Blogs might not be as popular as they were a decade ago, but I like to think that in some ways blogs are timeless. Now, imagine waking up one day and not being able to check up on your favorite letter collection or travel blog. Like that would ever happen! Right?
A few days ago, the blogspot.in domain (Blogger for India) ceased to function. Any page, no matter the blog, will fail to load. As it turns out, the domain has expired. At the time of me writing this, Blogger or Google has yet to comment.
The good news is that simply switching the .in at the end of the URL to .com will let you access the blogs just fine, which for all intents and purposes are still online. Plus any blogs which have a custom domain remain completely unaffected.
This comes as a shock seeing how popular Blogger is in India. According to the current stats on Alexa (retrieved July 9th 2020), Blogger receives over a quarter of its worldwide traffic strictly from India. Furthermore, Blogger is still in the top 100 most popular websites in the country, despite the emergence of many competitors. Clearly, this is not nearly as inactive to warrant retiring the domain, which has led people to suspect that Google just “forgot” to renew it.
If only the story ended there. Yesterday a post on Hacker News brought much needed attention to the issue. A WHOIS query reveals that in fact the domain appears to have been purchased by a different company:
Domain Name: blogspot.in
Registry Domain ID: DE2DC9C0E8E694C28ADEF0F444F121B45-IN
Registrar WHOIS Server:
Registrar URL: www.domainming.com
Updated Date: 2020-06-29T20:00:06Z
Creation Date: 2020-06-24T20:00:05Z
Registry Expiry Date: 2021-06-24T20:00:05Z
Domain Status: inactive http://www.icann.org/epp#inactive
And now said company is selling the domain for an admittedly small price of $6000 on Sedo. While technically they haven’t done anything illegal, the ramifications of this have stirred fears.
If someone were to purchase this domain they could redirect all of the blogspot.in addresses to another website: sleazy marketing, malware; really the sky is the limit here. Again, while changing the end of the URL address is sufficient to circumvent this, if someone were to purchase the domain they would be able to catch people expecting a blogspot.in page to load, off-guard.
Google/Blogger being in no hurry to comment on the issue is concerning and has brought many questions. While on one hand the history of the Indian blogosphere is at stake, on the other history is being made at this very moment…