I’m Sticking With GoDaddy For The Right Reasons, Even If They’ve Done Wrong

Call the headline to this article overwrought, if you like, and you’ll be correct. But the way I view business is, you have partners, and the relationships you have with those partners are a balance.

If you’re a freelance coder and you’re not putting the same kind of thought and consideration you use in personal relationships into your business partners, you’re going to get burned. Because as it is with friends and lovers, you get out of customers and vendors alike exactly what you give.

I’ve put a lot into GoDaddy, and they’ve given me a lot back. That’s why, even though GoDaddy initially supported the Stop Online Piracy Act and only recanted under threat of boycott, I’m going to keep doing business with them.

For those in the dark and the benefits of post-event context, SOPA is a bill, before Congress at this writing, that would give broad censorship powers to the Department of Justice, ostensibly to block incorrigible copyright violators. It’s envisioned as a way to get the repeat scofflaws who are largely undeterred by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which clearly has been almost completely ineffective at stopping brazen file sharing.

SOPA: An Abomination

I don’t care to get into an argument about the nature of copyright in the digital age, the open source movement, free speech, the sharecropping that is the music industry, the complete moral bankruptcy that is mainstream Hollywood, Bob Parson’s personality or anything else along those lines. They’re ancillary at best and red herrings in practice.

It suffices that the intent and common interpretation of the Fourth and Fifth amendments make ominous the provisions of SOPA that block advertising and payment processors from serving a Web site, the ability of the government to seize domain names without a court order, to assume intent without civil process and impose upon the accused the burdens of proof.

In other words, SOPA is an abomination of this country’s fundamental governing tenets; how any reasonable person could support it is beyond me.

One of those “people,” in the corporate sense, was GoDaddy (at least, up until Friday). In fact, of its own proud admission, GoDaddy had a hand in crafting some parts of the legislation.

Now, I can understand why GoDaddy would support, in a broad sense, an effort to effectively prosecute online piracy. I can see it in a completely altruistic sense: Online piracy is stealing. Stealing is wrong. Thieves should be punished.

But as things stand now, there is no effective deterrent and no real consequences for the middling. (By which I mean, if you’re a major channel of piracy, you’ll get sued by Big Media. If you once downloaded “Glee” via BitTorrent, nobody cares.  But if you’re ripping porn sites and putting them on file-sharing sites, or are seeding all of Joss Whedon’s works via The Pirate Bay, or are on some forum sharing Beyonce’s discography, maybe you have to put up with a few file links getting killed or a notice from your ISP to knock it off, but largely, you can get around the inconveniences posed by DMCA.

You can even make a tidy sum of money from the online file hosts. And let’s not kid each other: File hosts are mostly hosting pirated content, and are making their money on the backs of content producers.

And I can see it in the pragmatic sense. As the law stands now, GoDaddy is effectively the police, left with the responsibility (and most of the risk) associated with enforcing DMCA complaints. It would be better for them to have an omnibus law that says, “you get this letter, you take the site down, and the courts will settle it later.”

Stand For Something, Fall For Anything

So OK, in the academic sense, I can understand GoDaddy’s starting position. But SOPA simply will not do, and that it took the threat of an exodus of customers to get them to change their tune — and it actually hasn’t become opposition, so much as it’s become “we quit” — is quite disheartening.

I’d prefer a principled response. If GoDaddy believes in SOPA, then it should stand its ground and take whatever beating is coming its way like a man. If GoDaddy has seen the light, then it should repent and join all the other major Internet companies in protest. But it shouldn’t say, “Go Daddy will support (SOPA) when and if the Internet community supports it.” That’s chickenshit.

In fact, it’s so flaky it has me contemplating bailing out on them anyway. I don’t like the idea that I am partners with a company that can be threatened into submission on its core values. But I’ve decided to stay. Here’s why:

  • GoDaddy’s service is reliable. I seldom face downtime, and what downtime I do face is usually very short-term.
  • My problems are solved quickly and effectively. I realize that’s not everyone’s experience, but it’s been mine. (Please, don’t bother posting your GoDaddy support nightmares in the comments. I don’t care to hear only one side of the story.) My experience is, on the rare occasion I need to contact GoDaddy with a problem, a competent and pleasant person picks up the phone and fixes the issue. As we all know, that rarely happens in the telephone tech support world.
  • GoDaddy has what I need. I need domain names. I need sophisticated control over my DNS records. I need shared, low-volume Web hosting. I need an IMAP server with unlimited storage.  GoDaddy sells all these things; I prefer to have a few reliable vendors than dozens of providers whose names I can’t keep straight.
  • I have a longstanding relationship with GoDaddy. We’ve been doing business together for 12+ years. That counts for something.
  • It’s a pain in the ass to pull up stakes. Yeah, inconvenience is a consideration here. We can stay married, hate each other and live in separate parts of the house. That ain’t good but it’s better than shuffling through apartments looking for a new place I like and can afford.
  • The prices are excellent. Yeah, for all my talk about money not being the only thing, I don’t want to pay more than I have to for things. Especially for low-volume Windows Web hosting, GoDaddy’s price-feature-reliability matrix can’t be beat.

So some love has been lost, but I am staying.

That’s not to say I’ll stick around if GoDaddy continues to screw up. Again, I’m not happy about this, but when I weigh how disappointed I am in GoDaddy’s actions around SOPA vs. how good things have been and could still be, I’m inclined to give them a second chance. There will not be a third.

All links in this post on delicious: http://delicious.com/dougvdotcom/im-sticking-with-godaddy-for-the-right-reasons-even-if-theyve-done-wrong

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