And… we’re back. The domain formerly known as vb.ly is now vbly.us. Ben Metcalfe has a great post up explaining why we chose the domain and ccTLD. All of the links are there: when Libyan Spider unplugged the domain they took over 500,000 links off the internet. This damage has been undone.
Many people had created custom links through our service. To resume using those links, simply change the URL from http://vb.ly/yourname to http://vbly.us/yourname — the link is already live.
To recap: We registered vb.ly with Nic.ly/Libyan Spider when it opened up to the public, as they openly courted Western markets. We set up a link shortening service and a one-page image. After a year of running the site with no changes and renewal for a year, the registrar unexpectedly took the site offline. When we were able to get a response as to what happened and why, we were told they had decided to apply Libyan national moral/religious laws to the content of our domain. They have never been open to negotiation, and to our knowledge have not applied the same standards to other .ly domains.
After two renewal notices, I finally paid to renew vb.ly on July 27. The site was taken offline on September 23, and they only began responding to our help tickets on the 25th. In several emails, we repeatedly told them their claims of rule violation were not substantiated in any of the links to rules they were providing as evidence. We were not being shown any rules we were violating: the rules shown to us did not apply so we kept asking — naturally, we wanted to keep the domain. When we were referred to another representative, we received a response stating that the content of our domain was illegal in the country of Libya: the picture of me with bare arms drinking a beer was pornography, and the link shortening of any adult content was “promoting an illegal activity.”
The registrar left this comment in our post Official: vb.ly Seized By Libyan Government. They posted an alleged timeline of contact with us, which they were seen to be copy/pasting on various high-traffic websites’ article comments. When they posted, we responded with a question, and they responded back immediately. Then we asked them that if we complied with what they claimed were their original requests for changes, could we have the domain back? As you can see, they did not respond.
Domain hosting and registration is not a game show, where if you do not answer within a certain time (even if you did not “hear” the question) — you lose. It is clear that it did not matter when or how we answered Libyan Spider about the content of vb.ly: they were pre-decided to eliminate the domain. Never mind the huge grey area around the application of religion to domain content on the open internet.