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How to identify and contact the administrator of a web site

Before attempting to contact the administrator of a system, bear in mind that their systems typically serve many users and they may receive large volumes of queries like yours, plus many more spam messages that are sent to their contact addresses by software that harvests their addresses from the sources described below. For your contact to succeed, it should be immediately clear to the administrator
  • how it is specific to their system
  • that it is coming from a person and not a program, and
  • that it includes information that fully defines the problem (see fault reporting)

Website contacts

There is usually an email address through which you can contact the administrator of a web site. Many web sites provide a “Contact Us” page through which you can contact the administrator, and the main page of the site usually links to that page, often through fine print at the bottom of the page or through an “About Us” section.

If you can't find an administrator's contact details on the web site, you can try a typical administrator address which has the form username@domain, e.g. webmaster@example.com, where:

  • For the username, try webmaster, root, admin, or www-admin.
  • For the domain, use the name of the web site, but omit any leading “www.” from the domain name, e.g. for www.example.com try emailing webmaster@example.com

Domain name registration

For each domain name, there is a “Registrant”, “Administrative Contact” and “Technical Contact”. The names and contact details for these contacts are stored in the “whois” database, which can be accessed online: whois.

e.g. for the ietf.org domain:

IETF.ORG WHOIS
Updated: 1 second ago
Registrant Contact Information:
Name: IETF Trust
Organization: IETF Trust
Address 1: 1775 Wiehle Ave
City: Reston
State: VA
Zip: 20190
Country: US
Phone: +1.7037289264
Email: anonymized@worldnic.com

Administrative Contact Information:
Name: Ray Pelletier
Organization: IETF Trust
Address 1: 1775 Wiehle Ave
City: Reston
State: VA
Zip: 20190
Country: US
Phone: +1.7037289264
Fax: +1.7037797463
Email: anonymized@isoc.org

Technical Contact Information:
Name: Ray Pelletier
Organization: IETF Trust
Address 1: 1775 Wiehle Ave
City: Reston
State: VA
Zip: 20190
Country: US
Phone: +1.7037289264
Fax: +1.7037797463
Email: anonymized@isoc.org


Information Updated: Fri, 4 Dec 2009 23:51:57 UTC

Domain name authority

The Domain Name System will hold a “Start Of Authority” (SOA) record for each domain name which provides the email address of the administrator of a DNS zone. You could try contacting the administrator for the zone that includes the domain that you are trying to access.

With Microsoft Windows, open a Command Prompt and use the name server lookup (nslookup) utility:

C:\>nslookup -type=SOA example.com
Server: dns.isp.net
Address: 216.126.204.65

Non-authoritative answer:
example.com
primary name server = dns1.icann.org
responsible mail addr = hostmaster.icann.org
serial = 2009100600
refresh = 7200 (2 hours)
retry = 3600 (1 hour)
expire = 1209600 (14 days)
default TTL = 86400 (1 day)

example.com nameserver = a.iana-servers.net
example.com nameserver = b.iana-servers.net
a.iana-servers.net internet address = 192.0.34.43
b.iana-servers.net internet address = 193.0.0.236

C:\>
Note that the left-most dot in the email address should be replaced with the normal email @ symbol, i.e.
hostmaster.icann.org
becomes
hostmaster@icann.org
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