Domain Name Registration Tips and “domain tasting” by registrars.

For many the best approach to “having a website” is simply to start a free blog at Blogger.com or WordPress.com.  Both are simple and give you access to powerful free tools as well as worldwide exposure (though you’ll find very few people are likely to visit your blog, even if it’s great).    For a very small annual fee of under $20 you can upgrade both Blogger.com and WordPress blogs to have an address with your own domain name, such as “MyOwnDomainName.com”.

Alternatively you can register your own domain name and sign up for “hosting” and create a website.  This is also cheap, and with available templates not very difficult, though blogs are generally easier to create and manage if you’ll be writing often.   Websites are more appropriate for business exposure, though all businesses should ALSO be blogging which helps your site rank better in search engines – most notably Google which is where almost all free internet traffic will come from nowadays.  Note that a blog is a simply one type of website that uses a general “posting” format.

Easy internet riches from domain registrations is generally a fools game, but it’s also true that a few people made big fortunes with domain name portfolios, and also it is reasonable to register names that suit your fancy for future projects.

Generally you should avoid mail, phone, and online appeals to register or renew names.   Some are outright scams and many are simply a way to get you to move or register names at very high cost.    Discount registrars like Godaddy.com charge only about $10 per year per name for .com, .net, and .org (less in bulk).    Although Godaddy’s upselling is annoying, they are about as cheap as you’ll find for name registrations.

Another challenge to making “easy money” with domain registrations is “domain tasting”:

Domain Tasting and Early Domain Deletions from “Domain Estimator” website:

Domain Tasting refers to a fairly new domain phenomena that claims over 1.5 million domain registrations and deletions per day. Most of the major TLD registries have allowed registrars to delete domain registrations and receive a full refund within the first five days of registration. This results in domain tasting, or the process of registering domains (usually by the thousands), testing them on parking pages for a period of 4-5 days and then releasing the domains that are not generating revenue. There are no rules when it comes to deletions, so in theory, a domain taster could register and taste a domain multiple times before finally deciding whether or not it meets their criteria (usually it must generate more money in a given year then it cost to acquire). Several large, well funded companies have now mastered the art of domain tasting and claim pretty much every daily dropped domain. In other words, any domain that drops as part of the daily drop cycle gets registered and tasted, almost immediately after dropping, and then re-released several days later for others sample. Many tasters register tens of thousands of two and three word combination domains that were never previously registered, in addition to the drops. Most of the high volume tasters own at least one registrar and have budgets that allow tens of thousands of domain registrations per day. Since they only keep a very small percentage of what they taste, the money stays in constant circulation. The only way to combat domain tasting (since virtually anything that drops as part of the regular drop cycle gets picked up by them) is to backorder domains through one of the drop catchers.

TechCrunch’s Arrington banish-ed by AOL?

One of the strangest posts in the tech blogosphere is yesterday’s rant at TechCrunch, suggesting that blog owner AOL may shake up things and remove TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington:
techcrunch.com/2011/09/06/the-end/

TechCrunch has arguably been the most influential technology blog for some time, especially for startup news and inside information.   Spawned by Silicon Valley insider Mike Arrington, TechCrunch has been a key source of news, inside information, and gossip about the Silicon Valley Startup scene.

The AOL dispute appears to have come from concerns over potential conflicts of interest by Arrington as he launches a new venture capital fund that will support companies covered by TechCrunch.

Domain Name Speculation

Data from Wikipedia’s entry on “Domain Name Speculation

* The number of registrations of .com domain names grew from 23,662,001  in  January 2003 to 80,759,835  in January 2009.

Wiki goes on to note that a quirk in the registration rules led to a surge in the practice of “Domaintasting” where a huge bulk order of domain names would be registered for a short time.   Only the names that created click revenue from pay per click ads would be kept.    This led to new domain hosting companies set up simply to filter for marginally valuable names that could be set up to get click revenue, and then to a new rule in June 2008 from ICANN, the body that oversees domain registrations.  ICANN started to limit the number of domains that a registrar could delete in the ICANN “grace period” where no fees were charged.   These grace period deletions fell by 99.7% the following year as the practice of “domain tasting” became less profitable.

Verisign Domain Brief in June 2009 identified  92 million COM and NET domain names, 24 percent with one page websites, 64% have multipage websites and 12% have no associated websites.

These last numbers suggest to me that the speculation is not as rampant as most seem to think – ie most sites are multiple page implying content and not speculation.    Of course systems like the one I’m testing now at Godaddy that auto-generate several pages of content make it even harder to distinguish between  sites that are driven speculatively vs those that are driven more by a passion to communicate or quality initiatives.       As the quality, sharable content online increases and systems become smarter I think we may see that it will be impossible to distinguish between sites created by humans and those made automatically.

Twitter 140 Conference and WordCamp San Francisco

Technology Report will be live blogging the Twitter 140 Conference in Mountain View California and WordCamp San Francisco on Saturday May 30th.

*The two day Twitter event starts Tuesday May 26th*

This is only the second WordCamp San Francisco and promises excellent insider insights from WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg and Google’s top blogger Matt Cutts who has been using the WordPress blogging format for several years.

This is the first major Twitter conference *ever* and is sure to bring a lot of interesting people and companies to the Computer Science Museum in Mountain View.

Hope to see you there in person or here at Technology Report’s live coverage of these events.

Blogging CES – CES09 Blogroll

Blogging CES 2009:

I’m reposting Lyn’s excellent blogroll from the official CES blog at blog.ce.org. For a complete pictures you’ll need to check a lot of blogs because even the companies like Engadget and Gizmodo, each I think with 10+ people reporting here, will feature only a small fraction of all the conference action here at CES, which is really almost too massive to imagine in terms of the number of exhibits across the two convention centers.

Top Technology Stories of 2008

Update:  Don’t miss our upcoming CES 2011 live coverage here at Technology Report

Techmeme is a favorite of many in technology for pulling together technology stories and the conversations that often swirl around them.  Unlike a simple “ranking” system, TechMeme surfaces the top stories and then links out to blogs and sites that are discussing those “hot topics”.     Thus a quick review of TechMeme can give you a very fast orientation to the stories that are making their rounds in the blogs.    That does not always correspond to stories that actually *matter* to real folks, but it’s a great start.

TechMeme’s new story editor Megan has a list here of the top 10 for 2008.   Number one was the Microsoft – Yahoo aquisition saga, number two was Apple quitting MacWorld, and number three was Google Chrome.


Disclosure: Long on YHOO

CES 2008 – Blogging officially arrives at CES with some mixed reactions.

“Blogger” is a new badge here at CES, given to about 200 people who registered as bloggers rather than press. However most of the bloggers here are under press badges and have been coming for some time. The early word – totally anecdotal and unofficial – from several CES and sponsor folks I had a chance to talk to include these observations:

* Bloggers are nicer than mainstream journalists.

* Bloggers more readily accept the giveaways, and thus are seen to be more subject to manipulation.

* Press people were upset that initially they could not get into the blog lounges but bloggers were allowed in Press areas. This policy was quickly changed to allow press to blogger lounges, which were very comfortable.

* Gizmodos early scathing critique of CES is already being discussed at some length by CES insiders. Hmmm – I’m noting they have toned down the coverage yet fessing up to some prankish BS. Hmmm – can all bloggers and all suits mix happily? No, all can’t but most can.

* Some big sponsors were complaining about the bloggers.

Donny Deutsch’s The Big Idea featured the Blog Bus and Robert Scoble. I have high regard for Robert’s blogging rules. He’s highly credible but recognizes that you can’t eliminate all bias from the reporting. Generally he just lays it out for folks to judge – this is a good standard though I think we should develop a blogging *disclosure* policy where you can expect others to call you out if you pander to a sponsor without disclosing relationship. I don’t like the idea of some complex “code of ethics” because I can guarantee that far too many people would just sign off and then violate the code, making the most honest folks seem the least honest)

* I’m struggling with the *ethics of blogging* issues myself. Readership here is up about 400% during the conference. Should I be extra nice to Plantronics because they gave me great lounges, work areas, lunches, and some gadgetry? Monster because they threw two great parties and were very nice about inviting me – three if you count the “after party”. SONY for the great bash at Hard Rock last night?

As I’ve pointed out many times before the line between pay to post and the nuanced “lobbyist” effects is impossible to draw clearly. I like *real journalist* Kara Swisher’s superb disclosure policy, though disclosing a lot more than most of her fellow big time journalists would do. There was a prominent tech reporter at the SONY party last night and I’m hoping to get some comments from him via email about how he treats the CES giveaways.

Ultimately I think you need to trust the person you read to keep it legitimate, but bloggers, and certainly journalists, probably should go further as Kara has and really lay things out on the line. You cannot eliminate bias in reporting – but you can … report it.

AppleGate

Here in Southern Oregon, Applegate is the charming valley and river that was named after early settlers. For Silicon Valley the new term “AppleGate” refers to the top tech blog Engadget’s posting of a fake email suggesting that Apple’s iPhone would be delayed. The report led to an almost immediate sell off of Apple stock and a 4 billion dollar decline in Apple’s market capitalization, though the stock rebounded quickly when it became clear the email was a fake.

This appears to be a *superb* example of how information is reflected by the stock market and how quickly. I get the idea the (bogus) iPhone delay rumor affected the price of APPL almost immediately but have not checked the timing.

Mike at TechCrunch has a nice play by play and graph of AppleGate, and the Engadget post AppleGate post is here.

Twitter and SEO

Interesting.   My Chico the Wonder Dog SEO experiment is yielding some unexpected results.    A tweet about this is now higher in the ranks than the original blog post page.

Chico the Wonder Dog has been trading places with another Chico the Wonder Dog.   That post is much older and may have more incoming links since that guy seems to spend more time posting about his dog than I do, though based on my quick analysis of this and a few other cases I think it indicates that Google looks carefully at the rate of link growth, and if it slows they tend to put back the “old, tried and true” page in favor of the newcomer. This makes sense from an anti-spam perspective although in Chicos particular case it probably does not yield the top dog.

However, the Twitter reference rising to high seems really surprising because Twitter posts are generally small and insignificant (as it is here).  I’m surprised Google ranks these at all, let alone makes them competitive with meaty postings.  Perhaps Google has elevated “social media” in some algorithmic fashion though my guess is this is a defect that will be corrected – ie Twitter is structured in a way that links to these posts from many Twitter people and this is messing up the Algo’s handing of this insignificant material.    If I’m searching for “Tesla Coil”, let along pretty much anything of any relevance, I hardly want a bunch of Twitter posts!

Startup Camp

I’m back at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View at Startup Camp, another great UNconference event from David Berlind and Doug Gold and hosted by several nice sponsor companies.

The focus here is broader than the Mashup Camps which were more relevant to my travel experience and where we need to go with Online Highways, but I’ve enjoyed excellent “open” presentations by Jeff Barr from Amazon and Venture Capitalists Jeff Clavier with Rick Segal who are generously offering some really key insights into the startup funding process.

Matt Mullenweg is here and it was fun to meet the creator of the superb WordPress environment.