UPDATED: Bill Hartzer.com Reports Front Running By Godaddy.com

In a story published a couple of days ago blogger BillHartzer.com citing another report,  says Godaddy.com maybe front running domain registrations.

“Godaddy, the domain name registrar, has apparently been caught registering domain names after someone has looked up the availability of a domain name. ”

“This guy claims that he looked up a domain name to see if that domain name was available. The domain name was available, but apparently he did not register the domain name that day. He came back a few days later to find that the domain name had been registered by, low and behold: Godaddy themselves.”

Godaddy.com ‘s Go Daddy Vice President of Product Development  Domains, Rich Merdinger issued a statement in response to this allegation saying:

“Go Daddy does not and never has participated in domain name “front-running” – the act of registering domain names after a registration search is done.”



  1. says

    Zen Savona doesn’t provide proofs to backup his claims and hasn’t responded to my comment on his blog. It’s just a promotional post for domai.nr

  2. Jp says

    I don’t know, how much of a hidden gem could this domain have been? I’d like to think the world’s largest registrar wouldn’t have to resort to stuff like this.

  3. BrianWick says

    The guy that got me into the business 14 years back was part of some case against NetSol years ago – for doing the same thing. He was too busy selling his graphical Search Engine Patent to MS around the same time – so I never followed up as to what happened – and candidly do not care.

    The registrar can only hold on for a few days I understand – before they have to release them anyway – yes ?

  4. Michael H. Berkens says


    I would be under the 5 day grace period where they can cancel the registration and not pay for it

  5. says

    I use Godaddy to dropcatch every day and I haven’t seen any evidence of front-running. People have beaten me to domains using Godaddy but that doesn’t mean Godaddy registered for themselves. Just one person’s experience.

  6. Shane says

    I agree with Tony. I’ve never seen this and I have thousands of domains with GoDaddy. Often times, I find avail names – and sit on registering them until a coupon code becomes available. Of course perhaps this guy found a golden name – but I doubt it. At 50% of the market, GD just can’t easily sift through all the names people look up to register a few. And they clearly are not registering all of the avail look-ups.

  7. BrianWick says

    I guess GoDaddy can keep registering every 5 days – and if that is the case I would imagine there is already something in thier contract that precludes continual 5-day reservations on the same domain – it becomes a breach on existing contract – not some civil action – yes

  8. Dean says

    I had an incident happen to me several years ago where I checked availability of a domain at Godaddy, only to come back a day later and find it was registered. I don’t know if it was Goddaddy or just mere coincidence whoever registered the domain. I did read somewhere later, that individuals or some entities where able to hack into their network and see what domains where being looked up to be registered. Has anyone heard anything about this?

  9. says

    Agree with Shane that there is a big difference between the domain being registered “through GoDaddy” (like 50 million+ other domains) and GoDaddy actually registering the domain for themselves. Kind of suspect that the domain is not listed so this can’t be verified…

  10. No Daddy says

    What a joke. How about some evidence to back up these salacious claims. What a pile of crap. What is this the National Enquirer now?

  11. says

    I know something like this happened to me back in 2008. I looked up a domain that I wanted on Godaddy.com. It was available, had never been registered before. I decided that I would get it the next day. I looked it up again the next day and it was taken. The Whois was masked.

    The domain (HomeServiceHub.com) has been taken since that day. I just checked the whois again and it is now reading some guy in Scottsdale… ironically where Godaddy.com is located.

    I can’t prove it was Godaddy.com that took that domain but the entire situation is certainly a bit questionable.


  12. BrianWick says

    No Daddy –
    Point is all the good stuff has been gone for years (and years) – but it does not stop the gullable speculators.

  13. dmpartners says

    Go Daddy huge scam going on over there , Never ever back order a domain Its a absolute scam. That is a tip-off to there buyers to grab the domain ahead of you. They put you in a fake auction and you bid against Go Daddy ( hidden fake companies ) such as Go Australia Domains . You then pay big for the domain Shill Bidding at its finest, I caught them red handed.

  14. says

    No Daddy,

    They did, although I had plans to develop that domain, not just flip.

    I admit it may just be a case of coincidence but it does seem a bit questionable. I do acknowledge that even if it does happen, it can’t happen much at all considering I have registered probably 1000 domains total and that has only happened one time.


  15. says

    About time this surfaced if it’s true, I’ve been waiting kinda, sorta….. All I can say is two things:

    1) I use GD as my primary registrar thanks to price, I hold roughly 70% of my names there. Support is decent. Auctions are ok, but still a mess with owners renewing after I paid and won the name and then I wait for a refund. That needs to stop immediately, no matter what any GD auction rep has to say in nicely worded posts or responses. Overall though, GD is better than most registrars.
    2) I have had TWO experiences where I searched a name, saw it available, waited until the next day and it was regged w/ privacy @ GD….hmmm…. Both GOOD names too, I was pisssssssed (one of the two names was absolute KILLER and I just didn’t have the $8 at the time, should have charged it damnit). Pretty rare that the next day, BOTH were grabbed. I knew at that moment that they are looking at peoples searches, the odds of what happened to me (two names, one extremely uncommon) are like 1 in 10M at least, probably more. Someone is looking at registration check lists over there I’m pretty sure. I smell foul play and it is not a “good look” for the industry as a whole, let alonge GD and registrars.

    Fact of the matter is, greed doesn’t stop with multi-million/billion dollar corporations okay guys and gals? Millionaires still steal and do shady things to make more money, what makes GD any different? Look at Wall St, a financial disaster zone of million/billion dollar companies still getting caught red handed. Makes you really think….. when is enough enough for some people/corps? Especially when you’re basically stealing or being deceitful to your own clients. SHADY stuff going on people, open your eyes. Search the availability of your name elsewhere (hopefully that registrar is honorable) and reg it at GD for cheaper. Best advice….

  16. says

    Hello MHB,

    I am not a real fan of any of the Registrars but GoDaddy gets my vote as the worst of the lot. To be fair though, almost all registrars follow this practice. To believe otherwise is nieve. I have been in the game for close to 17 years and as soon as I could use lookups off registrars sites thats what I did and do.

    Sadly alls fair in Capitalism, its the nature of the beast. The ugly american label that international countries use is mostly well deserved. You only have to look at what we did to our Native Americans and you begin to get the picture. The sad truth is that for a lot of us Money is our God that we pray to. Once we all realize that Giving is equally as important as taking the world will lighten up for the better. “Give what you Covet and the skies will open up for you”

    This is not Socialism or Communism its just Brotherly.

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  17. Anon says

    I’ve won a Godaddy auction name that was subsequently “redeemed'”, immediately put on privacy and then listed on the aftermarket for thousands of dollars. It was not redeemed by the original registrant, who I contacted.

    I won’t post the name here but I can document every word of what I said, from the auction receipts to the whois history to my emails with the original registrant.

    This occurred relatively recently, after the Adam Dicker affair and their supposedly ‘cleaning up’ the auction process.

  18. says


    I would like to weigh in here on the front-running debate going on in here. Its a personal experience I would like to share that happened with me .

    I had written an php algorithm 1-2 months back to make a list of all possible LLL words. I wanted to check availability of LLL’s for .com, .net, .org, .in TLD’s through Godaddy’s bulk search. Although all the LLL’s for .com, .org and .net were taken. There were, I guess, some 15-16 LLL.in available. I made a list of those in the afternoon and had planned to buy them in the evening.

    To my weird surprise! all LLL.in were gone except for one. I checked the date of registration of these domains so as to confirm if I had done anything wrong in checking availability of these names. But I wasn’t wrong, all those LLL.in’s were registered an hour later after I had bulk-searched in godaddy. They were registered under name of some guy in U.K.(don’t remember the name!)

    I don’t say that a company like godaddy would indulge in such a thing. But I do really suspect that there might be rotten apples in godaddy who might be hand in gloves with some domainers, and are doing this stuff for some monetary returns.

  19. Inside says

    There is team of two that does nothing but front-run, all day long – it is a huge profit center (third party corp., ad revenue, resales, etc.). That is all I will say on this.

  20. BillW says

    On a side note…..the “traffic” numbers on the GoDaddy TDNAM auctions are in my experience totally fabricated.

    In the last month, I bought 5 names for the “traffic value” which GoDaddy listed in the auction all at 2,000 + uniques each per month and now that they are parked they get ZERO!

    Anyone else report on this?

  21. BrianWick says

    BillW and others –
    I had a backorder on a domain 4-5 months back – actually a very decent complementing domain to my portfolio – I paid my $4.99 to join the backorder “club” or whatever it is called.
    When it came time for the domain to go into auction amazingly I was the only backorder – well GoDaddy decided just to renew it – and took it out of auction.

    Point is we need to remember GoDaddy is for those new to the Internet who become time wasting tire-kickers when they want to by a domain from you and just clutter up your email.

  22. says

    I checked a name once it was taken by someone AT Godaddy which I assume means BY GoDaddy.

    Obviously GoDaddy can read my mind.

    Just three things not mentioned in my brief scan of comments.

    GoDaddy does not always appear to do a live whois check but to look at copies of the zone file. This situation would occur on names that were recent drops, recently tasted etc. Most names are not made up on the spot by people – they will check based on something they’ve seen and chances are many people see the same thing.

    GoDaddy has suggested alternatives. Any savvy company would feed these suggestions from other lookups.

    Finally, most domainers lie. Nay, all domainers lie.

  23. says

    Question: If I did a search for a “.com” at “Internic.net”, would that somehow be public information outside of Verisign / NetSol?

    You mean sharing who searched what there? That’s…up to VeriSign. VeriSign and NetSol, BTW, have become separate, unassociated entities since then.

  24. ricochet67 says

    Strangely enough, I’m curious about the possibility that GoDaddy is front running domains via a 3rd party. Is there a way to send a complaint or question the practices of GoDaddy with ICANN?

    I looked up a site last week for a customer. It was available. It was HerFirstandLastName.com (example). The name is not a common name and the odds that the domain was purchased that same day by a company in Venice, CA tells me something is fishy. Also, they registered it at GoDaddy, but it appears to be setup for hosting at Bluehost.

    Another funny thing is that when you go to that address on the web, it says “*.com is available for purchase now at affordable rates.”

    WTF??? Something is rotten in Denmark.

    I can handle coincidence, but this is really weird.

  25. says

    Interesting post, I’m sure this kind of thing goes on as I’ve within seconds, had an available domain name taken.
    Proving there’s a link more than coincidence is impossible, but I’ve become sceptical and don’t search for domain names unless I’m at the point of buying.
    I’ll be watching this post for more comments.

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