When Ukip’s website suffered a mysterious outage on Tuesday, Twitter erupted with theories.
Were they hacked by leftwing activists? Had they failed to renew the domain name? A spokesman from the party said the website had merely experienced technical problems and the site was back up and running later that day.
Amid the noise, Jack Clothier of the Oxford-based record label Alcopop noticed that the domain name Ukip.org was up for sale. Spotting his chance, he bought it for £200 from Godaddy.com.
“I was just sitting down at my computer, saw that it was for sale and thought: there’s an opportunity.” Once the transaction had been processed and the money had left his account, Clothier tweeted a picture of the receipt.
Clothier says he didn’t buy the domain name to make a political point or to profiteer. “I just thought it would be a fun thing to do.”
With the help of fellow Twitter users he started planning what to do with Ukip.org, with ideas ranging from filling the page with pictures of unicorns to redirecting visitors to the websites of anti-racism charities.
But after three hours, he received an email from Godaddy.com saying that he didn’t actually own the domain name after all, and that they would reimburse him the money he’d paid.
“They said that the domain had belonged to a third party that they were representing so it wasn’t their fault, which seems a bit flimsy to me,” he said.
He says that the episode wasn’t a PR stunt, but that visitors to the record label’s website were up 30-fold on Tuesday.
Exactly why the website was down, or how the domain came to be for sale, or whether the two are related, remains unclear.
Clothier doesn’t know why Ukip’s website appeared to be up for sale but he says that he enjoyed being able to “highlight Ukip’s incompetence for a few hours”.
This article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 7th January 2015 17.13 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010