The Sad Story of

Incident · Response · Coverage

Incident was the home of the HTML validation service from Dec 1994 until Network Solutions yanked it out from under us on 18 March 1999:

13 Jul 1994
ANNOUNCE: HaL Interactive HTML Validation Service
Mark and Dan create the validation service and make it available via Hal Software Systems in Austin, TX
16 Dec 1994
Mark and Dan establish and move the validation service there
(c.f. DWC4 entry in whois which NSI moved from this address for no apparent reason @@when?) I think I'd better made a copy here just in case:
Connolly, Dan W. (DWC4)         admin@WEBTECHS.COM
          Hal Software Systems
          3006 Longhorn, Suite 113
          Austin, TX 78758
          (512) 834-9962

          Record last updated on 16-Dec-94.
          Database last updated on 13-Apr-99 15:39:22 EDT.
1996/10/29 16:41:54Z
at W3C, Dan adds a link from W3C HTML Testing page to WebTechs validation service.
28 Nov 1997
Network Solutions sends invoice 90749 for WEBTECHS.COM domain service for the period 16-Dec-1997 to 16-Dec-1998.
Mark paid it; service continues.
24 Sep 1998
Network Solutions sends invoice 2590680 (back) for the same period: 16-Dec-1997 to 16-Dec-1998.
6 Oct 1998
Network Solutions writes Mark a letter that seems to clarify:
We have recently discovered that you were invoiced twice in September for the same subscription period for the domain name WEBTECHS.COM. You are only responsible for payment on ONE of the invoices. If you are remitting payment via check, either invoice stub can be submitted with the payment. However, if you are remitting payment via credit card please use the following invoice information.

Invoice number: 2590680
Amount: $35.00


Mark pays the invoice.

30 Nov 1998
Mark learns from his bank statement that Network Solutions cashed his check, #1118 for $35 on 12 Nov.
Dec 1998
Mark and Dan turn their attention from the validation service to other endeavors for a time.
18 March 1999
Network Solutions sells to VDB
   VIBORGVEJ 13, 1
   DK-7800 SKIVE, NA NA

   Domain Name: WEBTECHS.COM

   Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
      Christensen Chabert, Tom Frank  (TFC14)  webmaster@JADER.COM
      +45 97512839 (FAX) +45 96140000
   Billing Contact:
      Christensen Chabert, Tom Frank  (TFC14)  webmaster@JADER.COM
      +45 97512839 (FAX) +45 96140000

   Record last updated on 18-Mar-99.
   Record created on 18-Mar-99.
   Database last updated on 3-Apr-99 21:42:11 EDT.

   Domain servers in listed order:



Since then, we're doing everything we can think of to get the domain back:

22 Mar 1999
Mark reports the problem to NSI; a tracking number is assigned:
From Mon Mar 22 11:56:38 1999
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:52:40 -0500 (EST)
To: Mark Gaither <>
Subject: Re: [NIC-990322.621d] Hijacked domain
X-MTS-LoopDetect: InterNIC_Registration_Services

This is an automatic reply from Network Solutions to acknowledge that
your message has been received.  This acknowledgement is NOT a
confirmation that your request has been processed.

If you need to correspond with us regarding this request, please be
sure to reference the tracking number [[NIC-990322.621d]] in the subject
of your message.

InterNIC Registration Services
23 Mar 1999
Dan and Mark receive numerous reports from WebTechs users that "Ack! The online HTML validation site I've been urging my users to go to for several years now has become -- get this -- a porn site." We begin to investigate and find that there are over 30,000 links to, according to AltaVista.
Mar 25 1999
After phoning repeatedly, Mark finally reaches NSI (703-742-4777) at 6:28PM CST for a duration of 15 minutes. Mark requests a copy of a listing of all my transactions with NSI. They promised to fax the query results, but we haven't heard from them.
Sun, 4 Apr 1999
connolly writes to www-talk to update the community
14 Apr 1999
Mark writes Vice President Gore a letter
Dan Connolly forwards Mark's letter to representative Lloyd Doggett
26 May 1999
Dan files a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
12 Jul 1999
Dan receives a response, dated 1 July, from Network Solutions
L. Johnson


Business Affairs Office


He claims there was a fourth invoice:
invoice # service period sent paid
960918.275 Dec'95-Dec'96 19 Sep 1996 19 Oct 1996
90749 Dec'96-Dec'97 26 Nov 1997 22 Dec 1997
2538481 21 Sep 1998 (bogus/ignored)
2590680 Dec'97-Dec'98 23 Sep 1998 9 Nov 1998
3283176 Dec'98-Dec'99 20 Nov 1998
3283176 (2nd notice) 23 Dec 1998
3283176 (3rd notice) 7 Jan 1999

Mark never received the fourth invoice.

15 Sep
Mark asks Christensen Chabert, Tom Frank if they'd be willing to sell WEBTECHS.COM back to us. They agree, in principle, for $600.

News Coverage and Related Discussion

newest first...

8 Apr 1999
Web Service Hijacked By Domain Speculators
By Brian McWilliams Correspondent
"Three weeks ago I couldn't access my site, and then I got a call from a lady at the Library of Congress wondering if I had changed it to a porn site," said Gaither. "That really tarnishes WebTechs' and my name, so I'm flabbergasted."
6 Apr 1999
related story: Network Solutions Dog Bites Aberdeen Group, Aberdeen Bites Back
Thu, 04 Mar 1999
Mark and Dan look around to see if other folks are having similar problems and find:
InterNIC did, indeed, drop over 18,000 domain names on the night of Sunday February 28. [...]

Again. This involves domains that were paid in full, and inspite of that fact InterNIC removed the domains in clear violation of their "contract." Their attitude toward most of those involved is one of, "Tough sh*t!" without even caring that they are in the wrong or that they are destroying people's lives and businesses.

Mike Sandburg to nanog

March 2, 1999
This sort of problem was common before it happened to us:
Network Solutions Angers Domain Holders
By Brian McWilliams Correspondent

Dan Connolly
Created April 1999
$Revision: 1.18 $ $Date: 1999/09/29 04:04:06 $