Farewell to a Long-Held Email Address

I no longer have access to micah@cowan.name.
I now answer to micah@addictivecode.org

I’ve had the @cowan.name for over a decade. You’ll find Google search results for it up the wazoo, long-term mailing list and usenet activity, and it’s been my contact email throughout my tenure as a project maintainer for a few GNU projects… But it’s gone now. 🙁

Really boring technical explanation

Okay, so the .name TLD has been a really funky thing ever since it was started. For starters, you were originally only able to buy at the third level (john.smith.name, never *.smith.name). I bought micah.cowan.name and sara.cowan.name, but no one (at the time) could ever buy cowan.name—it was only sold at the third level.

Today, if no one has already bought at the third level, it’s permitted to buy at the second level. Which really just complicates spam filtering more than accomplishing anything else, because filters have a hard time telling whether to block everything coming from @smith.name, or just @john.smith.name.

Anyway, you could buy at the third domain level, but it would also automatically include appropriate email address forwarding to wherever you wanted, for (in my case) micah@cowan.name and sara@cowan.name.

I registered them ages ago, on register.com. But they’re rather expensive, and I finally got sick of paying way more than these domains are worth, so I transferred everything to another registrar, gandi.net, including those two.

I knew at the time that the new registrar didn’t handle administrating the email forwarding, but I figured as long as I left them at their current values, they’d be fine anyway.

Well, they both suddenly stopped working early on the morning of Thursday, 2014 April 16 (yesterday at the time of this writing). If they’d stayed at the former registrar, they would have expired last month, which seemed a little too coincidental.

After some digging, VeriSign, the administrators of the .name TLD, told me that while the new registrar did indeed have micah.cowan.name and sara.cowan.name, the email forwarding objects are separate, sort of “not-domains” domains, and would have had to have been explicitly requested as part of the transfer (but were not). So they remained with the former registrar (hidden from the UI, basically).

Register.com, AFAICT, no longer even has a UI for managing the email forwarding, but would hopefully have allowed me to change it by mailed request or something. But the whole thing’s a mess.

I could conceivably transfer the domains back to Register.com and ask them to reinstate the email forwarding (they’ll have expired, so probably re-request from Verisign, assuming no one else has bought those non-domain “domains” in the interim?) the email forwarding. I could also conceivably go to some cheaper registrar that handles .name forwarding (many today do not).

But all this seems time-consuming, by which point I’d probably already have gone a week or more without the address. If I’m already having to work around it, I might as well stick with it, especially if it’s liable to remain this cumbersome in the future.

So farewell, prized micah@cowan.name address of mine. You served me well, even if occasionally some web app or other would refuse to believe it was real, forcing me to use some alternative address instead.

The ordeal is quite a bit less of an obstacle for my wife (who had sara@cowan.name); she just used it for a few friends, and one or two online accounts. I’ve got hundreds of online accounts to sift through and change email for… 😕