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Reports of our demise…

Filed under: — gavin @ 23 November 2015

… have of course been greatly exaggerated. But we are having some issues with our domain name. The back story is perhaps interesting to others, so here is quick summary of the situation.

Update: The account details have been restored and the domains renewed. We should be back to normal in a couple of days.

Way back when we first started, hosting for RealClimate was provided by Environmental Media Services (EMS). They owned the domain and let us use their internet service provider. As anyone could see from the whois data, the domain name itself was set up by one Betsy Ensley at ems.org. None of us knew Betsy, or as far as I can tell, have even met her (Betsy, if you are reading, please drop us a line!).

Over the years, things changed. The main force behind EMS was Arlie Schardt who retired in 2005. After that EMS morphed into a different kind of organisation, the Science Communication Network (SCN) which is mostly focused on environmental health issues. But still, the domain name for RealClimate.org had years to go, and so no-one changed anything in the registration.

After a few years under the SCN ISP account, we went it alone a couple of years ago. This is probably something we should have done at the start, but we were scientists, not website engineers. We still aren’t web gurus, but experience over the years has made this far easier. Nonetheless, the domainame was still registered with Betsy. This wouldn’t have been a problem, but Betsy long ago left EMS, so the email bounces, the phone number has long been out-of-service and SCN has no records of Betsy’s online accounts, and this domain registration is not part of their portfolio.

This is where it gets tricky. The domainname registration was with Active-Domain.com. If you go to their website, there is no way to get in touch with them except through their contact form – no phone numbers, addresses etc. And quite often in our experience, their contact form doesn’t work at all. We have been trying for months to get hold of someone at Active-Domain.com to ask what would be required to amend the registration info to something current. Unfortunately, no responses have been forthcoming, and frankly, this slipped off our radar.

On Nov 16, the registration actually expired. For some people, going to realclimate.org led you to a page asking you to renew the registration, but without the Betsy Ensley’s or the EMS login credentials you can’t do anything. None of the emails and support tickets we have sent since to Active-Domain.com have been responded to. Worse, some people have reported that the domain has in fact been hijacked to point to some malware and spammer sites. Website hijacking is of course a big deal – as this recent Science News story about journal websites makes clear.

We now have this temporary domain realclimate-backup.org set up, and we’ll continue here for the time being, but obviously, we’d like our original domain back.

So, a few requests for our readers: Does anyone know anyone at Active-Domain.com that we can actually talk to? Similarly, does anyone have any experience amending out-of-date domain registration records? What is actually required? Given the state of flux in URLs, we imagine that this must be quite a common occurrence. We obviously would like to deal with this before the domain becomes free again, so any suggestions are welcome.

In the meantime, please let people know that archived content from realclimate.org is available here. We will maintain this backup site for as long as necessary. And of course, it’s now our registration, so hopefully that shouldn’t be too hard!

53 Responses to “Reports of our demise…”

  1. 1
    Lemon says:

    You are this incompetent and expect that you should be given a pass because you’re “climate scientists” (although this is certainly up for debate climate propagandists more accurately. I laugh harder at you about this today than I do on a normal day at your bullshit.

  2. 2
    GlenFergus says:

    Ms Betsy Cecil of Forum One consulting appears to be the lady whom you seek — direct contact on their web page (search forumone). Whether she can remember a login from 20 years ago is a whole ‘nother matter…

    That took exactly 15 minutes, nubes ;-)

  3. 3
    Bob Spencer says:

    You need to contact ICANN, (google it), who ultimately can take it off Active-Domanin and whoever has nicked it. See the registration below.
    Domain Name:REALCLIMATE.ORG
    Domain ID: D105219760-LROR
    Creation Date: 2004-11-19T16:39:03Z
    Updated Date: 2015-11-20T01:33:40Z
    Registry Expiry Date: 2016-11-19T16:39:03Z
    Sponsoring Registrar:Active Registrar, Inc. (R1709-LROR)
    Sponsoring Registrar IANA ID: 1090
    WHOIS Server:
    Referral URL:
    Domain Status: ok — http://www.icann.org/epp#ok

    Regards – Bob in the UK

  4. 4
    Dave Baldwin says:

    I suggest going to another registrar and asking if they can simply register the domain for you. I haven’t looked into your situation, but it is sometimes that simple. If it is, you need to do it post haste, before someone else does!

  5. 5
    Paul Segal says:

    Around 2002 I decided to only trust Domain Registrars listed by the AUDA, (being in Australia), and they had to answer the phone or call back or email quickly. Being pretty on the web is not important. Of course this was after problems with the first domain name I registered with a registrar……. the AUDA came to my rescue.

    I was wondering why the recent payment to 2016 hadn’t fixed the nameserver issues.

  6. 6
    patrick says:

    @1 Lemon: The transparency shown here is remarkable. Thank you for inviting me to say so. And for the opportunity to invite anyone who wants to know what this site is about to check the tabs at the top of the page. Thank you.

  7. 7
    Hans Kiesewetter says:

    Isn’t there (somewhere hidden) also a planet-backup.org available? Just in case all your work, writing and website could not avoid a planet disaster?

    (I’m glad you are back…)

  8. 8

    @ Lemon: You embarrass yourself.

    I’ve been closely following the climate science v. denialist/contrarian/sceptic/whatever debate for, oh, about a half decade now, and I’ve noticed that the science-deniers are becoming more extreme in their rhetoric, falling back more frequently on ad hominem attacks, and are attempting to present fewer arguments based on grounded reason.

    A rather invigorating source of backhanded optimism, y’know?

  9. 9
    --MJ-- says:

    Well, I think we’ve done away with the notion that climate scientists are evil geniuses bent on world domination. Hope you’re back up soon!!

  10. 10
    Ric Werme says:

    Welcome back. Looks like you have a fair amount of cleanup to do. What was/is with the HTTP 503 and 403 errors this morning (EDT)?

  11. 11
    Jim Eager says:

    @1, Go suck on a lemon, you illiterate sourpuss.

  12. 12

    Delighted to have you back!

    There’s been a lot of wondering going on.

  13. 13
    Random says:

    @Rik Myslewski: Have mercy on them deniers. Being wrong in every way on all the issues takes a heavy emotional toll over time. So grant them a bit of relief on the intertubes every now and then…

  14. 14
    Christopher H says:

    Please excuse this if this is double-posted, and if so please drop the original posting. The website did not appear to accept this the first time.

    1) I nearly lost the registration for my company’s website under similar circumstances. You only have renew every 10 years. Any breakdown of communications over the intervening decade means you won’t be notified of impending expiration. And, seriously, who thinks to ping their own whois entry, just to see how many years of registration are left?

    2) I had not truly appreciated WattsUp readers until this incident. I stumbled onto an article about your outage, on that site. The article appears to have attracted 400 or so comments.

    Your website down time was a well-defined event with (now) known cause and outcome. WattsUp is a favorite among climate change denialists. If we can ignore selection bias issues, the comments to that article provide a look at a cross-section of denialist thinking.

    So, how well did that group do in assessing likely cause and outcome of this event? By my rough count:

    I’d say 2 out of 10 got it right (along the lines of, you probably forgot to pay the bill, likely, you’ll be back up soon.) These seem to be reasonable, rational, intelligent individuals.

    Looks like 5 out of 10 are just free-form expressions of hatred and scorn (e.g., so-and-so is a jerk). Along the lines of the first comment here. Just using the event to express an existing negative opinion.

    The remaining 3 out of 10 invoke an amazing spectrum of wacky conspiracy theories to explain the outage. E.g., NASA shut you down; you were shut down due to a drop in ad revenue(!?); you were shut down to hide datasets that prove AGW is a fraud; you shut down because you have succeeded in your political goal of driving climate skeptics from government. And on and on. The funny (or maybe not so funny) thing is that all of the writers appear to be completely in earnest.

    For me, reports of your website’s death incidentally provided a nice snapshot of the psychoses of climate denialism. Discussion was clearly dominated by anger, hatred, and conspiracy-theory thinking. (Which seems consistent with the limited scholarly literature in this area.) The only thing that puzzles me is why seemingly reasonable and rational people (i.e., those smart enough to ping Whois) hang out there.

  15. 15

    Glad to see you guys back on the air. The Wattsholes (like Lemon above) were having a field day about how this showed that you had no support, or something. They still don’t get the science-is-based-on-evidence thing.

  16. 16
    David Sanger says:

    Many of the internal links are still to the realclimate-backup.org site.

  17. 17
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    #1 This matter is not relevant to anything in the real world.

  18. 18

    During the outage, I searched for news and found an entry at WWUT (of course, who else follows you more closely?) http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/11/21/realclimate-org-goes-dark-is-it-permanent/
    (although according to Privacy Badger – this may not be a safe page to visit. )

    In my system, I did make use of the system restore function in Windows – check you instructions if needed.

  19. 19
    Russell says:

    With 252,794,942 erstwhile viewers, why can’t Watts spare a minion to keep his raison d’etre on the air?

  20. 20

    –MJ– reminds me of the tweet by author Scott Westerfield:

    Plot idea: 97% of the world’s scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires & oil companies.

  21. 21
    sidd says:

    1) Change to a better registrar. The oldest, probably most expensive, and in my case rock solid since 1994, with a fone number and a human behind it 24/7 is network solutions. Call em up, say you want a domain for twenty years or whatever the max is they are selling these days, and explain the situation; they deal with this every day. They have the backstage contacts at all the registrars and the will get this done. In fairness, i should say that i deal with a bunch of other registrars myself, but this site is too important to screw around with.

    2)i can contribute secondary name service, with failover to a backup site for which

    3)i can contribute bandwidth and storage for a backup for all static content

    sidd

  22. 22
    Chuck Hughes says:

    @1 Lemon – That’s a great name for you. I have a few other choice names if you need a little help. “@55h0le” comes to mind.

    Any website can go down for a variety of reasons including ‘Anonymous” paying
    you a visit. It can be done in a matter of minutes by a skilled tech. I would think that the folks here at realclimate already have their hands full dealing with idiots like…. LEMON!

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re back up and running. Even if you had to change domain names I think we’d be able to keep up just fine.

  23. 23
    Chuck Hughes says:

    @1 Lemon – That’s a great name for you. I have a few other choice names if you need a little help. “@55h0le” comes to mind.
    Any website can go down for a variety of reasons including ‘Anonymous” paying

    you a visit. It can be done in a matter of minutes by a skilled tech. I would think that the folks here at realclimate already have their hands full dealing with idiots like…. LEMON!

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re back up and running. Even if you had to change domain names I think we’d be able to keep up just fine.

  24. 24
    t marvell says:

    Wsttsupwiththat said about the shutdown:
    “While few have noticed, since hardly anyone but the handful of extreme faithful visit there anymore”
    The site isn’t very truthful. But I’m curious about how many views Realclimate gets, and what is the trend?

  25. 25
    Edward Greisch says:

    21 sidd: You forgot to name that better registrar.

  26. 26
    Edward Greisch says:

    https://www.internic.net/regist.html
    has a list of registrars

    Coursera courses that might be relevant:
    https://www.coursera.org/learn/internet-history
    Internet History, Technology, and Security
    University of Michigan

    Charles Severance
    Associate Professor
    School of Information
    University of Michigan
    http://www.dr-chuck.com

    https://www.coursera.org/course/networks
    Networked Life
    Instructors
    Michael Kearns
    University of Pennsylvania
    http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~mkearns

    https://www.coursera.org/learn/digital-democracy
    Securing Digital Democracy
    University of Michigan
    Instructors
    J. Alex Halderman
    Associate Professor
    Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
    jhalderm.com

    https://www.coursera.org/course/comnetworks
    Computer Networks
    Instructors
    David Wetherall
    University of Washington
    Arvind Krishnamurthy
    University of Washington
    John Zahorjan
    University of Washington
    https://www.coursera.org/uw

    etcetera

  27. 27
    Tim Kozusko says:

    Glad to see you back!

  28. 28
    Steven Sullivan says:

    25 Greisch. sidd did name the registrar: Network Solutions (he didn’t use caps though).

  29. 29
    sidd says:

    I should have capitalized the leading letters in Network Solutions

    1-877-628-8686

    networksolutions.com is the web site. i recommend the phone.

  30. 30
    Hank Roberts says:

    > greisch — “you forgot to name”

    Uh, no: right there in the words Sidd wrote: “network solutions”
    First hit for search: https://www.google.com/search?q=“network+solutions”

  31. 31
    Carbomontanus says:

    Dear Dr. R. Climate

    How good to have you back again. I began to wonder if there were any crooky interests ( Hijacking you call it) with my own PC.

  32. 32

    What I found interesting was that when I googled to find out what happened to realclimate – the links seemed to be only to denialist sites. I thought that there would be comments on pro-science sites or are the denialist sites much more popular?

  33. 33
    Real Climatologist says:

    You can talk around and over it all you want but the bottom line is this. RealClimate includes climate modelers. Climate models are some of the most complicated programs ever written, requiring remembering thousands of little details over years of development. If RealClimate can’t even remember to keep its domain named renewed or even how to do this — and all RealClimate is is its domain name — do you really have any faith in these climate models? Enough to radically change the world economy and condemn billions to drastically reduced standards of living?

    [Response: Shorter comment: No one knows anything about climate change because for a weekend a website was down. Brilliant logic there. – gavin]

  34. 34
    DriveBy says:

    K, it’s finally back up. I was somewhat concerned.
    I’m in no way a greenie, but have found RC to be the most credible source for the public. I see fewer political theories (blecch) and more science here, which vastly ups RC’s credibility.
    Glad to see it’s back and that the domain was only briefly hijacked. When it redirected to a spam/malware site, it looked like someone had bought the domain.

    — SO, if the scammer did not own the domain, how did they get the DNS redirected to point to their malserver?

  35. 35
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    I’m very relieved that Real Climate is back. Thanks for all you do. RC is certainly something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.

  36. 36

    RC 33, the proof is in the pudding. Check here.

    http://bartonlevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

  37. 37
    Killian says:

    You can talk around and over it all you want but the bottom line is this. RealClimate includes climate modelers. Climate models are some of the most complicated programs ever written, requiring remembering thousands of little details over years of development. If RealClimate can’t even remember to keep its domain named renewed or even how to do this — and all RealClimate is is its domain name — do you really have any faith in these climate models? Enough to radically change the world economy and condemn billions to drastically reduced standards of living?

    [Response: Shorter comment: No one knows anything about climate change because for a weekend a website was down. Brilliant logic there. – gavin]

    Comment by Real Climatologist — 25 Nov 2015 @ 4:57 PM

    Further evidence reasoning and rhetoric MUST become a mandatory skill taught through all four years of HS and university: You could plug a black hole with the size of the logical fallacy in that ridiculous comment.

    Glad y’all are back, even if you never listen to me.

    ;-)

  38. 38
    spilgard says:

    My alma mater recently revoked my geophysics Phd because I forgot to switch off the headlights on my vehicle and drained the battery. I was informed that, because I can’t be trusted to monitor the electrical and magnetic status of my vehicle, I can’t be trusted to monitor the electrical and magnetic status of the Earth’s dynamo.

  39. 39
    flxible says:

    Very enlightening to see the reactions to something that’s an everyday occurrence on the WWW, and the lack of simple observation among those commenters with a supposed scientific bent. Not to mention the inability of the Engineer among us to control his web browser while solving the basic problems of civilization.

    When the registration lapsed, the registrar, who is the actual owner of the domain being “leased” to RC did what they always do, put a notice at that address [small band across the top of the screen] of the expiry, along with some search directory that included directions to other paid up domains that registrar owns.

    No spammers or hackers or terrorists involved, just good old capitalism, often interpreted [and expressed] in the US of A as all of the above.

  40. 40

    Up yonder, MJ provided welcome amusement. Evil Climate Scientists scheme world domination, but could not manage ICANN domain-name domination.

    Having personally let a couple of ‘domains’ slip, I wish you all the best.

  41. 41
    Peter Bjørn Perlsø says:

    I’m glad that RC is back, I was getting worried in its absence.

    I must strongly reinterate that a website of such importance as yours must have far stronger plans for handling contingencies such as this. Most here are aware what underhanded methods the opponents (individual as well as those behind the curtains) of sober climate research and information disemination use, and these will naturally become more severe in time. So, please do get some solid security measures in place.

    @33 “If RealClimate can’t even remember to keep its domain named renewed or even how to do this — and all RealClimate is is its domain name — do you really have any faith in these climate models?”

    Some highly gifted scientists are unable to tie their own shoelaces. Does that means that their scientific work is bunk?

  42. 42

    I can recommend HostEurope, very reliable hosting, with many upgrade features (Virtual Server for root access etc). They have also a backup service.

    Additional i recommend Wordfence WordPress plugin (if you still use WP), to blog ips etc.

    Regards,

    Chris

  43. 43
    Robin Johnson says:

    Don’t feel bad. This happens all the time to commercial websites. And when I say all the time – every minute of every day some website is wrecked due to a blunder of some sort.

    The difference is that monitoring alarms blare and a veritable swarm of network engineers, software engineers and their managers have a panic attack trying to figure out why the site is down. Then they realize the SSL certificate has expired. Or the domain registration lapsed. Or the DNS got munged. Or a firewall change broke something. Or some other random stupid event. And then some minutes or hours later it is all fixed. Reports are written up explaining the fubar and procedures are changed to avert the next event. Hopefully.

    Real Climate is just a simple website without a swarm of paid professionals who can leap into action at a moment’s notice when something goes wrong. Down for the weekend isn’t that bad at all.

  44. 44
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Real Climatologist says: blah,blah…

    Paid hack or hapless idiot?

  45. 45
    mk says:

    “Real Climatologist”

    Real denier liar.

  46. 46
    Christopher Winter says:

    Real Climatologist (33): If RealClimate can’t even remember to keep its domain named renewed or even how to do this — and all RealClimate is is its domain name — do you really have any faith in these climate models? Enough to radically change the world economy and condemn billions to drastically reduced standards of living?

    This give me hope of seeing the headline “Real Climatologist condemns billions to drastically reduced standards of living.” After all, if the folks who run RealClimate can do this, it stands to reason that “Real Climatologist” could manage it as well. And while I can only speculate, given that “Real Climatologist” hides behind a nym, it seems plausible that the policies he supports would stand a far better chance of bringing such privation to billions than the measures endorsed by Gavin Schmidt, Ray Pierrehumbert, and the rest.

  47. 47
    Mal Adapted says:

    Robin Johnson:

    Real Climate is just a simple website without a swarm of paid professionals who can leap into action at a moment’s notice when something goes wrong. Down for the weekend isn’t that bad at all.

    As a systems- and network-support professional, I LOL’ed at your comment 8^D! If the users knew what we have to do to keep them up and running, they’d be amazed that anything ever works.

  48. 48
    Toby says:

    Sorry for your minor crisis. I agree about Network Solutions; they will always negotiate with you (long term registration with relatively low annual rate) if you ask.

    And thanks for the priceless lol of deniers exposing their idiocy.

  49. 49
    Robin Johnson says:

    @Mal Adapted

    If people only knew…

  50. 50
    Hank Roberts says:

    Apropos to the larger sense of the topic:

    https://climateimagination.asu.edu/clificontest/

    2016 Climate Fiction Short Story Contest by Arizona State University

    The Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative and the College for Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University are proud to announce the 2016 Climate Fiction Short Story Contest. The contest will be judged by science fiction legend Kim Stanley Robinson, award-winning author of many foundational works in climate fiction, along with other climate fiction experts from ASU.

    Deadline: January 15 2016

    hat tip to: http://www.kimstanleyrobinson.info/d/content/clifi-short-story-contest


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