February 5, 2004 5:00 PM PST

Washington Post lets domain registration lapse

The Washington Post Co. neglected to pay the $19 annual registration fee for its corporate domain name, an oversight that caused the company's internal e-mail system to crash for part of the day, a company official said Thursday.

According to a company representative, the newspaper arm of The Washington Post Co. is responsible for updating the record for Washpost.com with domain-name registrar Network Solutions. That record lapsed this week, interrupting delivery of corporate e-mail and that of newspaper staff members.

The registration was updated Thursday, according to Network Solution's online records, and e-mail is flowing again, the representative said. However, the site Washpost.com was unavailable as of 4 p.m. PST.

The Washington Post is hardly alone in this mistake.

In one notable incident, Microsoft let the domain-name registration lapse on its Hotmail free e-mail service in 1999, and a Linux user stepped in to pay the delinquent bill. Michael Cheney, the Good Samaritan, then auctioned Microsoft's $500 reimbursement check (for the $35 he spent to update the record) on eBay.

The Post domain lapse illustrates the divided relationships between its company units.

Don Marshall, spokesman for the interactive arm of the Washington Post, said that its division runs Washingtonpost.com and was not affected by the inactive domain name. He said corporate parent The Washington Post Co. is in charge of the corporate Web site Washpost.com, which is used to highlight the company's business and display links to newspaper coverage.

A corporate representative, however, said the newspaper is responsible for updating the Washpost.com Web site. The Washington Post Co., based in Washington, D.C., has operations in newspaper, magazine and Internet publishing, as well as in TV broadcasting and educational services.


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