The Saga of masondixontrail.org

< Back

Back around 2005 the original Mason-Dixon Trail System web site was established. It's URL was masondixontrail.org . It was maintained by our previous webmaster. This individual hosted the site along with his personal web site to save the M-DTS money. This was a very noble gesture on his part. When he became ill in 2014 he
Recreation of masondixontrail.org
  Recreation of masondixontrail.org
informed the president of the M-DTS at that time that he could no longer maintain the site.

So we then started the process of transitioning the site from the previous webmaster's control to the club's control. Right away we learned that this was not going to be an easy process. The following paragraphs will detail what we did, or attempted to do, along with the results.

Among the first things that we did in 2014 was try to contact the then current web hosting company so that we could get the site moved from their servers. This hosting company, we later found out, was foreign owned and had virtually no support available. They would not return our emails or calls. We then knew that we had a problem. So we created the domain mason-dixontrail.org with another hosting company and basically rebuilt the site from scratch.

We were able to place a redirect from the old site to the new site. This worked for about a year. When the previous webmaster's personal web site account expired at the end of 2015, so did the old masondixontrail.org web site itself. We knew that there were a number of web sites still pointing to the masondixontrail.org domain name so we had to try and get it back.

Next we tried to contact the domain registrar for masondixontrail.org . The company that the site was registered through again had no support, their web site only let you pay for and create a domain. You could not edit the domain account or delete it.

To make matters worse this company resold the domain to another registrar. This is a common practice as the original registrar merely takes the money, passes the domain onto someone else and collects a residual when the domain is renewed. The original company locked down the domain so that it auto-renewed and we could not change any aspect of it.

So in the mean time our previous webmaster passed away. When we tried to contact the company that bought the domain from the reseller they were very nice to us but would not talk to us because the domain was in the previous webmaster's name. They needed a death certificate, proof of an estate executioner and a number of other official documents in order to give us access to the domain account. They also said that since the previous webmaster's name was the administrative contact, that he owned the domain.

We contacted the previous webmaster's widow in June, 2016. She agreed to send in his death certificate and proof of estate executioner. She also asked that the domain account be cancelled. During this time we also enrolled into a domain auction service through our current web hosting and domain provider to try and get the domain masondixontrail.org back.

In September, 2016 the the original domain registrar tried to auto-renew the domain masondixontrail.org . However, since the credit card on file was in the previous webmaster's name and had long ago been cancelled, it did not auto-renew. So in 30 to 45 days, if the domain was not renewed, it would be publically available again.

The domain masondixontrail.org went into a domain auction in early October, 2016. We had already placed a bid on this domain. The auction ended in mid October, 2016. We were one of six bidders and the winner of the domain masondixontrail.org .

Since we had entered the domain auction bidding service offered by our current hosting and domain provider back in June, the domain masondixontrail.org would be placed in the Mason-Dixon Trail System's name and we would own it for one year.

As of 10-26-2016 we are waiting for the domain masondixontrail.org to be placed into our current hosting and domain provider account. Once that occurs, we will then have masondixontrail.org again redirect to mason-dixontrail.org . And finally, this two plus year saga will be over.

The takeaways from this experience are:
1) Always host a web site with a reputable hosting company. Always purchase your web site domain from a reputable domain registrar. And make sure that they have good customer service. The cheapest is usually that way for a reason

2) If you are a small business or a non-profit organization, make sure that the domain contact names for your web site are the name of your organization and not the names of individuals. That way, if the individual administrative contact quits, dies or gets fired, there will not be an issue of who owns the domain.

3) Make sure that more than one person and less than three people have the "keys to the kingdom" as far as logins and passwords to one's organizational web site are concerned. Do not store them on the site and do not email them around. It is best to keep them within a passworded and/or encrypted file.

< Back  |  The Mason-Dixon Trail System  |