Thank God for .net & .org
April 14, 2006 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Some interesting facts about domain names. The results of significant number crunching on 3.5GB of .com domain name records yield some intriguing stats - for example, did you know that every single permutation of three letter acronyms is already taken within the .com hierarchy? And that nearly 80% of four letter combinations (not actual words, but just random XSLA.com style gibberish) is reserved? 100% of the top 10,000 family names in America are also booked.
posted by jonson (46 comments total)

 
100% of the top 10,000 family names in America are also booked.

Why?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:38 AM on April 14, 2006


And yet the first domain name idea I thought up just now, pancakes-ahoy.com is still available, with or without the hyphen. The business plan practically writes itself. Go!Go!Go!
posted by planetkyoto at 8:42 AM on April 14, 2006


Paul Graham on the state of startup names
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:46 AM on April 14, 2006


Runs out to register

everysinglepermutationofthreeletteracronymsisalreadytaken.com
posted by fullerine at 8:48 AM on April 14, 2006


Brought to you by yafla.com. Clearly every good site name they thought up was taken, too...
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:53 AM on April 14, 2006


Why?
posted by ZenMasterThis


1. Book 100% of the top 10,000 family names in America
2. ???
3. Profit
posted by NationalKato at 8:54 AM on April 14, 2006


I wonder how many people reading this immediately typed in their name to see if it had been registered?

Mine isn't; I guess "Weatherred" isn't one of the top 10,000 family names. I would feel better about it if they had said 10,000 most common family names.
posted by TedW at 8:55 AM on April 14, 2006


Brought to you by yafla.com. Clearly every good site name they thought up was taken, too...

Apparently yafla=yet another five letter acronym
posted by TedW at 8:57 AM on April 14, 2006


And anyone who owns a domain that they don't do anything with for a year should have the domain stripped. Use or lose. this included all those things such as bushsucks.com or Kerryblows.com, or xproductbites.com
posted by edgeways at 9:01 AM on April 14, 2006


Thankfully, gamblorshouseofpoon.com is still available. My plans continue unabated.
posted by Gamblor at 9:06 AM on April 14, 2006


I just went through the agony of choosing a domain name for my family site. Nothing I wanted was available, of if it was, it had a weird country extension that grandma and grandpa would never remember it. Interestingly, domains with a permutation of our family name were usually being sat on by somebody, not being used by anyone. We finally went with a word that could be made up from letters of all of our names: atomicotter. Though to be truly web 2.0 it should be spelled "ottr."
posted by Biblio at 9:07 AM on April 14, 2006


Biblio - you spelled Atomic Cooter wrong.
posted by jonson at 9:12 AM on April 14, 2006


Never underestimate an atomic cooter. I speak from experience.
posted by NationalKato at 9:17 AM on April 14, 2006


Are squatters automatically registering expired/deleted domains? Because I just checked two I used to own (cybergenetic.com and postculture.com) and they both load spam pages now..
posted by unmake at 9:21 AM on April 14, 2006


Nice, thanks!
posted by carter at 9:22 AM on April 14, 2006


And anyone who owns a domain that they don't do anything with for a year should have the domain stripped.

Amen. Kyoto.com and Kyoto.net have each been sitting absolutely unchanged with holding pages since the previous century.
posted by planetkyoto at 9:24 AM on April 14, 2006


edgeways, I know what you mean (even though I myself have such a site), but it'd be difficult to adjudicate something like that.

A question for the more knowledable here. Supposedly, the tradeoff for domain squatting is that domain registration is rent, not a sale, so the longer ones keep a domain and no one pays you to claim it the more it costs.

But, what about the registrars themselves? Is there some loophole there that allows them to squat domain names for free?
posted by JHarris at 9:28 AM on April 14, 2006


unmake writes "Are squatters automatically registering expired/deleted domains?"

Yes. There are bots that scour register information and when domains expire they pick them up. They assume that the people who registered the domain might want it back at some point and simply let the registration lapse by accident. You then have to contact them and pay their price to get it back.
posted by purephase at 9:30 AM on April 14, 2006


I have felt before that "georgehernandez" is a bit long at 15 letters, but actually I'm not too far from the norm since the most common name length is 11.

I also liked his link to the name files of the 1990 census. "George Hernandez" is M16 L29. It looks like "James Smith" bumped out "John Smith" for the #1 spot. "Jane Doe" is only F77 L2117!
posted by GeorgeHernandez at 9:31 AM on April 14, 2006


Neat article. No surprise that sex is more popular than love.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:49 AM on April 14, 2006


purephase: There are bots that scour register information and when domains expire they pick them up.

I do encounter cases where there used to be a site but now it's just "server not found." So not all previously registered domain names are automatically squatted -- does anyone know of the process the squatters use? Is it related to popularity, incoming hits from search engines, something like that -- or is it something more mundane, like "nobody's going to want that one"?
posted by camcgee at 9:49 AM on April 14, 2006


...anyone who owns a domain that they don't do anything with for a year should have the domain stripped. Use or lose.

Thankfully, you've got no authority. I've owned an inactive domain name since 2001. It's the name of my business. I have absolutely no reason to maintain a professional presence on the Web — contrary to stupid notions that every company should have a website — but neither do I want anyone else scooping it up for competing use. I'm protecting my trademark.

On the other hand, did you know that usernames at Apple's Dot-Mac service are never recycled, even those reserved by free trials? You can just sit in front of the computer all day, signing up for a hundred different "free trial accounts," locking up every good username you can find — and those usernames will never be available to anyone else, even after your free trials expire. So sayeth Apple official policy.
posted by cribcage at 9:57 AM on April 14, 2006


I hate domain squatting with a passion. I know it's tough to prosecute disputes about something like that, but it has gotten way out of hand, and adding more TLDs isn't going to fix anything. It's like some ridiculous land grab, and it's only a matter of time before all the five-letter and six-letter combos are taken too. We need some sort of online zoning laws that prevent this crap.
posted by TunnelArmr at 10:00 AM on April 14, 2006


Domain squatting, like anything else is driven by the market. If people were not willing to pay $x dollars more than the regular registration prices for an already registered domain then squatters would not exist. But, businesses and people in general want what they do not have.

That being said, I'm constantly amazed at the creativity of people registering new domain names. I see hundreds a day and there are always new ones floating by my eyes that make me stop and think or giggle.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:12 AM on April 14, 2006


JHarris writes: "But, what about the registrars themselves? Is there some loophole there that allows them to squat domain names for free?"

Free? No. But there's an interesting shift happening. Three out of the seven registrar partners we currently use are doing something with ad revenue on recently expired domain names.

For instance, one major partner just rolled out a program where after ten days in expiry they change the DNS settings and start having the domain resolve again. But this time with Google Ads on it. They track the money they get from those ads and if it's enough they'll re-register the name just before it slips into the dreaded redemption status to continue getting revenue.

Another of our partners re-registers domain names consistently and will throw domains into auction. We've had a customer who let his domain lapse and it went all the way through what should have been the deletion cycle only to find out that the registrar still had the domain months later and wanted $2400 for it because they'ld placed it into an auction.

These are just some of the reasons you really need to do a little research on who you're really dealing with when you register a domain name and what their policies are.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:22 AM on April 14, 2006


This is a sour topic for me.

There are exactly 17 people in the United States who share my last name. There's absolutely no reason why it shouldn't be available.

Yet, amazingly, it has been seized by a Japanese toy store.

Now, don't get me wrong. I totally dig Japanese toys. I've even ordered stuff from them before. But, dude. Come on. It's the whitest white-person name in the world. How did they decide on using it for their store?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:25 AM on April 14, 2006


Ok...well. Just checked again and apparently they're in Hong Kong.

Even creepier, their street name is my first name.

I sense an incredible journey coming, followed by a riveting novel detailing my experience of self-discovery, followed by a mediocre film starring Elijah Wood.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:31 AM on April 14, 2006


Yeah but Baby_Balrog you could totally score the dannison.name domain. ;)
posted by FlamingBore at 10:37 AM on April 14, 2006


Lemme take this opportunity to gloat: I registered my family name years ago, so until the day I die, me and everyone in my family is firstname@lastname.com. It rocks.

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Madd geek pimpin, yo.
posted by LordSludge at 10:38 AM on April 14, 2006


Domain squatting sucks, but what sucks worse are these fake "search engines" that pop up on expired domains. Those are just straight up scams, since they only feed you "sponsored links."

This is a reason that I often print cool web pages/articles to PDF and archive them. Google cache doesn't always have everything, and neither does the Wayback Machine.
posted by drstein at 10:39 AM on April 14, 2006


Balrog, your story itself is remarkably similar to a Simpsons plotline where Homer finds a Japanese box of dishwasher soap at the landfill with his face on it.

"There's your answer, fishbulb."
posted by ninjew at 10:43 AM on April 14, 2006


For me, firstlast.com was taken by a squatter, but firstlast.net wasn't. I snatched that up right quick. My name isn't particularly uncommon, either.
posted by danb at 11:18 AM on April 14, 2006


I've got firstlastname.com but am not currently using it for anything.

I'm squating on myself.
posted by Mick at 11:40 AM on April 14, 2006


I bought my firstlast.com years ago, and am happy to have it, even though I don't use it right now. Even with all the various TLDs out there, I still feel like .com is the prestige one, y'know? And knowing that anyone who can remember your name can remember your e-mail addy is handy as well.
posted by chudmonkey at 11:48 AM on April 14, 2006


I'm squating on myself.

I saw a crazy German website dedicated to that, once.
posted by Gamblor at 1:15 PM on April 14, 2006


http://grabitfast.com/
posted by Outlawyr at 1:52 PM on April 14, 2006


The first article seems, as Paul Graham comments indirectly, like a leftover from the 90s -- this was happening even then.

Personally, I purposely did not register -- say -- hartung.com out of foolish net.culture principle. It was just wrong, you know, unless that was the name of my company! Some guy's made thousands of dollars off that one by reselling the subdomains (like dan.hartung.com) and e-mail addresses.

I did own dhartung-dot-com once but it was one of half-a-dozen that I let expire when I went broke. I keep hoping it will free up from the squatter, of course, but not this year. Squatting at least used to cost somebody some real money, but with price competition it's less and less now so they can keep marginal domains longer. I doubt there is much revenue from the sponsored links, but they're obviously hoping -- like any real estate investor -- to make their profit from the eventual sale. The ad revenue is just a way to allay maintenance costs.

As for the startup names, though, that Graham article is spot on. I spent the last two weeks pondering a name for mine that I only liked more and more, all the while feeling less and less like it wasn't in conflict with an existing business. At most there's a 10% conceptual overlap and no direct competition, but they have a trademark and lawyers and I don't, so I'm putting that one away. It was two simple words combined that really described the business with some positive associations, very upbeat and memorable.

The one that's on top of my list now is in the "mediocre but not actively repulsive" realm for me, so I hope I can come up with something better. I'm personally still at the point where I would prefer something that's descriptive but in a fun approachable way (e.g. Newsvine), or secondarily evocative (e.g. Flickr). At the same time punny spellings are approachable but overdone right now (e.g. Flickr, etc.). I don't want to seem derivative. I can see the point behind fun nonsense names like Wufoo, and I may yet have to go there (I have some options on the table), but I'd prefer not to ultimately. I may want to try something along the Writely neologism lines.

I keep telling myself that a good name will not make the product -- I like to think that what I have is potentially awesome, don't we all -- but on the other hand I truly feel a bad name could kill it.

For my part, I haven't a clue why Paul Graham doesn't agree that TextPayMe.com is a terrible name. It's descriptive and punchy, yes, but that XTP combination looks and feels unpronounceable even if it really isn't.
posted by dhartung at 3:48 PM on April 14, 2006


While on paternity leave I'm taking the time to teach myself how to build a web app. I decided to build a gift registry system since I threw up a makeshift one before our baby was born and it worked great. I've been playing the domain name brainstorming game for a few weeks now. It's tough. The best I have so far is a play on a word I made up for someone who loves gifts: "giftophile". Since you create a "file" with your gift requests, I made it "giftofile.com". I registered both words.

I can't decide if I made a successful choice with that or not, but one thing that helped in the brainstorming is the Oxford English Dictionary. You can see the history of words and find alternate spellings: myregystree.com?
posted by nonmyopicdave at 5:30 PM on April 14, 2006


Come on. It's the whitest white-person name in the world. How did they decide on using it for their store?

Don't forget Hong Kong was, until recently, a British colony. Perhaps the owner of the store has some British ascendancy, and is called Dannison too...

However, I vote for the self-discovery journey.

/And I just got this idea... I'm totally getting a t-shirt saying "I went on an incredible self-discovery journey and all I got was this lousy t-shirt"
posted by qvantamon at 7:14 PM on April 14, 2006


I thought it was interesting how domains starting with a number almost follow Benford's law:






posted by Monday at 7:16 PM on April 14, 2006


for example, did you know that every single permutation of three letter acronyms is already taken within the .com hierarchy?

Um, wasn't this true already 10 years ago? I wanna say "DUH!" but that would be rude.

I thought it was pretty obvious to anyone who's tried to buy domain names in the past few years that even two-word combinations of common English words are hard to come by. You've really got to pair a relatively unusual or uncommon word with a common word to have a decent chance of finding a .com that is available.

I used to have my firstlast.com but got sick of the spam, and realized I wanted to be more untraceable and have my web content be more plausibly deniable. So I let it lapse on purpose a few years ago.
posted by beth at 7:50 AM on April 15, 2006


100% of the top 10,000 family names in America are also booked.

Many of them by Any-Web, a British company that snapped up a bunch of common surnames, including my last name. They do offer e-mail accounts at these domains for an £8.50 setup fee (got mine before they started charging for it), so it's not entirely useless. It could have been snapped up by some utter wanker, and then I wouldn't even be able to get the e-mail account.

Last I checked they wanted several hundred bucks to buy the domain outright, though.
posted by kindall at 8:32 AM on April 15, 2006


edgeways wrote: And anyone who owns a domain that they don't do anything with for a year should have the domain stripped. Use or lose.

Sometimes legitimate use is not easily detected. Consider my domain, ryanrs.net. This domain is home to a rather interesting server I use everyday. But it's a pretty boring machine if you're not connecting from inside my class C.
posted by ryanrs at 7:32 PM on April 15, 2006


I just had my domain expire because the registrar was sending renewal notices to a dead e-mail account I had given them as a contact address. They did have a live address that they were using for other correspondence but apparently their automated system did not think of trying to use the alternative address. I had to pay them $150.00 and they had to wrestle with another registrar but I got it back. I'm happy with my registrar's efforts, happy that the domain did not get permanently snatched, and unhappy with the other registrar for grabbing it and parking it until someone came by to give them money.
posted by rdr at 12:18 AM on April 16, 2006


anyone who owns a domain that they don't do anything with for a year should have the domain stripped

Yeah, and who is going to go through all eleventy bazillion domains and see whether they're actually being used for something? You can't do it with a computer because you don't know what people might be using it for. (Hint: it might not be for a Web site.)

If only there were some way to tell whether someone really wanted a domain. A "registration fee" of some kind, perhaps one that would be charged annually... I imagine one could safely assume that nobody would pay a fee for a domain they didn't want for some reason or another.
posted by kindall at 12:33 PM on April 16, 2006


edgeways writes "And anyone who owns a domain that they don't do anything with for a year should have the domain stripped."

How can you tell (no index page doesn't mean there isn't something secret) and who gets to judge?

planetkyoto writes "Kyoto.com and Kyoto.net have each been sitting absolutely unchanged with holding pages since the previous century."

The web != The internet. One of my domains has a parking page yet the listserv at that address gets 1000+ messages a week.

drstein writes "This is a reason that I often print cool web pages/articles to PDF and archive them"

There is a great plug in for Firefox that allows you to archive web pages into a single file.
When that isn't good enough I fire up Httrack.
posted by Mitheral at 1:36 PM on April 18, 2006


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