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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Topix's Domain Name Woes

Wow, I can't believe that domain squatter managed to squeeze $1 million out of Topix.net for the .com, according to Kevin Delaney's WSJ piece on the difficulty you can face if you change domain names (introducing the business world to our capricious world of lost Google traffic when sites are rewritten or redirected etc.). That's a lot of squatting cheddar. Unnecessary, in my view, but one of those buys you make if you or your investors have the money and are risk-averse. I sure hope both Topix users and Google get used to the new Topix.com domain.

I think the rest of us, especially those running content sites that need user loyalty but not purchase-point credibility, should start taking the attitude: "why bother"? How much is too much for a domain?

And yes that's me quoted farther down in the article, in relation to another domain change issue. :)

CLARIFICATION: I've received some feedback wondering why I am criticizing Topix. I am not! What I really don't like is domain squatters. I was impressed by the fact that Topix.net managed to do just fine with their name - and thought of them as sort an example of a company that bucked the trend that said you absolutely had to have a .com (like Craigslist if you like). Eventually when a company like this grows, they wind up acquiring the .com (as Craigslist certainly did); but my take for other small companies is, maybe you don't have to give in. We have certainly had plenty of egg on our face at other companies I've worked with in terms of naming and domain decisions; but the overreaction (paying outrageous sums to squatters) is something many of us can ill-afford. I recently paid $1,300 for a .net domain, and $1,300 for an "alternate" domain (completely new name) in lieu of a much higher price. I also got "lucky" and paid $1,900 for the unhyphenated version of my company name domain. These are fair prices and frankly about as high as I'm willing to go. And it's also worth pointing out to budding entrepreneurs: if you get something really original, domains are $10. OK, jawboning session over.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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