Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Sad Lesson In Domain Squatting

I did a web search for one of my debut authors the other day and received a Not Found error. I did a web search today -- hoping the author had put up a website -- and discovered that the potential domain has now been taken over by a domain squatter. If the author now wants to register that site now, s/he will probably have to shell out big bucks. I feel bad about this.

These domain squatters watch for failed address searches and they will register them in the hopes of making money. Unfortunately, the author's readers are probably entering the author's name in their address box, thus generating traffic and making that name all the more valuable to the domain squatter, who will then keep the name hostage. They use a practice called Domain Tasting, as explained on the ICANN Wiki:

Because there is a 5 day grace period which for returning and receiving a refund on a domain, registrants are utilizing this to register domains, test them for traffic and keep the domains which are monetizable. This approach has the potential to be particularly lucrative and low risk because these businesses can test the residual traffic of a domain name before paying for it. In addition, the registrant can benefit from any residual income from the traffic received during the five day period even if the domain is refunded.

If the author does nothing for five days, the squatter may lose interest. However, if the author's web address generates enough traffic, then the squatter will simply keep the domain. I am deliberatly being anonymous because I don't want to send traffic through the domain. If you have guessed who I mean, please don't visit the website; you will only be making more money for the squatter.

Anyone who makes a publishing deal should immediately register both their name and the title of their book. It's cheap and in many cases free. At places like Microsoft Live Office, you can get a free domain and some editing tools that allow you to create a fairly nice website.

Also, when you go to register your domain, be ready to buy it right then. Do not do a search for it then wait to buy it. Domain squatters will purchase the domains out from under you if you delay. I may not be a published novelist, but I have owned domains before and as soon as I let them out of my control, they were snapped up by squatters instantaneously. Fortunately I did not want my domains back and the squatters eventually lost interest. But a squatter will not let go of the address of a published author who regularly generates web traffic.

I feel bad about this because I had the opportunity of purchasing this author's domain just a few days ago. Then, I could have simply given it to the author. The next time I encounter the unclaimed domain of a new author, I may buy it just to keep it out of the hands of domain squatters.


Lisa Shearin said...

Well said, Tia. As soon as the ink was dry on my contract with my agent, I registered www.lisashearin.com. I didn't even wait to have the publishing contract. If you're even thinking you might be published in the next year or so, you might want to look into snagging the domain name of your choice now. It's cheap, and it'll save you a lot of grief later on.

Tia Nevitt said...

Heck, I don't even have an agent, and I already have a domain for the title of my novel. I suppose I should register my name as well . . . if I can ever figure out which variant of my name I want to use!

Tusk said...

I can't register my own name website, because it's already owned by a hotel (or someting like that) that uses the same name.

Tia Nevitt said...

John! You have a new alias!

Do you have a middle name that you can use in your site name? I'm trying to decide between the follwoing variations:

first name maiden name last name
first name last name
first name middle name last name
nickname (which I use here) last name

Katie said...

That is crazy. I've never heard of that before... makes me want to buy into it now so later I won't have this problem.