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Domain Names Forum

This 45 message thread spans 2 pages: 45 ( [1] 2 > >     
People's names as domain names
Is there a future in this area?

 12:43 pm on Sep 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

A while ago, I invested in a number of domains that were regular people's names (not anyone famous nor any business that is well-known or famous, nor any branded goods) and I saw that others had done the same, including one large domain owner that still holds theirs and is still buying more.

I had originally thought that the time would come when individuals would want to use the web for self-serving/promoting purposes, in a similar way to how businesses uses the web, such as career development, e.g. demonstrating or giving examples of their skill-set, previous work/projects, imaginative resumes, as well as for purely egotistically centered reasons. There would be other uses I am sure.

Whilst I have seen some examples of people using the web in this way (including some superb efforts and web designs), the idea hasn't really caught on in a big-ish way as I had thought (perhaps it still might).

There was also the propsect that very common combinations of forenames and surnames (e.g.such as john smith - (not mine though) etc) might be worth a premium due to the number of people with very common name combinations.

Perhaps the likes of myspace.com has served some of the above purposes, although I hadn't heard of this site until recently and it seems aimed at a younger market - do I need to get out more or mix with the young folk? - (gets a chill/goosebumps just thinking about the scary youngsters in his area :O :(( )

Is there any mileage/future in owning/holding such domain names?



 8:17 pm on Sep 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

No, there's no future. I see no value, unless you plan to also register everyone's middle names, their first initial plus name, all TLD versions, etc. People will just opt for Plan B in most cases = whatever else is available.

You might find 1 or 2 buyers, if you hold enough domains, but I doubt they will go overboard with their offers.

It might even get you a visit from some deeply offended paranoid nutcase: "Hey, you registered my name! I want it back! Give it to me now!" Arrgghhhh . . gurgle . . gurgle . . croak . .


 3:49 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

No, there's no future. I see no value

I think someone kidnapped the real webwork, this does NOT sound like you.

Of course there is value here. People are vain and want there name + .com ...and why would someone settle for name + .some other lame tld or including a middle initial or something...no way.

Value is in the eye of the beerholder...err, I mean beholder ;)
Why wouldn't someone want to be able to say, 'Yeah go to myname.com for more info on me', its the ultimate address.


 4:25 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Perhaps WebWork's reply was a little harsh, but I feel (and have felt for some time) that we don't have the internet that we should have and so it may be only a matter of time before people start wanting such domain names.


 4:31 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I would say Webwork is right on point (no surprise there)

people are so used to using different names/nicks on the web anyway, unless they are famous where their name is their brand, then this is the primary truth

You might find 1 or 2 buyers, if you hold enough domains, but I doubt they will go overboard with their offers.


 4:51 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

What happens when you register some mobster's daughter's name without thinking it through?

What happens when some pedophile kidnaps some child and you own the name? FBI calling?

What happens when when someone who really really hates JohnX7S&(.com) decides that you must be him?

When someone comes knocking on your door or calling, someone you don't know, what will you do?

What happens when it comes to light that you registered 500+ people's names - anywhere?

What if one of those people is a not so nice hacker?

What if one of those people is a CIA, FBI, other agent?

Do you think that you will hide behind a proxy WhoIs?

What if someone cracks one of those WhoIs records - by whatever means - and then pulls the threads together to publicly name you are the one who registered the other 500+?

Just keep this in mind: When you stoop to registering people's identities as a business model it's personal, not business, and the consequences of that practice is likely far less predictable in its outcome.


 5:30 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Whilst Webwork makes some valid points as well as some that are irrelevat or silly, if we stop to think of ALL the possibilities that could occur, we would never get out of bed/out of the house or do anything, except perhaps to consider putting up that additional, extra thick steel door or install a panic room to protect ourselves from lunatics.

Another point is that just because there's a person out there with the name john smith doesn't mean that it is only that person that is entitled to own johnsmith.com - what about all the other john smith's out there?

Also, there is much more to people's identities that their names.

Until there is a legal framework governing how people's names are handled on the net (and if I am not doing anything illegal), I should not walk in fear.


 5:45 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

'Yeah go to myname.com for more info on me', its the ultimate address.

Maybe it's already been done, but I'm waiting (not!) for someone to use something like "Myname.com" for their kid's legal name.


 7:49 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

FireHorse, we all make our choices. Some choices, with their attendant risk, are well informed and the "will to choose" is largely free of outside influence (desparate choices), coercion, etc. Some choices are willful but misinformed (fraud), misguided (pranks), impulsive (youthful indiscretion), poorly researched or reasoned, etc.

What I attempt to do is not to tell anyone "No! Don't do that!", but rather I labor to a) get people to think before choosing; b) to help people inform their choices by illuminating issues; and, perhaps, c) to offer a measure of guidance as to alternatives or what I might do in the same circumstances.

Life IS messy and unpredictable. Just like emergency room physicians, police detectives and a batch of other people assigned the task of dealing with messy situations, I deal with all those things that are not supposed to happen all the time in my other professional life and I bring that experience here.

YMMV. You take your chances, just the risk/reward ratio, roll the dice and roll with the punches.

I'm not convinced you are on to anything worth the investment of time, money and effort. If there are 10,000 John Smiths chances are they will work out a solution on their own, like JohnSmithTrenton.tld.

But, like every ferverent domain domination plan, your's starts with an idea and a belief.

I've seen the domain superhighway littered with the junkyards built by such plans, tens of millions of domains that have lapsed since 1998. I've seen crazier schemes launched than what you propose, but this idea - cornering the market on other people's full names - is not that far removed. The one model, in this "domain space" that made some sense - mass registering of popular last names as the basis for launching a paid email service - was a plan that was excuted in the 90s, when email as a medium was just taking hold. I know a bit about that operation, in part, because I once helped the operator "save" a batch of names from inadvertantly lapsing.

YMMV. Hope springs infernal.

[edited by: Webwork at 7:57 pm (utc) on Oct. 5, 2006]


 8:06 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

There was also the propsect that very common combinations of forenames and surnames (e.g.such as john smith - (not mine though) etc) might be worth a premium due to the number of people with very common name combinations.

Cybersquatting is the act of registering a popular Internet address with the intent of selling it to its rightful owner.

Under the US ACPA cybersquatters can be held liable for actual damages or statutory damages in the amount of a maximum of $100,000 for each name found to be in violation.


 9:07 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

So, someone register's Steve Irwin's daughter's name and plays the redirect game. Might this get someone thrown to the crocodiles? Accidently tripped and fell into the creek?



 9:41 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Webwork: Many things well said, from a thoughtful experinced mind, but I think its too early to say whether I'm wasting my time or not. In any case, the phrase "cornering the market" is a million miles from my situation and I have not given you any information from which to make that deducement.

gpmgroup: You too have just jumped to conclusions - I am not cybersquatting.

[edited by: jatar_k at 10:04 pm (utc) on Oct. 5, 2006]


 1:13 am on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Folks, threads such as this may offend some folks, and I don't begrudge anyone their feelings, but calling people names does not add to the intellgence of this forum and that - gaining useful insight and business intelligence - is ALL that I and this forum are about. Focus on making your best argument for or against the merits of any proposition and keep your sentiments about the member/person out of the crosshairs.

If you are a newcomer to the Domain Forum please read and respect the Charter.

FireHorse, is it really any surprise that posting your idea evoked a measure of antipathy? If it is a surprise then perhaps that's another indication why you ought not play this game: You can't read people and you might really rub the wrong person the wrong way.

If the antipathy, revulsion or other unfavorable responses are not a surprise then imbedding rebukes to people's expected antipathy suggests that grinding gears is your reflex, which again may work against you in the business of registering people's identities.

Either way you don't win.

If you can't read people and, when they're unhappy you can't let them be, then you're not up to playing this game of registering people's names. Remember: It is or may get personal with some people.

You put up the idea, it's obviously not a very popular one, so absorb the community intelligence and input and move on. Your next version of a "you don't know what you are talking about" reply will be your last in this thread. Trolls are not welcome and asking people for their input and then haranging them for their contributions is, in my judgment, trolling.

[edited by: Webwork at 12:31 pm (utc) on Oct. 6, 2006]


 2:46 am on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

FWIW here is my experience. I've owned my FirstNameLastName.com (also org, net and recently mobi) for over a decade. There are at least two dozen other people with the same first and last name that I've seen on the web in various places over time. To date nobody has even made so much as an inquiry about how much I'd sell my domain for. Not that I'd ever sell it. I've had lots of inquiries on other domains I own but never on my vanity domain. I'm just one person so YMMV.


 9:42 am on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

gpmgroup: You too have just jumped to conclusions - I am not cybersquatting.

Your first post didnít indicate whether your project would be lastname.comís firstname.comís or firstnamelastname.comís

I can see how registering all the surnames you could build a business perhaps on email and or webspace ie www.john.smith.com and john@smith.com

Which in effect is a sub domain business model with all the ensuing disadvantages for end users.

What security do they have this year it might be free but next year it might be £1000?
Why should they invest their time building their brand on such shaky foundations?
Why would they want to be part of a global smith family?
Plus how can such service compete technologically with MS, Google or Yahoo?

Alternatively if they register their own domain for their full name johnsmith.info then it is theirís to do with as they wish and specific registry madness aside they are pretty sure of their costs for the foreseeable future.

Your later post starts to mention registering firstname & secondname combinations
Once you start registering combinations such as johnsmith.com & joesmith.com how can that practice not be cybersquatting? i.e. How can you build a business or offer a service aimed at more than one person for each domain?


 12:28 pm on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Firstly, there is little point launching into a critique of something, without knowing all the facts, which is what you have done.
If you had asked what form the names I have registered have taken, I would have told you.

Secondly, the cybersquatting issue.

gpmgroup:"Cybersquatting is the act of registering a popular Internet address with the intent of selling it to its rightful owner".
Who is the rightful owner of, for example, firstnamelastname.com, when there are many thousands or millions of people with that name combination and especially when that name combination is not a well known person, product or even a company?

I tried to find ICANN's/WIPO's definition on cybersquatting, but I couldn't locate it. However, I think that their definition will be along the same lines as the one below from the following reference.


"Buying a domain name that reflects the name of a business or famous person with the intent of selling the name back to the business or celebrity for a profit".

This is not what I have done, as I explained at the beginning of my original post and so I trust that all is clear now.


 12:55 pm on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Not really, I am very curious to know more about a business model you can build on multiple domains using firstnamelastname.com format that doesn't trade primarily off of a single indiviual's use of the name? Perhaps you could share it with the forum?

With regards to the technicalities of cybersquatting I'm not sure where the concept that a victim is required to be famous to seek redress, but then again you probably should seek legal advice from your legal counsel rather than from a webmaster domain forum.


 1:06 pm on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

gpmgroup "Business model" is your phrase. not mine. What I'm doing is just a small punt, that's all, not a management-speak infested global project that requires me to immerse myself in copious study, thoughts and calcuations etc.

If it comes off, it comes off, if it doesn't then it doesn't.

Who is to define the victim when there isn't uniqueness in a name?

Finally, I did not come here to seek legal advice - again, read the posts not your own interpretation of them.


 1:44 pm on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

gpmgroup "Business model" is your phrase. not mine. What I'm doing is just a small punt, that's all, not a management-speak infested global project that requires me to immerse myself in copious study, thoughts and calcuations etc.

Oh sorry I was hoping you were going to suggest a way of utilising the domains rather than just selling someone their own name and hoping they would not seek legal redress because they are not famous.

Finally, I did not come here to seek legal advice - again, read the posts not your own interpretation of them.

In your first post you asked Is there any mileage/future in owning/holding such domain names?
I would have thought it would be sensible to consider whether you were legally entitled to sell ďsuch namesĒ and the answer would be a significant factor in the ďfutureĒ you were seeking advice from the forum on.


 3:45 pm on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

The great thing about webmasterworld there is always somebody willing to jump in and try and help and thats invaluable when your stuck. - So I like to try and give a little back on subjects I know quite well ;)

I don't think it's a waste of my time and i think it would be selfish if I only came here and asked questions and didn't add anything constructive ;)

I also think it would be un-gentlemanly of me to complain if I somebody gave their time freely just because I did not agree with their considered opinion. ;)


 4:13 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Though I can see Webwork's points to a good degree I still think a very common first/last name used in FireHorse's example like JohnSmith.com has value and would sell at a nice price if available. However, with that said, I would personally not register peoples full names (except my own), but do like popular first names only.

How do you feel about buying first names in extensions other than .com, such as jennie.org or andrea.us for example? (the com first names are of course very valuable) What best use can you suggest for the websites with those first names (perhaps a dating site, selling cosmetics, exercise, health, dieting, work at home, geneology, etc)


 4:55 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

The practice gives domainers a bad name. ;)


 4:58 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I assume you were not referring to my post and said that regarding first/last name combinations (not first names only and in use generically)?


 5:12 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Trader, it's one part pun and one part personal view. I've always steered clear of trademark domains and I've never had a taste for personal names. It's a matter of drawing lines and those are some of the markers.

That's not to say that I haven't seen "good approaches" to the practice of registering, say, surnames. The best model that I've seen is "sharing the name" via an email service.

Maybe another good version of "public good" would be to create blogs where the criteria for admission would be that the person must have that name . . . which, as I'm typing I'm thinking that, actually, that could be a helluva an idea for the next evolution: Email (JennyS@Jenny.org) + Blog (JennyWorldBlog@Jenny.org.), slap on some contextual ads that target women - or men, as the case may be - and it's off to the races.

If you are going to enter this space - the name space - and do it to enrich yourself - then I think there's better ways of doing it. I suspect the most offensive approach to a lot of people would be the practice of simply registering other peoples names to resell them. On that score I can see ICANN or a registry coming up with a rule that limits such registrations to people of that name . . and yes, I know there would be issues. ("Well, you see, I'm registering these 57 names because they're the names of my cousins . . and please disregard the fact that my cousins all have different surnames. . . ")


 8:57 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am quite surprised about your view on first names only Webwork but do agree first/last names combined could possibly be an issue. However, with that said, if you own the name JennieMadison.org I seriouslly doubt you could lose the name in a Wipo case unless there was a well known person named Jennie Madison and you were purposely playing off of her fame, or offering it for sale. That does not mean I would own any first/last names myself (I would not do that and can see some potential negativity).

Regarding first names only, if you own the name Joseph.org and there are 297,000,000 returns in G for that word (many of them not being a persons first name) how in the world is there anything wrong or even remotely negative about that if using the site without targeting a particular and well known Joseph, even if your own name is not Joseph?


 9:13 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

What best use can you suggest for the websites with those first names (perhaps a dating site, selling cosmetics, exercise, health, dieting, work at home, geneology, etc.)

Women tend to approach learning and buying differently from men... Men tend to be more competitive. Therefore they would go for fastestdieting.info or bestdieting.us

Women tend to be more conversational, therefore if you could build an imaginary person / persona around your name you could build a good site on an andrea.info or katie.us I think.


 9:20 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's off the point, but I have registered quite a few instances of firstnamelastname.com, not as a business venture, but as gifts for babies.

I put a print out of the registration in a card saying something like "For when he/she is famous". People seem to love it and, strangely, the less 'techie' they are, the more they love it.

I think that only about 2 or 3 have ever been used for anything. I am admin contact on them all and have never oncw been approached about them, though some are quite common names.


 10:10 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

...if you could build an imaginary person / persona around your name you could build a good site on an andrea.info or katie.us I think.

Thanks GPM. Absolutely brilliant idea which I never even thought of doing. I have been agonizing trying to come up with a best use for my 66 female first names and the best I could do was about cosmetics, with ppc cosmetic ad monetizing (which is far from good income with very low CTR's).

I plan to start building on the imaginary persons/persona's concept right away but am confused as to what the persona content would be about. Any ideas?


 11:10 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

GPM is obviously ( as am I ) old enough to remember "Dear Marge" ..Uk equivalent of "Dear Abbi" ..

( trader ..think "Martha" ..or even "Jacob"..the obvious ..repackaged and branded as "guru" ..now go practise walking on virtual water ..first invent the virtual water ..)

Branding is as important as generics ..but to understand branding one needs to understand psychology and marketing ( interestingly Tedster rarely posts in this fora area ..nor does Brett ;-)..( cards and chests ..Brett shut SEW ..dilution decision? )..it's also not a forum that G reps post in ..their business is advertising ..then branding ..then search ..now ..

...donc ...

I tend to agree with webwork on this one ..ones own morality and intelligence and foresight ( yes it is amazing how life can just slide right off of the rails and into the zip up bags ..in the proverbial heart beat , new york minute etc ;-)..yes ..ones own morality and foresight and the analysis of the thinking of various judges ..tends to reinforce the idea that registering the names of people in order to one day hope to sell them their own names ..

Is sleazy , bad for your web karma , carries untold risks ( you would be amazed ..or maybe not ;-))to what lengths some people and societies would go to protect what they percieve to be their personal .or family "honour" ..on line ..or off ..

One needs to take into account the actions and the motivations of the "irrational" as well as the "rational" or one is in fact in the ranks of the "irrational" ..but may win temporary fame in the obits ..

Plus to date the legal precedents are that if you are not actually legally entitled to be known as "Anthony Judge" ..dont expect to come out the winner in a domain name dispute over ajudge.com ...

What you think may be a good idea was predicted / envisioned a long time ago by those who are used to all kinds of scams ..and have made laws accordingly ..you won't win ..and you and your descendants will die broke trying ..

it's a lawyers world ..webwork was trying to tell you that much earlier in this thread ..for free ..

his colleagues might have charged you a couple of thousand bucks for the same "reality check" ..

and members have been extremely polite about your semantic games and what you didn't want them to "infer" ..

as you obviously consider that you have all the bases covered ..go do it ..and we'll all wait to read about your success in the FT ..

webwork ..mod as you feel is needed ..IMO it need saying ;-)..but I wont be offended if it doesnt stay up forever ;-)..plus for me.. I was restrained ..n'est-ce pas? ;-)

as Eco said .."sometimes one has to take out the cork" ..

edited ..spelling..left some in ..post bait ;-)

[edited by: Leosghost at 11:18 pm (utc) on Oct. 7, 2006]


 11:54 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think that Webwork's analysis that punters seeking vanity domains will simply adjust so as to desire whatever is available is correct, and that it has already happened twice.

In the very early days of the net, a few thousand people and up, net personalities took their given names: firstname.com.

When the firstnames were gone, around ten years ago, everyone decided that the really nice ploy was to take lastname.com (or lastname.org, being noncommercial). This was common enough that some entrepreneurs started buying up common lastname.com's and lastname.org's and tried to sell subdomains.

When the lastnames were gone (or squatted), perhaps three years ago, suddenly everyone decided that firstnamelastname.com (or firstnamelastname.org) was the ideal vanity domain (so much for the hopeful subdomain vendors). That's where we are today.

It's very difficult to guess what the next fashion will be, but is there any doubt that this same process will repeat again and again, whereby the fashionable style for vanity domains is made more specific until they are available for the reg fee?

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