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Domain Names Forum

I smell a rat.
checked a domain one day, gone the next

 3:55 pm on Oct 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I checked several domain names at a very well known registrar. None were taken, nor were the other TLDs. They were pretty long yet KW rich domains. The very next day ALL of them were gone. It's almost like someone there is watching what is being searched by people and snatching them up. I just can't believe that 12/12 for three different industries were snatched up overnight after never being registered before. Arrrrg.

I can't buy them all up when I search because they need to be approved and there are budgets for each niche. Buying up all of them compresses the profit margins and forces me to raise prices.

[edited by: SEOMike at 4:03 pm (utc) on Oct. 12, 2007]



 4:44 pm on Oct 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've had this happen before. Could you sticky me the registrar. I want to check on a domain and would avoid the one you're talking about.

Did you check a whois to see who got them, and if it was all the same company?

Maybe it's time for a systematic study of this. I unfortunately don't have the time, but if someone wants to do this, we would love you.


 5:00 pm on Oct 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'll check the whois info when I get a chance. If I were smart enough to be detecting these good names being searched, I'd be smart enough to cover my tracks in the whois. I'll let you know if I find anything significant.


 5:09 pm on Oct 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is common knowledge if you do a domain name check there is and will be in the log files on this check, With domain sells being a Billion dollar business per year does this suprise you at all.

Lesson learned if you check it and it is open you better buy it now or it will be bought.

I suspected this couple years did a check on ------- sure enough next day bought..

I would suspect most all of them resell their files at some point and would not trust any register....


 5:15 pm on Oct 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

So what is a reliable way to tell if a domain is purchased, except by trying to purchase it?

I've done whois records, but just because a domain has no whois record, does that mean it's available?


 5:18 pm on Oct 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

checked a domain one day, gone the next

Check again in 5 days to see if the person that registered it is just domain tasting it.

I can't buy them all up when I search because they need to be approved and there are budgets for each niche.

If you buy a lot of domains you can buy/reserve/taste a domain with various services.

[edited by: Webwork at 5:40 pm (utc) on Oct. 13, 2007]
[edit reason] Per Charter we prefer to keep advice generic, versus specific company endorsements [/edit]


 7:39 pm on Oct 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

<Conumdrum extirpated>

The subject of log snooping has been beaten to death here in the past, with no conclusive evidence on either side.

I think the safest way to check domains is with nslookup. Do it on your own Linux system - not on an "nslookup" website. (There is at least one very nice commercial tool for Windows, and I presume free/open source ones as well.) Don't check at a registrar's site - especially a sleazy one.

By doing it this way, you minimize your risk. Somebody would have to have their paws in pretty deep in high places to snarf your inquiry. And they'd be basing any decision to taste on some pretty tenuous evidence - your inquiry wouldn't look any different from somebody just typing-in the name of a non-existent domain name into a browser. But DON'T just type it into a browser, because a negative might simply mean that there is no web site at the domain's base name - but it could still be registered.

By using a registrar's look-up function prior to registration, you are just begging them to look over your shoulder.

That said, I trust my registrar, use their look-up, and have never had any such problem. If you hang out in shadier places, better to use nslookup.

[edited by: Webwork at 5:57 pm (utc) on Oct. 13, 2007]
[edit reason] Urge to solve riddle? Argh. ;-P [/edit]


 7:45 pm on Oct 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the tips guys. I can't believe "reputable" companies would do this but the evidence sure suggests it. Nevermind, I can believe it. It's a valid income stream. Wish I could get on the "list." :)

I'll try doing all of my research by "tasting" them I guess.


 7:54 pm on Oct 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Examine the whois for various spam/parked/name-squatting domains and you'll find Moniker - it's taken them close to the top at a pretty quick pace...


 3:30 am on Oct 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wait for a few days. It will eventually drop.


 6:16 am on Oct 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Having had a similar experience in the past I now just type 'whois' at the command prompt (function provided by the jwhois package) and check that way.


 5:36 pm on Oct 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Having had a similar experience in the past I now just type 'whois' at the command prompt

Sorry, earlier I said I use 'nslookup'. Of course, I meant 'whois'.

Actually, I use a nice commercial whois GUI app that runs on Windows. Although I am trying to transition to Linux for as much as possible, sometimes there's a Windows app that's just too nice to ignore.


 5:55 pm on Oct 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Folks, although we've covered this issue in depth a number of times I don't mind revisiting it briefly so long as we remain artful in avoiding criticism of specific players and avoiding endorsements of specific solution providers.

Please limit advice about solution providers - WhoIs, tasting, etc. - to generalized guidance, such as listing the type of offerings one might look for when considering a solution provider.

Any version of "You should do business with CompanyX" posts are not the way to go. At least not anywhere in WebmasterWorld.

Thank you.


 7:44 pm on Oct 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

To keep it generic - tasting isn't just for the big guys any more. While it originally was available only to people registering domains in bulk, it's now possible to taste "retail".

A number of registrars now offer tasting at reasonable prices, even for just one domain, to anybody. Typically, they charge your account or credit card for the registration, and you have some period (a few days) in which to try it out, make up your mind, whatever. If you decide you don't want it, you either get money back on your credit card or a "store credit", minus a small return fee of well under a dollar.

So, this might be a solution to your problem. It's only a short period of time, though, so it wouldn't be useful if it takes a week or two to make a decision.

Using a whois application directly on your own computer, rather than using the whois search box your registrar kindly provided for you is probably good enough protection.

Mr Bo Jangles

 1:30 am on Oct 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

As a slightly easier method, when I'm looking to choose a domain, I draw up a list of likely ones, then test them to see if they resolve to any web site - if not, then they're likely candidates, when I narrow it down, I get the credit card out and do the search at my preferred registrar, and if it's avail, I pounce immediately.


 1:36 am on Oct 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'll check the whois info when I get a chance.

24 hours later: Does this mean you checked the whois?

I can't believe "reputable" companies would do this but the evidence sure suggests it.


 1:53 pm on Oct 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

not for this reason and not to do some advertising here for yahoo but i usually do the domain registration there,since why would they care about what i type? and maybe sometimes the whous queries you do on those sites then you could get the wrong answer errors can happen.


 1:23 am on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yeah I had this problem years ago with a company that starts with an N.
I looked up a generic Japanese word & the next day it was registered.
Now I only look up domains on Japanese registrars.
Last year it happened to me too, another Japanese term in English letters. Wasn't that important to me but surprised it was registered the next day.


 7:09 am on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

SEOMike, chances are the 12 domains that you were looking to register will become available again within 5 days after they were initially registered. Somehow, the other party (domain taster) was able to obtain your domain queries and register the domains before you finalized a decision. It is important that you do NOT type those domains into your address bar and visit them. The domain taster is looking for signs of traffic and associated revenue from advertising. If you visit the domain, they will may believe the domains get traffic. If you visit and click on an ad, then they will believe it gets traffic and can earn money. However, if they determine that there is neither, chances are the domains will again become available for you to register.

Check availability directly at the registry that manages the TLD. That is your safest bet as all registrars will query the registry to check availability. Under no circumstances should you continue to check with the registrar that you've been using. Something sounds very corrupt there. When you are ready to buy, pick a reputable registrar, add the domains that you want to your shopping cart and complete your purchase immediately.


 10:47 pm on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the fact that this discussion comes up quite often points more towards the probability of the practice of monitoring domain checking and it still being unresolved than anything else. In deed, the subject was brought up just this last weekend in discussions I had with both SEO novices and seasoned professionals.

One challenge is that while there are anecdotes available aplenty about people checking domain availability and then finding the domain gone the next day or whatever (Woz puts his hand up for this one), there is little if anything in the way of proof. Were we in a court of law then the burden of proof would apply and in the absence of such proof the issue would be dismissed. But then, there is a great difference between law, courts and reality, and the reality is that there is more than enough in the way of anecdotes and circumstantial evidence to support suspicions that the practice is going on. And with the current rise in "domain tasting", that is, domainers registering the domain to test the quantity/quality of traffic and then keeping or releasing them in a few days through a registration loophole, the probability that your whois queries are being monitored can only increase.

Some past discussions:

It is best then to act under the assumption that the practice IS going on and thus proceed with caution when checking the availability of domains.

My pointers are:-

  • If you are checking the availability of a domain at a registrar then do so with your Credit Card at the ready, even if you are unsure if you will actually use the domain. If you don't use it then you are out a few dollars at the most, but if you decide you do want to use it but someone else has snapped up the domain whilst you were making up your mind, then you cannot and need to start thinking of a new domain.

  • Try checking the availability of the domain using obfuscation. Go to a service that lists historical domain whois and use their tools to do a domain search on a selection of letters from the target domain. That is, if you are checking fuzzybluewidgets.com, then search the database using the letters "zzybl dget" which should pickup all domains using these combinations of letters. You can then eyeball the list for your target domain without alerting anyone to the specific domain you are checking. If it is available, pop over to your favourite Registrar with your Credit Card at the ready.

  • If you are working for a corporation where purchases need to be approved, then educate the decision makers to the problem and either be very obfuscated in your domain checking, or gain pre-approval for the target domains and register them on the spot. Again, the corporation would only be out a few dollars if decisions are changed, but changing major marketing campaigns when the target domains are "stolen" could be a lot more expensive.

  • If you find your target domain has been "stolen" then what nativenewyorker suggests applies. Be patient for a few days, avoid going to the domain/site which would increase traffic, check the whois at the REGISTRY, and you might find that a "taster" is involved but has dropped the domain due to low traffic. Again, when this happens, pop over to your favourite registrar with Credit Card at the ready.

    I find it best to assume that someone is watching my whois queries and when checking the availability of a domain I proceed ready to register it at a moments notice should it be available - I can type in my CC details in about 2 seconds flat. ;)


  • trader

     7:19 am on Oct 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

    I really do not think anyone is watching except for an occasional rogue employee perhaps but even that would be rare, IMO.

    As far as I know, a name being taken quickly after I checked has never happened to me in my 11 yrs of registering names at many different registars.

    Another reason I don't think this is happening is that since at least 90% of domains appear to be basically worthless (most all with no traffic) it sure would involve tremendous wasted time and resources in monitoring all the inquiries, especially since the person watching may not be able to effectively discern the few good names from all the bad ones anyway.


     6:59 pm on Oct 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Hmmm...I've read about it, I've heard about, and I would've thought with all the domains I have bought and sold in the past 15 years that I ought to have experienced it.

    Never have done...until this week!

    Checked an unusual widget trade .eu on Tuesday, registered by someone on Wednesday!

    This time I'll take it as coincdence however if it happens again then the boys will be round knocking on the door:-)


     4:32 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    I think the only real tenet in terms of the internet would be .. "Can it be done? - then it most likely will be..."

    Perhaps the trick is - not to bother about it..

    If it's a name you really need then be prepared to buy it then..

    Yet sometimes I like to do it for fun, something jumps in to your head, add to the stupidly growing collection.. etc..

    If 1 goes.. there will be another on another day..

    If you acquire domains then everyone's got their story of the 1 that got away lol ...


     5:02 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    A domain I checked a few times is also taken by a registrar. They must have thought that name does indeed has value, but it is one of those rare family names. It has been more than a year, and I don't know if they get any traffic except the ones I generated when I wanted to check if they still kept it. That must have encouraged them I guess, as they still have hold of it for more than a year now.

    After a few days of the last time I checked for the domain when it was available, it was no more.

    Lesson learned: You don't check domains, you buy them :)


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