the capacity of one person or thing to react with or affect another in some special way, as by attraction or the facilitation of a function or activity.

Domain Names – Who’s the boss?

Understanding the the terms used in registering a Domain name will help insure that you maintain control of your own domain.

ICANN – this is the non profit organization that currently manages the assignment of names and numbers on the internet in order to insure that every node (spot) on the network is unique.

To quote from the ICANN web site :

ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.

To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer – a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination we wouldn’t have one global Internet.

ICANN has created the system of Registrars, organizations that register/issue unique domain names. All Registrars must be accredited by ICANN, whicn maintains a list of these Registrars at

The gTLDs (Generic Top Level Domains) include .aero, .biz, .com, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, .net, .org, and .pro. These are the domains that we obtain a name in, for instance, or, etc. Each of these domain names must be unique.

When you are issued the registration to a domain name people/entities will be assigned to different domain management ‘roles’. The initial Registrant (the person/entity obtaining the domain name) and the administrative, technical and billing contacts are the people or entities listed on the original Domain Name Registration Agreement that is filed with the Registrar when you actually obtain the domain name.

Who is assigned to perform the duties of these management ‘roles’ is important in terms of who ultimately controls and can change your domain information. When you register your domain name using a third party such as an ISP or Web development company (as opposed to you going directly to a Registrar’s website and filling out the application yourself) you need to be sure that when that organization assigns people/groups to the different management roles, they are being filled by people that you want. Incorrectly handling of these roles can be a very painful and/or costly error that you won’t notice until later when you want to move your website to a new hosting company, move your email services, change your domain DNS information, etc. You want to be sure that your interests are protected by the people assigned to each role.

You are the Registrant – even if you use some other business to fill out the registration form for you. You or your company/organization needs to be listed as the Registrant. The Registrant is the party that ultimately controls the domain name (at least as long as the renewal fees are paid to the Registrar…)

The administrative, technical and billing contacts are people, groups or a ‘role contact’ that represent the Registrant (you) when issues/questions about your domain name arise either with the Registrar or other entity that might need to gather information about your domain name.

A ‘role contact’ is really just a job title by another name. The person or group holding that title can change but the contact information for that ‘role contact’ will not. An example of a ‘role contact’ would be ‘hostmaster’, ‘webmaster’, ‘domainmaster’ or what ever title you like. You can assign this role contact to the admin, tech or billing fields when filling out your domain name application. It is an excellent method of insuring that contact continuity is maintained when people move on to a new position in your company.

Administrative Contact
This is the person, group, or ‘role contact’ that will act on behalf of the Registrant in communications with the Registrar. This again should be ‘you’ or someone who can be trusted to represent your interests at all times. They do not need to be technically proficient but must be able to deal with the basic questions that might arise in dealing with the Registrant, stuff like “What is the mailing address, phone number, fax, etc…”

Insure that this is exactly who you want it to be in the application for registration. You can create a special position in your organization and use that as the Admin contact or you can assign it to an individual – just be sure that if the individual leaves your employ the domain information gets updated to reflect the new person with this duty.

Technical Contact
Pretty much what it says. The technical contact manages the name servers of a domain name. In many cases, the technical contact will be a representative of the internet service provider, hosting company, or web development firm that helps you manage your website, email services, etc.

Billing Contact
I think we all know what this is about. The Registrar needs to know who is going to pay for you domain name when renewal time comes up. It is also important that this contact information remains current so that billing information gets to someone that will actually pay for the renewal in a timely manner.

Name Servers (from wikipedia)
Name servers. Most registrars provide two or more name servers as part of the registration service. However, a registrant may specify its own authoritative name servers to host a domain’s resource records. The registrar’s policies govern the number of servers and the type of server information required.

The most important thing to take from this is that you want to be sure that these domain management roles are filled appropriately to insure that you can continue to control and user your domain name.

If the data stored in these positions are not accurate, you should immediately contact the people you used to register this domain name and begin the process of setting things right. This can sometimes take quite a bit of time and might involve faxes, letters, etc. to the domain registrar. Plan ahead. Use the Whois command/service to check out what information is currently in place for your domain.

ICANN requires accredited Registrars to provide free public access to the name of the registered domain name and its nameservers and registrar, the date the domain was created and when its registration expires, and the contact information for the Registered Name Holder, the technical contact, and the administrative contact you will generally find a whois service link on your Registrar’s website – or you can use services like

I am happy to help with these services if you are not comfortable with doing this in house.


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    This website is supported by Ken Lombardi @ analogman consulting.
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