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Computer security Technology & business

Domain search – how to avoid front runners

Have you every had that perfect domain name, searched online, found it was available… only to have it taken away in the couple of days it took you to decide to buy? Then this article is for you!

I hear you are ready to search for a new domain name? Be careful with that intellectual property!

If you tell all your friends about that great five or six character domain name, and they tell their friend, and they tell their friends before you actually register it? Right. Someone else might just register it before you can.

But it is worse. It has been my experience that searching for a domain name on the internet, looking at various whois registries, asking if a domain is available to your favorite domain registrar, that someone somehow intercepts the information and poof, registers the domain before you do! Then they’ll gladly sell you the front run domain at their price. This practice is known as Domain Name Front Running, it is a real thing, and Network Solutions even admitted to the practice.

So where is it safe to search? In my experience, I use two different engines, and avoid everything else.

No reason to work with red hot dealers
Don’t work with red hot dealers!

My experience, and this is just one of my experiences. I used to use Go Daddy as my domain registrar. I was looking for a new domain name, so I of course went to Go Daddy to do the searching. I entered hundreds of different names, most of which were already taken. But there were a few great short domains that I came up with! I was excited! I decided to sleep on it. A couple of days later, the domains were registered by someone else, of course the domains were using private registration, and the domains were parked on Go Daddy “This domain is for sale” pages.

I of course cannot confirm that Go Daddy systemically takes potentially popular domains from the sea of domains for which their customers search, and it is completely possible that the domains were just cool names that someone else also thought about at the same time I thought about them. It is also possible that a disgruntled Go Daddy employee decided to search for the search terms their customers were using and decided to steal the domain — not really stealing, maybe more being opportunistic, but it sure felt like a stealing at the time.

Note that Go Daddy claims they are not involved with front running here, and here, and here, and I am not accusing anyone of front running, not even Go Daddy. I just know I had a bad experience with front running, and it is reasonably easy to avoid being front run.

Be careful out there!

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