At the mercy of the webmaster!

  Revi 22:40 28 May 2004

I had hired a webmaster to build and host the website of my Company. After a year I realised that the webmaster had registered my domain name in his own name & address. This was confirmed on checking with whoIs. When I told him that I would renew my annual agreement with him only if he transferred the registration of my Company’s domain name to my own name, he uploaded the required changes within 24 hours.
Now my question is if he can change the registration particulars so easily and so fast what guarantee is there that he will not be able to change the registration particulars as per his whims in the future? What measures should I take to guarantee that he would not be able to deprive me of my own domain name in the future?

  Taran 23:26 28 May 2004

Are you saying he has altered the ownership of the domain to your or your company name and address at your request ?

If he has, the normal procedure for future transfers is for you to request that the domain name is transferred to a new owner. You should get an email asking for confirmation and there are certain forms that have to be filled in. You can, if you are very unscrupulous, falsify this and transfer a domain to another party and it does happen now and then. I wish I could say otherwise but domain names held to ransom is still one of the worst things I come across in the web design world and it is also the one thing above almost all others that leaves a particularly sour taste in the mouths of those it affects.

I always register domain names in the individual name or business name of the person or company I am working for. Some designers do, some don't. Most designers, even if they register domain names for a client but register it themselves, under their own web designers name, would not object at all to transferring it to its rightful owner. Most designers who register domains like this do so because it is far quicker, simpler, and generally more convenient than the way I do it. I keep details of registration dates so that a month before the domain is up for renewal I can remind clients of this and arrange for continued use and payment for it.

I'm not sure whether I can allay your fears since no matter what you do there is a certain degree of trust involved and there are ways of holding domain names to ransom. If you're happy with your designer, if he has done good work for you and you are satisfied with the end product, then you could be reacting to something that a lot of designers do with no real ill intent underlying it. As I said, it's often quicker and more convenient to register a domain name yourself for someone.

If there is something else bothering you about the whole affair then perhaps it may be a good time to evaluate your situation and consider alternatives, but I don't want to encourage that unless you really aren't happy with the work you have had done.

Think of it like this. I can go online now, order a domain name and web hosting for it and pay for it with my credit card. The problem comes when the name and address details on my card do not correspond with my client. Things like this can halt a credit card transaction in its tracks, which is one of several good reasons why some designers register domains for clients without the clients name appearing on the domain ownership paperwork.

24 hours is about what it takes for any designer to alter an account on request, so that is about standard.

I don't know you, I don't know the job you've had done or the designer who did it but unless something else is bothering you I'd say you haven't experienced anything that isn't quite common practice. I'd also like to put this to you: the fact that your request was so speedily dealt with is encouraging, don't you think ?

  Forum Editor 00:07 29 May 2004

to whom a domain name is registered can request the transfer of the registration to another individual, and it must be done by completing a transfer request form - they differ slightly, depending on the high level suffix (.com / etc.).

Sometimes I register names for clients in their own names, sometimes I don't. Quite a few people prefer not to have their name and address appear in the public WHOIS records, and for names registered with Nominet UK it is obligatory for the registered person's name and address to appear if any commercial use of the name is to be made. You may only opt out of this requirement if the site is purely for private use. If Nominet detect a commercial use where a registrant has opted out they reserve the right to insert the true registrant's name in the visible record without further reference to the person concerned. That's why some names are registered in my name instead of the client's - my name will appear in the WHOIS.

Of course I would immediately transfer the registration on request - there's little point in refusing to do otherwise - and any web designer who abuses the system doesn't deserve to be working. It happens, and it's one of the things that makes me wish we had some form of compulsory accreditation procedure in the web design business - so clients would have some form of redress via a professional body if a designer behaved unethically.

I agree with Taran - the speed with which your designer/webmaster reacted to comply with your request is a positive indication of his/her integrity.

  Revi 05:30 29 May 2004


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