I React to Domain Name Expirations

The unfortunate truth: we don’t own our domain names.

We’re only renting them, using them temporarily. This may be news to you, and that’s why it’s important to keep track of expiration and renewal dates. If you’re not careful, the renewal period will lapse and the domain you’ve called home for years will expire – and potentially get snatched up by somebody else.

We Only Live Here

You see, unlike clothing, cars, trademarks, and Shrek DVD’s, domain names are something that we can never own. This isn’t new, it’s been this way since the beginning.

Perhaps you think that this is wrong, you should own the domains you register. I like that idea as well and I wish it were the case. But it won’t happen this way.

The Harsh Reality

Forget to pay your bills, pay a late fee. Forget to renew your license plate, get a ticket. Forget to renew your domain name, risk losing it to the lowest-common-denominator (and there are plenty of them, waiting in the wings).

Like credit card companies telling you you’ve missed a payment, registrars usually send out reminders that your domain is about to expire. But these tend to be easy to miss. They often look just like spam.

Such was the case in the recent Macslash debacle. In an attempt to limit their customer’s spam, Macslash’s ISP filtered out these reminders, treating them as spam. Macslash never got any indication that their domain was about to expire. Unfortunate, for sure, but also preventable.

How To Handle It

Just as you jot down the date rent is due (and don’t expect to be reminded), when you register (or renew) your domain, try to remember the expiration date. It’s important. Write it down on your calendar. In your PDA. On a sticky note. In magic marker on the corner of your computer screen. Put a note in a place you’ll see and remember. If you forget things easily, consider a tattoo. If your domain is the least bit important to you, this extra step is worth your time.

I’m Not Talking About Theft

Although we don’t own our domains, we do pay to use them, and we expect to find them where we’ve left them (at least when we remember to renew them).

Unfortunately, there are those who wish to use our domains before we’ve let them expire. This was the the case with the recent Hoopla domain theft (Dean tells the whole story here). The short story: A domain transfer request was faked and the domain was stolen, with unfortunate consequences. Stealing is always wrong.

We’re all potential victims of domain theft, and there’s not much we can do about it until after the fact. Be sure to keep your records in a safe place and use the best registrar you can find. Try using a “safe” address (such as a hotmail account) just for the purpose of sending and receiving registrant-related email. Keep everything in one place.

And don’t forget to renew your existing domains early.

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