GoDaddy is no stranger to the ire of Internet liberty advocates but the last few days have seen what could be the registrar giant’s biggest PR blunder yet. Although GoDaddy has been involved with new American anti-piracy legislation Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA) since nearly its inception the media started buzzing when the U.S. House Judiciary Committee published a list of corporations supporting their legislation on the 23rd. This led to a number of Internet personalities calling for a boycott of the registrar’s services and numerous individuals began posting step-by-step tutorials detailing how to transfer domain names from GoDaddy to their competitors.

As of yesterday the number that is being thrown around the most is 37,000 transfers out; however this figure is based on the number of domains transferred away from GoDaddy using their DNS service (domaincontrol.com) and not the actual number of domains transferred out of the registrar. As this article outlines, the number of transfers in are also not taken into account. As commenter Jamie Zoch of DotWeekly points out:

One interesting stat that I found (based on data from Webhosting.info) is the total loss over the past 30 days…. in the tune of 1 Million domains. This data is from 11/14/2011 to 12/19/2011. 37,841,094 down to 36,884,911.

So the transfer out because of the SOPA deal really doesn’t mean a ton as much as the total loss over the past 30 days IMO. If my memory servers me correctly, I have not seen a loss like this for GoDaddy.

Despite this, webhosting.info reports their market share has been increasing over the same period:

Weeks Total Domains Global Market Share
12/19/11 36,884,911 32.430%
12/12/11 37,097,675 32.430%
12/05/11 37,297,640 32.428%
11/28/11 37,504,999 32.433%
11/21/11 37,667,786 32.427%
11/14/11 37,841,094 32.408%

I am prone to believe that this is due to deficiencies in their reporting mechanism rather than a decline in the actual total number of domain names. Nonetheless I don’t think anyone has accurate statistics but GoDaddy themselves and they have deemed the loss great enough to reverse their position on SOPA. Despite this, they have reminded consumers of their true colours and by all accounts the campaign to switch moves on. There are now reports of GoDaddy staff personally calling customers whom have transferred multiple domains to ask them to change their minds.

I would find all this personally very amusing if I wasn’t locked into agreements with their reseller service, Wild West Domains. Since the resale business is a relatively small club there isn’t a lot of information on GoDaddy’s ethics in dealing with reseller domains but it is conventional wisdom that if they are willing to seize one of their own they are willing to seize one of yours. If SOPA ever becomes a reality it will be easy to diversify your domain portfolio into registrars not under American jurisdiction but resellers may find themselves without recourse.

Exactly how far this will go and what effect – if any – it may have on SOPA remains to be seen. GoDaddy isn’t the kind of giant a boycott can topple; conversely they don’t have significant lobbying clout no matter what position they are forced to take. If I were an anti-SOPA activist I would be trying to look for a more meaningful way to attack the legislation – though I don’t mind seeing GoDaddy take one in the kisser. It’s a long long list of supporters and so far there’s only one down.

On a lighter note, all the hullabaloo has sparked a new meme: Scumbag GoDaddy