Was Your Domain Used for Porn? How to Avoid a Costly Mistake

| August 18, 2011

With the launch of .xxx domain names coming soon, I thought now would be a good time to address an important topic sometimes overlooked by domain buyers: how to avoid accidentally purchasing a domain that was once used for pornography.

Almost as long as the web has been around, companies have been selling content filtering software. Parents and network admins can use it to stop their kids, employees or users from accessing inappropriate web sites at work and at home, or in colleges, schools and libraries.

It can be quite difficult to get a domain name removed from one of these legacy block-lists, especially if the company that originally compiled it is no longer around.   You may find yourself cut off from some potential customers when purchasing a domain on a blocked list.

As a result, if you plan to invest in a domain name that was once used to host pornographic content, you may find that its resale value is not what you thought. The same can be said if you are interested in purchasing a domain for the value it has in adult traffic.   So it’s important to know what a domain has been used for before deciding whether to buy it and how much to offer.

As you can see from the small number of premium names already released by the .xxx registry, it’s sometimes not easy to tell whether a domain has hosted adult content just by looking at the domain name itself.

It should be obvious what you will find if you point your browser to casting.xxx or muscle.xxx, which were some of the first .xxx domains to be sold, but can you say the same about casting.com or muscle.com? They could be porn, or they could just as easily belong to a Hollywood casting agency or be used to sell dietary supplements and home gym equipment.

Common dictionary words sometimes have special meanings in the adult entertainment world that might not be obvious to somebody from outside that industry, which is why it’s important to do your research before making an offer.

Adult content publishers often trade under generic-sounding company names, so a simple historical Whois search might not be enough to alert you to the domain’s past usage.

That’s one of the reasons why DomainTools offers a comprehensive screenshot history with most Whois queries. Not only can you see who owned a domain name in the past, you can also very quickly check to see what it was used for.

Take the generic-sounding domain WebmasterAccess.com, for example. It could be used to host a forum for webmasters to exchange technical tips, it could be a web hosting company, or it could be used as a jobs site for designers and developers.

In fact, it’s owned by a large adult entertainment publisher and is used to promote a porn webmaster show. The site may be almost safe-for-work today, but the DomainTools screenshot history clearly shows that as recently as January this year it contained very adults-only imagery. It’s easy to see that just from the thumbnails in our archive, too – you don’t need to look at the full-sized capture if you don’t want to!

If that domain was for sale, and you were thinking about buying it to develop or resell, that’s important background info that you’d need to know.

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Category: Domain Industry, Domain Tools Updates, Domainers, Whois

About the Author ()

Susan is the VP of Partner and Industry Relations at DomainTools. An accomplished domain industry executive, Susan is responsible for leading DomainTools’ business development efforts in the DNS and network security markets. In this role, she is responsible for all Enterprise clients, Reseller partners and Affiliates. Susan plays an integral role at DomainTools, leading thought leadership and participation in important industry working groups such as at ICANN, INTA, IACC and APWG. Susan joined DomainTools in 2007. Prior to DomainTools, she spent 15 years in the DNS and hosting markets, most recently running Client Service and Operations for a fast-growing webhost provider ultimately rolled into what is now Web.com.

Comments (5)

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  1. yofie says:

    So…. what you are saying Susan is with screenshot history, that is a way around porn blockers at work :) J/K

    To bad DomainTools couldn’t put a P by domains that are potentially blocked because the site was once a porn site.

    Dicks.com for an example, which is now owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods. That wasn’t the case not that long ago.

  2. DomainTalker says:

    I have a very valuable generic domain that was used – several years ago – for an Adult site, by a previous owner…..It is not now used for Adult purposes, and hasn’t been for at least 5 years.

    - How can I find out whether, or not, this domain is on any ‘block’ list?

    - If so, how do I find out which lists it may appear on?

    - How do I go about getting the domain removed from these lists?

    ‘Appreciate any feedback on this.

  3. mike_5936 says:

    There is actually an alarming issue going in the drops for years allready, however almost nobody ever talks about it. When you are screening names for backlinks, the ones with the highest numbers of backlinks are ALWAYS related to child pornography. I think its about time to address the issue, perhaps someone could explain how and why this is done ?

  4. Monica says:

    Hi DomainTalker,

    URLBlacklist.com and Shallalist.de are a couple of sources to check to see if a domain is listed on any ‘block’ list, and sometimes will tell with who. Go to the source that list & then manually ask for removal. Hope that helps!

  5. DomainTalker says:

    Many thanks, Monica.

    I found the domain blacklisted on the Shallalist.de lists….and, I’ve emailed them asking for the name to be taken off their list.

    Interestingly, Google does NOT list the domain as ‘Banned’, or ‘Blocked’…