HOW TO: find contact details for website owners

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Whether you’re a designer or a casual visitor, there are plenty of reasons you might want to get in touch with the owner of a website. Maybe you have a question about someone’s open source project, or you want to invite the website owner to an industry event. Whatever the reason, there are many different points of access online where you can communicate. But not every website lists contact details. In these situations, how can you contact the owner of the site?

The first thing to do whenever you are looking to contact a website owner is to check social media. Many website owners will tactically choose to hide points of contact, so as to discourage unwanted emails or sales calls. Others will simply prefer to handle their communications through online forms. But a post on a social media profile linked to the company concerned is a sure way to get your message through. In the case of complaints, for example, sites like Facebook and Twitter can be a great way to reach out and make contact. Because of the public nature of these types of sites, the chances of getting a direct response (and quickly) greatly improve. If you have a complaint, though, it is usually best to keep it private at first. Everyone makes mistakes, and website owners appreciate the opportunity to resolve issues privately, so try to send a direct message in first instance.

Of course, there are some occasions where even a private message on Facebook would be unlikely to be sufficient to get your point across. If you are pitching a business proposal, for example, you will probably want a more direct method of contacting the website owner concerned so you can discuss things in more depth. A search of Whois data for the domain name can be a useful starting point. This provides a registered contact and contact information for every website online, so that you can always delve deeper into the party or persons responsible underneath it all.

Some online services offer the option of a private registration, using a proxy as the contact details for the domain, under agreement with the website owner. In these circumstances it may be less transparent.For uncovering details that are less immediately obvious, more advanced methods will be required. So, for example, where computer criminality is involved, expert help will usually be needed to seize and analyze the equipment concerned. Trained specialists with a computer forensics degree are best qualified to provide this level of treatment and analysis. Both the academic and practical skills involved in computer forensics make this essential in stopping digital crime when it occurs.

The web is strengthened by the open, level playing field it provides to individuals and businesses looking to get their message out. Even where attempts have been made to conceal information, it is possible to delve deep into the fabric of the technologies and networks used to identify the true owner where required.

Catalin is the founder of Mostash – a social marketing boutique – and he’s always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.