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Domain Name Holding - That's Not Right!

There ought to be a law

3:05 am on Jun 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I know this has been discussed before, but I am really fed up with domain registrars who do nothing more than hold domain names for ransom. They hold these names, skewing search engine results, and have no relevant content. Case in point: I have a directory web site which has in its domain name a word that can commonly be spelled two ways: modern and old English. I use to own both, but now only own the modern spelling. I found the “old English” version still floating around in Google – in fact it was the first result on a test inquiry, but had absolutely no content related to the domain name. The page was nothing more than links, the prominent one being THIS DOMAIN FOR SALE. So I inquired and they want 500GBP, nearly 1,000UUSD. GET REAL! I run this directory site as a hobby and make a few bucks through Google ads. Obviously I wanted the old English spelling version for people who still use it. BUT $1,000!

So, I ask, why are there no rules governing this type of activity. I understand “free enterprise” and “capitalism,” but if a domain is registered and used for nothing related to the domain name, then it should not be allowed as there are people who have legitimate use of a name but may not be able to, or want to, spend $1,000 to be able to offer a convenience for visitors. It’s not like I’m Coke or McDonalds.


4:50 pm on June 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Marshall, getting out first makes you the smarter man than I. ;0)

FWIW, I consider this thread an "all in good fun" event, bruising though it may be. No offense intended. No offense taken. Let the fur fly. Fire all the guns at once.

Just nothing particularly low brow.

5:20 pm on June 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Just because a seller asks a certain price doesn't mean they'll get it. A potential buyer has to think they could do things with the domain that would be productive enough to support the investment.

Keep in mind that the "cost" of something and the "value" can sometimes be quite different.

10:23 am on June 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Using this logic you obviously feel that realtors, real estate investors, stock brokers and the like also fit into this crowd.

In the real world these services are more useful - pooling hundreds of single sale points into one, thus saving consumers considerable time. Especially with "estate agents".

On the net, you owning 500 names, just so someone else can't register them isn't exactly the same.

In the UK here over the last few years we've had major problem with ticket touts at music festivals. They'd buy up huge numbers of tickets, so genuine music fans couldn't get any. Then they'd appear on eBay at hugely inflated prices, a £50 quid ticket selling for £700.

Tell me, do you think that's fair on the music fans?

That is exactly what you are doing.

I'm not buying names of your company and then trying to sell them right back to you for more money

Fair point, I suppose it's not blackmail.

I'm buying blank pieces of slate that i may develop someday, and if I don't i will sell.

Do you honestly have genuine plans to develop 500 domains? I don't think so. Not unless one of them is to develop an Elixir of Life.

So at the end of the day the only difference between us is 485 names? So if I'm a big crook, you are also a crook, just on a smaller scale?

No, I have genuine plans for all of the domain names I hold, those plans do not include selling at huge profit. I don't have 15 ideas, but as I mentioned before, I usually use 2 or 3 names for the same site.

If someone offered you $25k for one of your unused domains would you turn it down to preserve the kindred spirit of the internet?

For that amount, no of course I'd sell it. But it is not my intention to hold domains for that purpose. If I had developed the site already then no, I wouldn't sell, and if I hadn't, I'd register myself an appropriate name to replace the loss.

You don't get it. I am the guy taking my money and giving it to the website guy to build me a site. And the guy who "wants to genuinely build his website for his products and for his business" is a billion dollar company that already has 20 websites, so cry all you want that this big company couldn't get this domain for $8 from the internet domain fairy.

No, you don't get it. What about the small company? I am a small comapny, and I sure as hell wouldn't pay £1000 for a domain name, I can't afford it. So what if the small guy comes to you, would you cut him a deal? No. You know you can get bigger bucks. The rich get richer, and vulture boy gets an easy paycheck.

I don't like typosquatters, tm violaters or the like

I'm not accusing you of that, I assume you wouldn't sink that low. Although I fancy a new venture, who wants to start a company called Goggle? ;)

I sure to hell hope you also bitch about people who own beachfront real estate and don't put houses on it.

No, people who can afford it frequently do. But if one company bought all the beachfront land in the US, you think everyone would roll over and say 'Well, they bought it first, we'll just have to tolerate paying 4x what it's worth'. No they wouldn't, the Monopolies commission would step in - that's what they're for.

Maybe we need a Netopolies Commission?

2:50 pm on June 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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But if one company bought all the beachfront land in the US, you think everyone would roll over and say 'Well, they bought it first, we'll just have to tolerate paying 4x what it's worth'

that's the rub - what it's worth is what someone will pay.

3:08 pm on June 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The people who came in early on real estate bought hundreds of thousands of acres or more each for the equivalent of a few hundred dollars. Yes, that may have been a LONG time ago, but it's still a valid parallel - the real estate market has just had that much longer to develop and mature.

Nobody (sane) would go to a large land owner today and try and bargain with them to buy a plot of land for a few hundred dollars because it's a markup of 100s or 1000s of times its nominal "original value".

Same thing with domain names: if you weren't PRESCIENT enough and SMART enough to buy all the decent names you can eat early enough, why should those who had the courage of their convictions when few others did and spent cold, hard cash (sometimes HUGE amounts of cold hard cash in the millions of dollars - yes, really!) to buy into the prime virtual estate of the web early on have to roll over and give up their property to the latecomers that missed the boat?

There is no rational argument that can be made (although about a million different emotional arguments can) that would justify existing generic domain name owners handing over their hard-won property to others who just didn't "get it" in time.

Let's face it, those on the complaining side of the fence in this thread are only complaining because they're NOT sitting on a pile of valuable names!

Here's a clue: even today, in late June 2007, with a modest amount of cash by the standard of many businesses (a few thousands or tens of thousands of dollars) and a lot of hard work it's still possible to begin building a respectable domain portfolio off of drops, 3rd party purchases, development and "flipping" (reselling domains for more than you paid for them) with the proceeds ploughed back into yet more domains. There's still room at the table if you're brave enough, keen enough, motivated enough and smart enough.

So you can moan on the sidelines, or you can wade into the domain forums, spend a few weeks reading EVERYTHING you can get your hands on regarding valuations, domain quality, domain trends, domain parking, domain sales outlets and venues, dropcatching etc. etc. and go off and carve out your own niche in the ongoing domain goldrush. You're not going to "get rich quick" but you might still do OK, or significantly better than OK :)

One way lies nothing but bitterness, grouchiness, and ultimately a guaranteed incremental improvement of exactly $0 in your financial situation. The other is a gamble/investment that might yet pay off big.

Your move.

[edited by: Edwin at 3:12 pm (utc) on June 28, 2007]

3:36 pm on June 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Alrighty . . .

The OP has privately suggested that the great debate is running out of gas or, better yet, that all that's left to the controversy is to have a gas and matches party.

I agree.

The issues addressed in this thread were fully aired in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and beyond. All that's changed are the analogies. During those years the parking industry has gained legitimacy and proven its value. Direct navigation works . . for advertisers.

After years in this business I don't know a successful webmaster who doesn't have a stash of undeveloped domains that they are holding "for the day" when they can find the time to build something. Many of those developers park their holdings whilst awaiting development time - for no more evil reason than to "not leave money on the table". Me too. It's hardly a worse sin than those who take domains and build thin sites for the sole purpose of "aging" them in SE algos. For those with a visceral need to kvetch I suggest you now go off and argue the detriments of SERPs littered with thin websites. I'm not sure that topic is, as yet, over cooked.

To those for whom locking down this thread violates a deep need to continue voicing your opinion I welcome you to go blog about the subject.

We will not be revisiting this issue for a long time - if ever again. What was once declared dead by Charter has had it's brief revival. The mummy is back in it's tomb. The issue is hereby returned to the vault of issue antiquities.

And if Foo attempts another invasion be advised that this little island nation has and will launch its arsenal of nook-u-ler tipped MIRVs. :-P


This thread is now locked.

[edited by: Webwork at 6:48 pm (utc) on June 28, 2007]

This 66 message thread spans 3 pages: 66