Watch Out for Dotster’s Idiotic Subdomain Policy

I finally got to the bottom of my subdomain problem. A recent commenter pointed me to my registrar’s–that’d be Dotster–registration agreement. It’s more than 11,000 words long, so you’ll forgive me if I didn’t read it carefully.

Item 6.5 (just search for ‘wild’) has this to say about subdomains:

DNS Wildcard. In the event you utilize Dotster, Inc.’s DNS management services and fail to configure a wildcard DNS for your domain, Dotster, Inc. may insert wildcard DNS records to resolve subdomains of your domain that would not otherwise resolve. Dotster, Inc. may point those subdomains to a web page that may contain advertisements and other materials selected by Dotster, Inc. in Dotster, Inc.’s sole discretion. This may include, but is not limited to, third-party website, third-party product and service offerings, and/or Internet search engines.

In other words, “Dear Customer: Unless you read this and take steps to fix it, we’re going to abuse your trust for extra revenue.” Bastards. If it weren’t such an enormous pain in the butt, I’d move this domain elsewhere immediately. You can be certain I won’t be registering any other domains with them.

If you’re a Dotster customer, you probably have no idea how to resolve this issue. Happily, this knowledge base article explains how to insert a wildcard entry into your DNS.

UPDATE: Hmm…I can’t seem to link to documents on Dotster’s site. You can find the registration agreement in the footer of any page, and the knowledge base article is, as you’d expect, in the knowledge base.


  1. I’m switching hosting providers over the next few weeks for much the same reason. My hosting company was wonderful until the original owner retired, but I’ve seen many signs of slippage since then. The final straw was when I discovered by accident that all the 404 pages on all my sites had mysteriously acquired pop-under ads and banners for a site called, which I did not authorize, nor did my clients. It took two weeks for someone to respond to my complaint, and though they’ve fixed it now, I’m offended enough by their presumptuousness to head out the door.

  2. Kirsten: Don’t be afraid to name those doofuses (doofi?) if you’re so inclined.

  3. Well, I didn’t mean to name them at first, because up until recently I didn’t have anything bad to say about them. They used to be called Ace of Space, and when Sharon was running the place they were the most perfect host you could ask for – incredibly responsive, practically no downtime; any time you had a problem or question she’d respond, it seemed, within minutes.

    After she left, they renamed themselves Hostutopia. Now it takes a lot longer to get a response about anything, and it seems like when I do have a question, every response comes from a different individual, so it’s never one person trying to solve the problem but a handful taking turns.

    To be fair, their uptime and reliability has still been fine, and one of the problems I had at one point turned out to be my fault, not theirs. But a few things like this made me leery, and I feel like it’s time to move on, now, before I start having actual hosting problems.


    Domain registrars of the kickass variety. I’ve used them for literally hundreds of domains, and they are responsive, provide personal attention, Victoria-based, and cheap.

    Darren, is Dotster that difficult to get out of? In most circumstances, just changing the domain protect status at your current registrar, and initiating the transfer at your new registrar, should get it done. I’ve never had the pleasure of logging into Dotster’s control panel, however….

  5. Duh! Almost all registration companies do this. It’s your domain and if you dont know how to manage one then dont buy one. Setting up simple cnames and or not using there nameservers resolves that. I’ve also called and talked to their tech support and they have no problem helping you remove it. If your gonna have a take, dont suck.

  6. Hey IT guy, whether all companies do this or not, it’s still a malicious practice. Plus, most non-IT guys are probably not familiar with concepts such as cnames, etc. just like how some IT guys may not have a good grasp of english grammar (see

    And just like we don’t stop IT guys from using the English language, we also shouldn’t make things difficult or obscure for non-IT guys to register and host domains.

    (sure, being a grammar nazi is a form of elitism but hey, you started it.)

  7. No, actually, ITGuy, not all companies do this… in fact, not even close. And your comment smacks of the self-serving sophistry that con artists use: if their marks were stupid enough to fall for the ruse, they deserved to get fleeced.

    I’m with Chris: the web isn’t just for the IT priesthood. A huge part of what’s powering the revolution in online self-expression is the removal of barriers like unnecessary technical complexity, arcane terminology…

    … and snobbery.

  8. Somehow, by pure luck im sure, you figured out how to slap together this blog. But you cant figure out how to google the word cname? And you cant take half the time Im sure it took you to come up with a response regarding grammer, to call and ask them to help you do it? Grow some stones, stop crying long enough to fix the problem instead of blaming your lack of knowledge on simple domain on another company. I beleive they have a saying for this. If you cant cook, stay out of the kitchen. It’s people like you that create unnecessary hold times for people who need help and not cheese to go with their whine.

  9. Oops! my appologies. Your canadian. Should of known. Im sorry, I promise I wont waste any more of my time. You rant as well as you canadians play hockey. Maybe we can show you how to manage your domains after were done handing you your stones back in the stanley cup.

  10. You can request to have your domains put on an opt-out list for their DNS wildcard.

  11. I just had a bunch of my customers’ names dumped into Dotster from another registrar, which is a long story and I won’t go there, but I’ve found Dotster to be reasonably responsive so far. Moving a name away from them is pretty easy. Unlike some registrars which hide the link for getting an authorization code for transfer out, Dotster puts it in plain view on their DN management UI.

  12. Dotster ( I like to refer to them as Disa-ster) … SUCKS.

    Backing up a database is a nightmare. If you don’t know PHPMyAdmin you should take an online course first. Dotster’s interface is terrible.

    The hosting/domain account control panel is an antique.

    They’re quick to transfer in a domain but they’re slower than the second coming of Christ to transfer one out. When I emailed asking why the transfer was taking so long (with the promise of a response within 24 hours) the response I got 72 hours later told me that if I wanted the domain transferred any sooner than 5 days then I must “… send us the following documentation:
    1. Photo identification for the owner of the domain
    PLUS, if the domain is owned by a business:
    2. A copy of your company’s business license
    Please send your scanned legal documentation as an attachment to this email. If you cannot scan your documentation,
    please send a fax to 360-253-4234. Here is a link to a fax form you can fill out, print out and send with the request: (or just write up your own). When we receive your request and proof of ownership, we will release the domain immediately. Otherwise it will transfer anyway after 5 days have passed.”

    Huh, they need a copy of my driver’s license and business license? This is BULLSHIT. If they can transfer it immediately then the only apparent reason that they do not do so without making you jump through hoops is simply to bust the balls of outgoing domain owners. Long Live GoDaddy. They transferred out a domain for me in less than 10 minutes with no idiotic demands a copy of my license, etc. It turned out that the company that I moved everything to is a reseller for GoDaddy ( They even offer personal attention with questions. Dotster is a -5 on a scale of 1-10.

  13. One of my clients, an entrepreneur who has numerous business ventures, has over 50 domains registered with Dotster. He has long hated them for their practices and, as the domains come up for renewal, I have been slowly transferring them to GoDaddy where he has his hosting accounts. Three weeks ago he asked me to change the name servers to point to GoDaddy for one of his domains, and put the web site for that domain on his GoDaddy server. I did this, and the URL gave a server not found error page. I contacted GoDaddy to be sure I have the right name servers and had the file hierarchy set up properly, despite having done this for my client numerous times before, and they confirmed I did. They said wait 72 hours because it can take that long. After 72 hours I was getting the same error. I contacted Godaddy and was told then it is an issue with the registrar – Dotster. I called Dotster tech support line, a 24/7 line, and listened to music for almost an hour. I decided to e-mail my request instead marking it urgent because my client needed his web site up and running to show one of his clients. Two days later I received an e-mail response saying someone would get back to me in 24 hours. Three weeks later I am still waiting. Since the site was still not showing I called Dotster again and this time put them on speaker phone. I was listening to music punctuated by recordings of how much my business means to them for 178 minutes. That is 2 minutes short of three hours, at which time I received a different recording saying to call during normal business hours. This is a 24/7 help line in Washington which is an hour behind me and it was 2 pm their time on a Wednesday. What are their normal business hours? This weekend I called again and got their answering service. I explained the urgency and was told the tech on call would contact me with-in the hour. Never happened. I called back 4 more times and was told by one operator the tech had backed up but someone would return my call in the order it was received. Excuse me, I have been trying for three weeks, how many people are in front of me? I have yet to hear from anyone. I have called, I have e-mailed four times and I have received no response. I have to meet my client today because he wants answers about this so I am going to tell him to transfer the domain to GoDaddy. That will take yet another 7 days but at least I will get tech support. As for Dotster? Clint Page and Brian Unruh can go back to sleeping with al-Quiada and the other terrorist organizations they are supporting, they will not get another dime of my, or my clients’ money, if I can help it.

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