Categories
Automattic

The Mysterious Status of .blog Domains

When the .blog TLD was started by Automattic, employees were given the option to reserve a domain for free. In return for this “generous offer”, they asked that the domain be used as a primary domain (no forwarding to a different site), and that the site be updated with new content at least once a month.

From the very beginning people asked “What happens if I don’t hold up my end of the bargain?”. As far as I can tell, no one ever clearly answered that question. Some employees found that silence worrisome and declined to take the offer, while others trusted that Automattic would surely not be a jerk about the whole thing.

Well, guess what happened? Earlier this year people started receiving emails from Automattic telling them that they don’t appear to be holding up their end of the bargain. The email asked that the owner either start using the domain according to the requirements, or return it to Automattic.

Now this is really problemattic (see what I did there with the extra “t”?). Even if someone is not using the domain to host a website, they might be using it for email. Losing the domain could be a very serious security threat.

So who really owns these domains? According to most customs, gifts aren’t normally something that can be taken back. Can Automattic even legally take any of these domains back? Aren’t they officially registered to the individual owners?

In my case, their automattic (I did it again!) script made a mistake. I got that clarified and I also asked if they could answer the questions I had about who really owns my domain. I pinged them several times and never got an answer. Thanks for that.

Now I have a .blog domain that I want to use as my main site… but not if Automattic can take it back any time. I don’t want to be at their unpredictable mercy. What if I decide I don’t want to blog anymore and just want to point my site to onion.com? I wish I had just purchased the domain myself to avoid this mess.

I think it’s fair for Automattic to ask people to use their free domain according to the terms that were specified. However, taking the domain back shouldn’t be the only option for people not following those terms. How about revoking the free offer and making those people start paying for the domain?

6 replies on “The Mysterious Status of .blog Domains”

There is one .blog that is not only not being posted to, but appears to still be owned by someone who was fired from Automattic.

Fired for very good reason which everyone employed by Automattic at the time will have known about because of a post to the internal Updates P2.

If that person does not lose their .blog, why should anyone else?

The fact that they didn’t take back that person’s domain makes me think they don’t have the authority to do so. Perhaps they were intentionally avoiding answering your question about ownership. Just bluffing in hopes of getting some high-value domains back to resell?

So you were given something for free and were asked to do something in return. You want to take the free stuff but don’t want to hold your end of the bargain. What the hell are you complaining about?! If you don’t like the terms why did you agree to them?

Please read the entry again.

Automattic laid out the terms – eventually – they had to be pressed and it felt like it was being made up along the way.

Some people in the company had no problem and took the domain.
Others did have a problem and did not take the domain.

Since then, some people have maintained those terms.
Some people have not.
I have heard that at least one person transferred their domain to another registrar.
And I know for fact that the fired employee retains their site even though they were fired and they have not updated it in months.

And now Automattic is asking for domains back from some but not others. They are acting inconsistently which reinforces the fact that they are making it up as they go.

How can they ask for domains back from ex and current employees when the fired person keeps theirs?
I just did a whois lookup for a .blog I read and the fired employee. The details are the same.
So Automattic could take that back but they choose not to.

Additionally – can a company tell a (their) registrar to remove a domain from someone when there is no contract that has been broken?

> You want to take the free stuff but don’t want to hold your end of the bargain. What the hell are you complaining about?!

Did you not read “I think it’s fair for Automattic to ask people to use their free domain according to the terms that were specified.” in this post?

> If you don’t like the terms why did you agree to them?

The main problem is that the terms are not clear, and Automattic refuses to answer any clarifying questions.

Leave a Reply to Antimattic Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *