Sunday, February 12, 2012

How to break the internet

If you follow me on twitter, you might have seen this post:

Basically my wife broke the internet and I wanted to explain how.

She does her own site management for a small business via a microsoft service (office live small business or something). The service is transferring to something else and we took the opportunity to get off the platform due to personal preference. Honestly, for someone who knows nothing about making a site from a code perspective, I thought the microsoft product was just fine, so no knocks against them.

So in the transition, we demoed a few other similar services and chose intuit. Same style of making a site, some things better, others not. No big detail, she made the new site in the editor, added some pages, done.

Now the domain transfer...

For everyday people, this isn't so easy as making a web site without code. There are transfer codes, locking, name servers, etc. So I told her I would do this with her so we could maintain the same domain she had for the old site and reuse it for the new site. What happens? She closes the account with the old domain. The domain is locked and the contact email address on the whois is also deleted when she canceled the microsoft service.

So, what does she do? She buys a new domain and then updates the company facebook page and sends out an email to the mailing list. No big deal right? Everyone will get the new link and all is well.

Not in my eyes. That old domain is everywhere, its on business cards, menus, likely bookmarked and most of all, indexed in all major search engines and local map pages as the company URL. This cancellation effectively broke the internet. The URL is everything, if you've read my handwritten post, you'll see some links and where I explain responsibility of ownership of a URL. It's everything. If anything else, it needs to redirect to the new domain rather then just being a dead 404:

HTTP/1.1 404 
Connection: close
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2012 15:13:21 GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/6.0
MS-Author-Via: MS-FP/4.0,DAV
MicrosoftOfficeWebServer: 5.0_Collab
X-UA-Compatible: IE=EmulateIE7
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET

So I am going through the labor now of submitting documentation to the registar of updated contact information for the domain owner to get back access and point the old URL to the new site at least for a year. For the company name which is somewhat common, it is first in google for that term based on organic results. Unless recovered the internet has a hole in it. The library of congress, google and whoever else downloads the internet for indexing won't know what happened. Machines won't understand.

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