A couple of months ago, after a bit of research, I took the plunge and tried name.com, a registrar I hadn’t previously used, for the startup I’m cofounding: Typewire. My domains have lived at many different places throughout the years but so far the only place I’ve been relatively happy with them is at DreamHost–and they give me five free registrations a year in consideration for that opinion. Thinking about that for a second, I’m approaching a cumulative 50 years of domain registrations and I have yet to find a company I am completely happy working with.
One wouldn’t think it to be so difficult to stand out in the registrar world when your competitors hijack DNS, kill elephants, objectify women, cave to government pressure, or are component pieces of content farms; but that is apparently not the case. Instead each one seems to be trying to top the rest with ever-worse transgressions. I am now convinced that domain registration is the seedy underbelly of the entire Internet and only attracts companies with questionable ethics.
So back to the topic at hand, what transgressions has name.com committed that would spark my writing on this topic? Last night I accidentally ended up at a non-existent subdomain of Typewire’s site and was greeted by an ad page served from name.com servers. “WHOA, WTF!?” is what my immediate (and since deleted) tweet started with. Knowing that it should instead be responding with an nxdomain I quickly logged in to their interface to see if there was some setting that had been mistakenly set. Other than a few references to domains defaulting to parked pages, there was nothing I could find regarding it. Trying to give name.com the benefit of the doubt, I presumed that maybe some (mis-)configuration of their nameservers had led to this occurring and resolved to write them an email.
And that is when I took a look at their Registration Agreement. The gem from that is in Section 19, Parked Domain Service:
All domain names registered via Name.com will automatically be provided a Parked Domain Service. All domains will default to our name servers unless and until you modify your default settings. At any time, you may disable the placeholder page by updating, modifying or otherwise changing the name servers for the relevant domain name.
Domain names using our Parked Domain Service may display a placeholder page for your future website. These placeholder pages may include contextual and/or other advertisements for products or services. Name.com will collect and retain any and all revenue acquired from these advertisements, and you will have no right to any information or funds generated via the Parked Domain Service.
You agree that we may display our logo and links to our website(s) on pages using the Parked Domain Service.
Name.com will make no effort to edit, control, monitor, or restrict the content displayed by the Parked Page Service. Any advertising displayed on your parked page may be based on the content of your domain name and may include advertisements of you and/or your competitors. It is your responsibility to ensure that all content placed on the parked page conforms to all local, state, federal, and international laws and regulations.
It is your obligation to ensure that no third party intellectual or proprietary rights are being violated or infringed due to the content placed on your parked page. Neither Name.com nor our advertising partners will be liable to you for any criminal or civil sanctions imposed as a direct or indirect result of the content or links (or the content of the websites to which the links resolve) displayed on your parked pages.
As further set forth above, you agree to indemnify and hold Name.com and its affiliated parties harmless for any harm or damages arising from your use of the Parked Domain Service.
Wait, what? You, name.com, by default, opt me in to a “service” which only benefits you, that I am responsible for policing, and could possibly result in my civil or criminal liability? Stupefied by this, I still managed to send an email that was cool and collected asking name.com to call me for a chat.
This afternoon I was called by a representative from name.com who was polite, cordial, and promised to look into what I now refer to as DNS hijacking and the registration agreement. During the conversation the representative briefly mentioned that name.com is a “startup company” and that their parked page service is what allows them to remain competitive. I vehemently disagree with that assessment because competition exists on more axes than just price. In any case, a short while later I received this email:
This is REDACTED with Name.com, we spoke earlier on the phone. I consulted with our legal department and at this time we are not able to make your requested changes to our Registration Agreement. The reason the wording is setup the way it is is because the links on the parking page are dynamically generated and Name.com cannot be held responsible for any links that may appear on the landing page.
It is because Name.com did not register the domain it cannot be held liable for any of the links generated on the Parking Page. That is why it is the owner of the domains responsibility to ensure that no third party intellectual or proprietary rights are being violated or infringed due to the content placed on your parked page.
In regards to the request in regards to your DNS records, at this time we will not be able to assist you with that request. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions. We are happy to help.
Which catches us up to now. I gave name.com an opportunity to correct a situation that I hoped would bother them as much as me without any negative press and they elected not to do so. In my book that makes name.com guilty of willful disregard for their customers. I recommend against using name.com as a registrar, and certainly can’t recommend using them for DNS resolution.
I’ve already moved Typewire’s DNS off of name.com and will, next year, move our registration to a more scrupulous registrar. I’m very seriously looking at Gandi.net with their trademarked “No Bullshit” slogan, hopefully they’ll support .io TLDs by then.
You can join the discussion on this post at Hacker News.