.org domain name for personal blog?
April 22, 2011 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I want to but a domain name and .com is taken. Should I buy .org?

I'm not an organization, or a non-profit. This will be for a topic-specific blog, and hopefully generate a little bit of income from product sales, but it's not a massive venture -- just a personal project.

Is it dodgy to run a blog that I will be selling stuff from on occasion under a .org domain name, or is that normal these days?

The owner of the "desired-name".com is a small-time seller of stuff in a totally unrelated craft-oriented business. Our products would not compete. All I could potentially be stealing from them is maybe some mis-directed eyeballs. Should I demur out of courtesy, if it's not actually someone I'd be competing with, or that just the way things go? Good domain names are scarce these days.
posted by Devils Rancher to Computers & Internet (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, get it, makes no difference. I had an art gallery and the .com was taken so I used the .org, still do.
posted by jardinier at 10:29 AM on April 22, 2011

"In the 1980s, seven gTLDs (.com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, and .org) were created. Domain names may be registered in three of these (.com, .net, and .org) without restriction; the other four have limited purposes." (ICANN)

My only hesitation would be based on the potential customers - how web-savvy are they? Does website address = Something.COM?
posted by filthy light thief at 10:31 AM on April 22, 2011

Why not .net?
posted by vilandra at 10:32 AM on April 22, 2011

you can try the .net
If it's not available, just go with the .org
posted by WizKid at 10:33 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd go with .net. Using .org for a non-organization has always struck me as dishonest.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:35 AM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

.net is taken, too, but it's just parked. It's not super-specific -- just short & easy to remember, combining two catchwords of what I'm doing, which is fine art printing on t-shirts. The blog will also be a catch-all for musings in history, technique, products, equipment, etc. as things occur to me.

All the very specific, short domain names are long since taken. I'm thinking what traffic I'd get would be through searches and links, mostly - I just want something easy to remember.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:36 AM on April 22, 2011

Presumably you're aware that most browsers will send "mydomain" (without qualification) to mydomain.com rather than to mydomain.org or mydomain.net? Apart from that there's no reason not to use .net or .org, in my legally-uninformed opinion.
posted by anadem at 10:39 AM on April 22, 2011

.org is better than .net for a personal site. These days, the tlds are more of a branding issue than anything. .net was supposed to be for network infrastructure providers, but ended up as the only slightly more legitimate-sounding cousin of .biz

.org says "this isn't about commerce" and has a slightly crunchy/indie feel to it. If that matches your image, I'd say go for it.
posted by the jam at 10:44 AM on April 22, 2011

My husband and I have used a .org domain for a personal doman since about 1998. We use it primarily to host (personal) blogs and roleplaying game material. The dot-com for our dot-org is a food distributor in New York and we've never heard a peep from them.

One of our rules is that we don't sell anything from our .org and our friends who host blogs on our site can't make ad money (no AdSense), but that's our rule and nothing to do with any official TLD rules.
posted by immlass at 10:49 AM on April 22, 2011

I say don't do it if you want people to remember your URL. People tend to go to .com even when it's .us, .net or .org being advertised.
posted by inturnaround at 10:51 AM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Have you tried emailing the owner of "desired-name".com and ask if the domain name is available for sale? (It's not necessary to reveal your identity/plans/etc., just asking if they are willing to sell.)
posted by jca at 10:53 AM on April 22, 2011

Money is an issue. I don't think I'd even have 100 bucks to buy a domain name from someone who already owned it, and the .com is in use. It's just the .net that's parked. The blog itself will be sort of catch-all. Links to cool shirts, articles about printing, musings about the history of t-shirt printing and art, etc. I'll put my own shirts up on it at maybe the rate of 3 or 4 designs a year. I went ahead and registered art-wear.org just now, since it was available, but I'm going to muse a bit & see if I come up with a topical .com for a while before I build the thing. .com names are in pretty short supply, though.

I specifically didn't want anything with "shirts" in it because it looks like "shits" in a string of words, so "wear" seemed like the best remember-able thing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:06 AM on April 22, 2011

I personally see nothing wrong with using the .org, and that Kottke fellow seems to be doing fine with a .org site.
posted by grapesaresour at 11:14 AM on April 22, 2011

I'm seeing more and more .info sites out there - ecovelo.info, for instance.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:46 AM on April 22, 2011

There's nothing legally wrong with doing personal or sales stuff on a .org domain. ICANN gave up enforcing that rule about 15 years ago. But when I do consulting work for new websites, I always advise clients NOT to do what you're proposing.
  • A surprising number of people will overlook the "org" part and type in "yourdomain.com" and then be confused as hell you're not there. Most people think of a URL as ending in .com. This is a problem with both unsophisticated and sophisticated internet users. It's just habit.
  • In theory if you got big enough, someone could buy out the .com domain. They could then use it to either poach your sales or damage your brand or both. Imagine if Pepsi used pepsi.org and then Coke put together the cash to buy the pepsi.com domain name from the squatter who owned it. (Obviously this is a bigger concern for small businesses than it will be for you.)
Keep hunting until you can find a .com that you can own. If you want to buy it AND the .org version, and then only use the .org (pointing the .com to the .org to capture the people who get lost in #1) that's fine.

The simplest thing is to stick another word in there. If you want MyBlog.com but it's taken, try MyCoolBlog.com or MyKnittingBlog.com or even TheMyBlog.com (well okay that one doesn't make sense, but you get the idea).
posted by ErikaB at 11:47 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, that ".org is for organizations" thing is an artifact. If people are specifically coming to your site, they aren't going to just type the .com, not see your site and give up. Most less-savvy internet users will just put the whole thing in Google unless you send them a link in email or something like that.
posted by rhizome at 11:48 AM on April 22, 2011

Another vote for .org being a-okay. My personal site is a .org and I'm clearly not an organization (or all that organized). Kottke, themorningnews, fluxblog, there are a lot of excellent sites that end .org.
posted by troika at 12:09 PM on April 22, 2011

rhizome: "Yeah, that ".org is for organizations" thing is an artifact."

It's not a legal imperative, but it's still pointedly misleading and should be avoided if you can.
Just because other people have worn down the barrier to commercial .orgs with sites like "judyscarsales.org" or "youngest18yearoldsever.org" doesn't mean that it's an OK thing to do- just that domains are scarce and it's not illegal.

Not like you're going to have body parts spontaneously drop off if you register your business site as a .org.
Have you considered .biz?
posted by dunkadunc at 12:14 PM on April 22, 2011

I would say snatch up the .org right away and start using it, and then start hunting for a .com that works too. Keep them both, and you can always point one to the other, whichever works. But whatever the TLD, short and recognizable domains are going fast. If you don't grab the .org now, you'll kick yourself when it's not available in the future.

While others have raised very valid points about less-savvy users assuming everything ends in a .com, you can always work the .org into your branding or advertising. "Visit us at ourdomain.org, that's ourdomain dot oh-are-gee!" That sort of stuff is surprisingly effectEIGHT HUNDRED FIVE EIGHT EIGHT, TWO THREE HUNDRED, EMPIIIIIRE dammit! See?
posted by xedrik at 12:26 PM on April 22, 2011

Thanks, all! I'm as confused as ever, but that's just me. I've registered the .org for now, and will keep searching for a good .com, as I can see the practical considerations I hadn't thought of. I'm in no big hurry, but that has been great food for thought. I'm not sure why I have a visceral distaste for .biz - it just sounds... cheap, and this isn't just a business, per se. I'll search it, too though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:44 PM on April 22, 2011

Personally, I've used the .info TLD for two sites I have where the .com was already taken, because for the most part, the main purpose of each site is providing information. Depending on who you register with, it may cost slightly more than com/net/org.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 1:25 PM on April 22, 2011

Could you use 'tees' instead of 'shirts' to get around your negative connotation? artweartees.com is available and pretty straightforward.
posted by ella wren at 3:22 PM on April 22, 2011

Using .org for a personal blog where you occasionally sell things is no problem. I considered this question for a while before going with my current .org domain for my personal blog, and it's ultimately turned out to be no big deal. I've always thought .net looked even weirder, 'cause it looks like you're claiming to be an entire network, rather than a small organization or individual.
posted by limeonaire at 4:32 PM on April 22, 2011

I wanted the domain campmobile.com. Not because I am selling campmobiles, but because I have been using campmobile@ whatever email for years — it's been my online persona. (Although not on MeFi; I'm not sure why.) That .com "auto-completes" factored into my desire.

Anyway, campmobile.con is not available. One day I realized I could simply add "the", which created, in a sense, better email cleverness, so that I could be richard@thecampmobile.com — which makes a lot of sense. I've not yet implemented this but, to reduce that tale to a nugget, perhaps a short modifier can help to make a better .com work for you.
posted by Dick Paris at 7:32 PM on April 22, 2011

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