Jahed Ahmed

Domain Ownership, Web Authorship and WebVerify

The problem I have is simple: no one owns the same domains forever. So when people are visiting or linking to domains owned by a specific person or company, they expect to link to a specific author's work. If that authorship changes, the link is no longer relevant.

I have this issue with my old domain. I want to get rid of it, but nothing's stopping someone from buying it and serving ads or malicious content. Even after two years, people still use it; linked from other websites and their bookmarks. Even with a redirect page asking them to switch over, those links will never change. There's nothing I can do about it. In a few years, I'll just have to accept it might lead people to malicious websites, unrelated pages, or a dead end. All of which can be annoying when you're browsing the web.

So, what's the solution?

A somewhat naive approach is to include a signature alongside every page and have links include a public key reference. The browser can then verify the linked page is still authored by whoever the link expects. If it isn't, a warning can show up, or whatever the preference is like using a web archive.

Introducing WebVerify

Over the past few days, I've been working on a proof-of-concept called WebVerify. It's a Firefox Web Extension (a.k.a. plugin) (a.k.a. add-on). The first one I've written. I'm not glad about the code quality, but I'm new to the ecosystem so it's expected. Again, it's a proof-of-concept so I'm not expecting anyone to use it -- me included.

A Web Page Verified by WebVerify


This was originally one large blog post about my ideas to solve this problem, which eventually split into two, which then became WebVerify. That's Blog-driven Development in action. To read that second blog post which goes into a lot more detail, it's become WebVerify's Documentation, so check it out if you want.

Thanks for reading.

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