Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cybersquatting for Jesus?

Speaking of Blogspot weirdness last night, over the weekend a reader had e-mailed me about something they had noticed that was equally strange. Apparently, while trying to reach my blog, he had mistyped it as oracknows.blogpsot.com (I'm guessing that reversing the "s" and the "p" is a common mistyping) and was very surprised at what came up.

No, it wasn't a porn site, although that would have been fairly amusing if it had been.

Rather, it was a site called "Amazing Bible Studies." Right off the bat, I was greeted with:
AN INCREDIBLE TESTIMONY PROVING THE BIBLE IS TRUE, PLUS A COMMENTARY ON THE NEAR FUTURE ARE JUST AHEAD ON THIS HOME PAGE. PLEASE READ IT.

AN EASY TO UNDERSTAND, USER-FRIENDLY, NON-PROFIT SITE: NOTHING FOR SALE.

GOD LOVES YOU. JESUS STANDS AT THE DOOR OF YOUR HEART, KNOCKING. IF YOU WILL OPEN THE DOOR, HE WILL COME IN. THOSE THAT BELIEVE THEY ARE SAVED—BUT LIVE IN DISOBEDIENCE AND REBELLION TO THE BIBLE, REFUSING TO DO THE WILL OF GOD—DECEIVE THEMSELVES. God tells us, FEAR THE LORD, AND DEPART FROM EVIL-Pv 3:7. HE THAT IS NOT WITH ME IS AGAINST ME-Mt 12:30. FOR THE TIME WILL COME (which is now) WHEN THEY (the people of the world) WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE,…THEY WILL TURN THEIR EARS AWAY FROM THE TRUTH-2 Tim 4:3,4 NKJV. (Does this include you?) I HAVE SET BEFORE YOU LIFE AND DEATH, BLESSING AND CURSING: THEREFORE CHOOSE LIFE, THAT… THOU… MAY LIVE-Deut 30:19.
I retained the all-caps and the colors, so that you get a feel for the site. As for the "nothing for sale" part, there certainly was enough advertising on the site, including an ad for an online dating site advertising "intimate dating" showing up in the rotation of ads.

Man, I thought, this is getting old. First JB gets pissed off at me and, to spite me, buys up oracknows.com and redirects it to Generation Rescue, and now some religious nut is trying to mess with me? This blogging thing seemed to be producing more notoriety than I liked.

My first (admittedly egotistical) thought was, geez, I'm flattered. But then I thought about it and remembered that my blog isn' t that popular. It's not like I'm Instapundit (who draws around 120X the traffic I do) or premiere science blogger PZ Myers (who draws around 10X the traffic I do). Clearly, whoever did this did it for traffic, not for revenge/punishment/harassment, as JB did when he targeted me a couple of weeks ago. As much as it hurt my enormous surgeon's ego to admit it, it seemed odd that any fundie would target me specifically this way, unless I had somehow really ticked one off. I know that I sometimes get a bit sarcastic about "intelligent design" creationism, but I still doubted that this was the case, because on other times I try to be very careful not to make fun of the religious underpinnings of ID.

So, sleuth that I like to sometimes delude myself into thinking that I am, I did some digging. I started typing in some of the Blogspot blogs that I frequent, using the same mispelling of the "blogspot" part. Guess what? they all redirected to the same Bible-thumper website! So, I did the next obvious thing and typed in www.blogpsot.com. Yes, you guessed it. It redirected to this same site. The only reasonable conclusion was that the owners of this site had purchased the domain blogpsot.com and redirected all traffic to their Bible site. So, who owns this domain? A quick WHOIS search revealed:

% whois blogpsot.com

Whois Server Version 1.3

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net
for detailed information.

Domain Name: BLOGPSOT.COM
Registrar: IHOLDINGS.COM, INC. D/B/A DOTREGISTRAR.COM
Whois Server: whois.dotregistrar.com
Referral URL: http://www.dotregistrar.com
Name Server: NS1.EBIBLEONLINE.COM
Name Server: NS5.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Name Server: NS6.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Name Server: NS7.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Status: REGISTRAR-LOCK
Updated Date: 09-aug-2005
Creation Date: 27-oct-2002
Expiration Date: 27-oct-2006


>>> Last update of whois database: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 03:14:22 EST <<<>

Registrant:
Doug Powell (DME) use this one (BLOGPSOT-COM-DOM)
PO Box 10142
St Petersburg, FL 33733
US
+1.7278213151
amazingbible@verizon.net

Domain Name: BLOGPSOT.COM
Status: PROTECTED

Administrative Contact:
Doug Powell (DME) use this one amazingbible@verizon.net
PO Box 10142
St Petersburg, FL 33733
US
+1.7278213151

Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
Doug Powell (DME) use this one amazingbible@verizon.net
PO Box 10142
St Petersburg, FL 33733
US
+1.7278213151

Record last updated on 26-Sep-2005.
Record expires on 27-Oct-2006.
Record created on 27-Oct-2002.

Domain servers in listed order:

Name Server: ns1.ebibleonline.com
Name Server: ns5.dnsmadeeasy.com
Name Server: ns6.dnsmadeeasy.com

Searching around the site, I found that it was in reality something called Bible Desk. A WHOIS search revealed that bibledesk.com is owned by--you guessed it!--Doug Powell, and, hilariously, the DNS server was listed as NS.CHRISTIANWEBHOST.COM. I wonder if what Christian Web Host, Inc. thinks of Mr. Powell's tactics. (Probably not much, I'd guess.) Of course, CWH doesn't appear to be the host of blogpsot.com. The other DNS is from dnsmadeeasy.com, which lists a company Tiggee.com as its technical contact, and the domain ebibleonline.com is--will wonders never cease?--owned by Doug Powell. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do all the digging to figure out the exact relationships between the various ISPs and hosts and who was upstream of whom. I leave that as an exercise for the inquisitive reader.

I have to hand it to Mr. Powell, though. It takes some serious--shall we say?--creativity (not to mention balls) to use a tactic usually associated with porn sites, sites selling "Viagra without a prescription," and various other Internet scammers, namely the tactic of registering a domain using a common mispelling of a famous high traffic domain and using that to direct traffic to your own site. It takes even more "imagination" to harness such a tactic in the service of the Lord. And, if you're going to deceive surfers to bring them to God, why not go all the way and pick one of the highest traffic domains there is, Blogspot? Given the millions of Blogspot blogs out there, if only 0.1% of surfers mistype the "blogspot" part of the domain when looking for their favorite blogs, that's probably thousands of additional souls exposed to Jesus and warned about Armaggedon every day! Now that's thinking big--or should I say "scamming big"?--for the Lord! (On the other hand, maybe it's not working so well, as I could only find few bloggers who have posted about this chicanery before me.)

According to the site, though, one of the key purposes of this ministry is:

"AS GOD IN HIS MERCY ENABLES US—TO HUMBLY, FREELY, AND TRUTHFULLY PRESENT THE GOSPEL CLEARLY WITH SOUND BIBLE TEACHING TO ENABLE PEOPLE TO EXAMINE THEMSELVES TO SEE IF THEY ARE IN THE FAITH (ref Mt 10:8; 2 Cor 13:5; Titus 2:1)."

Yes, I did leave the all caps and punctuation intact again. What is it with the all caps and multicolored text that's sometimes painful to read (other than the content, which is painful enough to read, given its apocalyptic ramblings)?

Hmmm. I wonder how "humble" or "truthful" it is to trick web surfers who happen to mistype something while looking for their favorite blogs in order to try to bring them to the Lord. Perhaps it's God's hand that produces the typo that brings internet infidels to the Amazing Bible Site.

Looking at this whole thing, I'd want to ask Mr. Powell: What would Jesus think about how you go about spreading His word? Yes, I know what you did is not illegal. It's even rather clever to have every Blogspot blog redirect to you if misspelled in a certain way. However, it is deceptive. Does Jesus really want you spreading His word using such deception or using tactics generally used by porn sites and scammers?

Really, what would Jesus think of this? Would He approve? Did He tell you to do this? Inquiring minds want to know.

7 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 12/06/2005 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Bible Desk site: "It has been said that it is virtually impossible for anyone to make 11 straight predictions, 2000 years into the future. There is only one chance in 8 x 10 to the 63rd power, or 80 with 63 zeros after it that such a thing could be done."

What is it with creationists and probability? On what possible basis could you make such a calculation? What if the predictions were along the lines of "The sun will rise"? Pretty high probability there.

Ginger Yellow

 

At 12/06/2005 2:22 PM, Blogger The Retropolitan said...

I accidentally typed my own address with the "blogPOT" mistake once, the morning after I posted a long, venemous diatribe about creationists. It took me a while to realize that I hadn't been hacked by angry fundies -- but it was a heck of a scary morning. I kept looking over my shoulder for suspicious priests or carpenters.

 

At 12/06/2005 4:56 PM, Anonymous Zuckervati said...

Looks like this is actually illegal, according to this website:

"Under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), a court can issue an injunction, transfer rights back to the rightful trademark owner, cancel the domain name, or award damages. ACPA makes it illegal for a person to register, with a bad faith intent to profit, a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a distinctive or famous trademark. A plaintiff can demonstrate the domain name registrant's bad faith using a number of enumerated factors including the absence of intellectual property rights in the domain name; the lack of use of the domain name as a trademark or service mark; the lack of use of the domain name for noncommercial or fair use purposes; and the registration or acquisition of multiple domain names known to be identical or confusingly similar to marks of others that are distinctive. The rightful trademark owner can elect actual damages or statutory damages of $1,000 to $100,000 per domain name, and can even claim attorney's fees in exceptional cases of willful bad faith."

 

At 12/07/2005 11:08 AM, Blogger Cabin Mistress said...

"I wonder how "humble" or "truthful" it is to trick web surfers who happen to mistype something while looking for their favorite blogs in order to try to bring them to the Lord."

Not very. And I can only hope and pray that this fellow's behaviour inspires a Jesus-driving-the-money-changers-out-of-the-temple response.

 

At 12/09/2005 2:19 AM, Anonymous Tice with a J said...

The "blogpsot" thing is a common one. I think they have the whole "blogpsot" domain squatted. I wish their site didn't take so long to load.

 

At 12/13/2005 7:12 AM, Blogger RobC said...

Typical of this type of site, using all the "worst html tricks of the trade" and not to forget all the popups and spyware that seems to emenate from the mess.
Imho it should be taken down as it seems to be a sham site for the real thing. I class it together with porn and spam...
A fatwa on the man I say! :-)

 

At 1/17/2006 4:49 PM, Blogger Mark Elrod said...

Thanks for the research. This is the best documented discussion I've been able to find so far.

This happened to a friend of mine last night and we both freaked out about it.

I'm going to write a post about it tomorrow morning and link to your post.

 

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