Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Deconstructing Sebelius as VP Based on Name Servers

Wow, the prognostication for Obama's VP is just going wild out there.

Tribble Ad Agency deconstructs GoDaddy domain registrations to establish that Kathleen Sebelius will be the nominee. They even get into looking at name servers to read their tea leaves:

"...let’s try Tim Kaine

Registrar: GODADDY.COM, INC.

Nameservers don’t match as well… however the registrar does.

This is possible, however unlikely. The chances are the same group that built BARACKOBAMA.COM will be building the new site. So the chances are that they are all going to be roughly identical."

Ok. Well, as someone who works in the web development field, let me tell you: There are several problems with this analysis. A) Any new VP oriented website might be named anything, including OBAMABIDEN08, OBAMA-BIDEN, etc. B) These name servers are all GoDaddy servers, and those name servers could very well be switched (or not) when the site went live, so their current registration may not mean much. C) Since Obama has likely not made a decision yet, if the agency were registering web names, they would likely reserve all possible finalists in case of a change of mind, not just one. D) How likely is it that the Obama campaign insiders would trust an advertising agency to keep this mum?

The fact that BarackObama.com and ObamaSebelius.com have the same name server (as does ObamaBiden.com) - which is a GoDaddy Server - doesn't really tell us anything except that whoever used GoDaddy to register the doman (as with ObamaBiden) just left GoDaddy as the name server holder, which is the default for a GoDaddy registration. So, this is a bit of a red herring.

What does tell us something is the WhoIs Lookup, which tells us the information about who registered the domain and when. This is who registered ObamaSebelius:

Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
   Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
Created on: 15-Jan-07
Expires on: 15-Jan-09
Last Updated on: 16-Jan-08
Here's who has registered BarackObama.com:
Obama for America
233 N. Michigan Ave
Suite 1100
Chicago, Illinois 60601
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
Created on: 28-Dec-04
Expires on: 28-Dec-15
Last Updated on: 16-Oct-07
And, just for comparison, the results for ObamaBiden.com:

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)

Domain servers in listed order:
Updated Date: 14-nov-2007
Creation Date: 05-dec-2006
Expiratio Date: 05-dec-2008

What does this tell us?

It tells us that Barack Obama created his domain on December 28, 2004 (right after his speech at the Convention after Kerry had lost the election), and last updated its record in 2007 to his official campaign headquarters.

It tells us that whoever registered ObamaSebelius did so in January of 2007 using a registry proxy that hides this registrant's real name.

It tells us that someone named Lyle Dean registered ObamaBiden in December of 2006.

These BOTH seem like what are known as "domain squatters" to me: people who register domains well in advance of their worth in the chance they might someday be worth paying money for.

Perhaps one of those domain squatters will have some luck when Obama names his VP. But what this definitely tells us is that ObamaSebelius was NOT registered in the last few weeks with any kind of foreknowledge of Obama's choice for VP, and is NOT currently openly held by the Obama campaign. If the campaign is using a proxy registry to hide the fact they are the real name holders, they would have had to have known they were naming Sebelius as Obama's VP in January of this year, the last date the domain was updated. Given that in January Obama was still in a tough battle with Clinton - and that names like ObamaBiden.com and ObamaKaine .com were not being updated - this theory asks us to believe that the Obama team bought the ObamaSebelius domain in January, but not ObamaBiden.com or ObamaKaine.com.

But if your theory is that the Obama campaign is hiding ObamaSebelius behind a registration proxy, then look up ObamaClinton.com:
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
Created on: 03-Nov-04
Expires on: 03-Nov-08
Last Updated on: 04-Apr-08
This domain is also held by the same Proxy as ObamaSebelius.com, but it looks like it may have been re-registered in April, three months later.

Why would Obama update or purchase ObamaSebelius in January, then ObamaClinton in April?

Or is this even better evidence that Clinton is going to be the VP, not Sebelius?

I think it's evidence that this line of reasoning tells us very little, unless you think Obama made up his mind about who his VP is going to be, then registered the domain name, at least five months ago. Since I don't, I'd say, stop looking at domain names to determine the pick....

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