and runs an ethical business.

I agree that the situation is legally impossible: basically they are trying to hold you responsible for code they add and which you cannot touch. Won't keep up in court.

Secondly it does not look good for the site owner, as some have a few subdomains and users might make a typo. 3rdly, Godaddy and others also do this, but at least they 'share' any 'profit'.

Anyway, I just got my first few domains at name.com and just forwarded them to another domain. No spampages. Cheers

The best domain registrar of which I'm aware -- everyone I know who's used it has been happy with it -- is http://nearlyfreespeech.net/. I've also used DynDNS and been very happy with them; someone else mentioned them as well.

NFS doesn't make it obvious that they do domain registration -- you have to click through to "services" to see it.

Ive been using http://Dynadot.com Its run by developers. They are awesome. Make it really easy to manage your domains and get new ones. Give it a shot - youre bound to love it. (no i do not work for them)

TLDR; name.com will insert a page under your domain, against your will, that may or may not have illegal material on it. If it does, YOU ARE LIABLE! Fucking ridiculous.

Wouldn't creating a wildcard subdomain prevent it from hitting one of their parked pages?

Why is there no one on HN that runs a registrar? Seems like there could be room for a startup here that could compete on pricing and offer some unique services.

Judging by the information on the ICANN and Verisign sites, there are quite steep financial requirements to fulfill and paperwork to submit to become an accredited registrar.

Number one favorite registrar and DNS host of all: DNSimple.

No upselling, no adverts at all.


Account sharing so multiple users can manage domains.

There's a Ruby gem so you can register from the command line.

They also have an iPhone app.


(disclosure: that's a referral URL that gives me and the person who uses it a free month of service, but I do love DNSimple)

Moniker.com -- simply the best, no jokes.

I am in process of determining which registrar to choose for some startups I am setting up..HN users thoughts on past registrars that you have used?

When I was searching for a registrar I consulted several HN threads and settled on namecheap.com. It has been great and I would definitely recommend it, as have a few others in this thread.

Name.com is actually an excellent registrar, and I highly recommend them for that. They provide other services, like DNS and hosting which I can't comment on. However, as a Registrar, I've had no issues for the years I've used them.

Considering you can easily change the default nameserver settings, I don't see how this is an issue. Really, your just trying to imagine problems. Maybe you'd be so kind as to direct our attention to when this specific issue has caused problems for Name.com customers in the past?

A ton of domains have been brought to UDRP for showing parking ads. Some domains might have been legal except the ads infringed on someone else's IP. Imagine owning apple.com for your apple store but apple computer ads started appearing contextually. You're screwed through no fault of your own.

At least with domain parking companies, you get the profit, name.com is plain old screwing you over.

Care to share some of these domains then? A link would be helpful.

"The Panel also believes that in using the disputed domain names to redirect Internet users to websites that host links to external websites, including websites of Complainant’s competitors, the Respondent has registered and used the domain names in bad faith"


There is a starting point.

The argument here is that this was intentional, not unintentional. Nothing in here leads me to believe that someone claimed the domains and just happened to leave them dormant on a registrar. Rather, they setup the domains with the expressed intent to redirect internet users.

This is not what is being argued against Names.

You say it's a starting point. Considering it has no relation whatsoever, I fail to see where it can lead. My searching has turned up nothing. Until someone presents otherwise, I consider this entire argument and article FUD.

I personally don't care what kind of crappy parking pages they put up. When I register a domain, I immediately point it at either dreamhost, ec2, or heroku, depending on my fuzzy ideas about what it will one day become. I'd rather type-in-traffic see an error page than a tacky parking page.

I'll stick with Name.com for all my non-COM/ORG/NET tld's.

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