Domain Privacy Slows Trust

Many domain name service providers allow you to have a privacy protected domain registration for a small extra fee. This allows you to hide yourself from anyone who does a simple WHOIS lookup to see who owns your domain. The reasons domain owners do this range from wanting to be deceptive to not wanting to deal with the huge quantity of spam and silly link swap requests that get sent to the domain owners contact email address.

Our article review and quality control team routinely performs domain WHOIS lookups to determine if the author of an article owns the domain name(s) in their resource box. If there’s a perfect match, it becomes easier to trust the author or at least give them a bump in credibility. If a URL in your Resource Box returns a privacy-protected whois lookup, it becomes harder for our editors to trust you/and your content.

Bottom line: If you’re in business, think twice before buying privacy guard or hiding your domain WHOIS data from the public. Your market credibility may depend on it.

12 Comments »


1

Seems to be when you balance the desire not to get spam email with the need to be found as a business, being found as a business wins out.

Why would you want to hide your business?

When I get email I don’t want I use a very advanced technique that I will share right now – I lift my right hand up and hit the delete button with my ring finger.

Comment provided April 18, 2007 at 4:05 PM

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2
Michael Russell writes:

I agree 100% – I am always wary of spending money with a business that either hides their domain details or doesn’t use their primary domain as their email address – or both.

Comment provided April 18, 2007 at 5:35 PM

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Lance Winslow writes:

I have had lengthy conversations with Domain Name Companies about this and read FTC reports on this subject too. It seems that many dishonest companies hide their domain names from view use the site to send out spam or launch viruses and then turn them off one day and no one can trace them. The Authorities even have to get a court order to see who owns them.

Anytime you renew a domain name the Domain Name Company asks you if you wish to pay the extra $9.00 or $10.00 bucks per year to make your contact information “hidden”. First off they shouldn’t charge for that, there is no real cost to them. Second, they should not offer that because so many people abuse it. Folks should not be able to hide their identities. Why are people hiding?

The SPAM issue would be lessened if in fact NO ONE could hide their identity, because folks could not use sites that were hidden to send it in the first place. I use to have a habit of always looking up domain names to check if the people were legit. But since so many people have different domain names that are different from their purported identity, you cannot tell. So, now people who are concerned just have to make a policy to not trust anyone, that is sad.

I never really understood why a legitimate company would hide their domain name? Perhaps Internet stalkers or something for a female, but really one could get a PO Box if they were so worried about it. This issue concerns me greatly, it bothers me that we have the greatest communication system in the history of mankind and that people immediately use it for deceptive practices, it says a lot about human nature. Perhaps that is the problem? Comments?

Comment provided April 18, 2007 at 5:57 PM

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4
Tom writes:

I disagree 100%. People are entitled to their privacy.

Comment provided April 19, 2007 at 11:34 AM

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5

Tom,

I don’t disagree, but if you’re in business… and you’re hiding your domain ownership, then expect others to not trust you as quickly vs. when you disclose your ownership of the domain.

I get that there’s a whole ‘underground’ of mostly Internet business owners who want to remain nameless and hidden because of activities that they engage in (usually).

Note that I didn’t say “domain privacy stops trust”… I said it SLOWS it because it tell us that the owners of the domain may have something they are hiding on purpose…or they may not. We just don’t know.

Comment provided April 19, 2007 at 11:39 AM

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Kathy Holmes writes:

If you’re an author and a female one at that, it seems like a good idea. I’ve heard the stalking stories. You’re in business but you’re not in business.

Comment provided April 20, 2007 at 3:39 AM

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Lance Winslow writes:

Indeed Kathy, we have all heard stories of people women who had personal websites and such and had some sicko stalk them and I believe it is a lot more common than most people think. I feel this would be one very legitimate reason to hide contact information, especially if she did not have a PO Box and worked directly from home.

Comment provided April 20, 2007 at 3:56 AM

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8

I, too, thought that hiding my domain registration info was a bad idea – until I started receiving text messaged from phone numbers in Ghana, Gambia and Nigeria, asking me to call someone called Nguena.

Honestly, the last thing I want is random people calling me up at 3AM local time. I suppose privacy protection isn’t all that necessary if you have someone taking care of the phone and if your business is separate from your house – but if, like many webmasters, you’re a one-man show, I’d think twice about making your contact information available for everyone to see.

Just my 2c,
George

Comment provided April 20, 2007 at 6:02 AM

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Kathy Holmes writes:

In addition, there are people now targeting bloggers with harrassments and death threats. And for those who blog from their web site, they may not want their personal information known. Also, I was a blogger for a major newspaper and it was not pleasant.

Another point to consider is that many authors use a pen name for different reasons – and may or may not mind if it’s revealed.

Comment provided April 20, 2007 at 7:53 AM

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10
Michael Russell writes:

Well I have had an online presence since early 2001, and always had my name, address and phone number on all of my websites.

I do admit to being ‘stalked’ once – a lady in Orlando in 2002 thought the banners on one of my websites were specifically directed to her – and she got very excited around Valentine’s day because the banners were offering her roses ;-)

However after she rang me one night to say she was going to bed (and did I want to know what she was wearing) I explained the situation to her and she was very apologetic….

But seriously – in nearly six years of ‘hanging it all out there’ I think I have gained far more positive results by being open than I could ever have being ‘secret’.

After all – I run a BUSINESS – not a hobby – if I had a bricks and mortar store everyone could come and find me – just look in the yellow pages – as I would want them to!

Comment provided April 20, 2007 at 8:08 AM

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11

Michael – I strongly agree with your views here – in 14 years of writing for the public, I’ve had 2 stalkers – neither of which came from any thing I did on the web – both came from the local newspaper column which ran every week with my picture – the frightening thing was one of the stalkers was a therapist!

Comment provided April 20, 2007 at 8:55 AM

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Lance Winslow writes:

To Kathy’s point, I would like to say that if a Blogger is saying something so offensive that they are getting death threats then maybe they should not say it. Would they say it in public? Probably not, so they say it on a blog or with a pen name and then go hide behind a rock? If you believe in something and say it, then you ought to have the personal character to stand by those words and back them up.

Many Bloggers think it is okay to lambaste the president, government, corporation, non-profit, religion, or some group that they single out. Then they want to go and hide? Why is it people say stuff on their blogs, but in public stay silent? Maybe bloggers ought to tone it down.

Too many political groups now use blogging to make a statement for pure political reasons and if they hide, you cannot know what is real. I think if a man or woman will not stand behind their words, then their words are not worth the blog they were written on. Stand up for what you believe in or shut up is the message I think I wish to send to bloggers, forum posters and members of the peanut gallery.

The Stalking thing is another reason. But if death threats are concerning to people then stop writing those things that attract them. Or stand tall and take it like a man.

Comment provided April 20, 2007 at 4:31 PM

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