How do I buy a parked, or owned but unused, domain name?
January 8, 2004 10:13 AM   Subscribe

While shopping around for domain names/ registration, I continually come across "already owned" names that are generating generic pages on domain registration sites. ie: "dotster" or "". My question - is there a way to buy these obviously un-used domains? Am I supposed to contact the hosting page? Are these domains , in fact, for sale?
posted by BrodieShadeTree to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, you are supposed to contact the owner of the domain. You can get contact info by doing a whois lookup on the domain, at a place like this.
posted by luser at 10:23 AM on January 8, 2004

Do a whois for the domain in question, and e-mail (or phone) the contact(s) listed.

But don't expect it to be cheap -- domain squatters typically have been sitting on those names for a couple years at least and expect to be well-compensated. Sometimes they won't deal with individuals, just corporations.

You could also do a whois to check the expiration date and then not contact the owner but hope that they just let it run out; hundreds expire every day (one list of recently expired domains), and it's possible that you could get lucky.
posted by Aaorn at 10:27 AM on January 8, 2004

There are a few reasons you could see a sorta temporary page: a) the person who owns it uses it only for email and doesn't plan on putting up a site (or hasn't done so yet); b) someone/thing owns the domain name for the purpose of selling at a profit. In both circumstances the above links by Aaorn and luser are useful. At the same time, I've always found that in situation A, no one ever gets back to you.

You may also find Snap Names to be a useful service. Essentially, they sell you "next dibs" on a domain name. So, if you wanted and it was taken, you could give Snap Names their fee ($69) and if the current owner let the name lapse within one year, Snap Names would quickly dive in and buy the name for you. If the person renews within a year, you can transfer your fee to another domain. I've never used the service so can't vouch for it.
posted by dobbs at 10:46 AM on January 8, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks to all, this answers the question in the way I thought most likely.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 11:10 AM on January 8, 2004

I acquired a domain name when a useful name became available. Haven't done anything with it yet, but I have held onto it. May have to sell it now that I'm unemployed. If there's a name you want, try looking it up and email the contact. They might be willing to to sell it. I use for whois. They have a backorder option that sounds similar to Snap Names, above.
posted by theora55 at 11:40 AM on January 8, 2004

Though Network Solutions has a good whois, I'd just like to jump in and ask that you don't use them to register your domain. There are plenty of alternatives (godaddy, register, domainmonger, etc.) and lots of reasons Netsol's activities shouldn't be encouraged.
posted by dobbs at 12:20 PM on January 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

i use a homemade PHP script for whois queries. theora55, run, don't walk, as fast as possible from network solutions, and for god's sake, take your domains with you.
posted by quonsar at 2:14 PM on January 8, 2004

Also, beware of the services that offer to snap up that wonderful domain the instant it expires - if it is a desirable domain, there could be any number of people who have reserved it at other agencies and it will be a case of first in, best dressed.

I have e-mailed a couple of domain owners about domains that were of interest to my company, but found that the prices are staggering - the cheapest one we found was US$10,000 and it was nothing special.

Oh, what quonsar said as well.
posted by dg at 2:23 PM on January 8, 2004

Dobbs and Quonsar, I'm with you on that. There's been a previous discussion of where to register a domain. I just use NetworkSolutions' bandwidth to look stuff up. I registered at dotster, cause that's where Metafilter is registered.
posted by theora55 at 2:29 PM on January 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

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