October 12, 2007

Belfast Telegraph to go offline though inept IT

by Brian Turner

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The Belfast Telegraph website is in danger of going offline in a matter of days - because they failed to renew their domain name in July.

After noticing this, Britecorp contacted their IT dept offering to help use their specialise domain capture service and grab the domain and return it - all free of charge.

Instead, the head of the Belfast Telegraph’s IT dept, Mr Waring simply entered into an angry tirade, refused to let them speak, then slammed the phone down.

Further attempts to contact their internet management team to help has been met by silence.

The issue highlights the importance of companies to keep on top of their domain name registrations, as well as careful management of core email addresses essential to receive relevant notices.

This is especially as once a domain name expires and then is “dropped” into the open markets, sophisticated domain specialists use automated software to buy these domains up in bulk, usually to provide traffic parking services.

The danger for the Belfast Telegraph is that they underestimate the maturity and competition behind the expired domains market, and that once dropped it may not at all be as easy as simply asking a domain register to re-register it - because by then a domainer has likely already grabbed it.

While UK domain names are ostensibly for ownership within the UK, overseas registrars do offer UK domains for sale, and no checks are made on the accuracy of domain name registration information given.

Additionally, UK domains allow for a free WHOIS opt-out for private individuals, which could make tracking down the domain name owner especially difficult.

And as the domain name belfasttelegraph.co.uk is a PageRank 6 website with over 100,000 links and an Alexa score of around 60,000, it could prove a very lucrative purchase for a domainer.

This could leave the owners of The Belfast Telegraph - Independent News and Media Ltd - with a website that is down for months while they try and track down the new domain name owner. Any attempt to take legal action to retrieve ownership is unlikely to be resolved at speed, and additionally unlikely to return their website to operational status any time soon.

In the meantime, companies who may find their domain names ready to lapse should take special care to never let that happen in the first place - and in the event that an altruistic stranger offers to help retrieve it for free, there are better responses than to shout at them.

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