Domain squatting is an asshat thing to do

FamilyFirst.org.nz is anti-gay marriage group with views regarded as despicable by a decent part of New Zealand society. Their website used to be hosted at familyfirst.co.nz, and until recently was redirected from that address.

A Hamish Spencer (@hamfritta) purchased the familyfirst.co.nz domain after it expired, and redirected it to pro-gay marriage site marriagequality.co.nz.

I regard this as an asshat move, especially as 200 people an hour apparently were being redirected, although many of them no doubt were simply confirming the story. I strongly condemn the message of the Family First group, but also strongly support their right to say whatever it is they want to (provided it is not inciting violence or hate-speech).

So in the spirit of fairness I just purchased marriageequality.org.nz and redirected it to familyfirst.org.nz. It hasn’t come though yet (and probably won’t for about a day), and I’m only doing this as a cheap way to show that this sort of thing is asinine. I will re-direct the domain to this post eventually, or redirect or hand it to Marriage Equality if they ask nicely, and let it expire otherwise.

<Update: Marriage Equality asked nicely, and I redirected the url to marriageequality.co.nz. In all the redirection to FF lasted an hour or two at most. The point was made. >

This stuff can go on infinitely, and I suggest that Hamish does the right thing – and offers the domain back to Family First.

Hamish should also look to his own affairs before entering into this sort of battle. It’s actually amazing that as I write both the .co.nz and .com versions of his own name are available – he should snap them up. I use IWantMyName.co.nz, and highly recommend them for very simple and straightforward domain purchasing and management.
IWantMyName

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
This entry was posted in NZ Business. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Domain squatting is an asshat thing to do

  1. Fair point – paricularly as they choose not to ‘play fair’ with regard to opposing points of view. But, as I write, I’m on a wait list to buy a domain that expires in 2 days relating to a client’s business which, if I win, I will redirect to their site to improve traffic and searchability.

    Ethics are a personal matter – but do clearly reflect the sort of business person you are.

  2. kyhwana says:

    Unsure how it attacks fredom of expression, family first can still spew their crap.
    Infact, redirecting http://familyfirst.co.nz to a marriage equality site is a form of expression

  3. Lance Wiggs says:

    If that domain you are waiting for is not being used – then that makes complete sense. If the domain is for someone else’s existing business (say amazon.com) then obviously it would not be fair.

    • Kyhwana says:

      Family first aren’t a business though. They’re a political group and that makes them fair game for satirising..

  4. @CJ_NZ says:

    Just a different version of the “santorum” issue

  5. I’m keen to know what domains should you register to prevent something like this happening? .co.nz and .com are the obvious ones, is it worth looking at any of the other TLDs?

    • Lance Wiggs says:

      For New Zealanders I’d recommend grabbing .co.nz, .org.nz and net.nz and .com and .org as the basics for yourself and family. Most of the time these are taken (especially last names) sadly.

  6. Mark Harris says:

    If it’s an asshat thing for Hamish to do, it’s most definitely the same for you. Hamish isn’t, however, trumpeting his cleverness to the world in a blog (as far as I know). That makes you a much bigger asshat, Lance.

    • Lance Wiggs says:

      I did this to show how the other issue here is freedom of expression, and there is no better way to show what an asshat move it is than by simply reversing the situation. Hamish is all over the press.

  7. But Lance, Family First’s primary domain was not http://familyfirst.co.nz it was http://familyfirst.org.nz. What is the point of different TLD’s if it is unethical for different people to own different ones? Does Family First have a moral right to every version of familyfirst.* on the internet? Of course not. And in fact since they are not a company you could argue that they don’t have a right to the .co.nz domain space and should only be using the .org.nz.

    It was an expired domain, it wasn’t their primary domain and they let it expire even after 3 warnings and a 90 day release period.

    • Lance Wiggs says:

      Their primary domain was previously .co.nz, and they moved to .org.nz, and it was eing actively used. FamilyFirst certainly played this very poorly.
      I’m not going to litigate on the issue – that’s DNCL’s mandate if it ever comes to that. Of course they do not have a moral right to every version of the name.
      As for the expiry – my own warnings from most international domain name registrars tend to get routed to my spam folder. It’s a real pain

  8. Dave says:

    Domain squatting is a very different thing and implies an intent to profit. Expressing a political opinion is hardly the same.

    FamilyFirst received the same reminders that everyone does and the domain had a 90 day stand down period just like everyone else and they have the same appeal options open to them should they few their trademarks/rights have been infringed upon. If you think there should be some additional protections perhaps you should direct them to the proper bodies rather than personally attacking Hamish?

    They choose not to renew their domain and Hamish decided to express his views on the Family unit in a valid way. I congratulate his efforts. I think people seeking the Family First website probably deserve to be educated on some opposing views but that is a whole other issue. He is not seeking to sell the domain or profit from it in any way (at elast that I can see) so to compare him to the highly unsavoury practice of domain squatting borders on a straw man argument.

    Also interesting to see that you clearly think two “wrongs” (as you have defined it) make a right…

    • Lance Wiggs says:

      I agree what Hamish did was a very smart way to generate more publicity against the idiocy of the FamilyFirst policies. Well done. However it doesn’t feel so good the other way now does it? So no – I do not agree that it is right to defend FF, but I also will defend their right to say whatever it is they are saying.

      • Dave says:

        I fail to see where I said I had any problem with FF having a website for their views. In fact I welcome it – I may have referred to my thoughts on them but I certainly distanced that from the greater point of my post. You are simply ignoring the issue.

        You attack Hamish personally as a “domain squatter”, blame him personally for working within the established rules and then as some sort of grandstanding move do exactly the same to prove yourself right? Are you a domain squatter? Or is it only ok because *YOU* are trying to prove a point but not ok for him to express his?

      • Jed says:

        There are plenty of ‘haters’ around who want to shut down free speech and to suppress the opposition. These hysterical people are a far greater threat than the ‘anti-gay’ marriage people they are targeting . Their sites have targeted on to you for highlighting the tricks being used to suppress free speech.

        Good work Lance!! You are simply highlighting the tricks they are getting up to . I don’t care about the gay marriage issue one way or another. But, I do care about the abuse and vile and suppression of free speech.

  9. Lance Wiggs says:

    A couple of tweets inspire another comment.
    What Hamish did was on to it and brilliant publicity. I do think it was a good move to redirect to the other site. However I also believe that he should hand the domain back if asked. As I will if MarriageEquality ask.

  10. Wonder if this redirection makes Wolters Kluwer asshats and domain squatters? http://www.familyfirst.net.nz

    (Whois says that’s Bob’s domain, so it’s probably a config error…)

  11. Nathan Ward says:

    I wonder if Hamish is getting any email for that domain? I wonder if there’s some legal problems around that – reading mail intended for someone else?

  12. brenda09 says:

    Regardless of Hamish being right or wrong I strongly object to what you have done in return. Particularly given that you, as you state, do not agree with the views of familyfirst – you’re being an obstreperous twat here Lance just to prove a point and providing sanction to a particularly odious portion of our society. Shame.

    • Lance Wiggs says:

      Shame indeed.

      But who shall defend the indefensible? Who shall make a stand for the rights of all to speak? We all need to.
      It’s odious to deny a portion of society the right to speak. Going down that path leads to censorship, including blocking websites. Isn’t it better to reveal and ridicule?

      I’m proud to live in a country where we had such an excellent debate in the chamber this evening on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) bill. I’m proud of MPs from all parties who spoke both in favour and against the bill. And I’m proud that the end result was just.

    • Jed says:

      The right to free speech is one of the most important rights in our society. Much more important than the gay marriage issue.

      Brenda, you are guilty of trying to suppress free speech because you don’t agree with the other sides view.

      I strongly disagree with many of the green party policies for example. But, does this mean I should call them ‘odious’ and horrible and try to destroy their website(s)?

      Personally I think you and people like you are more a danger to society than anyone against ‘gay marriage’.

      • brenda09 says:

        Jed I have no problem with free speech, I have a problem with tit-for-tat – all power to Lance to use his blog and his influence to speak out against what Hamish did. However my objection was to his employing the same tactics to prove his point. That’s beyond speech and into actions, which could (probably not in this case however) have consequences.
        I’m not destroying anyone’s website – I’m objecting to tactics.
        btw no one’s ever called me a danger to society before, given aspects of our society I’ll consider that a compliment.

        • Jed says:

          Well I say good on Lance for doing this. His motive was good.

          Whereas “Hamish Spencers” motives were more evil.

        • Lance Wiggs says:

          Oh no I think Hamish Spencer’s motives were fine. It’s whether or not he hands the domain over if asked nicely that is the litmus test.

Comments are closed.