I've had my eyes on a very good domain name for quite some time now, and was quite saddened to see I lost it... to a domain sniper.
Three months ago I found one domain I thought would be great to have under my belt, one that would go hand in hand with my first and last name. Lo and behold, victortruong.com. It looked like the owner of the domain had it for a few years now, and would not be letting it go. Moving forward a month, the owner still had not renewed the registration for it, and it was approaching expiration. There was a chance that he would be letting it drop, and I saw this as an opportunity to get it. I thought that once it had passed the expiration date, it would drop and I'd be able to register the domain as my own. But no, I found out there was more to it.
In between that time and now, I had learned a great deal of acquiring domain names and how the expiration process worked. Unlike the date that is shown in WHOIS queries, domains actually have a grace period, a period where the owner still has time to reclaim their domain name. The picture below does a pretty good job explaining how this process goes:
The domain actually still belongs to the owner for another seventy days after expiration. After I found this out, I was able to calculate the date it would finally drop from the ICANN database: December 10, 2016. I checked around thirty times a day to see if it had dropped yet, on many sites that offered to check if a domain has dropped yet. And that, is my biggest regret.
I used many sites to check on the planned soon-to-be-mine domain, and eventually stumbled upon DropCatch, which offered to calculate the exact time it would drop. I typed in the domain into their search box, not knowing the consequences that would come from it. Only after I did that, I found an post on Quora saying that the chances of your domain being registered by another party increases as you search it up on more and more sites.
The domain I wanted was caught by a sniper named DropCatch. Wait, doesn't that sound familiar? Why yes, it's the website I used to calculate the expiration date of my desired domain. I have my suspicions that they tracked my query, and decided to catch it. The landing page for it changed a few hours later to this:
Why, didn't you know DropCatch was part of HugeDomains? victortruong.com is now on sale for the high price of $2,395, which is a 26,532% price increase, compared to the price I could've bought it for on Namecheap, which was $8.88, during their Kingcom special. I definitely will not pay that much for a domain. That's just plain outrageous. I'm also a student, there's no way I can cover the expense. But I've also found out you can negotiate with them (HugeDomains), for a price lower than shown. I've heard people get it down to below eight hundred dollars, and I've also heard that these guys drop their unsold domains after awhile, so I'm putting my money on that.
Having second thoughts about searching that domain you've had your eyes on? You have three options I guarantee to be safe:
- Command line WHOIS: Safest of them all. It's between you and Verisign's database.
- Internic's online WHOIS tool: You won't have to worry about snooping, Internic is a trusted site.
- Beau Hartshorne's Instant Domain Search: Note this isn't actually a WHOIS tool on its own. They take a different approach to searching up domain availability. Instead of doing live WHOIS queries, they use files downloaded from Versign (these files are updated daily) and search through the file. There are some false positives (no false negatives, though), however, because updates aren't live. WHOIS queries for domains are served through GoDaddy.
So, the lesson I learned from all this: Don't deal with the risk of any other parties taking your domain by using their tools. Stick with the safer options above.
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