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Prices, Gouging and Haggling for Internet Domains?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the let's-make-a-deal dept.

184

GregStevensLA asks: "I'm considering paying for a 'premium' domain name for a small web start-up I want to form. The company that currently holds the domain name is offering it for $1500, but they made it clear to me that they expect a counter-offer and are 'willing to make a deal.' I've never done this before, and I have no idea what a reasonable counter-offer is. If I say 'I can't go above $1000' am I being too easy? Should I try to push for lower than that? My understanding is that these prices are hugely inflated anyway (i.e. pure profit going to companies that probably scooped up the domains for free). In some sense, paying anything beyond a registration fee is gouging, in my opinion. I don't want to be conned... on the other hand, this is the reality of business, and I don't want to come across as amateurish. Does anyone have any advice for this new-comer to domain name purchasing?"

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Let's get this point out of the way (5, Insightful)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432287)

Let's get it out of the way early, because I can feel this wave of antipathy coming...

Please do your best to find an alternative first. Look into alternatives before succumbing and compensating these worthless parasites for their land grabbing.

Re:Let's get this point out of the way (2, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432395)

And then offer them $9- the cost of the domain at GoDaddy for one year, and make it clear that you're also willing to haggle. I wonder if they'll accept less than $750?

Re:Let's get this point out of the way (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433026)

I would definitely start by offering far less than they're asking just to see how serious they are. $750 would be a good starting point, maybe even less. The longer they've had the name the more likely they are to sell, since its probably not in high demand. Profit margins in the domain market are even more obscene than high end jewelery stores, so they'll be making money no matter how much they sell it for.

Re:Let's get this point out of the way (1)

Pandora's Vox (231969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15434556)

I got one of these dorks down from $3900 to $150... so go low.

I fail it (2, Funny)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432504)

Sorry Mr. Question Asker, I tried my best to save your Ask Slashdot from mindless Slashbot mutual reassurance, but judging from the comments so far, which have almost exclusively echoed my frosty piss to the letter without being marked redundant, I have failed you. I apologise sincerely and vow to turn my brain in during the next amnesty on inadequacy.

Squatting sucks but legit buying exists. (2, Interesting)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432989)

Mostly I agree, but I also have some sites that I started and never went anywhere. I never turned them into spam ad sites and I mostly still own the domains because I keep forgetting to cancel the auto-charge on the domains. I don't want $1500 for these domains but enough to cover what I've spent on them would be nice. Say maybe $150 each? I don't think that's unreasonable given that I'm making no effort to sell them and still wouldn't mind making them work if I found time to make the sites I originally planned.

I also recently considered buying a domain that was in active development by someone else but for which they hadn't had commited strongly to branding. I probably could have bought it for $500 but eventually decided it wasn't really worth it for me. I thought $500 was fair though.

Re:Let's get this point out of the way (1)

toad3k (882007) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433021)

Don't offer $1000. Jesus no. In fact don't offer anything, just specify that the aount they are asking is too much and to have a nice day. I was reading a transcript of an exchange with a registrar over a domain name that started at $5000 and ended up at about $100 as he made it clear that each amount specified was too much and that he was 'sorry but as an individual he'd have to decline'.

I wouldn't be surprised if the emails you get are nearly automated. They are just hoping for that one big score, and if you offer a thousand dollars, you will get drawn into a haggle that will cost you.

This is just my opinion.

Re:Let's get this point out of the way (3, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433322)

Exactly. Even more importantly don't let your domain name hamstring you. Most people nowadays use google for find websites, they rarly type them by hand anymore. So, offer these guy $100 (hell I payed almost that much from a registrar 10 years back) get a domain name that is close to this use it, get your google rank up and don't ever expect to get this name and these guys will eventually crawl back to you.

Re:Let's get this point out of the way (1)

ClassMyAss (976281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433675)

I'm with linvir on the not paying the squatters the outrageous fees they're asking; unfortunately, I fear that enough domains are successfully sold for their asking prices to keep these people in business. At ~$10/year for registration, and $1000 asking price, you only need to sell one out of a hundred domains to break even. Push the asking price higher (and from what I've seen, most of them seem to be asking more to the tune of $5k), and you need an even tinier percentage of sales.

Here's a question, although I'm not sure if anyone has the answer: what percentage of registered domain names are parked for domain name speculators as opposed to containing legitimate content? I don't know any good way to check this automatically, as many of the parked pages have BS content on them that is recognizable as such to a human but wouldn't be easy to figure out automatically. But it would be interesting to know, for instance, what percentage of [dictionary word].coms are simply being sat on. From my checking of domains that I would want to use, it seems that somewhere around 95% of the names that are taken (that I would want) have no real content up, just a "Click here to buy this domain name" link and a crapload of ads.

I imagine more people would be accessing sites directly instead of relying solely on the search engines if more of the good names were actually being used. Not that there's any feasible way to bring that about...while it may go against our collective sense of Internet morality, I can't for the life of me think of a reason why domain speculation should be illegal.

don't! (also paul graham's advice) (1)

same_old_story (833424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15434878)

not worth it.
but if you will consider his opinion more throughly:

paul graham's take on it [infogami.com] .

Hey Greg (5, Funny)

bluelip (123578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432296)

Hey Greg,

          We spoke eralier about you purchasing a domain name from us. In light of recent interest in the domain, we're now asking $2500.

Thanks,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Domain Dealer

Re:Hey Greg (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432574)

Reminds me of one of my favorite Futurama quotes, from the episode called "Put Your Head on my Shoulders." The gang is at Elzar's restaurant as bender comes up offering to sell roses to give to their dates.

Bender: Now how about a rose for the lady? Five bucks a pop!
Gary: I'll take one.
Fry: Oh, yeah? Well I want one too.
Bender: Eight bucks.
Fry: But you just said--
Bender: Demand suddenly skyrocketed. You all saw it!

Try to find a similar one (1)

Phantombrain (964010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432297)

I would suggest trying to think of a domain that is similar. The compainies that buy those domains are making pretty much 100% profit, and they very annoying. Don't support them and get another domain.

Re:Try to find a similar one (1)

torqer (538711) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432659)

way more than 100% profit. It costs me ~20$ for 2 years. I got my domain thru Joker.com. They are simple and relatively easy to use. I would certainly look for an alternate domain name before handing over $1000 dollars.

Find a better name. (5, Insightful)

nxtw (866177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432299)

Don't give these cybersquatting bastards money. If cybersquatting wasn't so profitable, the cybersquatters wouldn't exist.

Re:Find a better name. (1)

Roody Blashes (975889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432447)

In other words it's a legitimate business.

I don't like the fact that all these "realty-squatting bastards" jumped on cheap land deals back in the 70s, but that's not going to stop me from buying a house.

If the market will bear it, then there's no real problem. Besides, you're under no obligation to honor the current DNS system and neither is anybody else. If you're so uptight about it, reinvent your own DNS and make it successful. Then you can do whatever you want with all the names.

Re:Find a better name. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432463)

If the market will bear it, then there's no real problem.

Actually, that depends on your point of view. Markets are notoriously bad at setting prices in a truly efficient manner.

Re:Find a better name. (1)

Roody Blashes (975889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432477)

No, the people using them are notoriously bad at guaging whether or not the price the market set is fair.

Don't lay stupid economic behaviors in market users at the feet of the markets. Markets don't shoot people, people shoot people.

Re:Find a better name. (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432498)

Don't lay stupid economic behaviors in market users at the feet of the markets. Markets don't shoot people, people shoot people.

The main problem I have with markets is the serious lack of information- by anonymizing the buyers and sellers as much as possible, you guarantee that the con artists will always win out because people don't have enough information to make an adequate decision. That's a stupid system, not stupid people. The only way market price will ever be fair is if all liars are shot on sight.

Re:Find a better name. (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433019)

What more information would you need? The squatters make it clear what they're offering and for what price. Its up to you to determine if its worth it. This being the internet, the potential buyer can research to see what people are paying for domains. They can also post an Ask Slashdot to get information from other peoples' experiences. Other than the fact that domain squatting is not an entirely ethical business, I fail to see how he's getting cheated here. He could always buy a different name for a much lower price.

Re:Find a better name. (2, Insightful)

GregStevensLA (976873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432599)

Don't you think, for a system to be judged a "good system", it needs to be a system that is "good" the way people actually use it?

It's like usability and interfaces. If people are constantly messing up, you can blame the users... or you can blame the system for not being designed with "real users" in mind.

Free markets are great when people don't quite behave the way people actually behave.

Re:Find a better name. (2, Funny)

sexyrexy (793497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432483)

Markets are notoriously bad at setting prices in a truly efficient manner.

That, also, depends on your point of view.

Re:Find a better name. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432509)

That, also, depends on your point of view.

True enough. Markets are quite efficient from the point of view of the con artist. And only a con artist could like the free market. Cybersquatters are just another parasite on a system that invites parasitical behavior.

Re:Find a better name. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432820)

Are you a troll or just stupid?

Re:Find a better name. (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15434814)

Markets are really good at setting a price in an efficient manner (the pricing is free). They are horrible at distributing gains in an equitable manner (the returns for being the worst IT grad at San Francisco State in 1998 probably far outweigh being at the top of your class in 2001).

Re:Find a better name. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432980)

I don't like the fact that all these "realty-squatting bastards" jumped on cheap land deals back in the 70s, but that's not going to stop me from buying a house.

The difference is, there's a finite amount of land, and there's a finite amount of potentially-popular land. The domain namespace is potentially infinite. But squatters do use valuable resources, thus making it more expensive not for us domain-buyers, but for those running the system, thus (potentially) making future domain name registrations more expensive.

I don't think it'll ultimately result in a real change, though. Squatters will always cost more than just buying an original domain, and there are still plenty of those.

Re:Find a better name. (1)

RalphSleigh (899929) | more than 8 years ago | (#15434248)

*Cough* Should we give those bastards who bundle annoying toolbars with their web browser any money either?

Re:Find a better name. (1)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15434399)

Yeah, I really hate that stupid google box that comes with Firefox.

Don't Buy It (4, Insightful)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432304)

I refuse to give money to domain squatters. Buy another domain name, be creative. Domain names become less and less important every day. Focus on SEO and other ways of getting people to your website. The domain name just isn't that important unless you're going to do a lot of non web-based advertising (radio, TV, print, etc.). You can pay for a lot of clicks on Google AdWords for $1000.

Re:Don't Buy It (3, Informative)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432598)

Yep. Are you intending for your web site to be a destination location? Like, someone will log on and say "I want to go to Bob's web site now, www.bobswebsite.com"? Because the vast majority of home users do NOT have usage patterns like this and I'm guessing your users won't either. Back in the olden days of the Internet, when search engines were unknown or cruddy and Internet expertise was nil, somebody who wanted to try out that whole "buying books online" thing might actually type in www.books.com just to see if it worked. Then books.com, internet.com, business.com, nameofyourbusiness.com, etc were worth a lot of money. Now, most of your first-time leads are going to be coming in from search engines and they largely don't care about your domain name (helps to have a search term in the url, of course, but you can get that just as easily by naming yourself www.bobs-pc-shop.com instead of www.bobs-pc.com). Your returning customers will either remember the domain name (rather unlikely), go to their history tab (very unlikely), go to a bookmark they made (suprisingly likely, and a convinient "bookmark this site" button works wonders), or just do it the easy way and Google your business name again.

Heck, I'm as atypical as a user can be and I've been finding myself Googling "Amazon" recently.

Re:Don't Buy It (2, Insightful)

GregStevensLA (976873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432622)

You're right.... I think I am trapped, a little bit, in an "oldschool" attitude about the transparency of domain names.

At the same time, I can't help wondering... would www.google.com have gained as much popularity if it had been www.askmenoquestionsilltellyounolies.me.uk ?

Would www.myspace.com be as popular if it was called www.socialnetworkingprofilesforyouandme.org.tw?

Re:Don't Buy It (3, Insightful)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432658)

Actually Google wasn't even a word - they made it up because googol was already taken.
Yourname.com (or whatever) is already taken, so make something else up. If it can work for Google, it can work for you.

Re:Don't Buy It (1)

cooley (261024) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433073)

They didn't make up the word "Google". It's been used in the Snuffy Smith comic strip title for over 85 years, and I assume it was probably a word before then.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barney_Google [wikipedia.org]

Re:Don't Buy It (4, Informative)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432729)

Both Google and MySpace are intended to be what my father the real-estate agent would call "destination locations" -- you go out with the specific intent to patronize one or two of them, the same way you go out with the specific intent to patronize your bank. This is why a bank generally does not stress overmuch about being on a corner. You can compare this to gas stations, which are NOT destinations (nobody says "Hmm, I think I'll hop in the car and drive over to that Shell station on 67th street next to the Burger King") -- their location is critically important to them. Almost every gas station you find will be built on a corner, for maximum visiblity and accessibility.

In the Internet, things are almost completely reversed. If you're a destination, then you might well get accessed by the address bar (Amazon, Google, eBay, MySpace) -- its very important to you to have a punchy, memorable, very unambiguous (can't be mispelled or misremembered) name. If you're not a destination, you rely on people seeing you "from the road" as it were, and in today's internet "the road" is Google. Google doesn't care whether you have a maximally-punchy minimally-long domain name or not.

I wouldn't write a 45 letter domain name for the heck of it, but you can feel free to not treat "six to eight characters terminated with .com, and exactly equivalent to your business name" as the gospel anymore. You're the expert on your own business, so you're best qualified to determine whether your users will see you as a destination location or not.

Re:Don't Buy It (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432902)

I think it is a bit more complicated than this. Gas stations aare wierd because people will often stop at whatever gas station is on thier way because it is not a long term stop. For example the station that is accesible directly to the off and on ramp of a freeway has an advantage to one in which the driver has to take a convoluted route. This is the same for fast food stores. OTOH, banks, stores, and the like, is often more a time commitment.

But even banks will pay extra to build where the customers are. For instance, there are two new banks near me. Both are built on pretty recently expensive real estate, real estate that could have been had much cheaper a few miles down the road. But they built where the money was.

So there is some element of "location" here, like being a .com, and bussiness routinely make decisions to pay exhorbanant fees for location. But there is a second issue here, and that is branding. If one is burger king, then building a consistant brand means that you must use something like BK.com, and, if the brand is established, then the law pretty much gives access to those domain.

However, a new service still has to worry about presenting a consistant brand and a veneer of credibility. It may be shallow but I think twice about dealing with a so-called pro that has an address at aol.com, or ms.com, or even mac.com. I mean I would sooner conduct bussiness out of the trunk on a olds. When banks merge they spend massive amount of cash rebuilding the brand. So why is it not rational, when one is trying to build a new brand to not invest money in it?

I am not trying to defend these creeps. I do not even like the fact that allegedly reputable registrars like godaddy have the service of stealing domains from those who forget to register, and then try to scare their clients into long term registrations based on the fact that godaddy has a service that can steal them if the client is one second late. But a cool name seems be helpful for bussiness, and a domain matching the cool name does seem to provide some added value.

So, what is the advice to the original question that no one want to answer, but rather demean the poster and criticize the behavior that all of the money making world seems to believe, at least to some degree, is rational. Just like any other deal, figure out what it is worth. Not how much you can pay, but what it is worth to you. Just like any other product. Try to negotiate to that price. If you can live without the domain, lowball. If not try to find the current going rate and start there. It might be the 1K, it might less, or more. If you can't justify the cost, move on. Perhaps there is another name use can use. Perhaps there is another way to represent the name.

At the end of the day it is a bussiness decision, and all this emotional crap that all these allegedly rational posters are pulling is just not useful. To get anything done we all have to deal with scum. If you can't take the scum, then stay out of the bedroom.

Re:Don't Buy It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432968)

Actuale... The Road [theroad.com] isn't built yet.... :-)

That's nothing (4, Informative)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432323)

The company that currently holds the domain name is offering it for $1500

I recently received a solicitation for a church domain name. I am the webmaster for my church and another church in North or South Carolina (I forget where), no longer needs one of their domain names. The church I attend has the same name, but is located in another state. Basically, the guy said he wanted to offer us first dibs. When we inquired as to how much he wanted, he said that it had been "appraised" at up to $20,000. Though, he was very nice about it and said that he would give it to us for $8000. Sheesh. I recommended to our pastor that he ignore the request since we already have a well known and establishd domain.

Re:That's nothing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432438)

Why not just pay? I'm sure that $8,000 would have gone to feed the hungry. Or to buy giant plasma screens to direct the masses in worship of his most holy name. But really, what's a few thousand dollars between brothers and sisters in Christ?

Re:That's nothing (4, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432486)

Don't worry, there's a nice place in Hell for people like him.

Re:That's nothing (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432503)

Do you seriously think that someone will go to hell for cybersquatting? Christ forgives all sins. That includes baby rapists, murderers, cybersquatters, and even the stone-throwing, righteous bastards like you!

Re:That's nothing (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432573)

I'll see you in Hell.

Re:That's nothing (1)

MavEtJu (241979) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432563)

he said that it had been "appraised" at up to $20,000.

Appraising something is the same as saying "what the fool would give for it".

The church I attend has the same name, but is located in another state.

There *is* some logic about the ca.us and or.us and other state.us domain names. Throwing everything in one basket is not good planning.

.com is overrated (3, Informative)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432341)

For a small business, that's a serious chunk of money - too serious. You will end up in a "bidding war" with yourself as they try to suck as much cash out of you as possible. It really is overrated to have a .com adress in any case; if you like the name, look for name.us, name.org, name.net, name.whatever. A lot of countries have restrictions on their top-level domains (you need a business address in the country or similar), but there's a whole set of top-level country domains that are offered to any comers for their mnemonic value, like .tv if your business is related to broadcasting, for instance, or .nu, always popular in Scandinavia.

Re:.com is overrated (1)

GregStevensLA (976873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432566)

I understand what you're saying... however, I've always been a little bit of a purist when it comes to top-level domains. I feel like .info really should be an information site, .org really should be an organization, and .uk really should be in the UK...

I know the reality of it. I doubt there is a single .tv site that is based in Tuvalu. But I'm still resistant... I don't want to contribute to "muddying up" the semantics of top-level domains.

Am I being naive about this?

Re:.com is overrated (3, Interesting)

Alfred, Lord Tennyso (975342) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432664)

I'm afraid I gotta disagree with you there, at least to a point. If your .foo domain name duplicates a .com domain name, then you're just buying trouble. If there's somebody actually there, you'll risk looking like you're surfing off their trademark, and maybe you are. Even if there isn't, people will go to the wrong web site all the time. Get popular enough that people are going to domain.foo, and the scuzzball domain squatter is going to make a ton of money off you selling to a scuzzball who puts up nothing but Google ads to people who type domain.com out of habit.

Or worse, they'll put up an exact duplicate of your page and use it to steal passwords and credit cards.

In general, non-traditional TLDs just look unprofessional to me. I'd never buy anything from a .biz domain; I just wouldn't trust the guys who own it.

For the most part I consider general-purpose TLDs a waste of time. But they do have this going in their favor: if it keeps the question asker from paying anything to the squatter, and the squatter has to continue paying his $3.25 (or whatever it is) a year to sit on the domain, along with a few thousand others... well, that makes me smile just a little. If people abandoned .com in droves, leaving the squatters holding the bag, it sure wouldn't make me unhappy.

Re:.com is overrated (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432892)

Exact the opposite for me. Most industrialized country domains are at least as trustworthy to me as the open top-level domains - if I go to a .co.jp address, for instance I know it's at least a real, registered company, with a real business address in the country. An .se domain is going to be registered by someone in Sweden, someone known and identified by NIC-SE, the domain authority. The .eu (and I suppose .us) are similarily minimally vetted.

By contrast, whatever scumbag wherever on the net can register a com domain with no checks and no oversight. An otherwise unknown company with only a com domain is a bit suspect - why are they hiding behind such a generic domain?

slashdot.com (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433035)

Hmm. I visited using slashdot.com. Maybe I'm at the wrong website.

But so are you!!

Yes! (3, Funny)

durandal61 (705295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432359)

Hope to god they don't read Slashdot! :-)

Re:Yes! (1)

hahafaha (844574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432733)

Are you serious? Who rated parent ``Insightfull''? It was so obviously a joke...

Price Gouging (3, Insightful)

Distinguished Hero (618385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432381)

Can someone explain price gouging to me? If someone offers to sell you something at a price that you consider too high (gouging), you don't buy it. If someone offers to sell you something at a (high) price, and you agree to pay the person the money, that means that whatever you are buying is worth more to you than the money that you are offering in return (therefore not price gouging). Since (almost) all transactions are voluntary, and people engage voluntarily in transactions only if they think it is to their advantage, how can price gouging exist? Can someone clear this up for me?

Re:Price Gouging (2, Funny)

numbski (515011) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432402)

It's very simple really.

All domains are worth precisely $12. No more, no less.

If someone has registered a domain, and is offering to sell it to you for more than that, they're nothing but leeching parasites, or as the PC like to call them, "cyber-squatters".

Don't feed the parasites.

Re:Price Gouging (3, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432564)

It's very simple really.

All domains are worth precisely $12. No more, no less.

If someone has registered a domain, and is offering to sell it to you for more than that, they're nothing but leeching parasites, or as the PC like to call them, "cyber-squatters".

Don't feed the parasites.


Bullshit. There is such a thing as supply and demand. Domain names have features such as being easy to remember, have connotations to other items, being short, etc. This is why something like gmail.com is much more valueable than MyCantRememberTheNameForEmailButThisMightBeIt.com or asdf1324la8h_asdlkjuq7.com.

A domain name is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for it, no more and no less.

You might want to review some economic theories postulated after the 17th Century. What you're espousing is called the "natural price" in Pre-Classical Thought.

Re:Price Gouging (2, Insightful)

FLEB (312391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432948)

There are practices which, in the eyes of the market and in the interest of a leveled playing field, may be considered to be "fair play", but are still repugnant, dishonorable, corrupt, anti-social, leeching, and cause damage and fallout. These states are not mutually exclusive. Domain names are a "natural resource" of the Internet. Do cybersquatters have the right to strip-mine cheap domains by the hundreds and leave behind vast tracts of ugly, pointless crapflood and inflated ransom where someone with more initiative and actual talent could have created a beautiful construction (or even a crappy-but-sincere site)? Sure, they're free to buy $8 domains just as anyone else is.

To say they're just quicker, that's the market, and it's all just business, however, hides the fact that, aside from the virtue of being first to force-feed a dictionary down their registrar-of-choice, domain squatters really don't have many other virtues... at all. The term "parasite" fits quite well, unless you're one of the few who actually consider pages of spam and linkfarming with "Learn more about [domain-name-of-the-site-that-you-really-wanted-th at-expired-and-got-snapped-up-by-some-squatting-ra tbastard]" to be a positive addition to the Internet.

Sure, it's a free market. Yes, it's supply-and-demand coupled with disproportionately low first-time costs. It's all a natural and fair system, and there probably isn't one that's better, but that doesn't even touch the fact that domain squatters are useless leeches and parasites, and generally, all-around "not a good thing". You can sit around and point at how shiny and clean the "supply and demand" system is, but I still see this very real effect here... the do-nothing virtual-lardass sitting on some piece of property they have no intention of ever making anything of, trying to grow disproportionately rich for having done or been little of value to anyone.

No, I don't want to change the free-market system, I haven't seen much better. Still, though, people need to realize that things like (accurate) name-calling, boycott, anger, hate, protest, ostracism... these are parts of the system! To yell "Shout it to the hills! This person and their kind are a load of shiftless parasites! Buy nothing from them, and seek to eradicate them! Make them hate themselves and their career choice!" is as integral a part to capitalism as is "fair market value". Basically, the heat comes with the kitchen.

Re:Price Gouging (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433436)

you know i remember when i bought my first domain name.. i think i paid 99$ to register it.. squaters didn't exist back then.. except for the big names and well they lost in court...

then it went to 35$ a year.. a few more of the posiable populare names where being squated..

then it went 10$ . and even less in bulk.. now we have the worst squating we have ever seen..

I would be more than happey to pay 35-99$ a year for the domains i run because i know they are worth it to me.. and if putting the price back where it was will stop this endless squating then so be it.

Re:Price Gouging (2, Insightful)

dougmc (70836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432740)

All domains are worth precisely $12. No more, no less.
Ok then. Then I wish to buy google.com for $12. I trust that since you've set the price, you can make sure the deal goes through?

Once I've acquired google.com, I'd also like business.com, sex.com, apple.com and microsoft.com. That's five domains -- how about 5/$50?

Re:Price Gouging (1)

Methuseus (468642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432407)

Price gouging is a term that I guess is more apt with monopolistic services. This may not be the best use of the term, but it can sort of be applied.

Basically what price gouging means is one of two things. Either one company has a monopoly on something (like MS Windows) and charges higher than normal rates (at least I think so) for the product, but you can't get it from another vendor. The other way to price gouge is for all vendors of a specific product to agree on a basic pricing strategy (as people are saying is happening with gas stations in the US) and they all stick to it even though their actual costs are much lower than the amount they raised prices.

If that isn't clear enough let me know and I'll try to give you a better explanation.

Re:Price Gouging (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433333)

What you describe is price fixing which is a form of (illegal in the US) rent seeking. Someone has a monopoly on a good (whether it be an almost complete monopoly with no high-penetration substitutes like Windows or a specific good with lots of substitutes like a specific CD or a set of CDs from a certain record label). A domain name is more like the latter, there are lots of domain names out there but the squatters have a perfect monopoly on the ones they hold. If they arent using them, the domains are simply factors of production that are going unused and are being prevented from use by anyone else.

The market price on an unused domain is somewhere around $10. Used domains obviously have higher prices (to the point of being completely unsaleable like google or microsoft) but an unused domain whether it is unused because nobody has bought it or unused because a squatter has bought it and not used it is still unused and has no added value. If it is worth more than $10 to the squatter, then that is the value they put on it, but they cant really expect it to sell on the market until there is a buyer with a strange fasciniation with it that places them at a higher point on the demand curve. An example of this would be the domain I recently registered; It is still empty but I have some slight attatchment to it so I probobly wouldnt sell it unless you offered me more like $50. I doubt its going to sell before I decide to use it so its not a problem that the market wont bear that price (on the other hand, I have a domain a registered before it that I decided I dont like, I'd take whatever I could get for that domain, whether it be $5, $10 or $100).

At this point, there is no real way to prosecute the squatters but they are still creating inefficiency in the market. This is the point where a little bit of regulation might be nice (but the question of how to do this is very difficult). In the case of the record companies, it was obvious how to deal with their price fixing and that is why we all got our miniscule checks in the mail. In the case of microsoft, they have some really good lawyers but they still paid. In the case of cybersquatters...what they are doing is certainly a bitch move...and its inefficient...but its not illegal

Rarity (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432431)

If a good is significantly rare, or the need for that good is significantly high, then the transaction cannot be described as voluntary. If the transaction is not voluntary, your reasoning falls apart.

The question is in this case- do you change the name of your business, or run the risk of your competitor being willing to pay the $1500 to grab this domain and then slander your business or direct business to their site in your name. The risk is great enough that this is not a voluntary transaction- and while the gouging is indeed great (had you grabbed that domain yourself, you would have saved more than two orders of magnitude), the cost of NOT grabbing it is potentially even greater.

Re:Rarity (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432497)

You know as well as I that if his competitor did that, the arbitration would turn the name over to him in a minute.

Re:Rarity (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432522)

You know as well as I that if his competitor did that, the arbitration would turn the name over to him in a minute.

Arbitration is always won by the company with the deepest pockets for bribing the arbitrators. I have no faith in arbitration, courts, or anything else presided over by a government elected of, from, and by the corporations.

Re:Rarity (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432718)

Better count on the 2nd amendment then, because it will be the folks with guns that decide things. And today, the police are significantly outgunned by the gangs.

Re:Rarity (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432555)

If a good is significantly rare, or the need for that good is significantly high, then the transaction cannot be described as voluntary. If the transaction is not voluntary, your reasoning falls apart.

Do you believe a seller has a right to withhold a good from a buyer?

If not, then it follows that you believe the seller is partially enslaved to the buyer, since you believe the buyer is entitled, on some level, to the good the seller produced or purchased with his own labor.

If you do believe the buyer has a right to withhold his good, then what is the difference between withholding a good completely, and offering that good for a million dollars?

do you change the name of your business, or run the risk of your competitor being willing to pay the $1500 to grab this domain and then slander your business or direct business to their site in your name.

Slander is illegal, and someone else using your company name to attract business is a violation of trademark law (please correct me if I'm mistaken about this).

In summary, there is no such thing as gouging in a free market. All prices are determined by supply and demand.

Re:Rarity (1)

Jim Buzbee (517) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432660)

If a good is significantly rare, or the need for that good is significantly high, then the transaction cannot be described as voluntary. If the transaction is not voluntary, your reasoning falls apart.

Gimme a break. I've had my eye on an original Van Gough [vangoghgallery.com] for years now. It is significantly rare, so by your definition my attempt to purchase it is not voluntary. After all, the cost of canvas and paint should make it less than $100. Anything more is gouging! Maybe if I stamp my feet and picket the gallery, then maybe I'll get my way. Better yet, I'll get a law passed outlawing the practice of letting the market decide the price!

Re:Price Gouging (3, Informative)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432528)

Get a decent browser [konqueror.org] , and you'll be able to type "wp: price gouging" in the address bar and find these things out for yourself instead of starting a long, boring Slashdot discussion. From the resulting article [wikipedia.org] :
Price gouging is a frequently pejorative reference to a seller's asking a price that is much higher than what is seen as 'fair' under the circumstances. In precise, legal usage, it is the name of a felony that obtains in some of the United States only during civil emergencies. In less precise usage, it can refer either to prices obtained by practices inconsistent with a competitive free market, or to windfall profits. In colloquial usage, it means simply that the speaker thinks the price too high, and it often degenerates into a term of demagoguery.
Do not mod this post up. I know where you sleep.

Re:Price Gouging (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432623)

Get a decent browser, and you'll be able to type "wp: price gouging" in the address bar and find these things out for yourself

Or Firefox, if you set it up right. You can go to en.wikipedia.org [wikipedia.org] (or whatever you want your language to be), right click on the search box, and choose 'add keyword for search'. I choose 'w' as the keyword, so I can type 'w price gouging' and go there.

I also set it up so that 'man whatever' searches the manpages on freebsd.org, 'g whatever' google searches (yeah, I know there's a dedicated box, but the address bar's a bigger target), 'imdb whatever' looks up on imdb, etc.

Re:Price Gouging (1)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432633)

Thanks for that, you Informative bastard. My version of Konqueror is pretty unstable, and I'm starting to consider moving back to Firefox. This information means I win either way.

Re:Price Gouging (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432789)

I think I learned it from a /. comment, so I thought I'd give back ;-)

Re:Price Gouging (1)

GregStevensLA (976873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432650)

You can define your own URL protocols (like wp:) for use in Internet Explorer, too, if you're willing to fiddle in the registry a little.

(yes I know this is off topic, sorry)

From A Seller (2, Interesting)

paulthomas (685756) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432398)

I know there are people with a lot of disdain for cybersquaters here on slashdot.

I recently put two domain names that I own up for sale. They point to an austere page that says essentially: "Welcome. I do not need this domain anymore and if you would like it, I am willing to sell it for $50. Contact me ..."

There is certainly a difference in amount, but my domain names are fairly obscure and (likely) won't be of much interest to anyone. I'm not going to renew them, and my thought is that if anyone would like to have them sooner than the expiration then they can pay me a small amount for that. Hell, a couple of the big registrars still charge around that much for one year.

Maybe this person isn't a cybersquater per se, perhaps he once used this domain and thinks it is worth something. So far as I know, there isn't even a way to relinquish a domain name that is registered some time out into the future back into the commons. Determine what you will pay for the privilege to use the name now rather than later (or instead of another name), and make an offer. Be upfront -- "This is what it is worth to me, this is what I will pay, final offer, let me know." Depending on your project, maybe it is even worth what he is asking.

If you have a firm value in your mind and do not pay more than that value, you'll win -- regardless of whether you get the domain.

Don't do it! (1, Informative)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432411)

This is not the reality of business, this is cybersquatting. Please don't give them a dime for their scam.

Just say no. (0, Redundant)

Bamfarooni (147312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432414)

Do not feed the vermin.

Appearing professional (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432461)

If you want to appear professional, the correct response is, "no, thank you, but I have no interest whatsoever in paying more than a standard domain registration fee." This is unfortunate, because the most appropriate response is far less polite! :)

I fear your business is not long for this world (3, Insightful)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432478)

I fear that your business is not long for this world. My reasoning is this: You are considering spending a large chunk of change for a domain name from a cybersquatter, rather than striking out to find an unused name you can register for a percent of the money. Given that ALL small businesses starting out are cash-strapped, the fact that you are willing to waste your limited money in this fashion makes me doubt you will spend your other money wisely. The fact that you then turned to Slashdot for advice on this would tend to confirm the hypothesis that you are not really thinking coldly and rationally enough to found a successful business.

I don't want to sound harsh, but I do think you really need to step back and reconsider your plans - perhaps you can locate a local college where you might get a dispassionate third party to help fix you a nice big bowl of Reality Checks.

I've watched too many businesses fail because the founders, while having the best of intentions, made bad decisions because they were not willing to face the harsh, unpleasant facts.

Please - do prove me wrong. Be successful, and when you are successful, feel free to email me and say "Boooya! In your FACE Wowbagger!" If you can be successful you will have earned the right to do so, and I will congratulate you.

But if you keep doing things like seriously considering spending $1500, or even $100 on a domain name when you are just starting out - I don't expect that email.

Re:I fear your business is not long for this world (2, Funny)

GregStevensLA (976873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432542)

Ah, but you see, you overlooked the wisdom and insight of one business move:
  • I asked Slashdot.
;-)

(in all seriousness, though: your point is well taken)

Re:I fear your business is not long for this world (2)

Noishe (829350) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432832)

It's unfortunate that someone decided to call you a troll. Had I any moderator points I would have marked you insightful.

Your post is both polite and logical, if just a little cold. Unfortunatly, cold is warrented in this case.

So to the idiot who thinks it's wrong to tell someone when they're being stupid, well you just need life to teach you a few lessons.

To wowbagger, better luck on your next post.

Re:I fear your business is not long for this world (1)

epine (68316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433869)


I didn't regard that post as a troll whatsoever. Heck, with the money he saves buying a generic domain name, he can afford to buy himself a nice Herman Miller Aeron chair.

As far as squatting goes, you can't maintain an empty ecological niche that has proven this profitable. Blaming the squatters is hugely misguided. It's like blaming teenagers for having sex. When a giant new chunk of realestate becomes available (e.g. wild west) you tend to end up with one of two models: land grab, or public auction. The public auction is hard to set up until a market already exists. And people heap just as much vitriole on the FCC for attempting this as they do on the squatters for exploiting what was given to them.

Traditionally the government ends up applying a property tax on assets of this nature. A mil rate assessment process is devised, and anyone setting up shop on a street corner in Manhattan had better plan to operate a viable business or find themselves taxed into bankruptcy.

Anyone care to hazard a guess whether the people presently screaming out about squatters will be first in line to yell their leather lungs out when the government comes along and established a domain-name mil rate assessment bureau?

Re:I fear your business is not long for this world (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15434276)

I'd given up on /.'s moderation system a long time ago - if you look over my posting history you'd notice a reduction in the number of posts per unit time, precisely because of things like this. With the metamoderation system rewarding poor moderation and punishing good moderation, the moderator "pool" looks rather like the "pool" at the end of my neighbor's septic line.

Oh well - my goal of communicating my opinion to the submitter of the story was achieved (and thanks for the response, BTW).

Re:I fear your business is not long for this world (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15435022)

My reasoning is ... Given that ALL small businesses starting out are cash-strapped

Yeah, um. Most aren't, actually. See, Slashdot has a very strange perspective on business, because a tremendous (by comparison to the typical world) percentage of developers, especially web developers. Back in the real world, you can't start a business on two guys, a good idea and two months of secret hard work. Sure, it works on the web. It doesn't work for any business with a brick and mortar presence. It doesn't work for any business which needs significant equipment. It doesn't work for any business which needs staff to develop its first product. Etc.

Back in the real world, a business operating on a startup budget of less than three million dollars is considered efficient. It's easier to get a million in venture capital than $200k, because venture capitalists look at margins and multipliers, and the volume on <1M just isn't interesting to them. When you're a startup with three million, and you want to choose between $1500 for a domain people can remember and $10 for one they can't, you'd be a fool not to buy the $1500 domain. No matter how simple its interface, Google would not have succeeded if it was on www.zarqu7ar.com .

Say what you will about squatters - immoral because they speculated on a resource you now want, disgusting because they want to make a profit in a capitalist society. One thing they are not, however, is stupid. Those prices are that high because that's what the market will bear, and that's what the market will bear because sometimes you need to shell out a little cash to be memorable.

perhaps you can locate a local college where you might get a dispassionate third party to help fix you a nice big bowl of Reality Checks.

Yes. Spend $20k on tuition because $1500 on a domain is going to put you out of business. You, by the way, should spend $1.50 on a calculator.

But if you keep doing things like seriously considering spending $1500

Yeah, a business with startup costs, that's absurd. Why, nevermind that professionals are saying that startup costs on a software firm may be as low as half a million dollars [usatoday.com] now. Nevermind that the typical marketing expenditure for a startup [morebusiness.com] is 7-12%, suggesting a marketing budget on the value software industry of $40-60k. Nevermind that short, germane domains have been shown to have as much as a two-order-of-magnitude impact on name retention, suggesting a marketing value of $4m-$6m.

No, $1500 is totally out of the question. (cough)

I don't want to sound harsh, but I do think you really need to step back and reconsider your plans - perhaps you can locate a local college

Tu quoque. As the founder of several successful businesses, I openly question whether you've ever started or managed a business, and whether you're qualified to determine what caused the failure of other businesses you've worked for. Don't get rankled - I used to work for a software place in Pittsburgh which seemed like it was on the perpetual edge of failure, a VC money sink run by incompetants who spent more time instant messaging than doing actual work.

And you know what? They're still around, and profitable, while all these "well-run" businesses from software engineers who'd "seen the mistakes" their old bosses had made and "knew better."

The fact of the matter is simple. If someone who wasn't an engineer came up to us and told us not to use some software design technique because they'd seen a lot of other businesses use that technique and fail, we would laugh in their faces. The software design technique is far less important than using said technique correctly, and neither can fix a fundamentally flawed premise, even if it's something that from the outside sounds perfectly great (Java office suite, anyone?)

Marketing is no different - it doesn't work the way outsiders think it does, and it's much easier to find a failure because of a badly implemented high quality plan than it is to find a low quality plan. Information is easy to come by; experience isn't. There are a lot of well meaning, smart, dedicated engineer kids completely out of their depth, clutching white papers they got from funnel sites like Paul Graham's ICanMakeYouBelieveAnythingulator.com, telling themselves that if they just stick to the percentages they'll be fine.

You'll find that sort floating with the rest of the flotsam and detritus in the business world.

No matter how badly you want to believe that you know what you're talking about, if you haven't been to school for marketing, you don't. Marketing isn't like software engineering; there is zero chance of you teaching it to yourself in an adequate fashion. (Some would say the same about engineering, but I don't want to start that flame war.) If you don't know what a funding back-propogation is, or a coherent branding strategy as something other than a dilbert buzzword game trump card, then you aren't qualified to comment on marketing mechanisms.

Here's a hint: there's a reason you aren't going to any web 2.0 sites with names like ozaseeuvnawrb.com . The worst active name you can find right now is Flickr, and it's a simple vowel drop from an english word. All the other names are really, really easy to remember - word press, youtube, writely, digg, stumbleupon, meebo, et cetera. Hell, even the web 2.0 toolkits have these names - dojo, prototype, moo, rico. Even most of the big web people that weren't around pre-web have these kinds of names - yahoo, google, et cetera.

Ever wonder why when two projects are on Sourceforge, and one is way better than the other, the other gets all the work? Have a look at their names, and figure out which one's easier. Same goes for non-franchise games, including the first game in a franchise. Same goes for small businesses, particularly restaurants and especially with delivery.

When it comes down to it, $1500 for a domain people will remember, given a product that actually fits the name and doesn't suck, is a tremendous marketing bargain. The reason those prices seem high to you is that they're not scaled for individuals. They're scaled for businesses. The free market is in effect here; if those prices were too high, they'd come down. Remember, those sites used to say $20k and $40k, so in fact that's exactly what's happened.

Yes, I dislike squatters too; the last business I started, I spent two frustrating days looking for a domain that was open across the big three and available in several country ccTLDs. We ended up finding a way to use the second word in the company name like an initial in the marketing, so I have FoobarX instead of Foobar, which got me my domains. However, that kind of thing won't work for most businesses.

There's a reason sex.com sold for $14m AGAIN [boingboing.net] , and it's not because businesspeople who can spend eight digits on a new venture are stupid.

Like it or not, domains are a valid and lucrative business resource, and that means speculation on them is going to keep prices up. It's ugly, but it's true, and the only way out of it is to make a non-profit TLD which requires someone to dump a domain if it turns into a business. Given that that's never gonna happen, we're stuck with .com behaving like a commercial resource.

But, then, that's why it's called .com in the first place.

I fear that your business is not long for this world.

I find it unfortunate that the moderator who chose to moderate you down marked you troll; you're not. You obviously believe what you're saying, and you're trying to be helpful. That said, the reason the moderator did what they did is that they recognize a few simple things:

1) A wide market doesn't lie,
2) Successful businesspeople are usually very smart, and
3) A one-time expense of $1500 on a business' availability to customers is extremely small.

I know a business locally. One of their cheap perks is free soda. This is a common perk, because it's so cheap, and it keeps the workers happy. They have nine workers, each of whom goes through (let's say) half a case a day. Do the math. They spend more on Coca Cola per month than you're saying as an availability issue is a sign of bad business strategy and a likely indicator of failure behavior.

You, sir, should not comment on business strategy anymore.

A domain name is off limited value (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432482)

It may have some value if it is an obvious name that some people might enter directly into their browser. Just ask yourselve how often you do this?

A lesser value might exist if the name is easy to associate. weather.com for instance is easier to remember as a weather site then sfgsjkdhgfksdfk.com It don't matter to find the site via google but in ads or just remembering the site from previous visits weather.com is just a bit easier.

The last case is if you already got a real world brand name and now want to have that same name on the web. Just recently I wanted to visit the vanguard page. It wasn't the first result on google (a game not coming as the first result for its name is pretty rare) and I actually had to scroll down to see vangaurdsoh.com

Does it matter? Well not much as you can see BUT I have in the past just typed in vanguard and gotten the wrong site.

So the question to you is, does the above apply to you? Is that name really worth 1000 dollars? It sounds like it is a lot of money for you. So most likely not. Try finding another name or one from a different domain like say .net .us or whatever.

Most people will either use a search engine to find your site OR find it by being given the URL in some other form. Focus on something that is simple to remember and doesn't cost a 1000 dollars and do some advertising.

Re:A domain name is off limited value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15433136)

But sfgsjkdhgfksdfk.com is my favorite weather site!

Or was it sfgsjkdhgfgskfk.com? Damnit, I knew I should have written down that IP address.

Invest in something useful (3, Insightful)

dereference (875531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432544)

It costs less than half of that to register yourself a unique service mark or trademark in a couple relevant classes. It's just as intangible, and you do need to do some research up front, but it keeps its value far better than any domain name. It can take months to complete the process, but if you've done your research the process itself is painless and can be done almost entirely online. As an added bonus, if your registration is successful you can petition ICANN to transfer any (new) infringing domain names to you, as the rightful owner of the mark (you can't necessarily grab existing infringing domains as far as I know, but then again you're going to look for a better name anyway, right? Yes, I thought so).

Buying a Nolo [nolo.com] book on legal protection is definitely well worth the $30-$50 investment, and the knowledge gained will carry over to any new businesses you might decide to start. Don't even consider paying a huge chunk of hard-earned money for a domain name without at least understanding the basics of legal rights that do (and don't) convey with it.

First things first (1)

sfjoe (470510) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432549)



Before you try to decide whether to pay it or not, figure out what the domain name is worth to you. Will that $1500 be a good return on the investment? Isn't there something more worthwhile you can be spending your capital on? If your business model requires you to have this and no other domain name, then you'll have to suck it up and soend the money. Start out with a sub-1000 counteroffer. This is business - if you're going in feeling afraid of looking foolish, then you're going to lose your money. Go in with the attitutde that you can walk away at any moment if the deal doesn't work for you.
Remember - they have nothing. That domain name isn't worth jack until they get a buyer. They don't want you to walk away. Give them a chance to take some of your cash off your hands and they'll go for it.

You're lucky (1)

Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432569)

I hate to say this, but you're lucky to be getting it for $1500. There are TOTALLY UNUSED domains that people are unwilling to sell me for even as high as $5000.

I'd say be creative, though: offer $1000 and a case of beer delivered to their office this coming Friday afternoon.

Re:You're lucky (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432773)

There are TOTALLY UNUSED domains that people are unwilling to sell me for even as high as $5000.
A fried of mine has a domain. It's a five letter common dictionary word dot com. He gets occasional offers to buy it -- people have even offered as much as $15,000 for it.

We don't use it for a business, but we have our mail and web stuff and such on it, so it's certainly not unused, and it would be a big drag to replace it. So he's not going to sell it for some small amount of change. But $15k? Sure, why not?

He's gotten several offers over $10k, and they never pan out. I'm not sure what their purpose was, but they never follow through. Perhaps they found out how much spam this domain gets? :)

So now we just ignore email offers to buy the domain, because we assume they're not serious. Perhaps if somebody were to send a snail mail letter we'd take it more seriously?

In any event, there's still very much of a goldrush mentality when it comes to domain names. The professionals want $5k for their crappy domains, so we ought to be able to get more for our good one? (In reality, the professionals only get $5k if they find a real sucker, but people don't see it that way.)

My advice? The domain name doesn't matter that much. Get something new, don't pay a squatter for it. And when you pick a name, buy it immediately, as the registrars are known to watch the queries for domain names, and if they see a good one, they'll grab the domain themselves and then offer to sell for a lot more. So today you find reallygooddomainname.com and it's available, but tomorrow it might not be -- tomorrow they want $1000 for it.

Safer Domain Name Checking (2, Interesting)

resistant (221968) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433267)

And when you pick a name, buy it immediately, as the registrars are known to watch the queries for domain names, and if they see a good one, they'll grab the domain themselves and then offer to sell for a lot more. So today you find reallygooddomainname.com and it's available, but tomorrow it might not be -- tomorrow they want $1000 for it.

Certain registrars and resellers are notorious for selling "recent inquiry lists" to domain kings. I actually lost a domain name this way a few years back, after checking availability. It was very unlikely that specific domain name, which was meant for a personal site for a family member, could have been picked by accident by someone else with the same two-day period (while I was mulling it over).

After that experience, I became very cautious about where to check domain name availability. OpenSRS used to be good for a simultaneous WHOIS search and check of availability, but now they have this annoying captcha. At NameCheap [namecheap.com] , an Enom reseller which I've used for years for most of my small collection of domain names, I've never lost a prospective domain name after an inquiry and subsequent mulling, although apparently they did recently decide to keep as a "pay for click" empty parked domain name one that I decided to drop as superceded (for a business idea) by a more relevant term. I've not had problems either with GANDI [gandi.net] , but haven't used them for new domain names for years.

There are undoubtedly many decent registrars and resellers, and a few bad ones run by slimebags, just as with any type of business.

By the way, a great place to check information on ownership of a domain name is here [domaintools.com] . Basic membership is free with a simple registration (use fake information and a throwaway email address if you are more comfortable with that), and they have lots of neat tools even for free memberships. Just make certain you only use it for domain names which you know are already taken, because the people who run it are in the business of reselling domain names, and giving them ideas isn't good.

Offer the lowest price possible and test them out (5, Informative)

Centurix (249778) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432584)

Really, you cannot trust anyone who spouts about counter offers. Offer them $150, a good offensive play.

Someone squatted on centurix.com and I asked them how much. $5000 was the reply, so I said $100 is my best offer, if that's not enough then have fun with the domain. They accepted, I had the domain for 2 years and just let it lapse, the same company bought it again after I had it. Good luck to them, my current domain suits us much better.

The only thing that really matters is... (1)

natmsincome.com (528791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432609)

... how much is it worth to you?

As some other post hove mentioned would a .us or a .net be just as good considering they are about $10? If you really want to the .com but can get the others then buy them and tell the seller that you don't really need the .com because you already have the .net and .us you're only willing to pay $100 to $200 to get it as well.

You can do the same thing with online.com, int.com, home.com etc.

That eing said I wouldn't make an offer much under $100 as I expect they'd probably reject it. If you make the offer to low they're likely to just make it into a parked domain with adds.

Get a trademark, then UDRP (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432620)

One of the more useful things to do in domain disputes is to get a trademark. If you do business or have a product named "Zowie", get a trademark on "Zowie". It's not that hard, it costs a few hundred dollars, and the process is entirely on line. Doesn't matter what category of product the trademark is under, or even if it's on the principal register. You can almost always get registration on the supplemental register, which means you can't keep others from using the name, but they can't keep you from using it either.

Once you have a trademark on the domain that describes your stuff, you can make a cybersquatting complaint. If the domain owner is just parking the domain, under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy [icann.org] that's considered "use in bad faith". Then you send a letter to the domain owner, threatening a UDRP proceeding.

(If it's a "private registration", the registrar will now "uncloak" the domain so fast your head will spin, because they don't want to be the party to a UDRP proceeding or lawsuit.)

At this point, either the other side will offer to sell you the domain for less than a UDRP costs ($1000), or you go forward to a mandatory UDRP proceeding, which is an instant win when you have the trademark.

Well, no. (2, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433221)

I've been looking at some UDRP decisions. [wipo.int] First, registration on the supplemental register is not considered to confer rights meaningful in a UDRP proceeding. You have to get on to the principal register.

Second, priority is an issue. You need to have some rights in the name predating the acquisition of the domain by the current owner. Registering a trademark helps, but the history of its use may matter.

Sorry about that.

responses (1)

dpille (547949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433236)

1) If your trademark application post-dates their domain registration, you will absolutely lose.
 
2) Even with the cheapest arbitrators, a UDRP filing costs $1300 [arb-forum.com] . Why would you pay that when a few hundred more guarantees you get the domain? Remember, filer pays.
 
3) Trademark applications (in the US and most of civilization) require proof of use to register. You won't even have the registration to throw around unless you're already using the name. Obviously, from the article, the submitter is not already using it.
 
4) There is no longer an "instant win" in UDRP. The arbitrators are no longer clueless, they actually are crafting careful law to avoid crap like the suggestion above.

This is easy (2, Interesting)

hotspotbloc (767418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432686)

We're talking about small change here (less than $1k USD), not "business.com" money. If you're serious about wanting the domain then just buy it. This isn't a "red vs. blue pill" issue, there is no rabbit hole, it's a business decision. Make it and move on to building great software.

Domain Value... (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432825)

This isn't exactly an answer to the question, but it could be interesting while we're on the topic.

One of my domains hosts a site that really was just something a friend and I put together back around 1999 or so. It was just a little project that we figured we would play with. We mostly neglected the site, as anyone who has ever visited it can tell you.

We had considered just giving up on it all but over the years people kept offering us money for the name. The highest offer we ever had was for over $4000 and for the life of me I don't know why we didn't take it.

In the end I'm glad we didn't.

We're about to shut the site down in it's current form and actually do something "real" with it. It's no-so-humorous humor is old and the site's popularity is long past it's prime. But we're both older and wiser now and we think we can actually make a site with content of value to readers. We have a somewhat recognized name that's been on the web a long time, we have both expanded our skills, and we both have a wee-bit more time than we did back then.

So what's my point?

Our site has been around a while and is more or less a cobweb site now. But it's a simple name that is easy to remember, it's established in the search engines, there are links to us from all over the place, and all in all we kind of like it.

So I'm glad we didn't sell. It would have been easy to take the money and run a long time ago, but if we were going to try to find a good domain today things would be a lot harder.

Needless to say it would take a lot more than $4000 to pry this domain out of our hands now.

As a side not, over the years it appears that businesses in other countries that operate under the name Tagor have started showing up on the web. Some might say we're squatting the name from them, but we don't see it that way. We had the name before we knew it meant anything to anyone and we actually have plans for the site.

Re:Domain Value... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15433121)

http://www.targor.com/ [targor.com]

Site not loading error page.
Either your sites DNS has stopped working or your site has a major error.
Please contact support for help.

Looks like your site is about to be squatted to me.

Simple (1)

nincehelser (935936) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432850)

Forget the money. We're only talking $1500 at most if you buy it at their price. If your business plan is decent and that particular domain name is critical to your marketing plan, $1500 is peanuts. Your time and energy are probably worth a lot more than $1500.

Assuming you don't have the $1500 to spend and you have the time to haggle, start at $250. This is enough to raise their interest. Expect a few rounds of counter offers...just two or three at most. Anything more and you're wasting time.

An experienced negotiator might get the domain for around $300. A novice negotiator can probably get them down to at least $750. What it really comes down to is your negotation skills.

Implicit Business Value = (Nearly) Zero (1)

carpeweb (949895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432865)

Comments seem split between "don't pay those bastards a red cent" and "well, if it's worth X, then you should pay it".

Both sentiments seem valid to me.

It's hard to imagine how the business value of the domain name(s) in question could be very high for a business that doesn't yet exist. Unless you plan to make cars and one of the names is cars.com, I don't see how a specific name could be very meaningful.

Come up with something clever, like, I don't know ... /.? This site could have been called anythingelsebutshorterthanthissoit'seasytotype.com and had the same success it has as /.

Domain name parking is NOT cybersquatting (1)

voss (52565) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432935)

cybersquatting is using someones elses good name to make money.

Its a different issue if you thought of a cool domain name and got it before
anyone else...or even if you found a name that several people might want
"sex.com" its still not cybersquatting.

Don't offer them $1500 (2, Funny)

menace3society (768451) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433104)

Off them $25 and a bus ticket. If they don't go for it, hack into their servers, download child porn, and report them to the FBI.

Am I getting a fair shake or getting conned? (2, Insightful)

BidNo (978134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433585)

Sorry but most of this discussion is terribly naive. Internet domain investing is very real and very large with billions of dollars in investment capital. Did you know Internet ad revenues have now passed those of local newspapers? If you want to buy Trump Tower you either buy it or not. But you're not going to jawbone Trump into selling for the price he originally paid for raw land and bricks. If don't buy, find something else that suits your budget. Or buy land and build your own. When there are many buyers for a domain name, supply and demand drive the price - after all, there is only one. The original OP question was, "am I getting a fair shake or getting conned"? In real estate, recent comparable sales are used to evaluate this question, and it's the same with Internet Domains. Try the site http://dnsaleprice.com/ [dnsaleprice.com] to search for recent sales comparable to the domain of interest to determine if you're getting a fair price. Cheers, BidNo

What legacy does the domain name have? (1)

Ankh (19084) | more than 8 years ago | (#15434536)

Is there a holding page there now? If so, what google pagerank does it have? If it has a pagerank of 0, and does not show up in google searches for text that's on the page, don't go near it: if it's in what Google calls a "bad neighbourhood", they won't list it or let you use AdSense ads on it until you've demonstrated in some way to them that it has changed. E.g. perhaps if it had porn ads on it, or used to be part of a "black-hat SEO link rink".

On the other hand, if it has pagerank of, say, 5 or more, or if there's some reason why you're set on that name, go ahead. Yes, once you get a few decent incoming links you'll get even a new domain to have good search results, especially with a simple (but syntactically correct) "home page" that doesn't rely on Flash, and has some content. Buying the domain name is either getting you a tiny jump start, or is getting something easy for people to remember.

If $1500 is a lot of money to you, offer them $500 and stop buying those expensive shoes :-) A startup is unlikely to get far in under two years (on average in most Western countries), so you need to have funds to go without other income and pay all your bills for at least that long.

You can try downloading the Google toolbar for Firefox (there's a link on my Website [fromoldbooks.org] and thousands of others, or go to google.com) and it'll show you the pagerank of sites you visit. The numbers go from 0 (it goes last in search results or is not in the index) to 10 (pretty much always on top of the results; there are only a very few "10" sites).

Google pagerank isn't the only metric, especially as Microsoft starts to enter the search market, but right now it's at least half of it, and if you don't show up on the top half of the first page of google results (once you have some content) you'll be invisible to much of the world. Do a search for (1) your proposed company name, including with likely spelling mistakes, and (2) for the products, e.g. "lemon flavour socks", and then look at the first ten or so results in some detail. Are they high pagerank sites on Google? If they're, say, 7 or higher, you'll have a hard time displacing them. If they're large companies, or in a lucrative business (e.g. lawyers looking for people with scars from lemon picking seeking workers' compensation!) you won't compete well. Look also at who is sponsoring ads.

Of course, you can repeat this on Yahoo and MSN.

If you pick a name that has very few matches, but is memorable, $1500 is not very much to pay.

Some other useful Google-related links:
  • Google AdSense [google.com] advertising programme;
  • Webmaster Eyes [webmastereyes.com] to see the Google rank of individual links on a page;
  • an unofficial google adsense FAQ [webmaster-...arters.com]


  • I'm saying all this because it seems to me that more people follow links or use search engines than type stuff speculatively into the address bar.

chose a different name (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15434988)

Don't bother paying a premium for a domain name. If you have a good service or website, people will find it. Did a wierd name or unusual spelling hurt google or flickr or deliscious (however it is spelled)? Remember you are asking this question on a site that is probably one of the hardest to say and get people who haven't heard of it to understand what you are saying "slash dot dot org" but people seem to find the site ok. Getting people to your site is the hardest part no matter what the domain name is. Once you get them there, then the battle is half won. If they find your site, people will either a)bookmark it, b)remember the url and type it in again, c)remember how they got there, and the wosrt case senario d)not be able to remember the name or how they got there in which case a "valuable" domain name won't be all that usefull because there is no accounting for what people will or will not remember.
Regardless, once again all that depends on people actually getting to the site in teh first place. The days of people randomly typing in urls is over if it ever existed in the first place (sure my firends and I used to type in things just to see if that existed, but we were just curious, not looking to use the sites we found). It is a cliche, but there is a great deal of truth to it too: "If you build it, they will come."
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