Service, not Supermodels: an appeal to Bob Parsons and Go Daddy

Dear Bob,

I didn’t join Go Daddy as a customer after your first Super Bowl commercial, or even after the second. A lot of other people did, and when I noticed you were the market leader, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. I also thought it was cool that your image was anti-Silicon Valley: an ex-Marine in Scottsdale, a flag-waving NASCAR sponsor.

I haven’t had major problems with your service, none like Gordon Lyon did with SecLists. I host a website for the podcasts from my dad’s radio show, The Advocates on WVOX. A few months back I woke up to find that it completely disappeared. I called customer service and we discovered that a credit card expiration on optional bandwidth had triggered this; your technician was able to restore it over the phone. Another of my sites, Campaign Trails, an archive of lost digital political campaign effects, has had no problems – after all, I don’t actively add to it.

Still, the whole user experience gnaws at me. When I’m managing my domains, I don’t feel as I’m controlling, I feel like I’m dodging ads. And I don’t feel like there’s a cohesive architecture to the services. I can give out a separate login to a Quick Blogcast, but not a conventional website hosted by your secure server. Quick Blogcast sometimes wipes out the entry when I add a podcast. These sorts of questions are not billing related, and they’re the types of questions that would have answers in an online community. Any other Internet technology with millions of customers/users has a vibrant online community. I can’t find you. I found Nodaddy instead.

So I have some requests:

  1. You launched a Go Daddy Connections community back in November 2007. It’s been barely used in 14 months. Of the dozen forums, three deal with your products, they have 62 discussions with 300 posts. Integrate it within your website. I couldn’t even find a place to add a new post. I entered a support ticket. Customer service emailed back and thought I was asking about Quick Blogcast. I called tech support. The technician on the phone had no idea what it was and put me on hold for 15 minutes. I eventually figured out that if I clicked “Reply” I’d get a form which would enable my account to let me post. But who will read it? The Nodaddy community is more active than yours.
  2. You’ve been a pioneer CEO blogger. Back in 2006, you had written about industry issues like domain kiting and the. EU TLD fiasco. You gave that up in 2007, with a near full-time obsession with the Super Bowl ads. Last year you abandoned text for video, which spared anyone the pleasure of skimming through your written content. Bob: we’re busy watching football (or NASCAR); are we supposed to have time to be watching you? When we’re on the GoDaddy website, we’re looking to solve problems. You’re the CEO of one of the most powerful privately held Internet companies. What’s on your mind that we should care about?
  3. You’ve been open to the idea of just skipping the Super Bowl ad. But that was last year. This year your marketing is again in overdrive on the T&A. How many more boobs are left to sign up for your service because they’re drooling at the TV? Ad campaigns can’t last forever. Suprise us. Let me give you some names: Blades. Omidyar. Cuban. Schmidt. Gates. Call ’em a bunch of liberals, engaged in pinko philanthropic projects like voter mobilization, microlending, socially conscious films, saving Africa. So what’s your legacy gonna be?
  4. A lot of social responsibility falls upon a registrar and hosting provider: issues about fair trade practices, privacy rights, injurious speech. I sense that you’re a free speech balancer — one is genuinely concerned about unchecked absolute speech. It’s a not enviable position on the Internet, as any motion to censor will leave people unhappy. Here’s something for you: back in 2007, I came across the stories of women who were the subject of harassment, defamatory speech, and wrongful public exposure. I came up with the Protocol for Online Network Abuse Reporting as a way to help straighten out the due process issues. I tried to engage some ICANN’s GNSO Whois task force working on OPoC, but to no avail. I never got anywhere with Harvard’s Berkman center either. Maybe it will interest you — when you get through the above three.

I figure there’s only one way to get your attention: Bare chests, strategically covered. Here’s the first one. If it comes to asking busty women to get our message out to you, well, we’ll see what we can do. Pictures are tagged “GoDaddy” on Flickr.

I’m not *presently* affiliated with nodaddy.com, though I will probably register for the forum. I just figure they’ll like the publicity, and they’ll have concrete ideas of their own to give you.

Update: I had asked people about their Go Daddy experience on LinkedIn earlier this evening, and I saw that 4 out of 5 web professionals have no complaints. Suppose that 99% of customers are generally happy with the service. That would leave 60,000 unhappy customers, and a mere 1% of that would be a tough caucus to tangle with on any customer community. (I just registered as user #651 on the Nodaddy forums to post an invitation to the above.) There may well be some threshold of critics to which a social media expert may plainly say that they will be too costly to manage. I would counter with the advice from Sun-Tzu and the Godfather: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

Update, January 28th: Nobody ever reads about the viral campaigns that flop. So keep reading. I changed the picture. One, I needed a new message. The previous one wasn’t clear at all. I added “Hey GoDaddy.com” to make it absolutely clear whom I was talking to. Second I realized I wanted to title this Service over Supermodels. I’m not against models; I just want service to be paramount. In fact, I have a new appreciation for modeling: in the first picture I had a Steve Carrell-look going, “Why am I in the bathroom holding this piece of paper?” I figured that affecting DeNiro would command a little more respect. The angled paper adds to the dynamism. Also, per viewer request, any chest hair is now strategically hidden.

I’ll add that GoDaddy did respond to my other outstanding ticket request. They wanted me to clarify the question. I still feel it’s easier just to take a screencap of the MCE editor and post it to an open support forum. Alas, I didn’t hear back from the Nodaddy.com forum.

Update, February 1st, 11:25 pm: Amazing game, obviously. Five years ago I had no idea where “the blogs” were in order to find out whether my Super Bowl party all witness Janet Jackson. Now I’m following Twitter– and being an active participant as well. A number of folks are threatening to leave, and a NetworkSolutions Twitterer is encouraging. Still, it’s clear to me that Twitter is highly insular. No one outside Twitter will care, and no one will understand if a newspaper account tomorrow talks about the carping on Twitter. People will take notice if they see photos. No one else has yet to tag one.

Update, February 3rd, 10:03 pm: This post was originally going to go to a site on Ning, called YoDaddy. I ended up putting on Civilities, and not until I saw all the Twitter posts after the Super Bowl did I start updating YoDaddy. 8 people have joined. No other pictures have been submitted to Flickr, though.

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