Buying a domain name...for the children!
January 26, 2010 11:34 AM   Subscribe

How should my small nonprofit purchase a squatted-on domain name?

I volunteer for a small nonprofit dedicated to helping people with a rare genetic disorder.

The domain name [name of disorder].org has been registered since 1998. The page currently points towards a single generic ad revenue-generating landing page, with presumably paid links for a bunch of related terms. WHOIS records show that the domain is registered to "Belize Domain WHOIS Service Lt" and the contact information appears to be all generic to that service.

The name of the disorder is a noun, is not trademarked and is likely not trademarkable by itself. So actions under UDRP don't seem viable.

How can we purchase [name of disorder].org for my nonprofit's use? We are willing to pay some money, but nothing exhorbitant. We don't have a good feel for what the price should be or what reasonable expectations should be. Do I have any better options besides blindly emailing the Belize contact address from the WHOIS information?
posted by QuantumMeruit to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Hive Mind previously considered this issue briefly in the context of trademarked .com names.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 11:35 AM on January 26, 2010

You can try the strategies here. My GF is doing some work with a group that had one of their domains snapped up (when they, apparently, forgot to renew the URL), and their thinking is that emailing the squatter is just going to show that there is interest in the domain and push up the price. I'll watch other comments with interest--I find this very frustrating.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:37 AM on January 26, 2010

I would just pick something else similar but related. I don't know anybody whose first thought upon looking up on an information on a disorder in this day and age would be to try just typing in If they're just ads and you've got or something, you'll come to the top of the Google results pretty quickly and people will find you.
posted by larkspur at 11:41 AM on January 26, 2010

Thanks, Admiral. I forgot to mention that the name in question has been consistently renewed since 1998, and was recently renewed a few months ago.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 11:43 AM on January 26, 2010

Domain names just aren't that important and certainly not important enough to spend gobs of foundation money on.
posted by unixrat at 11:45 AM on January 26, 2010

We are willing to pay some money
It might be worth a try to offer a small amount, say $100-$200. See if they counter. Don't waste too much time or money on it though. As the posters above say, a domain name with no reputation isn't that valuable and you can easily become well-known with a decent site with an unusual name. or would both work.
posted by soelo at 1:01 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

are .net or .com available?

I know it's a stupid question, but nobody had mentioned it.

.com is really more valuable than .org
posted by HuronBob at 5:06 PM on January 26, 2010

Appropriate domain names can be absolutely crucial to certain types of internet traffic and to say they aren't is fallacious. That's why domain squatters exist. They make terrible bank off of the convenience of holding the language for ransom. I've had to deal with their type before. You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Good luck, and I mean that. Unfortunately the mere fact that you'd show interest IN the domain lets them know they have you on the hook.

I've tried casually offering $500 for a completely unused and extremely narrow appeal domain name to someone squatting on it - they wanted $12,000. I countered with the alexa rating and other traffic data showing that I KNEW the domain was worthless to the entire internet - except for the specific purpose my company had for it. Better to get $500 than nothing. I even offered $1,000. But they didn't budge, so screw them. No sale. Kind of an "I don't negotiate with terrorists" sort of thing.

Don't get frustrated - it's likely going to be extremely annoying.
posted by carlh at 6:33 PM on January 26, 2010

Interesting - I looked into "Belize Domain WHOIS Service Lt" and they've had judgments against them (1, 2) relating to squatting on domains. You mentioned the word in question probably isn't trademarkable, and those cases were won on the false use of trademarks...but read part 6 of the judgments carefully and see if there's anything that might help you.
posted by etoile at 1:47 PM on January 28, 2010

Appropriate domain names can be absolutely crucial to certain types of internet traffic and to say they aren't is fallacious. That's why domain squatters exist.

Nonsense. For an organization like this, with an established record and a narrow field, the domain name is absolutely inconsequential. You're not looking for typo traffic and no one just randomly types URLs into a browser any more.

Much more important, far more important is establishing good relationships with other local and affiliated national organziations for similar topics, to be mentioned in news and press, and to provide a quality site with good information. The domain name you choose has no impact on this.

Squatters exist because they're a relic of the old days of the internet and because people still think they need a certain domain name to exist. Both of these are obsolete. Any money spent over the $9.99 to register a domain with (your registrar here) is money wasted.
posted by unixrat at 2:10 PM on January 29, 2010

Hi, guys. Thanks for the advice.

The Board talked about options and we decided that even token sums of money weren't worth it. After much discussion, we have settled on (what I consider to be) a slightly "generic" name (without any of the negative connotations or issues associated with the current domain name). We are starting to print materials with the new website name and will formally launch it in a few months (at one of our conferences).
posted by QuantumMeruit at 8:50 AM on February 19, 2010

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