… 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!