Pub Rants

A Cautionary Tale

 23 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: It’s a Monday and the first day back after a holiday. Enough said.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND by Sting

Caution: titillating blog ahead?

This weekend a librarian got a little eye-brow raising shock.

She clicked on one of my authors old, outdated website urls and got, yes, you guessed, a gay porn site advertising “super big you-know-whats.”

Okay, maybe you didn’t guess that. Luckily the librarian had a lively sense of humor and wrote a lovely email to my author informing her of the new home for her old website url and how and where she had found the old link (just in case we wanted to address the issue).

Well, my author had a non-suggestive and completely non-porn former url so of course I had to give it a look-see. Why on earth would someone use that address for a gay porn site? Didn’t make sense so I thought the librarian might be having a bit of fun.

I got an eyeful that’s for sure.

But this is an issue that I imagine few authors have ever imagined. Having an old url data out and about in the world that you release and then is later legitimately bought and used for porn site probably doesn’t happen often.

But I’m here to tell you it does happen.

By the way, my author is super savvy did everything right. She launched her new site and notified any website linkers of the change so other sites could update their content. She even held the website url for two years after the switch with a nifty message redirecting visitors to her new site.

She never imagined what the next url owner would have in mind.

So if there is even a chance of readers clicking on that old url information and you’d like to control what they see, maybe hold that site (and spend the money) for a little tad longer.

23 Responses

  1. Cindy Procter-King said:

    I’ve heard several times of this happening, so, yep, better safe than sorry. Once I have a URL associated with my writing, I don’t give it up, no sirree. It’s what, $8 a year for the domain and double that if you want the registration information private. Pretty cheap protection.


  2. Joelle said:

    This just happened to someone I know. She found out the guy who was running it was in China or somewhere in Asia. She emailed him and explained the situation. He had a lot of sites for different things so he changed it to a gaming site and moved the porn because he didn’t want kids looking at it either. Might be worth a try for your client.

  3. Anonymous said:

    I had to look up some info regarding The White House and failed to use dot-gov, and guess what The White is? Yep! A porn site. Of course, my wife walked in just as the site was appearing. Horrors! I think there should be a separate Internet for porn.

  4. CM said:

    It’s actually pretty common. Because lots of people don’t change links, a preexisting website URL can have a high google rank.

    Porn abounds on dead URLs.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Less than $1,000 can register a domain for 100 years on Network Solutions. (and there are cheaper sites out there.) So if you are worried enough about it, this would do it for you.

  6. Dave Kuzminski said:

    I receive numerous notices from individuals about former author, agent, publisher, and other writing sites becoming porn outlets so I can post warnings in P&E. It does happen frequently, especially if a site was popular.

  7. Jules Jones said:

    I know several site owners who have had this problem. If the site had traffic, that traffic’s worth something to people selling entirely different products, especially if the site has a lot of legitimate links from other sites. The porn sites will deliberately buy up such sites if the domain registration lapses, because it’s worth it for the extra eyeballs and Googlejuice an established url will bring them.

  8. Tommy said:

    Amazon once ‘paired’ (buy these together) my book of children’s activities with what was essentially the gay karma sutra!

    It took a lot of angry emails from both myself and my publishers to rectify the situation.

  9. Patrick McNamara said:

    Another problem that can occur is cybersqatting, where someone will buy up a domain on the expectation that a person who really wants to use it would be willing to pay far more than what it’s worth to use it. But this does depend upon the person who wants to use that domain actually bothering to pay for that specific domain, so it isn’t always that profitable. Also, sometimes while a company may get the .com domain, they forget about the .org, .net and other domains which may be bought up (though this doesn’t seem to be as big a problem with writers as with major corperations).

    I see that is available.

  10. TJBrown said:

    This happened to a well known home education magazine about eight years ago. They went to a new name, let the old one lapse, and a porn company got a hold of it. Homeschoolers sure got an eyefull till the news got around.

  11. Anonymous said:

    URL = Uniform Resource Locator (from Wikipedia. It’s basically the website name.


  12. susan said:

    And you just gotta wonder what’s going on in the alleged minds of these urlsnatchers. “Ah, I see the url for a site that appeals to literate intellectual women has become available. I’ll use it to direct traffic to my site aimed at pathetically disgusting male losers.”

  13. Joely Sue Burkhart said:

    Don’t forget possible livejournal or blogspot domains, either. I have a friend that lost her to porn. I claimed mine, even though I never use it, just to be safe.

  14. Ryan Field said:

    Tough break when any URL is lost and then taken by someone with whom you’d rather not be associated.

    But I’m sure the “pathetically disgusting male losers” Susan mentions would be just as offended by discovering all those “literate intellectual women” by mistake.

  15. Anonymous said:

    Excellent suggestion, joely sue. I just went and registered my own name. I’m surprised it hadn’t been taken already!

  16. green ray said:

    Kristin, I have the problem in reverse! My is this guy who’s calling the ladies! My name is already taken with this guy. I hope if you agents see his site, you’ll have the good sense to realize it’s not me (he looks about 18 years old). And there’s a really bad poet with my name also – his poem is really bad! Maybe that’s why I don’t hear back from as many queries as I’d like! (LOL) I’m not seriously worried about this, but you never know.

  17. Anonymous said:

    I am getting ready to register my domain name very soon, so this is good info to think about before choosing a name. I want one that I will keep for a long, long time.

  18. M. G. Tarquini said:

    Traffic flow to a site is available from a number of venues. If a site gets a lot of traffic, it’s marked. Once the domain expires the porn purveyors snag it, hoping to catch the previous owners hits.

    Once you take a name and hand it out to people, bite the bullet and hang onto it. Often you can secure a domain name for 10 years. After years of people hitting blank walls, it may be safe to let the name go because it won’t be getting any hits.

  19. Natalie Damschroder said:

    The Pennsylvania state web site has a page with local Area Agency on Aging information, including links to county AAA sites. The one for Cumberland County went to a porn site.

    I notified the webmaster and pointed out the damage that could be done to an elderly person expecting to find information on Meals on Wheels and transportation who gets women having relations with horses instead.

    They refused to remove the link until the regularly scheduled update time, which wasn’t for six months!