Protecting Your Brand: A Cautionary Tale


hover_logoThis post would not be happening without the help of someone whom I’ve never met before and who went above and beyond to help me retrieve a domain name that I’ve been trying to get back for close to six years now, jamespoling.com.

Bill Sweetman, who works at Tucows and Hover (a subsidiary of Tucows and the most recent registrar on record) is the man who was finally able to help me out.  I had tried contacting Tucows and Hover, but cold calling/emailing them had pretty much zero effect.  The people I was able to get a hold of didn’t know enough or didn’t care enough to be of any help in getting my domain back.  Not that they should have either, that’s not their job.  I was just going about it all wrong.

Also, I should be clear that Tucows and Hover had only recently acquired the domain name by buying up a smaller registrar, they had not had it the entire time.

Then, one day right before the holidays, I was on Twitter and happened to come across Hover’s Twitter presence.  I sent out a public @message asking if anyone at Hover could help me recover my domain.  I almost immediately got a response asking me to DM my info to them and that’s when I was contacted by Bill who asked me what domain I was talking about and a little background info.  Here’s basically what I told him.

I first began blogging in 2001, before blogging was even blogging and I was coding every page by hand.  Fortunately there were people out there much smarter than I was who invented blogging platforms and who are basically responsible for the rise of social media we take for granted today.  One of the first, if not the first URL I ever registered was my name, jamespoling.com.  Pretty obvious right?

Late in 2002 I started getting really involved in politcal blogging and doing my best to make sure that Bush wasn’t elected for a second term.  I failed.  But as I kept writing and building a small but loyal reader base I got a little paranoid thinking about how everyone was going to know exactly who I was.  I decided to switch up the blog name, register a new URL and keep going.  The problem is, when jamespoling.com came up for renewal, I let it go without renewing it.  I was thinking, “I’ll just register it again in six months, who’s going to snap up that URL so fast anyway?”  Famous last words.  At the time I didn’t know about domain harvesters that could care less about anything but even the slightest bit of traffic and go around automatically gobbling up your expired domains.

What ensued was nearly six years of frustration.  Every year I would check to see if the domain had lapsed and it never would.  When there was contact info on the WHOIS I would write and email but to no avail.  Now I had finally reached someone who was on the verge of helping me get it back once and for all.

Bill had said his office was already closed for the holidays but that he had sent an email asking his guys to look into it and that I should hear something after the new year.  By January 4 I got an email from someone at Hover asking me for my contact info to set up the WHOIS info for the domain.  About an hour later I got an email with my Hover login info.  That was it, jamespoling.com was mine again.

I honestly can’t thank Mr. Sweetman enough, he didn’t have to help me, there was absolutely nothing in it for him or his company but he did it anyway.  I registered the domain for five years through Hover and plan on keeping it there as long as I have it.

The bottom line is, if you have a domain that you want to keep, do not let it expire.  If you are on the fence about whether or not you want to keep it, just go ahead and renew it, it’s only a few bucks and could save you years of second guessing.

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