Automattic slashes

Don’t register your domains with Automattic

Automattic rearranged their domain business at the beginning of , and they didn’t bother telling their customers about the changes. I was afraid that my domain had been hijacked! This will be a fairly lengthy but thrilling tale of poor planning, execution, and customer communication.

Automattic, the company behind, secured the rights to the .blog top-level domain in . At launch, you could register a .blog domain name through or, both operated by Automattic. Other registrars soon started offering the domain name as well.

I though it would be a good idea to register my own .blog domain through Automattic, and more specifically their service. I don’t use hosted WordPress .com services so I wanted to keep my domain separate from that service. Cutting out a middleman registrar and getting the domain directly from Automattic was appealing to me.

As of

The first I heard of the changes was this scary looking email from on :

Custom Domain for

“Howdy, you recently asked us to activate the domain mapping upgrade to use your domain name as the address of your site”

“In order to get things working, you’ll need to visit your domain registrar’s site and update your name servers. The registrar is the company you own this domain through, either where you purchased it originally or transferred it to.”

“Your name servers are currently set to:
(my nameservers)”

“These will need to be changed to:

“Once you make the update, it’ll take a few hours to display your site at”

“If you’re not sure how to update your name servers, please contact your domain registrar.”

“If you need to check the status of your domain mapping upgrade, visit the Me> Manage Purchases section of your dashboard.”

“Thanks for flying with”

After receiving this email, I thought for sure that my domain had been hacked! I wasn’t a customer, I hadn’t registered “”, and I’d certainly not asked to make any changes to my domain name!

To me, this sounded like someone had managed to exploit a flaw in the management platform to hijack a .blog domain. I fired off an email to Support stating that I’d requested no such changes and asking for clarification.

I then proceeded to attempt to login to my account on, but the website wouldn’t load. After an hour, the page did load but the login system was disabled “while we’re making changes”.

On , some 30 hours later, I heard back from

“Sorry about any confusion caused, the email was sent in error due to a glitch at our end.”

“No changes were made or are needed for your domain name and the email can safely be ignored.”

“No changes were made or are needed for your domain name,” sounds reassuring. I was a bit upset that they’d not sent a follow-up immediately after having sent out the first email. Although I suspected that would be merged into at this point, I’d just been assured that there wouldn’t be any changes needed.

Just 23 hours later, I received another email that went directly into my Spam folder titled “New login information for your domain” from


“We’re contacting you because you purchased a domain from, a service.”

“To give you the best experience we can offer, we’re merging the ease of use of with the power of Starting today, domains will be managed at This will give you advanced domain management tools, plus the ability to register other domain extensions (like .com, .org, and more!).”

“Nothing changes about the domain itself. Any websites, emails, or other services you use with your domain will continue working normally.“

“You will now renew your domains and manage them through instead of”

“Click “Create My Password” in this email. You’ll be asked to enter your email address — use the same email address you used on […]”

First thing first: never start an email asking customers to waste their time setting up new accounts and having to manage more passwords with “Howdy!” Secondly, there was no recognition in this email about the lack of prior notice and “glitched” automated emails.

I proceeded to setup a account to mange my domain. This is my third account, and I was not happy being asked to register yet another one under a different email. I wasn’t happy about this situation at all, actually!

After registering with, I was immediately presented with prompts to create my site on, and prompts to upgrade to Premium. I wasn’t surprised to see the upselling attempts, but it was more aggressive than I’d expected. had also helped themselves to my credit card information from my account. The whole experience was quite unpleasant and left me with a really bad impression of Automattic as a whole.

At this point, I decided to transfer my domains away from and find a more established registrar instead. This was, however, more difficult than expected. As it turns out, almost no registrar that let you register a .blog top-level domain will accept transfers of .blog domain names! I eventually found one, and will share my experiences with them in a separate update later.

However, transferring my domain away from was more difficult than expected. In the domain administration interface, you have a big green label that says “Privacy Protection: on”. Domain privacy hides your personal information form public domain registration records, and is generally a good thing. In order to transfer a domain from one registrar to another, you need to have a working email address in your public domain record (“whois information”). I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off! Clicking on the on button took me to a screen that said it was enabled and offered me to change my details.

After three hours I found that I could cancel the domain privacy service next to the “Cancel Domain” option hidden away in the billing section of After I finally managed to turn off the privacy service, I could initiate the domain transfer to my new registrar.

I moved a bunch of domains at the same time, and all transferred without incident within ten minutes. My .blog domain, however, took 14 hours to transfer. This was an early indication that didn’t have good procedures for handling domain name transfers.

As it turns out, apparently has no routines for handling domain transfers. After I’d moved my .blog domain name over to a new registrar, I can still manage it at For whatever reason, the domain name and the ability to manage it haven’t been removed from my account. It has been five days since I transferred the domain away from The interface lets me configure nameservers, change DNS entries and registration data, or even renew or cancel the domain.

I’ve contacted support to ask them why the domain haven’t been removed from my account following the transfer. I receive a reply a day later, and the domain was removed from my account. However, if you have similar problems you may not get it resolved as quickly:

Limited Support Sep 11 – 18

“Private support will be closed from Monday, September 11 through Monday, September 18, included. We will reopen private support on Tuesday, September 19.”

“Why? Once a year, the Happiness Engineers and the rest of the family get together to work on improving our services, building new features, and learning how to better serve you, our users.”

I don’t know what Automattic were thinking here. It shows poor planning when they choose to execute a customer account transition the week before a planned company-wide seminar. It’s really not the best time to shut down one’s customer support department for a week.


Don’t register your domains through Automattic. The next time you’re looking for a domain registrar, go for an established and more experienced registrar.

This really wasn’t a clean transition for .blog domain holders who had registered at Automattic should have communicated better about the transition, given prior notice (with enough time to choose another registrar), and they seriously need to work on their routines for handling domain transfers!

I’m embarrassed to admit that one of the reasons I registered with was the dad-joke Automattic had given their domain business subsidiary: Knock Knock Whois There, LLC. I thought it would look cool in my whois-information. In hindsight, this was very poor judgment on my part. I also should have taken the silly company name as a red flag: Automattic seemingly don’t take their domain name business and customers all that seriously.