Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Time I Reclaimed My Old Domain Name So It Didn't Become a Porn Site

There are a lot of things I love about Google, but as it turns out, their ability - or, rather, their utter inability - to be a functional & responsible domain registrar & web host is not one of them.

It wasn't always like this. For years, I wrote at SuburbanSweetheart.com with no problems. Every August, Google auto-renewed my domain, & I kept on writing, like always.

Except for this year.

As in the past, I assumed my domain had auto-renewed, but I never checked on it, because sometimes I'm not that good at keeping up with life stuff. When I decided in September that I wanted to change up my blog, my designer, the fantastic Bobbi of Ready to Blog Designs, quickly ascertained that there were some problems going on behind the scenes - like, for starters, that my domain hadn't been renewed & didn't actually belong to me anymore, even though outwardly, everything seemed to be working just fine.

When Bobbi told me it would cost me $95 to reclaim the name, I made a big decision: I was going to let it go. I was all set to let SuburbanSweetheart.com fade into the Internet abyss, to just tweet you  senseless with reminders to subscribe to the new feed & to just let six years of blogging at the old domain fall by the wayside. Cut the cord, Kate, I told myself, & I was planning to. A new beginning!

But.

The rest of the story is muddled because I'm technology-averse & also because it's not that interesting, until it gets to the part where a random guy emailed me to tell me that he'd stumbled upon my domain in an online auction. He was willing to bid up to $300 to own it, he said, because my existing search engine optimization was really good (yes, yes, it's hard to pat your own back, but not that hard, don't worry). What gave him pause, he told me, was that he realized the domain was still active - you know, because I was still blogging there - and hey, did I mean to put my URL up for sale?

Um, no. I didn't.

Yet there it was, listed on GoDaddy.com with 12 bidders. And when I imagined this guy owning my domain, within days of my blog changing names, I sort of freaked out. I was prepared not to be SuburbanSweetheart.com anymore, but I wasn't prepared for someone else to be SuburbanSweetheart.com - so I decided to reclaim my domain.

When I called the good folks at GoDaddy - who are, by the way, far more dignified & respectable than their company's notoriously chauvinist commercials - my panic ("HELLLLP, IS MY BLOG GOING TO DISAPPEAR?") was met with a heady combination of confusion & compassion. When the tech asked for my URL, I could hear the discomfort in his voice upon my response.

"Oh!" he exclaimed. "Yeah, um, I can see why people would be eager to own that domain. It would do pretty well with, uh, a certain segment of the Internet."

It took me .6 seconds to process that comment, & as soon as it sunk in, I started to cry, because someone was going to use my beloved domain & my awesome SEO to start a porn site. And then I started to cry harder.

The tech was so, so nice, & it probably helped that I couldn't stop crying, because I think he felt even more compelled to help me find a solution. We established a friendly rapport in which I sobbed & then apologized profusely for it, & he kindly offered more reassurance & assistance than his pay grade required of him. Before we hung up, he told me, "All this has made me want to check out your blog!"

"Don't worry," I assured him. "It's not porn."

"Oh!" he exclaimed again. "I... no, that's not why I wanted to read it. That's not what I meant. I'm so sorry."

"No! I was just trying to reassure you, like, just in case, or something, in case you thought I was crying about, like, a porn site." Stutter, stutter, stutter.

He cleared his throat a few times. "Well, now I'm a little embarrassed."

I apologized three times in a row, & then I stopped talking.

Twenty-four hours, $95, & a bucketful of tears later, SuburbanSweetheart.com belonged to me again, & it now redirects to GreatestEscapist.com - because if it's gonna be a porn site, it's gonna be my porn site, goddamnit.
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