GoDaddy sold my domain out from under me

jkOTR comYou may have been wondering why a business web site loads lately when you go to jkontherun.com. I sure was, and after a lengthy investigation it turns out I no longer own the domain.

This discovery was a kick in the head, and the reason for it even more so. Before I detail what happened some background is necessary.

The original jkontherun.com site and domain went to GigaOM in 2008 when the firm bought this blog. I figured it was lost forever when GigaOM folded jkontherun into its web site and jkOTR disappeared years ago.

That turned out not to be so as the new owners of GigaOM allowed me to buy back jkOTR from them. This included the name, branding, and domain. In short order this site was mine again and back in order.

So where is it now? Turns out some folks make an effort to get hold of existing domains, solely to capture their web traffic.

Back in May GoDaddy informed me that the jkontherun.com domain was expiring and would go away if I didn’t do something about it. I did and clicking a button in the GoDaddy warning email I paid to extend the domain registration.

At lease that was the plan, I would soon discover was a (non)comedy of errors. It seems GoDaddy mistakenly applied my renewal payment only to jkontherun.org, .net, and .info. Unbeknownst to me, the jkontherun.com domain was not touched. Instead it was allowed to expire and go to auction.

What I didn’t know was that GoDaddy customers can pay to have a domain that is unavailable “back ordered”. When the domain becomes available, which jkontherun.com did due to GoDaddy’s admitted mishandling, the GoDaddy customer with the back order is notified, by GoDaddy, who then turns the domain over to them once they pay the fees.

So, GoDaddy screwed up and allowed my domain to expire even though I’d paid it to renew it, notified its other customer that my domain was available, and “sold” it to them. It was mine one moment and someone else’s the next.

It’s apparent the new owner is looking to either capture my web traffic or to get me to pay big bucks to buy the domain back. At least that’s how it appears as the new owner is not using the jkontherun.com domain, rather simply forwarding incoming traffic to a business web site.

It took over an hour on the phone with GoDaddy to figure all of this out and determine this is what happened. After many attempts to resolve itself of blame the rep admitted off the record that their system  had a “mishap” in my case and my domain is gone.

One of the most vital functions a host can do for your domain is to protect it from expiring like this. That means in addition to services offered to protect you, at the very least apply payments to the proper goal. Think about it (GoDaddy didn’t): why would a customer pay to extend registration of .NET, .ORG, and .INFO domains while leaving the all-important .COM to expire?

Based on the situation, the best logical way forward short of dropping the JKONTHERUN name is to move it to the .NET address. This was easy to do as GoDaddy hosts my WordPress account and all I had to do was point it to the .NET address, which I did late last night.

I hope the person who grabbed the domain is wondering where the traffic went. I hope the new site that my old site is forwarding to gets hacked. Yes I do.

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