Is .org a bad idea when .com is available, but expensive?
January 16, 2012 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Is it a bad idea to build a website using an available .org domain, when the .com is for sale by an investor?

I have a friend that wants to start a pretty full-featured blog site to appeal to a niche audience. Of the domains they like, at least a couple of the .coms are owned by investing companies - you know, $8000 or best offer, fill out this form and our salespeople will contact you. The .coms are NOT being used by any actual person or business. (Friend is not willing/able to shell out that kind of money for a TLD, on top of the costs to develop the site.)

However, for those same domains, the .org and .net variations are available. And the site would be such that .org would make sense - it's not a strictly commercial venture. My question is, is it a terrible idea to build the site on a .org or .net as primary domain, when the .com is still floating around out there?

I guess my concern is for what happens if the site becomes at all successful. I'm sure it would drive the price of the .com up, and of course anyone could buy it and put a copycat site there.
posted by TallulahBankhead to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
No. It's not a terrible idea. It's the common solution, although it might be a slight impediment for driving traffic to your site. dot-com is always going to be best, though.
posted by crunchland at 6:04 PM on January 16, 2012

In this day and age, I'd give as much, if not more, weight to the availability of a Twitter handle and Facebook page alias.
posted by mkultra at 6:04 PM on January 16, 2012

Your concern is valid, but if the site becomes successful and it's just a squatter, you can use the threat of ICANN disputation and lawsuits to settle for a lower price.

That said, if the domain isn't worth $8,000, it's probably not that essential, so I would pick another one.
posted by michaelh at 6:14 PM on January 16, 2012

We ended up taking a .org for our for-profit business, and I can't measure if anyone's been turned off by it, or hasn't been able to find us (we offer low-cost used bikes and service, not non-profit, but working toward it). However, we're on Google Places, and the .org is by far the highest ranked site for our business name, even though there are businesses with the same name in two other states. Ours was only $1600 to buy, but we just can't afford that.
posted by kpht at 6:14 PM on January 16, 2012

why not come up with a variation that is not taken? If it's a new venture you should be able to make the site whatever you want. You can even have an address that's different from the name, but still relevant.
posted by pyro979 at 6:23 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

It depends on how you intend to use the domain. If the website is the kind of site where people are going to learn about the website through non-internet media -- radio, TV, magazine, etc. -- and have to remember the domain name long enough to get to a web-browser and type it in, then you'll definitely have a problem because people will always add the .com as default.

If it's a casual destination site, like a boingboing or a metafilter, where people will generally remember the site and just type it in their browser when they want to read it, then they're frequent users and can probably be trained to remember the .org, but more often than not they'll rely on their browser remembering the rest of the domain name, or their bookmarks, which makes it less of an issue (unless the one time they accidentally typed the bad address gets remembered by the browser, so it's not as good as perfection).

If it's the kind of site that relies on google search results and being linked to as an information source by other websites, the domain is much less important; whoever's linking to your site will have already typed in the URL and users generally won't ever have to remember or type it themselves, at least not until they've been to the site enough to have a good memory of it, or have it remembered by their browser. This also goes for RSS following, or Facebook and Twitter, because again those are going to always have the right URLs and making the URL memorable will be far less important.

It's also a good idea, if you think there's going to be confusion, to make the ".org" be part of the site's name -- the site isn't named "nichesite", it's always named "nichesite dot org". Put it in the logos, the ads, everyplace.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:57 PM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you are actually an org, no problem. But if you are trying to be the next facebook, come up with a name that is available as a .com.
posted by gjc at 8:52 PM on January 16, 2012

The person who owns the .com might hedge their bet and make more off an ad-loaded page catching mis-types by people trying to get to your friend's site. Just another angle.
posted by PSB at 9:49 PM on January 16, 2012

You can use to see if there are any better alternatives. Many non-US top level domains have residency requirements or much higher prices than the ones we're used to, though.
posted by thebestsophist at 2:53 AM on January 17, 2012

I think it's disingenuous to use .org for a for-profit business.
posted by radioamy at 7:32 AM on January 17, 2012

« Older Media is the message?   |   Navigating Big Life Decisions while wearing... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.