Go Daddy Refutes Censorship Claim

The reader who sent Go Daddy an email asking why they shut down RateMyCop.com received a response in which they emphatically denied any censorship—this was all about a customer exceeding his contracted server usage limits and nothing else, they say. Read their full response after the jump.

Mr. [redacted]:

The situation with the Web site RateMyCop was absolutely NOT about censorship in ANY way.

The site’s operator has publicly disclosed the concerns were over bandwidth. More accurately, Go Daddy’s concerns were about how the RateMyCop site was far exceeding the amount of server usage for which it had contracted.

This customer paid for a shared server plan. The connections to his site were six times more than an entire ‘shared server’ accommodates. While he was paying for a service that cost $14.99 a month, his site actually required a much more extensive set-up.

Basically, he was paying for compact car, when he really needed a semi-truck.

The customer was not willing to work with our staff to resolve the issue.

While the “censorship” allegations certainly make for an edgy “story,” they simply had nothing to do with this situation.

- Go Daddy
Office of the President

(Thanks to Mike!)

“Go Daddy Shuts Down RateMyCop Watchdog Site”
“GoDaddy Silences Police-Watchdog Site RateMyCop.com” [Wired]

RELATED
RateMyCop.com

Comments

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  1. temporaryscars says:

    It makes sense. The site has garnered national attention. The extra traffic just killed it.

  2. tycho55 says:

    Nice to see GoDaddy.com completely willing to disclose how much a customer was paying…

  3. Buran says:

    You did see the guy’s rebuttal where he says that that’s just an excuse from GoDaddy to censor him?

  4. scoobydoo says:

    I’m willing to believe Godaddy in this case. Nice to see that they took the time to explain their side of the story.

  5. valarmorghulis says:

    @tycho55: pretty sure that wasn’t some special deal, but just the price for the published plan he was on. still pretty crappy of them though since they basically called him a deadbeat. there is also the suspecious issue of what their first response was. it’d be interesting to see if the site owner could get usage logs. also begs the question of why they don’t call their customers when they approach their limits.

  6. PinkBox says:

    Godaddy… bleh. They bought all of the sites from Registerfly, and even tried calling me to make sure I renewed the site they bought.

    No thanks.

    I left all the sites I no longer wanted on Registerfly when I moved the ones I DID want to keep to another host. :P

  7. Chris Walters says:

    Just to add a couple of footnotes:

    Before posting the original story, I checked Go Daddy’s plans for bandwidth limits and saw that the $14.99 plan had a 3 terabyte monthly limit on traffic. The Wired article quotes the owner as saying that on Monday he had 400,000 page views, and on Tuesday (when the site was yanked) he had 80,000. Unfortunately, the article didn’t provide any other data on his traffic, and without better stats there’s no way to tell who’s telling the truth.

    As for Go Daddy revealing the plan he was on, the customer basically outed his plan when he mentioned the 3 terabyte limit—so it doesn’t seem like a true privacy breach. We’re actually not sure whether he was paying $14.99 or another price (depending on length of contract).

  8. Chris Walters says:

    @Buran: Can you post a link to his rebuttal?

  9. javi0084 says:

    [yro.slashdot.org]

    I’ll take godaddy’s side?

  10. Concerned_Citizen says:

    This may be true, but I don’t believe the site owner is lying when he says godaddy gave him the run around on the reason for the site being down. So godaddy does have it’s problems. But I would agree that a site host does not need to contact you in advance before pulling a site that exceeds the bandwidth/cpu time/whatever you are paying for. But godaddy should learn from this, if a site is taken down for bandwidth reasons, say that in the error page. People fully understand that sites can go down due to the slashdot effect. Maybe site hosts should sell somekind of heavy traffic insurance plan or something. Site hosts gain nothing from taking a site down during a free advertising blitz from social networking or news sites. If a site stays up and retains the popularity, the site owner will pay for a more expensive package.

  11. azntg says:

    Dude, it’s time to find a (better) host. Bleh!

  12. humphrmi says:

    I’m not going with either side here, but GoDaddy has a lot of ground to make up with me after the seclists.org debacle. ([seclists.org])

    Maybe this is just as they say it is. But I’m still of the opinion after the seclists shutdown that godaddy is a little too quick with the shutdown trigger finger.

  13. nichomiz says:

    @valarmorghulis:
    I don’t equate their response as calling him a deadbeat, rather that he didn’t plan on hitting the limit on bandwith, they killed the site because of it, and when they tried to work it out with him, he decided to go with another vendor.

    As for the way this escalated so quickly, (nod to Anchorman) a perfect example of “Don’t start nuthin, won’t be nuthin.”

  14. AMetamorphosis says:

    I would be likely to believe this.
    After the recent publicity regarding this site I would imagine it got slammed with hits.

  15. parad0x360 says:

    @tycho55: yes because that was such a horrible thing to tell us what hosting plan he used…not really a big deal my friend. Its not like he gave us the guys name and address.

    The purpose of this site is to help consumers, when someone starts talking trash about a company that isnt warranted the company has every right to respond with basic details.

  16. uberbucket says:

    Pay your bills.

    /resolved.

  17. Chongo says:

    This same thing happened with a site I manage ([midwestteensexshow]). It is true that the hosts that oversell their services (300GB of space? come on) frequently shut sites down. They usually like to say things like “Its taking to much CPU cycles” or whatever. It does suck but any database driven site as big as ratemycop.com should be on a more robust setup.

    Even if it wasn’t censorship though, it still sucks that they would shut you down for the above reasons.

  18. rikkus256 says:

    This looks like an excuse to me. I have some business domains hosted with GoDaddy, and after reading this I will transfer all of them to 1and1.

  19. Buran says:
  20. Fawkes says:

    The site made it to the front page of Digg… $15 a month will never hold that amount of traffic.

  21. There is a reason you should only use GoDaddy for a registrar…

  22. @Papa Midnight: Now that I think of it though, I’ve never had any problems with GoDaddy. Then again, all I use is their Domain services. Nothing more or less.

  23. jhenrywaugh says:

    If service was disconnected for going over 3TB monthly limit (which I think is near unfathomable for the type of site (not a media DL/streaming type of site) – even many successful sites never even approach 100G bandwidth…), then it was still shoddy treatment just to shut off site and not take measures to contact the customer…

    400K hits is not 3TB of bandwidth… …one of the sites I run receives triple that traffic, yet it comprises only a small fraction of ~40-50G bandwidth it does use (90% of the bandwidth used there is not for html pages, but for audio and video DLs…)

    GoDaddy is being disingenuous here and I will move my domains when they come up for renewal…

    Also, I have discovered that Bob Parsons, GoDaddy proprietor, is a proponent and defendant of torture…

  24. BensAngel says:

    Does Consumerist research any articles before posting them or is being a “blog” rather than a “news source” perceived by staff as a defence to poor journalism? Lack of research is a hallmark of this site, where’s the responsibility here?

    Whether the “take down” of the site was for bandwidth reasons or not, Consumerist has a RESPONSIBILITY to at least do a basic check of facts and provide a balanced account.

  25. I use GoDaddy shared hosting- I was wondering why my sites have been slow in the last few days. And in Go-Daddy terms, my “Compact Car” is doing me just fine.

  26. Zelucifer says:

    I think the vast majority of you are misunderstanding, Go Daddy’s, response.

    They aren’t complaining about bandwidth, they’re saying he was overloading the server’s hardware.

    Think of it like this, he rented enough CPU time to play solitare, and then started playing Crysis/Halo3/CurrentGenGame.

    There’s a lot more involved in hosting a website then just bandwidth.

    I’m not saying that’s the actual reason, but that’s what they’re complaining… and It Is possible… especially with a host like Go Daddy.

  27. Charles Duffy says:

    @jhenrywaugh: I’ve switched to NearlyFreeSpeech.Net, and am very happy. Excellent pricing model, and their politics are much more paletable.

  28. royceguy says:

    I work at an ISP/webhoster/data center and also have dealt with GoDaddy.com in the past (and I’m still a small customer.) For $14.99 a month no provider will let you run up a hit count like that for very long. Sites like GoDaddy are best for small sites that don’t get massive traffic. We cater to small and medium sized businesses with unlimited transfer…$14.99 gets you 100MB and a bandwidth cap of 10 Mbps.

    I’ve heard all the GoDaddy horror stories and don’t dispute them, but the two times I’ve called about issues they were resolved fairly quickly and pleasantly. I get the feeling they’re saavy enough to recognize the backlash they’d get for censoring them when there are other easier ways to kick someone off their servers.

    Thankfully I don’t really care that much and can’t figure out why I decided to read this whole thing then post a comment other than I think I know something about the subject. That’s pretty sad.

  29. joltdude says:

    Well I had issues and threats from Godaddy when trying to get contact information from a phisher using them for a domain name.. They wouldnt respond untill Icann was notified of the incomplete contact information, then a 555 number (which is a fake). was inserted into the domain name record and basically got a “Your not a customer, we dont care, atitude about this kind of domain name fraud, then after Icann got involved (because it is a violation to have an incomplete domain registration they threatened my ISP)…. as an aside they run a domain name “shielding” service Domains By Proxy which allows adware creators to hide their true Domain Name record contact information to the world, but supposedly “comply” with Icann regulation

  30. KJones says:

    Godaddy says he exceeded bandwidth. Did they inform the customer that the bandwidth use had increased? Did they give him a chance to upgrade the service being paid for?

    Somehow, I doubt it. It wouldn’t surprise me if they used bandwidth as a pretext for cutting him off “legally”.

  31. XTC46 says:

    @KJones: The hosts have no obligation to do so. They provided the service they said they would, and once they did that, they are free to cut him off.

    Think of it like a hotel room. You pay for one room on a floor of a hotel, another guy pays for the room next door because he is expecting 3 guests. 25 show up. Do they get to go in your room until the hotel works it out? or does security kick them and deal with the mess so their other guests aren’t bothered.

  32. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @BensAngel: I’m sorry, we can’t be having OPIONIONS flying around on the site now?
    I don’t think anyone is forcing you to read articles here (although in Soviet Union, blogs read YOU).

    And I have a problem with the GoDaddy’s “broad provision of it’s TOS” that they used to pull the site.

  33. lemur says:

    Here’s the deal. When the seclist fiasco happened, that was a clear case of censorship on the part of GoDaddy. At that time, when I informed them that I was going to stop doing business with them, I did not even receive an acknowledgment or explanation. I’m sure I was not the only one who complained but they did not even have a canned response. Is silence good consumer service? Hardly!

    Now we have the same kind of situation repeating itself, except that GoDaddy is able to spout an excuse to cover its actions. Buran informed us of this article:

    [blog.wired.com]

    There we can read the following (emphasis mine):

    I asked for clarification, and Driscoll agreed with Sesto that RateMyCop.com hadn’t exceeded its monthly bandwidth allotment. But the spike in popularity that followed the police backlash resulted in far more simultaneous connections than GoDaddy can handle under the low-budget shared hosting plan Sesto signed up for.

    There’s no hard contractual limit on the number of connections a customer can receive at once, but Driscoll says GoDaddy pulled the plug under a broad provision of its terms-of-service that lets it “remove your website temporarily or permanently from its virtual dedicated servers if GoDaddy is the recipient of activities that threaten the stability of its network.

    Driscoll is a GoDaddy representative. Basically, GoDaddy decided to interpret one of their vague terms of service clauses to give them a seemingly legal excuse to shut down the site.

    This is actually evidence of something I’ve warned people about again and again: service companies will purposely include vague clauses in their TOS so that when they have to deal with an undesirable customer, the service company can interpret the vague clause to get rid of that customer. The company gets a nice excuse and because they can point to the TOS it all looks legit to some people.

    So GoDaddy’s refutation is no refutation at all.

  34. tz says:

    They could have simply rerouted the connections to a “Bandwidth exceeded”, or “Number of connections exceeded” plain, low-bandwidth, or even HTTP error page.

    I’ve gotten these before when I went to sites that were “slashdotted”.

    What happened amounted to the equivalent of denial of service attack – what about the other sites hosted that were completely blocked by the excess traffic?

    They just need to be clearer with the explanations. If ordering a burger, if you are out of pickles, just say so, don’t be rude and demand I order it without pickles, or just refuse to take the order. Most people understand the problems ONCE THEY ARE EXPLAINED.

    If the servers are overloaded – at least for a few hours – point people to the “overloaded” page.

  35. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @valarmorghulis: I can get the usage logs on my server in about 5 seconds, if this guy can’t that should be all the reason he needs to find a different registrar.

    Either way, this isn’t the first time GoDaddy has done this. See http://www.nodaddy.com for more details.

  36. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @royceguy: He had 3 TB a month. That’s what was in his contract. I wish people around here would read the articles.

    Personally, I’d be after them for breach of contract. I’m sure CopWatch has at least one lawyer visiting it that would take the case Pro Bono.

  37. CornwallBlank says:

    Given GoDaddy’s long history of dubious practices, there’s no reason to believe anything they say. That doesn’t mean that they’re lying or wrong in this instance, it just means that until they produce corroborating evidence (that can be independently verified by third parties) their claim should be considered completely unsubstantiated.

    There’s commentary on this very point over at [www.techdirt.com]
    which at least in part seems to come from people who are aware of GoDaddy’s history. Worth noting as well is that GoDaddy did NOT furnish this explanation to the site owner, even though it would been trivially easy for them to send an email or call him, and say “Hey, your site’s getting pummeled, what would you like to do about it?” Note as well that a minimally competent web host wouldn’t need to do even that: they would have the experience to know that sometimes sites get slash-dotted, and they’d already have a process in place to cope with that gracefully. (Maybe by shifting the site to a higher-capacity host for 24-48 hours.) Finally, the feeble excuse about “network stability” rings hollow: if their network is so poorly-provisioned and managed that it can’t handle the traffic loads this site was getting, then maybe they’re not ready to service customers yet.

  38. Tom Servo says:

    @Papa Midnight: I agree. GoDaddy is great as a registrar. I’ve used their domain registration services for several years and have not been disappointed.

    Their services are another matter. Once we needed a few email addresses for a home biz and we decided to give their email services a try. The setup was painless and their customer service in helping me set up my MX records was fantastic. The email service itself was unreliable and the webmail interface was sluggish.

    This was a few years ago, so things may have changed since then. But I don’t really consider GoDaddy for anything other than domain registration these days.

  39. ? graffiksguru says:

    @tycho55: What, they aren’t allowed to explain their side of the story? I believe the price was an important part of it, I don’t think they were trying to rag on him. I’ve used Godaddy for ages and always liked them, until the other day when I thought they were censoring people. I’m glad they cleared it up.

  40. BugMeNot2 says:

    @doctor_cos:

    He did not say that opinions are not allowed. He also said nothing about opionions (CAPS or no). What he was commenting on is that Consumerist tries to present itself as a valid news source (although they haven’t tried to push for news status recently like they used to do once a week), yet continuously posts stories without even trying to get both sides of the issue.

  41. rjhiggins says:

    @BensAngel: This is my major gripe with Consumerist, and in particular with Chris Walters. How about a simple phone call to GoDaddy before posting the original, inflammatory headline (Go Daddy Shuts Down RateMyCop Watchdog Site)? That kind of irresponsibility borders on recklessness, and will open you up to a libel case one of these days.

  42. guspaz says:

    400k page views in one day on a $15/mth shared hosting plan? That has nothing to do with bandwidth, it’s a reasonable use of resources issue.

    400 thousand pageviews per day is an average of 5 page views per second. For each page view, there are dozens of additional connections (JavaScript files, CSS files, images, favicon, etc). Looking at his page source, the site isn’t very image heavy, but links in many stylesheets and javascript files. A ballpark estimate might be 20-30 additional files, just to load his front page.

    Let’s assume 20, and include the initial HTML in that. This means that his site was serving up 8 million files per day, or 100 per second. That’s going to be hitting the disk (or cache) pretty hard. On top of that, the whole shebang is compressed, so you’re getting a pretty big CPU hit too.

    As somebody who ran a site that had 300 thousand pageviews per day during its heyday, and required two dedicated servers to do this, I can very easily believe GoDaddy. I even agree with them: There is no way they should be expected to service 8 million file loads per day on a $15 per month shared account.

    You could probably handle that sort of traffic on a good VPS from a budget provider. I’ve got one for $23/mth ($30/mth with a WebHostingTalk discount) that could probably handle that level of traffic, with some tweaking (it’d still be a tight fit). Concatenating his JS and CSS files would help, for example.

  43. BensAngel says:

    @BugMeNot2:
    @rjhiggins:

    Thank you.

  44. wfpearson says:

    @Charles Duffy: Thanks for the NearlyFreeSpeech.net recommendation. I found through there FAQ that they allow any legal content and most importantly:

    “A “major slashdotting” of a site hosted on our service will cost you (on average) less than $10, one time. The best part about that is that as soon as it’s over, your costs go back to normal, but you’ll save any usage-based discount resulting from the traffic burst. There’s no higher-tier pricing to get permanently pushed into, and we won’t cancel you for having something to say that people actually want to hear.”

  45. KJones says:

    @xtc46: The hosts have no obligation to do so. They provided the service they said they would, and once they did that, they are free to cut him off.

    You might be dumb enough to cut off a paying customer without giving him the chance to decide if he wants to pay more (and thus make more money), but an intelligent person would offer the customer options in hopes of keeping him.

    Think of it like a hotel room.

    Is that the best analogy you could muster, or did you deliberately make a false comparison?

    A proper analogy for this is a utility (electric, gas or water) for which a customer gave prepaid cheques. No reasonable utility company would cut off a user whose bill suddenly spiked. They’d send a larger bill or a notification.

    Maybe where you live people have knee-jerk reactions to changes in the status quo, but where I’m from, they tend to think them through first and get information before jumping to conclusions.

  46. Mr. Gunn says:

    They need to explain their terms better, I think. I recently had one of my sites go down, not because I was being Farked, unfortunately, but because someone else on my shared server was consuming all the CPU cycles.

    Dreamhost pulled the plug on them and things got better, but they probably should explain this more clearly.

  47. vancedecker says:

    Although GoDaddy can be very annoying with their schizophrenic user interface and by nickel diming you for every little add-on, I’ve never had any major problems. Bob Parson’s the CEO in general has tried to be an advocate against domain name squatters and other shady domain name registrars.

    I think this is a case where someone is either blatantly trying to get publicity for his site or just trying to get something for nothing. If he wants to host a web site then he should buy a web hosting plan that supports his traffic.

    P.S. BTW, It doesn’t matter what you think things should cost, or your logical reasonings based on whatever assumptions, what matters is what the plan says you get…