Domain name madness

A client came to us for a web site, and they also needed a domain name. Even though the business is based out of Australia the preference was for a .com address. Their name was relatively generic so I knew it was unlikely to be available, and asked them to think about alternatives they would be happy with.

Now of the 10 domain possibilities all 10 are taken. But what was most frustrating about this is, that of the 10, only 4 had actual web sites, with 1 more redirecting to an alternative but similar name. Of the other 5, all had ‘affiliate’ type sites filled with advertising, and three being up for sale. None had a connection with the name of the current owner, and seemed to be purchased for speculative purposes.

My ‘free market’ friends would say this is an optimal solution coming from a very lightly regulated market. To me it is market failure. The likes of goDaddy have helped created such a situation with low cost domain names, that groups and companies can sit on large numbers of domain names in the hope of selling them to a legitimate user down the line.

I know this situation is not going to improve, (unless there is some kind of from left field dot-com bust number 2). But I do have 2 suggestions that will be disliked and ignored.

  • A flat rate charge (tax) per domain name with all proceeds to a charity/worthwhile cause.
  • The use it or lose it principle. Pick a random 13 year old of mySpace, and get him or her to judge if the site is real. If negative you lose the domain name.

Just my 2 frustrated cents.