I've been had. One way or another, I feel like the system - and my own lack of knowledge - bamboozled me. And I'll be honest with you. I'm not thrilled about it. I had a good cry in front of the kids tonite. Not proud of it. But it happened.
Here's the story:
In October while we were in Hawaii, I tried to log onto my blog to post pictures for folks back home. When I clicked on my link to 6byHisDesign, I came to a friendly page that said, "This webpage has been parked." Hmmmm. Curious. I dropped it for the remainder of the week, knowing I'd purchased my domain name in October last year, so figuring I'd need to renew it when we came home.
We came home. I didn't have my customer number or PIN number for GoDaddy, my registering company, so I got on their website and emailed customer support. Customer support sent me to Google registry. I began a lengthy conversation with TimF of incident report #00831619. Unfortunately, I was outside the 3 day automatic renewal window, but fortunately I was well within the 15 day grace period. Our conversations ended with my blog being back up and my registration being renewed. Tim said:
I can confirm that your domain has been renewed till next year. However, your billing for this domain is no longer handled through Google. You are still registered with GoDaddy as your host. Can you confirm if you have contacted them directly for assistance with this? Have you previously transfered your domain to another host?
I emailed back that I hadn't but that everything looked to be in order. My blog was working. That was November 5th. In retrospect, I can see how the "I can confirm it's been renewed" is a little fishy. But it didn't smell quite as foul at the time as it does now...
Occasionally over the course of the month of November, friends would call or email to tell me they couldn't find my blog. So I'd tell them to renew the address in their browsers, because this seemed to work. Until last week. My aunt told me she couldn't get to the blog no matter what she did. So I came home from Thanksgiving and tried clicking on my link myself. Blog parked.
I quickly typed an email to Tim. I sent an email to GoDaddy. I Facebook Messaged the gal whose blogpost titled Why You Should Own Your Domain Name convinced me last year upon reading it that I should own my domain name. I sent these emails on Monday. Tim has not responded. I called GoDaddy. The gal walked me through a WhoIs search. She recommended I buy the (dot)net version of my name. And oh goody, I can pay them to put me on a waiting list to buy my old name back next year. If FUDogInc lets it expire. In the meantime, a 'blogpost' about a poker event in Vegas has been written up on my old website. Do me a favor - don't click on it to see. I've been doing my research. And I must admit, visited the site myself. I don't wholly understand all of this, but speculators (yeah - they have a name for these guys) get paid by the click. And this particular one states in his privacy settings that he's reading your cookies while you're reading his poorly written prose about some altruistic charity poker match gone wrong.
So, here's what I've learned about buying your own domain ~ because every moment is a teachable moment, right?
- Keep your customer information
- Renew two months before the deadline - or pay for more than one year at a time
If you fail to do this, your domain name will be bought up by speculators who do just that - buy up expired web names - usually in an effort to make money (sometimes they do it because they love the name and have been waiting to get it for themselves. Less likely, I think.) They make their money either by selling it back to you for loads more than it cost to renew it, or by capitalizing on the clicks of your readership.
Wanna know what I find strange, though? I never received renewal notices. I checked both email addresses we keep. And the SPAM folders. AND, no one has contacted me to buy it. Seriously ~ does 6byHisDesign scream poker tourney to you?
It makes me sick, really. I mean, I have all those adorable mommy cards with my web address on them, after all. Nah ~ what makes me really sick is that 6byHisDesign was created by Me. I thought of it. I wrote about it. And for one year, I owned the rights to it. But now, it's no longer mine. And I think that stinks.
So there you go. That's me venting.