The easiest way to find out who is responsible for a particular website is to ask the webmaster himself or herself. Websites usually have a “contact us” or “about us” page on the site or an email address, contact form or any other means of contacting the webmaster directly. Some webmasters will leave their Twitter ID or link to their Twitter page and Facebook page on the website. If you can’t find any information about the website’s owner, there is another way to find out who owns a particular website.
The web supports a special search called Whois (pronounced as the phrase “who is”) that queries databases called Whois servers that stores information on all domain names registered such as the name of the individual or company who registered the domain name, the IP address of the domain, date of registration and expiry and other related data.
You can perform a Whois search using Google: just search for “whois www.example.com” (without the quotation) and you will find several results from different Whois lookup services. Alternatively, you can directly query the domain on any Whois lookup tool. My personal favorite is www.zoneedit.com/lookup.html
Click on the link above and type the domain name you want to query under Whois and click on the lookup link. This is the result of a Whois query of nytimes.com:
Whois Server Version 2.0
Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net
for detailed information.
Domain Name: NYTIMES.COM
Registrar: MELBOURNE IT, LTD. D/B/A INTERNET NAMES WORLDWIDE
Whois Server: whois.melbourneit.com
Referral URL: http://www.melbourneit.com
Name Server: NS1T.NYTIMES.COM
Name Server: NYDNS1.ABOUT.COM
Name Server: NYDNS2.ABOUT.COM
Updated Date: 30-aug-2011
Creation Date: 18-jan-1994
Expiration Date: 19-jan-2013
>>> Last update of whois database: Wed, 23 May 2012 05:37:45 UTC <<<
The query returns the registrar under which the domain is registered. A domain name registrar is an organization authorized by their respective domain name registries to manage the reservation of Internet domain names and offer such services to the public. The query also returns the Whois server managed by the registrar.
In our example, the domain nytimes.com is managed by MELBOURNE IT, LTD and the Whois server is located at whois.melbourneit.com, our next stop.
On whois.melbourneit.com, enter the domain name – nytimes.com, in our case – and query the server. This time, the registrar will return detailed information about the domain owner including name, address and phone number. This is the result of a Whois query on nytimes.com.
Domain Name nytimes.com Creation Date 1994-01-18 Registration Date 2011-08-31 Expiry Date 2013-01-20 Organisation Name New York Times Digital Organisation Address 620 8th Avenue New York 10018 NY UNITED STATES Admin Name Ellen Herb Admin Address NEW YORK TIMES DIGITAL 620 8th Avenue NEW YORK 10018 NY UNITED STATES Admin Email [email protected] Admin Phone +1.2125561234 Tech Name NEW YORK TIMES DIGITAL Tech Address 229 West 43d Street New York 10036 NY UNITED STATES Tech Email [email protected] Tech Phone +1.2125561234 Tech Fax +1.1231231234 Name Server NYDNS1.ABOUT.COM NS1T.NYTIMES.COM NYDNS2.ABOUT.COM
As you can see this is pretty detailed.
However, many registrars offer private registration, in which case the identity of the webmaster is hidden. If the webmaster opted for private registration then instead of the webmaster’s contact information, the contact information of the registrar will be shown in Whois results. In such cases, there is no easy way to identify the owner of a domain/website through Whois.
There is one last option that might work: contact the website’s hosting company and ask for the owner’s information. It’s unlikely the hosting company will tell you but it’s worth a try.
But how to know where a website is hosted? Ask WhoIsHostingThis.com