Recently I read someone alleging that domain registrar Go Daddy is engaging in what’s since labeled as domain front running. If you just came in, domain front running is referred to the practice of looking up someone’s domain search and registering that available domain name before s/he could.
Domain front running was a big problem years ago. Many customers search and find available domain names but didn’t register them on the spot, only to find them taken a day or two after.
Many customers believed the registrars they used to search those domain names were behind that event, to the point some registrars reported increased complaints over time even though (for the most part) they had nothing to do with that. Complaints grew enough that registrars finally complained and asked ICANN to do something about it, even giving some suggestions how.
ICANN since addressed that domain front running issue. While I don’t know (and I personally doubt) if domain front running is completely eliminated, I’ve seen far less complaints these past few years than when they were first reported.
Until now, that is. Recently that someone blogged about his experience, to the point – unsurprisingly – of accusing Go Daddy of front running.
Go Daddy eventually posted a response in their own blog. It’s only now I discovered they have a blog of their own other than that of their founder and ex-CEO Bob Parsons.
Go Daddy Vice-President of Product Development – Domains Richard Merdinger said, and I quote, “Go Daddy never has and never will front run domain names. Ever.” No doubt some people won’t believe that, but that’s what the Go Daddy blog author said anyway.
Mr. Merdinger eventually shared a few more details, some of which I’ll quote here as well:
So why would someone believe they experienced front running? Sheer volume. As the world’s largest registrar, the volume of domain name activity, both in terms of availability searches and registrations we see, is significant. Go Daddy performs tens of millions of availability checks for our customers each day, many of which are searches for the same domain name by different customers.
Personally, I’m not surprised with that. As the largest domain registrar in terms of having the most number of registrations, it’s to be expected that many people use their site for searching.
What I found more surprising is this:
In fact, more than six percent of customer searches for available domain names are performed by more than one person each day. This overlap in domain name requests happens every day. As unique as customers believe their domain name ideas are, there’s more “innovation collision” than many people realize. With so many domain name registrations happening every day, there is a good probability a domain name you searched for is also being searched by someone else.
I wish I can remember that article by another insider on the domain industry who shared a similar finding. I’ll link that article here if ever I find it again.
Mr. Merdinger also shared a snapshot of their logs showing date and time stamps on what customers searched for. Kinda too bad exact domain names aren’t shared, albeit I imagine that some people might then accuse Go Daddy of “invading their privacy” if ever.
So in unequivocal terms, Go Daddy says they don’t do front running. Period.
Now, you might notice I haven’t enclosed a link to the one who blogged about Go Daddy allegedly doing front running. That’s because it’s been a week since that person wrote that, but he still hasn’t provided specifics to help understand (or prove) his claims.
Some people who commented in his blog and in others have already asked him to at least post a screenshot of the domain name’s current WHOIS record, especially to see who’s the listed registrant. There’s a difference between a domain name registered by Go Daddy and one at Go Daddy, the former being the listed registrant and the latter being where it’s registered.
Alas, that person – Zen Savona – still hasn’t responded. I’m honestly hesitant to link to his blog post with his allegation, although you can still find it if you search online using his name.
It’s a simple thing to do, and I just don’t know why he just won’t reply with that kind of information. Sure it may make him look bad after and take some flak, but I think it’s rather unfair to make an allegation without something to back it up.
Anywho (instead of anyway in a light moment of jest), this thing will pass like all others. Moving forward, I urge you to be ready to register the domain name on the spot the moment you see it’s available.
While I understand the hesitation behind that, unfortunately someone else might register that available domain name soon after. Remember, domain registrars can’t guarantee availability will remain that way, so best to be ready there and then. (and I’m not with Go Daddy, by the way…)
Feel free to share your thoughts below, or spread the word online about this. I’ll just be around.