Friday, September 5, 2014

My Site Turned Japanese!

Dear Rich: For at least 7 years I had a web site that incorporated my name. I am a poet, playwright, essayist and teacher of creative writing. The site functioned as PR for me--I could refer potential employers to it, or clients who might want to hire me to be their editrix or writing coach. It was created for me by a good friend who is not a professional in this field, and hosted by GoDaddy. As time went on my site became obsolete. It was difficult to update because my friend had used a clunky non-professional platform, and it was not phone-friendly. I decided to upgrade. I had someone else create a new site for me with the intention of a smooth transition, continuing to use the domain name. However my friend, when he heard that I wanted to change, abruptly cancelled the old site before the transition could be completed. I was then told I could not get my domain name back for something like sixty days. In the interim, unscrupulous phishers swooped down and got my domain, I'm assuming with the intention of holding it for ransom. I put up my new site under my name but using .net instead of .com. When I Googled myself though, I saw that the dot.com site is up and running and when I clicked on it I saw it was a garbage site: it features a shapely half-naked lady and a bunch of Asian text (I think it's Japanese; can't tell). It may be for massage or something. I feel fairly certain that there aren't any Japanese massage therapists/hookers who have my name. This is literally the first thing that comes up when one Googles my name. After that there's pages and pages of my published work and all the things I worked so hard to create and publicize. I can live with using the name .net instead of .com (although I would prefer .com), but it bugs me to have this garbage site up. I feel like it's a distraction and somehow affects my credibility. Do I have any recourse? I don't even know the identities of the people who did it. You haven't been the victim of a phishing scam -- that's an attempt to get sensitive information by pretending to be a legitimate website. You may be the victim of cybersquatters and your rights and recourse were detailed in this post (and also in this post, too). By the way, your former domain is not being used for shady sexual practices. According to the Google translation from Japanese (see above), it is for an acne treatment.