VoteForTheMILF.com/.net/.org was a simple prank.
A Little of the Geeky Background
Before you read any further, get this straight: I DO NOT OWN THE DOMAIN. It is still unknown who purchased the domain.
I’ve got the knowledge that should squelch any thoughts otherwise by any logical person. Admittedly, I found it amusing and slightly humorous, if for no reason but it was grounds for a great lesson in DNS and Domain Registration.
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I love my job and the technology I get to deal with on a daily basis… It’s amazing what some people will believe without understanding how the internet, browsers, email clients, and servers work when presented with partial evidence.
All of the sites claiming or inferring John McCain’s campaign owns the domains and registered them privately to dodge the possible scandal are making up what they think is news without actually checking the facts. The truth is it could be anyone that registered the domains (including Sarah Palin herself) but the proof can only be obtained with a subpoena to the Private Registration holder DomainsByProxy. DomainsByProxy happens to be used by GoDaddy and Network Solutions, the biggest domain registrars on the internet. I have used DomainsByProxy for a couple of my domains in the past (and on a somewhat unrelated note I started receiving credit card offers in the mail shortly after I discontinued using their services). That doesn’t mean that my domains were once owned by John McCain’s campaign does it? To reiterate: for the record, I DO NOT OWN THE DOMAIN. It is still unknown who purchased the domain.
So How Did it Happen?
The shell of the situation is this… When a user would type VoteForTheMILF.com/.net/.org in their respective browsers they would get John McCain’s website (JohnMcCain.com) and in most cases, a special message from his running-mate, Sarah Palin.
Here’s where people started making the assumptions that John McCain’s campaign purchased the domain and specifically pointed it to the Sarah Palin intro. We all know what happens when you assume, right? So let me explain how this prank is pulled off… but first you need to have a little knowlege about how web browsers, DNS, and servers play into the mix. I’ll quote the important part again for you:
The web browser communicates with a domain name server (DNS) to find out the IP Address for the website. All communications on the Internet use IP Addresses for communications. The website names that we know and love were invented just to make it easier for us to find the websites we need.
So, the web browser talks to DNS servers to find out what IP address to look for the requested resource. DNS servers are maintained by numerous ISPs, web hosting companies, and in this case are handled by the registrar (a sign of laziness by most Administrator’s standards). These servers hold records of where to point numerous domain’s mail (MX), address (A), canonical name (CNAME), additional name-server (NS), and various other more advanced records.
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The NS records for voteforthemilf.com are left up to domaincontrol.com’s Name Servers, and who is the operator of those Name Servers? You guessed it, DomainsByProxy, acting as the registrant. From there, the A Records were pointed to the same IP address that JohnMcCain.com uses. It just so happens that the way the website was originally set up it will respond for any hostname (web address) that is directed to its IP address, which is why this prank was able to happen.
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In creating the redirect, I simply edited some of the Apache server’s directives to forward all incoming requests from the VoteForTheMILF domains (and will be adding others that gain momentum) to google. Then I redirected to a wikipedia article on DNS, specifically Domain Registration in the hopes that some people would read what they were presented with and understand that it was an internet prank… I could have just as well redirected it to YouTube or a hardcore porn site, but I figured it would be best to educate people. Now I have it redirecting here, to explain it as it should. It has since been redirected back to Google because the first amendment wouldn’t save my job, or the company I work for if the campaign didn’t look favorably at my attempts to provide evidence to wash their hands of this.
What About the Direct Traffic to palin.htm?
Some people still found it interesting that they were greeted with a message from Sarah Palin when they “landed” on VoteForTheMILF’s address. If it was their first time visiting (or there wasn’t a tracking cookie from a previous visit) they would be redirected to the introduction page for Sarah Palin. This is entirely by design.
If you have any more questions and you ask in a non-trolling manner, I’ll do my best to answer them. If I missed anything, feel free to present what you feel I missed.
Here’s some more relevant links and comments:
- I just found this in my SEO checks… Here’s the full article from WashingtonPost.com Brian Rogers of the McCain Campaign officially denounces the VoteForTheMILF.com/.net/.org domain, and answers with the same facts I presented you.
The McCain campaign says no. “We did not. We had nothing to do with it,” McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers tells the Sleuth.
In an email, Rogers explained that someone or some persons bought the domain name – anonymously, of course – and set it to direct users to the McCain campaign Website.
As proof that the McCain campaign was innocent in the voteforthemilf.com-morphing-into-johnmccain.com mystery, Rogers pointed out that the domain servers for that Website are different than the domain servers for johnmccain.com, as you can see on the Network Solutions site by clicking here for the milf site information and here for the McCain site information. But, of course, that still doesn’t prove they are unaffiliated, does it?