What Can Happen When Adding 2 Names In WHOIS

Someone recently asked an interesting question: what if you add another name in a .com domain name’s WHOIS record?

The question wasn’t more specific, though I imagine that person is referring to the registrant of the domain name. But, why the registrant name?

Among the “parts” of a .com’s WHOIS record, the registrant is considered the legal owner of the domain name itself. Let’s have an example:

Domain name: JohnDoe dot com
Registrant:
John Doe
1234 ABCD Street
New York, NY 10019

I wrote before that the registrant name should be that of a living entity, whether it’s a person or an organization. More importantly, the registrant name must match exactly how that person or organization is spelled out in case verification is called for.

In the case of a person, the registrant should be – as much as possible – only that of one person. Very rarely have I seen something like this:

Domain name: JohnDoe dot com
Registrant:
John Doe and Jane Doe
1234 ABCD Street
New York, NY 10019

Notice the bolded part where Jane Doe is added? That domain name having 2 registrant names has no technical problems on the surface, but that sort of thing can create legal issues.

Namely, what if the two people above quarrel? They might fight over the domain name itself, especially if one of them has access and control of it.

So, John Doe might log into the domain name, change its WHOIS record, and shut out Jane Doe. Jane Doe tries to log in, sees she can’t, and even asks the registrar to intervene.

Generally, registrars don’t get involved in civil disputes involving a domain name. They’re not lawfully equipped to mediate quarrels between two people or a person and an organization, anyway.

In short, it’s not a good idea to put in more than one name in the registrant field. If the domain name is going to be “shared” by two people or more, it’s best to put it under some kind of legally-existing company or similar so that everyone has “equal sharing” of it.

It’s arguably fine to put an extra name in – say – the administrative contact, although it’s better to just put one name as well for consistency. As an alternative, you can input an IT-related job title such as Administrator or Domain Administrator in the administrative contact portion.

If more than one person “owns” the domain name, ensure that certain arrangements are made between you and the other person in case something happens. Overall it’s better to just put one name only in the .com domain name’s WHOIS, particularly under the registrant.

Feel free to share your thoughts below, or spread the word online about this. I’ll just be around.

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