Someone wants to buy a domain name I own that I'm not using.
September 21, 2007 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Someone wants to buy a domain name I own that I'm not using. The domain is my last name .com, it's also his last name too.

I use mylastname.org for web/email. Back in the hazy dotboom, a company registered mylastname.com and .net for nefarious purposes. After they went bust, the registrations expired and I registered the .com and .net and point them at the .org domain. My domains are all set to auto-renew and are locked to prevent me from ever having a lapse in registration.

I was contacted by a man with the same last name as me, but we are not related. He's been doing business for 15+ years as Mylastname Consulting and would really like the mylastname.com domain for his business use.

A few dilemmas:

1) On the personal side, he is a blogger of one political extreme, while my family tends toward the other political extreme.

2) I once wanted a domain that was unused, but registered. I contacted the owner and while he said he had no plans for the domain, he would simply not give to me. At the time I was very frustrated with this and felt that this was wrong. Five years later, he's still done nothing with it.

3) I have no idea how to measure the value of a domain name. Or how a brokered domain transfer is handled these days?

4) Will future generations of the Mylastname family curse me for handing this over or will be retaining .org & .net be enough?

I'm going to speak with my father & brother this weekend about their thoughts. Do we ask a donation to a charity? Ask for cash? Give it freely?

Ideas and suggestions welcome.
posted by Argyle to Computers & Internet (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If you're using it, you have no obligation to give it up. You also have no obligation to sell it. If you want to sell it, prices vary from hundreds, to thousands, to in crazy cases hundreds of thousands! It's still entirely unclear how valuable such a property should be.

Personally, I would charge an amount such that I would never have second thoughts if the price were paid. Even if it becomes the most popular blog of the other political extreme on the net.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 9:54 AM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


First you realize that your lastname is in your profile right :) I'd see what he is willing to offer and if it's enough to make it worth your while sell it, if not hang on to it.
posted by zeoslap at 9:56 AM on September 21, 2007


You are using it, if you're pointing it to the .org.

If you're ok with changing that, just name a high dollar amount. Say $5k. That should be enough to scare him away or get a counter-offer. Business is business, and a company wanting to buy your domain name is a business. Don't screw around with the charity stuff, that will just make you seem not serious about it.
posted by smackfu at 9:59 AM on September 21, 2007


If it's worth something to you, why would you give it freely?

Is yourlastnameconsulting.com available? If you don't want to give up yourlastname.com, perhaps you can suggest this to the other person.
posted by desjardins at 10:00 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


The domain is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. You might get someone to "appraise" it and give you a higher number but, in the absence of someone offering you that much, it doesn't really mean much.

It's a good negotiating tactic to get the other party to name a price first. Ask him to make an offer. Then you have something to start with -- it's much easier for you decide whether it's worth $x or not.
posted by winston at 10:02 AM on September 21, 2007


From what I can tell, the guy is not just politically extreme, his blog makes it pretty clear he's an asshole. "Jean Francois Kerry"? A picture of Osama Bin Laden with "Vote Democrat" on it?

Yeah, if you're going to sell anything to this guy, name a very high price. I wouldn't in any case, though, but I wouldn't hold it against you if you needed the money.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:08 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have my name.com too. I just offer anyone who ask a free email. There are less than 1000 people with my family name in the world and very few have asked yet. BTW, why do you need .NET and .ORG?

1) Not important if he uses this domain (with you) just for his email. You could also offer to put some links on the site incl. a disclaimer

2) This is a very common thing.

3) It depends on your name (your name is not f___ me I guess? ;-) ). I would probably be 3-4 digits. The transfer is done via a broker like www.sedo.com

4) I would not give it away and I just would offer him to get an email forwarding service for this domain and optional a link to his website.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 10:11 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


The domain name has value to him. Has he made an offer? Let him make the offer. When you have no idea what it is worth, let the other person make the first move. The worst thing you can do is set a price that is too low. When negotiating a settlement, I prefer the other party to move first.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 AM on September 21, 2007


.com is the most valuable domain area of any. All anyone has to do is to type mylastname in a browser and it will automatically go to mylastname.com.

I'd keep the .com and start using it (have your .org point to your .com). If you want, sell him the .net.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:15 AM on September 21, 2007


Also, this is a money transaction. His politics, no matter how crappy, should play a small role in your decision. You need to do what is best for you financially.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:16 AM on September 21, 2007


I don't think his politics have nothing to do with it. I've certainly mixed up .org and .com sites before, and if I were doing business with you or considering dating you and found a site I thought was yours (because I saw your email address and in searching for an associated site online didn't notice that I found the .com rather than .org), that would certainly affect my opinion of you.

Maybe that doesn't concern you, particularly if you only use the .net e-mail address for close friends and family. But if you ever decide to set up your own business, or decide to start using that email professionally, you need to consider what effects it might have to have someone think that his site is your site. If you think it would make no difference, then let him name his price. If you think it would make a difference--well, I'd think long and hard about what sort of up-front price might compensate for scaring off clients indefinitely in the future. The more radical his politics, the more chance it has of scaring someone off of doing business with you if they confuse the two.

(Yes, I realize that your question specifies that he would use the domain for his business use and not his blog. But once you've sold it, you don't really have any control over what he does with it--if his consulting business folds and he moves his blog over to the .com, you'd have no recourse.)
posted by iminurmefi at 10:33 AM on September 21, 2007


Unless you're having trouble feeding the family, I wouldn't sell anything to that jerk. He's not just on the other end of the political spectrum, he's the blogging version of petulant right-wing radio. This isn't exactly George Will or Bill Buckley we're talking about. It would make me happy to know that you've got it, he wants it, and he can't have it. Keep it.

If you really think selling it is the right thing, I'd ask for $20,000 and let him know that it's going to be split between MoveOn.org and the winner of the Democratic primaries.

Signed,

Probably not as nice as you are
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:34 AM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Are you sure the guy running the blog is the same guy as the guy running the consulting firm, not a different guy of the same name?
posted by goingonit at 10:38 AM on September 21, 2007


Are you sure the guy running the blog is the same guy as the guy running the consulting firm, not a different guy of the same name?

You know, you're right. I should do a little more research. When I googled the name, it all came up together, but I should be sure. Thanks.
posted by Argyle at 10:44 AM on September 21, 2007


The blogger is some kinda school psychologist in Minnesota. The consulting firm is in Buffalo, New York.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:48 AM on September 21, 2007


Don't sell him the domain name.
Instead ask him to pay you $10 per year (for domain renewal fee) and forward the traffic to that link to his site.
posted by WizKid at 10:49 AM on September 21, 2007


Keep it, unless it is a very large amount of money. You have no way of knowing what its potential use/value is, until the day comes when you want to use it.
posted by RMD at 10:54 AM on September 21, 2007


Also, this is a money transaction. His politics, no matter how crappy, should play a small role in your decision. You need to do what is best for you financially.

I dunno, it seems like that kind of advice is based on the idea that capitalism is more valuable than what you perceive as the health of the body politic. I'd keep the domain, myself.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:56 AM on September 21, 2007


I would keep it for your family. Someone may want it one day.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:02 AM on September 21, 2007


2) I once wanted a domain that was unused, but registered. I contacted the owner and while he said he had no plans for the domain, he would simply not give to me. At the time I was very frustrated with this and felt that this was wrong. Five years later, he's still done nothing with it.

Just because there isn't a web site there, that doesn't mean he's not doing anything with it. Even if I weren't using one of my domains for a blog, I've been using it for email for over 10 years. I would no sooner sell that domain than I would sell my name.

You are doing something with that domain--you're forwarding it to .org. If it were me, I'd offer to put up a redirection page with a link to his existing site and a timed redirect to your .org domain. Or delegate DNS for biz.yourdomain.com over to him. But I wouldn't sell it.
posted by hades at 11:04 AM on September 21, 2007


Oh, and whatever you do, don't offer to sell it at an exorbitant price just to scare him off. That could be used as evidence of registration and use of a domain in bad faith, for the purposes of domain arbitration proceedings.
posted by hades at 11:12 AM on September 21, 2007


If you can't or don't want to agree on a price for the domain itself, you could offer him an email address (firstname@lastname.com) and/or subdomain (firstname.lastname.com) for his own purposes. The nice thing is that you can do the same for anyone else who shares your last name.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:27 AM on September 21, 2007


Why not simply offer him the .net or something?

Personally, if I were in your situation, I wouldn't sell it. He already has a working domain established for his business, and this could be valuable to keep in your family.

Though it would be kind of nice if you freed up the .net and .org for others to use if they wanted to.

I couldn't get a .com for my site, so I got the .net. If someone had hogged all three, it would have really sucked.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:39 AM on September 21, 2007


Congratulations. You got there first. It's like staking land claims, and you're under no obligation to sell, sell low, or give it away. Why should you feel bad? My full name is taken by someone who last updated their blog in 2004 and doesn't even use it for email (as best as I can tell), though I own my name on Google. It's annoying, but I have about 80 domains myself. It's how stuff works.

You can sell if you want. I wouldn't if the blogger IS the same guy. You can name whatever price you want. You're using the domain. But don't feel pressured, and remember, you can just say no. Most people *expect* that when they inquire about a domain.
posted by disillusioned at 11:50 AM on September 21, 2007


Just add a "If you are looking for blah blah consulting, go here" link to your page. That'd be a nice thing to do I guess. I think firefox.com used to do that.
posted by chunking express at 11:58 AM on September 21, 2007


If he's the scary right-wing extremist, please don't sell him your domain. If for some reason you simply cannot walk away from the art of the deal (and it is fun to have something someone else wants, I get that), then please forward the entire proceeds from the sale of your domain to the ACLU, EFF, or democtatic candidate of your choice.

In short, if you must sell, please don't sell out.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:44 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, remember that domains are hierarchical (everybody seemed to forget this fact around 1998, but it's true). You could "sublease" him consulting.lastname.com and keep firstname.lastname.com for yourself. Or other variations.
posted by hattifattener at 1:12 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


then please forward the entire proceeds from the sale of your domain to the ACLU, EFF, or democtatic candidate of your choice.

Oh please. If you sell the domain and can use the money to help pay off your house, get out of debt, or pay for your children's education, do it. I doubt you'd be asking this question if you were independently wealthy. And if you are, give it to a pediatrics cancer research group or something along those lines.

Whoever the guy is having his last name.com isn't going to help him destroy the world. It's your domain, it's your money, don't let anyone guilt you into giving it away.
posted by justgary at 1:33 PM on September 21, 2007


keep it for yourself and your kids, unless he is offering an extremely large amount of money and you really really really need it. nothing is stopping this guy from registering hisfirstnameyoursharedlastname.com, so you have nothing to feel guilty for if you sit on it for the rest of your life, and selling it to him may result in your two families getting mixed up by people which you certainly don't want.
posted by lia at 2:32 PM on September 21, 2007


I'm going to vote to keep it, only because once it's gone, you won't likely see it again.

Never know what your kids might want to do with it...
posted by griffey at 2:37 PM on September 21, 2007


I vote keep.
Cool to have and your kids might want it.
posted by beccaj at 3:10 PM on September 21, 2007


I get sporadic offers to buy one of my domains. Because I don't have much of a web site people assume I'm not doing anything with it. Since when is it a requirement that to get the most out of a domain you have to put up a web site?

The numbers floated have amused me, anywhere from 3 to 5 figures. But I really would be concerned with what somebody might do with it. I would not be pleased if the were just intending to flip it to the highest bidder, and there's nothing I could really do to stop that possibility. As a friend put it, there's no way I could ever replace it or anything like it (3 character 'dictionary word' .com). I'd only sell it if I was comfortable with the money offered, the loss of control, and I'd never get it back.
posted by dereisbaer at 3:53 PM on September 21, 2007


Oh please. If you sell the domain and can use the money to help pay off your house, get out of debt, or pay for your children's education, do it.

Well phooey on you. I'm certainly not playing "my suggestion for a charitable donation is better than your charitable donation" with you. It's all about the karma, unless for you it isn't.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:25 PM on September 21, 2007


After reading a comment up above, I typed in my own lastname.com. It landed on Hot Teen Sex™ -- Live!!! Offering The Slutiest (sic) Bitches On The Net. So I vote you keep it.
posted by acorncup at 7:20 PM on September 21, 2007


Keep, until such time as he names a price that's a no-brainer sell.

I once wanted a domain that was unused, but registered. I contacted the owner and while he said he had no plans for the domain, he would simply not give to me. At the time I was very frustrated with this and felt that this was wrong.


Karma's a bitch.
posted by flabdablet at 7:26 PM on September 21, 2007


Whether or not the blogger is the same as the consulting firm person, the blogger has a new post up wanting to know why people are Googling him all of a sudden. I'm not telling.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:35 PM on September 21, 2007


Oops... 2 other people already did tell him.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:36 PM on September 21, 2007


I would save it for the kids or grandkids. You could use subdomains for anyone in the family who wanted to do something creative, and they can all have their own first@lastname.com email addys. I would consider it as sort of a trust for the entire family.
I get those requests all the time, and all they want is a domain name that's established, very old, and in search engines or links all over the place. The minute I let go of it, it would become porn and I know that, having seen it happen to many similar sites. (Not the same as your circumstances, but you do lose control over what it becomes, and it's your name.)
posted by unrepentanthippie at 1:27 PM on September 22, 2007


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