Jul 11

I had two different friends last week “lose the keys” to their own web site. One situation was a disgruntled admin who thought he had leverage and decided to make demands and the other was an accident where the developer left the country for a 2yr mission in an isolated city in South America without leaving behind the server/domain credentials nor a copy of the code. Both sites were static and I was able to use the free HTTrack tool to suck down a copy and mirror them on my server. We were able to reclaim the domain for one and on the other we’re hosting on the .net alternate while we wrestle control back from the rogue ex-employee. This scenario got me thinking though and I submitted an idea to Cambrian House which is now in the running in this week’s tournament. The idea simply is this:

Automate everything I did for my friends last week. I’m starting to think that this situation occurs more frequently than expected and not everyone has a friend with a server and the knowledge to copy a site remotely, mirror it and pursue the domain reclamation process. There is an opportunity to make a online service that allows the victim to immediately snapshot a copy of his/her site, mirror it on an alternate URL and get assistance with the process of recovering the domain in the event that it’s been lost.

My question is: does this idea seem viable? Market big enough? If it did exist how would you go about promoting awareness of the service to the people afflicted with this problem? Not that we have any extra cycles to pursue creating this (that’s why I submitted to CH). But here’s the official entry that’s in the tournament:

SiteLiber8: regain control of your orphaned site

7 Responses to “Web site reclamation service idea”

  1. Rick Curran says:

    Interesting idea, though you’d have to be careful that people didn’t make use of the service just to rip-off other people’s websites.

  2. sean says:

    Rick- there would definitely be potential for abuse but the worst case is that people make clones of existing sites. I would set a 5-day expiration on the mirrored sites that aren’t paid for. And ultimately the domain dispute resolution process still occurs independently with each registrar- the service merely provides a wizard to assist the non-technical person in reclaiming their site.

    good point though


  3. Ed says:

    This would be a viable value-add service for a high-end corporate domain name management service provider. Low overhead (simple to automate) and high value (to a brand manager) too.

  4. james says:

    I’m guessing most people won’t think they need this until it’s too late.

    Perhaps one could subscribe to a weekly auto-snapshot service that only held the most recent copy.

    I wonder if archive.org, AKA the way-back machine, could make a few bucks to support itself by offering some sort of copy++ service? They already mirror sites, they just don’t always do it as often as one might want.

  5. sean says:

    right so like a premium subscription to archive.org that snapshots your site more frequently… interesting. shhhh don’t tell Brewster Kahle ;-)

    the thing to realize here (and someone else on the Cambrian House thread had the same misunderstanding with the concept) is that it’s _not_ an insurance policy you purchase ahead of time, it’s an emergency response you buy once the problem has occurred. think about this: what if you didn’t have to buy auto insurance upfront and instead there was just a $200 fee you could pay to recover your automobile in the event that it were stolen?


  6. Bill Brown says:

    This would work fine enough on a brochure-ware site, but aren’t a lot of sites (even the basic ones) dynamic.


  7. Ed says:

    This would be a viable value-add service for a high-end corporate domain name management service provider. Low overhead (simple to automate) and high value (to a brand manager) too.

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