Why We WHOIS: The 3 Most Common Reason to Find Out More About a Domain Name

If you have been following our blog for a while, you might have caught Nikola’s post about WHOIS. If you are a new reader, this is something you should know about. Websites do not always tell you who owns them, and at times you might want to check that information. Why?

For example, Internet users in Croatia were offered a prize by Crno Jaje if they discovered what Crno Jaje actually was before it gave us that information itself. At that point, many of us turned to WHOIS. It could not tell us what the website was going to be about, but we knew that knowing the owner would help.

WHOIS is a query and response protocol, pronounced simply like: Who is? It is usually used to find information about an IP address or a domain name from a database that stores that information. WHOIS results are delivered in a human-readable format.

Simply put, WHOIS query will tell you who registered a domain name, when, when the domain expires, who runs the domain… In the case of Crno Jaje, by running the domain name through whois.domaintools.com one could find the domain’s owner was Nova TV, a local TV channel.

CrnoJaje Whois Information
CrnoJaje’s WHOIS Information (cropped screenshot)

Where to WHOIS

Finding this information is probably the easiest thing in the world! All one has to do is enter domain name in the specified field and click Search!  There are many websites that will run this query for you, so besides DomainTools, you might want to use who.isNetworkSolutions,Whois.net or any other website or program of your choice.

3 most common uses

Winning an award is an amazing reason to check a domain’s WHOIS information, but it very uncommon. According to Network Solutions, the three most common reasons why one might check that information are:

  • Individuals check domain names for expiration dates;
  • Registrars check domain names when transferring ownership;
  • Authorities check domain names when investigating criminal activity.

Personally, I use it for checking expiration dates of domain names I am interested in. In the process, I also find out personal information of the person registering that domain, like email or phone number.

Because domain name registers are required by law to collect and display this information, many people choose to pay extra when registering a domain name to keep their information hidden. With that option, the company that registers your name will be displayed as the owner publicly, and not you personally.

As Nikola points out, there are some downsides to that option as well:

This might be inconvenient because – what if your domain gets super popular? Or what if the registrar bankrupts and closes? You should be the owner of your domains, not some company. After all, if someone wants and needs to get your information – they will. Those registrars are obliged by law to give out that information to the police, so your private domain registrations might not be as private as you think.

If you found this topic interesting, check Nikola’s post about Google Chrome Extension for WHOIS or my post about Mac Apps for Domain Owners.


Ivana (Ivy) Gutierrez

Our Executive Editor Ivy is a graduate student at University of Zagreb where she is studying Communicology and Journalism. She is interested in PR and all things digital. More information is available on her website <a href="http://www.anavie.net">Ivy's ink drops</a>.

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