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back to article Brits registering .uk domains mostly get first choice

Most Brits think it's easy to find a .uk address for their websites, but almost half admit to having settled on a domain that was not their first choice, according to a new survey. The report, commissioned by .uk manager Nominet, may add fuel to the debate over whether the plan from global internet policy overseer ICANN to …

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Moz

I don't mind losing out to another web site owner, but when your domain of choice is owned by that "what you want when you want it" bastard domain squatter I really get annoyed.

Domains should be upped to £25+ to wreck those sorts of business models. They are too cheap at the moment.

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Megaphone

@moz

The problem isn't the price of domains and I'd be really p***ed off if your suggestion was followed.

The problem is that people buy domains off of the squatters for loads of money. If the 4% stopped doing this, squatters would disappear really quickly. Same goes for touts!

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@Moz. Just a suggestion......

.........but what about stripping them of their registration if the site is clearly inactive for a given period of time? In other words, "use it or loose it". In the Old West when you staked a claim I seem to remember that you lost it if you failed to work it - could apply the same principle here.

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What do you mean...

... "seem to remember"? How old are you?

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Happy

@RegGuy RE "What do you mean"? 57 actually, not 157 .......

....that much of an "old-timer" I am not! Careless phraseology on my part. -:)

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But will more TLDs help?

Supposing you are the car manufacturer called Lotus or the shoe manufacturer called Lotus. You go to register lotus.com and find that IBM already has it. You then try lotus.biz, and find IBM has that as well. Create another TLD, and IBM is probably going to try and register it as well.

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Holmes

but if IBM registered lotus.car or lotus.shoes then it would be a clear case of trademark infringement.

if the new domain is .generic then yes who ever got there first would get it.

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Gold badge

First choice, at least after all the others

What exactly is the first choice of someone called John Smith who wants a personal website? It presumably isn't http://www.john-smith.co.uk/ because that seems to have a domain squatter on it. I imagine that this is so obvious to most people that their first actual choice is deliberately *not* their first choice.

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Ru
Angel

John Smith is a company?

No, he is an individual. He should therefore be looking at john.smith.me.uk, right?

If that's already taken, he should be suing his parents for not allocating him a nationally unique identifier at birth.

Me, I'll just be over there being quietly smug about the fact I have a slightly unusual first name, and so picking up domains of the form firstname.tld is quite straightforward for me.

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Anonymous Coward

But .me.uk is such a crap TLD

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.me.uk? Seriously?

That is horrid. I'm glad its introduction passed me by.

Myself, I'd rather fancy a .hack domain, so somebody wake me up when that tld is introduced.

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Re: a company?

Indeed he should, and I have myself, but the vast majority have gone for .co.uk so I think it is a more realistic "first choice" example. Either way, however, the fact remains that there are 60 million of us in the UK and there just aren't anywhere close to 24 million "obvious" personal domain names.

So I don't believe this 40% figure. I might be willing to believe 4%, but even that sounds rather high. Hence my assertion that most of the survey respondents have downgraded their expectations and simply aren't asking for their first (or possibly even their fifth) choice domain name.

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WTF?

The only problem I had with my .me.uk domain several years ago was that it was more expensive than a .co.uk or a .com. Seems rather arse about face to me.

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Mushroom

They should just clamp down on domain squatters. Problem solved. It doesn't take a genius to see what is a vaid domain and what is just a web farm hogging perfectly good domain name just to extort money.

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Ru
Headmaster

Get thee to the trademark office

If you really wanted the domain badly, you'd be prepared to cough up a few grand to go register a trademark and kick off an ownership dispute, right?

If you're not willing to do that, and you're not willing to pay whatever the current owner wants, then you deserve your second choice.

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WTF?

@Ru

So, you have a choice, pay the Domain Squatter (sorry, holding service) a few grand for the domain or spend a few grand registering a trademark and going through an ownership dispute...

Sounds like lose/ lose to me.

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Ru

Do you have a better idea?

There are already nice legal frameworks around trademarking designed to stop this very problem. There are slightly weaker frameworks regarding limited company names (you could always get .ltd.uk or .plc.uk, of course... but no-one does).

Perhaps you can think of some way to persuade nominet or icann or whoever that your use of a domain is more worthwhile than a domain aggregator? Seems like that's a system that could be all too easily abused. And I speak as someone quite opposed to domaining... I'm pretty much in favour of either increasing prices of domains by a fair amount, or significantly restricting the ability to purchase them. I doubt either solution would make you happy though.

So, get there first, choose a better name, use a less sexy TLD or pay up. Seems like a perfectly reasonable set of requirements to me. The magical domain fairy isn't going to give anyone the domains they'd like for free.

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@Ru

Are you in the legal profession? It certainly sounds like it to me, because you seem to be in favour of a system that is designed to give lots of money to lawyers.

When I set up my business on the web I decided to go for .co.uk because that was the most appropriate suffix being a UK company, not realising that world+dog (especially in the USA) would go for .com even if it wasn't appropriate for them.

So now there's a .com version of my domain which I'd like to get, but it's sitting parked, doing nothing because some greedy company wants $3000 for it, an amount that I'm not willing to pay (even if I could afford it given the current state of the economy) and neither am I willing to fork out similar amounts to register a trademark and then try to fight through the long and convoluted process of proving that I am entitled to that domain because either way I'd end up losing money.

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Bronze badge

After the first 10 domain names

Then you should start charging according an exponential scale. Starting at about $100 and doubling after that sounds about right.

Of course this all begs the question, when will theregister.uk be active?

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Ru

I'm holding out for

"the.register", myself.

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Which registrars?

I've had a look around and I can't find a registrar that will process them. Anyone got any ideas?

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Which registrars?

I've had a look around at registrars and can't find one that will process them. Anyone got any ideas?

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Flame

Surely the statistics here amount to nothing more than subjective nonsense and different people's perceptions of what domains might already be taken.

I would *like* to register "jesus.co.uk", but because Ive got a fairly good idea that it wont be available I may instead head off to registration centre with "jesuspuncher.co.uk" in mind. So already there is a hell of a lot of guessing going on.

I hate surveys that use mathematical results like "86%" and "44%" to describe categories like "was 'very easy' or 'fairly easy'".

May ComRes be smited down in eternal fire. (see icon)

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Headmaster

May ComRes be smited down in eternal fire

FYI - it's smite/smote/smitten. You won't find this irregular verb in most English grammar books because it's very obscure or archaic.

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Pint

Correct...

$ whois jesus.co.uk

...

Registrant: Giant Games Ltd

Registered on: 08-Aug-1997

$ whois jesuspuncher.co.uk

No match for "jesuspuncher.co.uk".

This domain name has not been registered.

But there is no website for jesus in the UK, perhaps not enough people have heard of him. It's been registered for 14 years, so either they're planning on a game called Jesus (and god won't let them), or they are just greedy fuckers who haven't worked out that no one will pay them for it.

Now for Jesuspuncher, that's the sort of imagination we need more of.

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how about

register.the.reverse.pl

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Gold badge

Nice, but reverse.pl is already taken. My Polish isn't good enough to know whether they'd be willing to delegate a "the" sub-domain to you.

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Problem is, most people don't understand the web

The general public only have a rudimentary understanding of IT, so while loads of new TLDs might be great for big businesses for the smaller companies its pointless. Everyone gets .com and .co.uk, even my gran. I'm not going to confuse potential non tech savvy customers away from my website by making it look like something they don't recognise as a web site. I would rather adjust my .co.uk address to one which was available than go for something less tried and tested.

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FAIL

Like IT departments in local authorities?

How many websites register www.myshitsite.co.uk but don't register myshitsite.co.uk?

Do we have to keep putting www in front of everything? I have written to some of these knob-heads about this but never seem to get a reply. Maybe it's because of my tone...

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Anonymous Coward

Fewer people using direct and exact URL entry in their address bar...

...and going straight to Google to find it. At which point the actual URL (and the TLD variations) are almost irrelevant.

If you don't find the right site first time from Google, most users are not going to bother finding your exact URL, with all the possible permutations and punctuations to find you.

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Happy

I had no trouble at all getting the domain of my choice, but then again, I decided to try to be a bit original.

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Happy

.me.uk addresses

I have one of those and use it mostly for email. I couldn't find one with my surname which was no surprise so I just thought of suitable adjectives until I found a nice one.

All it takes is a decent vocabulary and a little patience.

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I went for an archaic unit of measurement thanks to an obscure reference in "The Jesus Incident" by Frank Herbert.

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FAIL

Take a deep breath and a step back...

It's bizarre how quickly everyone seems to dismiss out of hand the idea of actually buying the best domain name off the entity which was smart enough to acquire it first, yet in the real world that happens all the time. The best land was sold many hundreds of years ago, so if you want to build on a commercial patch in the middle of the business district, you'll have to open your wallet extremely wide and pay the current owner of the land so that they sell it to you. Nobody bats an eyelid, that's just how the property market works.

The domain name market in the UK is admittedly less mature than the property market, but it's been around for longer than you might think. When you consider how much faster the internet moves compared to the "real world" (it's like dog years) the names that were registered in the late 90s and early 00s are positively ancient by now.

There seem to be two basic psychological hurdles in play here:

1) "It's not fair that somebody's profiteering": it's legitimate (domains are sold on a first come first served basis, and always have been) and it's business, so get over it. That's like complaining that it's not "fair" because you'd love to build a huge shopping complex on the land under Harrods, but somebody is squatting on it with a building of their own.

2) "If it wasn't for that squatter, I'd have that domain name": no, you wouldn't, because you're not second in the "I wanted it" queue, you're 50th or 500th or 5000th - you just never got to see all the other people ahead of you because they didn't it buy off the current owner either, but like you they would have bought it had it still been available. If you're starting your quest for a decent domain name in 2011, you're so far behind the game that the players are already off the pitch and hitting the showers.

So once you can see past those false barriers to the reality of the situation, you can either go away in a huff and register something less than optimal, or you can take a deep breath and a step back and analyse the BUSINESS case for owning the best domain name, and the knock on effect that would have in terms of ease of SEO, PPC advertising savings, credibility improvement, simplicity of advertising offline, etc. etc. You may well be surprised to discover, if you can conquer the emotion and get down to the brass tacks, that the price being asked for that particular domain is a FRACTION of the benefits your business would gain from acquiring it.

And at that point, there's only one correct business decision, and it's not sulking...

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You step back ...

Most people think that it's completely wrong for companies to buy huge numbers of tickets of highly anticipated events such as pop concerts, for the sole purpose of selling them at inflated prices later. I'm struggling to see how your justification of squatters doesn't apply to ticket touts. Or do you think that ticket-touting is legitimate business?

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Anonymous Coward

Flaw in your analogy

Your analogy between domain name squatting and commercial premises is clearly flawed: buying commercial property for the market rate is perfectly understandable because there's a business already there; buying a domain name that some spotty herbert has registered for a few quid and is doing nothing with it deliberately in the (usually forlorn) hope that some mug will pay a small fortune to acquire it is, IMO. a mug's game. There's no market to determine the price for it for a start unless it goes up for auction.

It's a lot like halfwits paying £200 to folk on eBay for the HP Touch Pads they'd bought for £89 in the firesale. The apposite expression here is: "There's one born every minute." If there weren't stupid people on both sides, i.e. people prepared to fork out cash for something they don't need and won't use in the hope that some mug will pay over the odds for it, then there'd be a lot less speculative purchasing going on.

Unsurprisingly, given your handle, you would like to encourage this speculation because it's your bread and butter. I have no issue with that to be perfectly honest because I'm inventive enough to think up good domain names for my own projects which aren't taken and there's no way on this earth that'll I pay someone their little windfall just for being first.

Just as in the original gold rush in 1849, the only folk who could guarantee getting rich were the ones selling the spades. Domain names are the new spades but the gold rush in this case was in 1999 or thereabouts. Squatters(aka gold prospectors) may be making a little money these days but all they're really doing is providing business for the domain name registration companies.

Disclaimer: I have a portfolio of domains which I've purchased for various projects and am always in the market for more when a good idea for others occurs to me. They aren't for sale to anyone so I'm not a squatter. IMHO at least;).

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Pirate

The only reason...

people get irritated with domain squatters is that they are not actually *using* the domain for anything resembling its intended purpose. The Harrod's example falls down in that respect. Everybody can *see* that it is in use. This is frustration, but it is misguided.

I think that a squatter is a form of economic troll, and can get around them with a thesaurus and decent advertising -- the bread and butter of any business. Most of the squatted domains are too generic to be useful to any business -- the reason only 4% are bought is that no business owner in his right mind would buy (as an example) www.facialtissue.com when they could get www.kleenex.com and leverage the brand name they'd spent all their time and money adding value to. If a squatter had taken that, it'd take about fifteen minutes and a C&D order to take care of it. If I truly had to have that kind of generic domain, and had the cash to pay for it, I still wouldn't. How can I differentiate my product from the flood of knockoff's that are legally entitled to use that name in meatspace?

I wouldn't give a dime for the legal troubles that squatters bring on their own heads. They took advantage of too-cheap domains, and deserve all the headaches they have, if not more.

Going back to my example of www.facialtissue.com -- that would only refer to an entire industry -- while you might fantasize about cornering that entire market via the domain -- in reality you're a day late and a dollar short on owning something that won't stand up in court anyway. Eventually, the powers that be will pull their heads out of their asses, stop talking about 'tubes' and realize that corporate names and generic names should share the same namespace on the web as IRL. At that point, you'd lose your generic domain and the bundles of domains they've registered are worthless. It wouldn't happen to nicer people. If you want to know who the true suckers are, it is the squatters, and I, for one, will be having a nice glass of chianti while I savor the schadenfreude.

Any business name that I register would begin with a DNS name search, and after that, an inquiry to the naming authorities (Secretary of State of the particular state where I reside, as an example) to make sure I can own *both*. If I do, then it's worth investing in -- not before.

Yes, I do own several domains -- all related to various projects I am working on. I'm not ashamed to admit that if someone makes me an offer of the right amount, I'd sell -- it just has to be for more than the value of that particular project. All of them are also registered with the secretary of state as business entities.

Look at Facebook -- do you really think that name was their first effort? It's kind of fun to speculate on the domains that they may have thought of that didn't work. Who knew that "castyourprivacytothewinds.com" and 'waytoomuchpersonalinformation.com', and 'suckasslamegames.com' were taken? I feel sorry for those squatters, as well as the people whose muse fails them when it comes time to name their domain.

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Happy

Actually, the problem is that the domain market is not yet visible enough, not that there isn't one. Every week, DNJournal.com reports on some of the top global domain sales, and their typical weekly report covers several hundred sales. DomainPrices.co.uk has tracked public .co.uk sales for the last 5-6 years, and they have over £8,000,000 in recorded sales in their database, with the average price paid per name hovering around the £2,000 mark. In both cases, only a tiny fraction of sales make it into the public eye, because the overwhelming majority occur privately and are not publicised anywhere. It has been estimated in the past that the worldwide resale market for domains is of the order of a billion dollars a year.

The other issue is that there are genuine *independently verifiable* benefits to owning the exact match domain name for your business, be it in decreased PPC costs (a case study was put out on this a couple of years ago), easier SEO (exact match domains have long been a ranking factor, as a quick Google on the topic will show you) and of course it's easier to promote the domain name offline as well, because it becomes much easier to remember.

So (assuming you're a business owner or have input over how the company you work for does its marketing) disregarding out of hand the idea of buying an exact match domain name to complement your product or service because it's somehow "unfair" of the seller to own it ends up damaging your own business prospects to make a hollow gesture.

On the comparison of ticket touting and multiple domain name ownership, the latter is recognised as a valid and legitimate pursuit at various levels, not least by Nominet, who explicitly go out of their way to address the issue in their DRS policy document "Failure on the Respondent's part to use the Domain Name for the purposes of email or a web site is not in itself evidence that the Domain Name is an Abusive Registration." "Trading in domain names for profit, and holding a large portfolio of domain names, are of themselves lawful activities."

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