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Rob Monster

The Impact of WHOIS Display on Domain Sales

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By Rob Monster, Sep 10, 2019
?

Who should decide whether WHOIS is visible?

  1. The registrant should have sovereign control

    85.5%
  2. The registrar should be able to override the will of the registrant

    2.4%
  3. The registry should be able override the will of the registrant

    2.0%
  4. National, Regional or Int'l law should be able to override the will of the registrant

    8.1%
  5. I actually don't care about WHOIS of my domains

    9.8%
Multiple votes are allowed.
Total: 319 vote(s)
  1. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    Long before General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance was a topic, GoDaddy and other registrars adopted a practice of obscuring WHOIS records and/or requiring persons interested in knowing the identity of the registrant to visit their website to retrieve the properly formed WHOIS report.

    For example:

    Domain Name: DONALDTRUMP.COM
    Registry Domain ID: 5014087_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
    Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
    Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
    Updated Date: 2018-06-28T21:52:39Z
    Creation Date: 1999-03-07T05:00:00Z
    Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2019-07-01T03:59:59Z
    Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
    Registrar IANA ID: 146
    Registrar Abuse Contact Email: [email protected]
    Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.4806242505
    Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
    Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientUpdateProhibited
    Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientRenewProhibited
    Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientDeleteProhibited
    Registrant Organization: THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION
    Registrant State/Province: New York
    Registrant Country: US
    Registrant Email: Select Contact Domain Holder link at https://www.godaddy.com/whois/results.aspx?domain=DONALDTRUMP.COM
    Admin Email: Select Contact Domain Holder link at https://www.godaddy.com/whois/results.aspx?domain=DONALDTRUMP.COM
    Tech Email: Select Contact Domain Holder link at https://www.godaddy.com/whois/results.aspx?domain=DONALDTRUMP.COM
    Name Server: MEGAN.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM
    Name Server: MILES.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM
    DNSSEC: unsigned
    URL of the ICANN WHOIS Data Problem Reporting System: http://wdprs.internic.net/

    If you follow the URL, you do get a properly formed WHOIS report after getting past the reCAPTCHA.

    Do professional domain investors accept these extra steps and tolerate the idea that their WHOIS data is masked or otherwise obscured, effectively forcing people to contact registrants through other means?

    At the same time, ad blocking software have made many conventional parking landers effectively blank screens. Some parking companies have started to pivot using landers but most parking is still an easy ad block.

    I ask this because I realize that many domain sellers have had a tough few months with selling domains. It dawned on me that the drop in domain selling activity appeared to coincide with GDPR rollout which kicked off in earnest on May 25, 2018 and where many registrars simply masked everything on WHOIS.

    For anyone involved in domain selling as a profession, or relying on it as a supplemental source of income, it seems to me that this was a disservice to registrants. To this day, anyone who owns a Donuts domain name has 100% of the Personally Identifying Information masked and there is still no way to override it.

    At Epik, we did not enforce GDPR outside of the EU and gave registrants the ability to opt out of free WHOIS privacy proxy services where the WHOIS email still forwards to an actual email address even if the GDPR-compliant domain was privacy protected. We also do not require a reCAPTCHA for WHOIS searches. Anecdotally, Epik has seen no drop in domain sales or inquiries for .COM but has seen a drop in Donuts registry domain inquiries except through domain marketplaces and MLS searches.

    I am curious to hear what professional domain investors think about their experience since May 2018 with navigating WHOIS policies, and also about any apparent or observed correlation between WHOIS data visibility with domain sales.
     
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. Rob Monster

    About The Author — Rob Monster

    Rob Monster has been a registered member of NamePros since Jun 23, 2011 with 246 followers and 1,645 posts. From those posts, 311 members have been thankful for them and 694 members have liked them.

    This is Rob Monster's 1st blog post on NamePros.

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  5. Comments (50)

  6. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Member VIP

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    Simple. Let those who register decide.

    Also, to add, I am a citizen of the United States and the fact that legislation, such as GDPR, in another country effects my rights is very troubling.
     
  7. DNWon

    DNWon eCommerce Branding Specialist VIP

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    The only part of the whois that should be universally available to the public is an email address! There is no reason to include a registrants home address and phone number as these are consistently abused by mass marketers, scammers and spam houses!
     
  8. Corey

    Corey Upgraded Member Gold Account VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    in Australia the .au domain space the whois is public

    Cheers
    Corey
     
  9. Jurgen Wolf

    Jurgen Wolf Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    As for me, the direct inquiries to my WHOIS email were very rare even prior GDPR.
    99.99% - spam only.

    So it is not important for me in terms of sales.
     
  10. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent Gold Account VIP

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    Thanks for the article and background @Rob Monster . I strongly agree with @DNWon that the registrant email should be public but nothing more. There are various legitimate reasons you might need to email a domain holder. I see no reason why home address and phone number should be public. I think that domain names for sale will generally have lander so agree with @Jurgen Wolf that very rarely do sales come via Whois.
    Bob

    Ps I voted that law should be able to override but I guess I am a lonely minority in thinking that!:xf.wink:
     
  11. korganian

    korganian Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Before GDPR, I had a lot more people email me or call me on the phone to purchase my domains.

    I loved those quick phone sales out of the blue!!!

    All the sales were to end users for a nice profit too.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
  12. Jurgen Wolf

    Jurgen Wolf Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Up to 95% of endusers are not aware about WHOIS at all.
    Mostly it is important only for another domainers (resellers) or brokers... and for lawyers (I already had a few attacks from them)...
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
  13. NameDeck

    NameDeck Design. Develop. Deploy. VIP

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    How would the EU GDPR affect your rights as a US citizen?
     
  14. Jurgen Wolf

    Jurgen Wolf Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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  15. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Member VIP

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    Yeah, when I said "rights" it was a bad choice of words.

    What I mean is the changes with GDPR and ICANN in relation to how it effects my domaining choices. Particularly the changes with Whois.
     
  16. NameDeck

    NameDeck Design. Develop. Deploy. VIP

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    This has nothing to do with the GDPR law. Registrars/registries can simply ask a registrant to opt in to display their private info.

    This would be a non-issue If most registrars had their affairs in order.
     
  17. NameDeck

    NameDeck Design. Develop. Deploy. VIP

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    Thanks for clarifying. I totally agree. It definitely affects the business but like I stated in my post above I blame the industry/registrars/registry. The GDPR and whois changes have been announced like a decade ago so anyone complaining has just been lazy on implementing an easy fix to the problem.
     
  18. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Member VIP

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    To add, I work for a global tech company based in the U.S. and GDPR effects all protocols. So my feelings toward the globalist movement may differ from others, but this may not be the thread to vent.:xf.smile:
     
  19. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    A lot of registries, including all of Donuts, hid the contact info of all registrants due to GDPR compliance concerns. It was probably excessive since most of their registrants were not EU citizens. However, that was their solution, and it is still in effect today. I don't believe this move was good for the sell-through of names to end-users.
     
  20. NameDeck

    NameDeck Design. Develop. Deploy. VIP

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    I totally get that but that has 100% nothing to do with the GDPR but rather with poor decision making and acting in panic mode at donuts as they didn't prepare for the GDPR.

    Imo any company resorting to the same measures never really took their EU clients seriously.

    Like a said, the industry should have been aware of this since like a decade (give or take) so I genuinely don't get it.
     
  21. Jurgen Wolf

    Jurgen Wolf Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Not only Donuts...
    Absolutely the same with all Neustar TLDs...
     
  22. biggie

    biggie Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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  23. NameDeck

    NameDeck Design. Develop. Deploy. VIP

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    I feel ya as I work with a lot of US companies. Maybe we should start a GDPR bashing thread :) no rights, no wrongs, just blowing off some steam :)
     
  24. Jurgen Wolf

    Jurgen Wolf Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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  25. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    Some registries chose a ham-fisted compliance solution. I believe it was bad news for domain speculators. And while I am all for compliance and risk mitigation, there are elegant ways to comply and not impair value for clients.
     
  26. NameDeck

    NameDeck Design. Develop. Deploy. VIP

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    I 100% agree. It might even be fair to say ICANN dropped the ball as they probably could've enforced better adoption/regulations. Let's save that for another discussion :)
     
  27. MapleDots

    MapleDots Account Auto-Closed VIP

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    Not relevant to me at all, I could not care less about whois.

    What is the very first thing a potential client does?

    They punch the name into the url bar.

    If you have a lander with your contact information you're ready to go.
    It continuously amazes me that people will park their pages for the few measly crumbs the parking companies hand out.

    Park the domain on your own marketplace or your hosted marketplace and be done with it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
  28. MapleDots

    MapleDots Account Auto-Closed VIP

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    PS. I did vote that the Registrant should have sovereign control
     
  29. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    Yes, exactly right -- do that. However, many parking pages have no way of contacting the registrant indicated on their PPC landers.

    I would comment about Ad blocking but I know you have been talking about that topic for years, e.g. here:

    https://www.namepros.com/threads/ch...-15th-of-february.1065385/page-5#post-6578384
     
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