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Good Domainer / Bad Domainer

Domaining ethics? Do I hear you laughing? See a lot of strange, creepy, domaining going on? This post will offer a suggestion for how we can make a positive contribution as well. But first…

I’m always shocked when I hear about giant corporate brands not ‘getting’ domain names–spending huge dollars advertising billboard slogans they haven’t even registered as domain names. We read about it in a blog or Forum post, often from the domainer who registered the slogan. I don’t have a problem with this if the slogan or phrase commandeered for the advertising campaign comes out of the public space. If the advertiser has taken the time and expense to develop their own slogan, then they should have had the sense to register the domain. Some do.

Personally, I would register a last OR first name (for ultimate sale to an end user), but not a first-last personal name. Holding personal names hostage with $2k price tags seems kind of creepy to me. Are people making money doing that? Personal names are protected from cybersquatting.

And of course, the darker side of domaining–typosquatting.
I know I made a few Trademark blunders right off the bat. But after reading about URDP decisions and getting it drilled into us from every corner of the Domainosphere we figure it out. I guess there must be money in it. Plug any brand name into DomainTool’s typo-checker and you discover domainers with hundreds or thousands of domains. Have a look.

And what about domainers that register and park .com versions of well-known non-profits with .org domains? Isn’t that sleezy?

Then there’s the ambulance chasers. Just to see, I looked into what was available the morning after that kid died from suicide online a few weeks ago (November 2008). Wow! Everything I could think of related to OnlineSuicide was gone. (What’s the business model there again?)
ERROR: ONLINESUICIDE.COM is unavailable and has been removed.
ERROR: SUICIDEONLINE.COM is unavailable and has been removed.
ERROR: SUICIDELIVE.COM is unavailable and has been removed.
ERROR: DEADCAM.COM is unavailable and has been removed.
ERROR: WEBICIDE.COM is unavailable and has been removed.
ERROR: WEBSUICIDE.COM is unavailable and has been removed.
ERROR: INTERNETSUICIDE.COM is unavailable and has been removed.

I do think that great domain names can bubble out of the news. But trying to figure out how to profit from other people’s tragedy is exactly the kind of behavior that makes domainers look bad.

Making a positive contribution as a domainer?
Here’s an example. I’m not meaning to blow my own horn here. I really just wanted to help the guy out, and the reason I’m writing about it is because I think it might be a way for domainers to generate some good will.
The thing is, after all your reading and research, you, as a domainer, have a valuable set of skills that can easily and affordably be used to do good.
In this case, I was listening to a podcast, KUSC’s Weekly Signals. An interview with Tyler BoudreauTyler Boudreau's Packing Inferno, twelve-year veteran of the Marine Corps infantry, on the subject of his new book, Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine. It’s a fascinating story…

Boudreau is a twelve-year veteran of the Marine Corps infantry. He trained and committed himself physically and intellectually to the military life. Then his intense devotion began to disintegrate, bit by bit, during his final mission in Iraq. After returning home, he discovered a turmoil developing in his mind, estranging him from his loved ones and the bill of goods he eagerly purchased as a marine officer.

I couldn’t help but notice that at the end of the interview Tyler could barely remember his own blog URL. I only found it when I got home because I had written it down. http://www.deeperthanwars.blogspot.com/. I also checked out the url for his non-profit http://collaborativerevolution.org/ It turned out to be parked. So I decided to do a bit of pro-active domaining on behalf of Tyler.

I bought him PackingInferno.com and also CollaborativeRevolution.com. My thinking was that I could make a much larger impact with a $15 donation in the form of domain names. I did it first and then sent him an email about my donation afterwards.

Hi Tyler,
I listened to your interview on WeeklySignals. I heard it as a podcast just yesterday.
As someone who spends a lot of time looking at/for domain names I couldn’t help
but notice that you had a little trouble with your blog URL on the air. Then when
I got home I checked out CollaborativeRevolution.org and found a parked page, i.e.
you bought the domain name but don’t have any content there yet (so what we see
is the ads the registrar puts there in the meantime).
I also found that PackingInferno.com and CollaborativeRevolution.com were available.
I purchased both those domain names and offer them to you as a donation. Right
now I have them pointing to your deeperthanwars blog. If anyone types either URL
into their browser they will end up at your blog.
If you would feel better actually owning the domains I’m happy to transfer them to
you. That would be to a GoDaddy account, as that’s where I have them registered.
If you open a (free to open) account there I can easily ‘push’ them to you without
any money having to be spent.
I just thought you had a very compelling story and hope that a lot of people hear it.
I’m thinking that being able to tell people to go to PackingInferno.com will make it
easier for them to find you.

Tyler wrote back and was very grateful…
“Thank you for your interest and your help. Above and beyond! Excellent.”
It turned out that in the meantime Tyler had picked up tylerboudreau.comhe was on the case! Not the easiest domain to spell, but between us I think we have it covered now. Tyler’s doing a lot of readings and planning a summer bicycle book tour. Tyler has an important message. I’m just happy to be able to help make it a little easier for people to connect to.

Do you have a favorite charity, cause, or non-profit? Check out their domains. You might be able to easily help them out with .com purchase for their .org. You might see an obvious domain acquisition that would get them some organic traffic. Leverage your domaining skills to help spread a message you care about.

P.S. Do you have a philanthropic domaining story? Please feel free to post it in the comments or send me an email and I’ll be happy to post it on the blog.

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