Philosophers have pondered the secret of happiness for centuries. The pursuit of happiness is set forth in the United States Declaration of Independance. Now a company out of Brea, California has discovered the details of what happiness actually is: web hosting.
I was doing a little light domain research and happen to come across a domain registered through the DreamHost Proxy service. DreamHost’s shared hosting service received a respectable 4 out of 5 star rating from our reviewer a while back. I guess I’d forgotten that DreamHost was an official ICANN registrar. Having spent probably too much of my life starring at domain registration records, I couldn’t help but notice a few unorthodox lines in a DreamHost customer’s proxy record. This first one appears in the name field:
A Happy Dreamhost Customer
In case you don’t know, when you register a domain, your personal contact information is listed in the public record for anyone to view. Many people, myself included, don’t like having their name, address, and email address plopped right in front of spammers and anyone else who gets curious. In order to deal with this problem, registrars often offer a proxy service wherein their address is listed in place of the customer. Email’s received can be forwarded to the customer. Registrars can charge for this service like Godaddy or offer it free like 1&1.
I thought it was funny that instead of listing DreamHost in the customer name field, they made the statement that this anonymous domain owner was “happy.” This may be true in many cases but if you’ve worked with any domain registrar for very long, you are probably aware of issues that can make customers unhappy like:
- Private information mistakenly being published on the WHOIS record
- Domain transfer problems
- Domain theft
Here’s a screen cap of John Doe, The Happy’s WHOIS record. Do you see anything else interesting?
Advertising in WHOIS Records
I didn’t know whether to applaud DreamHost for their cleverness or slam them for spamming when I saw that they were advertising their hosting service right there in the official WHOIS record! I’m no stranger to alternate forms of advertising by web hosts, but this one took me by surprise. WHOIS records are not supposed to be harvested for marketing purposes, but exist for public informational use as DreamHost’s legal caveat states:
The information in DreamHost’s whois database is to be used for informational purposes only, and to obtain information on a domain name registration. DreamHost does not guarantee its accuracy.
Well, what about WHOIS record marketing? Hmm… Apparently every one of the hundreds of thousands of domain records registered through DreamHost lists the advertisement at the bottom for their low cost web hosting plan and free domain registration complete with a promotional code that gives an additional discount and provides tracking. I can’t help but wonder how many sales conversions have come in from WHOIS records.
Is this good marketing or SPAM?