The football club’s website had been down all week, at the worst possible time with the next season’s registrations coming in. To make matters worse, no-one could send the club an email.
A bit of research quickly found was the club’s domain name had expired. When you register an online name, you buy a license to use it for a certain period of time.
When the time to renew the license approaches, the domain registrar sends out notes warning that the domain is about to expire.
Sometimes those messages go adrift, in the club’s case the emails had been going to a volunteer who had left the club some years ago.
Businesses too get caught with this, often they leave the Internet domain registration details to web designers, IT staff or managers who have left long ago.
When signing up a domain name, there’s three key contact fields required and it’s best to use three different addresses.
This is the most important field and should be the main administration address for the business or organisation. It’s best to use the main contact email for the business so it goes through the proper channels rather into the personal inbox of a manager.
Designed for financial matters relating to the domain, it’s best to put your accountant’s or bookkeeper’s details in here. By sending it to an external advisor’s site you make sure that messages don’t get lost or trapped by over zealous spam checkers.
For the tech contact field its best to fill in the details of your webmaster, site designer or IT consultant who can take action on any details. It’s best practice to use an external address just in case there is a technical problem with your site related to the domain name.
One of the reasons for having a mix of contacts is to ensure the domain’s registration doesn’t become dependent on one person or group.
For the football club, the problem is the regular, natural churn of volunteers while in business it’s not unknown for web designers or IT consultants to use control of the domain name as a commercial bargaining chip.
With business increasingly going online, the domain name has become a value bargaining chip so it’s important to keep control of the registration details.
The club was lucky and was able to get the domain name back quickly. Some businesses with popular names find in the few days – or even hours – the domain name is available long enough to lose it to a competitor and its difficult to justify its return if you’ve been too lax to update the name.
So take care to get the right details on your domain registration to avoid problems in the future.