There’s a trending post on Hacker News that accuses GoDaddy of front running domain names that are searched for on its website:
“searched a few days ago for felons.io, looked for unique names for simple game didn’t know if I wanted it or not
guess godaddy decided for me: 1 days old Created on 2020-09-16 by GoDaddy.com, LLC
just a warning if you have a special name do not use godaddy to check if its available”
I did a Whois search to see if I could see the registrant of the domain name, and while the H/N thread starter is correct in that the domain name was just registered yesterday at GoDaddy, it does not appear to be registered by GoDaddy. Although GoDaddy redacts most Whois information, I am able to see that the registrant is based in New York. GoDaddy is based in Arizona. There does not appear to be Whois privacy enabled.
From what I can see, it does not look like the domain name is listed for sale via GoDaddy or its network. If it were, there would be a “for sale” notice along with the asking price on the domain name search results page pictured below. The domain name is not resolving to a functioning website either.
GoDaddy has responded to accusations of front running in the past. I wrote articles in 2017 and 2012 in response to learning about frontrunning accusations lodged against GoDaddy.
After reading the trending Hacker News thread, I reached out to GoDaddy to make sure the company policy has not changed since the last time I covered this topic. GoDaddy Registrar Vice President, Paul Bindel shred the following statement with me today:
“GoDaddy never has and never will register domain names based on customer searches. This is an unethical and predatory practice that runs counter to our mission of helping people bring their ideas to life online with the best possible domain name.”