Yesterday, Google Alerts made me aware of three local websites that ceased to function due to non-renewal. This is a pretty common occurrence, but I thought it was interesting to read the local coverage because these websites are fairly high profile in their respective communities.
On WHEC Rochester website, there is an article headlined Domain problems takes Rochester’s official tourism website offline for week. According to the article covering the expiration of VisitRochester.com, “Visit Rochester says it happened last Tuesday without warning and the site averages thousands of web hits every day. Officials say Visit Rochester’s domain name expired.”
In south Florida, another tourism organization faced a domain name renewal problem. PalmBeachPost.com published an article about the expiration of Palm Beach County’s domain name, PBConventionCenter.com. The article, Palm Beach County Convention Center’s web page goes dark Tuesday, stated, “Maria Walker, director of sales and marketing at the convention center, replied that “the payment for our domain renewal was evidently applied to another account causing our account to be outstanding.”
In Pennsylvania, LehighValleyLive.com published this article: Warren County prosecutor’s website domain expires. According to the article, “Anyone looking for the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office online will find the GoDaddy logo instead of the county seal.”
There are many reasons why a domain name can “accidentally” expire, which seems like it is what happened with these three domain names. The most common reason, from what I have seen over the years, is the person responsible for renewing the domain name either changed his or her email address on file, no longer works with the organization, or changed roles and is no longer responsible for domain names.
I think the best way to handle domain names is to have an email address that isn’t unique to one person (for instance, email@example.com) and have that email address forwarded to more than one person, such as the CTO, COO, and webmaster. This will ensure that more than one person knows the domain name is expiring, especially if the forwarder is forgotten about and someone leaves the company. In addition, the domain name should be set to auto-renew and possibly renewed for 10 years at a time.
Although VisitRochester.com is probably the only one of the three domain names that has value beyond the traffic, I presume all three would have been bought at auction had they gone through the expiry cycle. At that point, it would have been a more expensive and frustrating situation.