Domain Suspension Rant

As you may or may not have noticed, TGS was unreachable from Dec 24th until recently. This was caused by registry control’s (XYZ LLC in this case) decision to suspend my domain. First, a chronology of events.

Dec 24th: Users on dA and QSF tell me, that the site is no longer reachable. The DNS is indeed no longer resolving the domain name to its IP. At first I assume this has something to do with the DNS servers at Cloudflare and so I switched to the DNS servers of my registrar. That does not help and I inspected the DNS records more closely. DNS queries are not directed at either of these name servers. So I contact the registrar for support.

Dec 25th: About 24 hours later they tell me that the domain has been suspended and give me a link to the unsuspension request form of XYZ LLC. On that form you first enter your domain name and are then told about its status (“Suspended for Abuse reported” in this case). Next it asks you to remove the domain from all blacklists and provide evidence that you did (text + file upload). It also says that they will not even consider your unsuspension request if you are on a blacklist. I try to figure out what has brought on this suspension and email my registrar and registry control. My registrar tells me they do not know. XYZ does not respond.

Dec 26th: I go through various blacklist lookup tools and find out that the domain is on the Spamhaus DBL (domain blacklist). Then I fill out and submit their delisting request form.

Dec 27th: No reply from Spamhaus. I try the form again and explain the situation in more detail. I also submit the unsuspension form on XYZ LLC’s site even though the domain is still on the Spamhaus DBL. I figure they might at least confirm that this is the reason for the suspension.

Dec 28th: I received my first non-automated reply from Spamhaus. They tell me that they cannot confirm my authority over the domain. I reply and provide them with further information. They take off the blacklist. Apparently it had made the list for being hosted in “a bad neighborhood”, but even the person handling my case there was not able to say for sure. I update my unsuspension request ticket with XYZ LLC (they had not replied so far).

Dec 29th: XYZ LLC finally confirms that being flagged by Spamhaus was what caused the suspension. And the domain is unsuspended.

So, now for the rant. Even though I am glad my domain is back, I am still upset that this has ever happened and how it went down. And here are the reasons why:

  1. I was not notified about the suspension. TGS went down and I was left to figure out what had happened on my own. I would have expected the registrant to be told about that, if not beforehand, then at least as it happened.

  2. At first I was not told the reason of the suspension. Instead I was left to research blacklists and do guesswork.

  3. The actual reason for the suspension of my domain is not valid. XYZ LLC lists a number of possible reasons for domain suspension in their terms, but being on a blacklist is not one of them. Actually sending spam is a reason. Being blacklisted for spamming and actually spamming is not the same thing. A blacklist serves as an indication, but not as proof. I have never configured the domain for email (no mail server, no MX record) and thereby never sent nor received a single email under this domain, but that is apparently not relevant to XYZ LLC.

  4. To the best of my knowledge the blacklisting was collateral damage in the fight against spam or whatever my “neighbors” (other sites at the same hosting company) do. Spamhaus is taking the easy route here by blacklisting entire IP ranges and domains hosted on them instead of looking at them one by one. Or someone there actually made a mistake.

  5. I had to jump through all these hoops even though I have done nothing wrong.

To sum things up, here is my impression of XYZ LLC based on this experience: They do not give a fuck about their registrants. They care about saving costs, about their reputation and that of their TLD .xyz. That is why they want to stay off blacklists in order to appear clean. And they make registrants do the work for them by taking their domains hostage. That process can be automated and does not require an employee to waste their precious time on tedious things like actually looking at a domain that has been reported before it is suspended.

Now, TGS is still (or again) here under this domain. If I had known this would happen, I would not have paid for it several years in advance. But I am definitely not going to renew it when the time comes. Sooner or later TGS will move elsewhere. On a sidenote, the few (automated) emails I received from XYZ LLC all ended up in my spam folder. I can see some irony in that at least.