How most people see domain investors

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Andrew Allemann on DomainNameWire.com picked up my story about finally acquiring bradfrost.com. I’m happy about this post, as it validates a lot of my feelings about the domain buying process.

Like many people in the same boat, he didn’t really understand the domain expiration process. I don’t blame him. It would have taken a lot of hours to figure it out.

He’s right. I did spend hours reading about the process, the statuses, and so on, but still didn’t figure it out. And I definitely didn’t know about the following:

The short of it: the domain was at enom, so he should have backordered with NameJet. Instead, he backordered it at GoDaddy. But no one backordered it at NameJet, and someone using Pheenix picked it up.

Oh right. Clear as mud.

So apparently I didn’t pick the right company to backorder with, which is partly why it got snagged by someone else.

Regarding my placing a bid on the domain, Andrew clears some stuff up for me:

I’m not sure what Frost saw that made him think this. Escrow.com doesn’t allow you to place offers on domains. He must have placed an offer through DomainNameSales.

He was surprised when DomainNameSales reached out to him. He thought he placed an anonymous offer, and wondered how DNS got his contact information.

Apparently I had this part of the process wrong. I received a lot of advice about using an escrow service to place a bid on a domain (anonymously). Escrow.com does offer domain buying and selling services, and reading about how Domainnamesales.com was integrated with escrow.com further led me to believe that this is what I would use to bid on the website.

The main thing I wanted to avoid was filling this form out:

Domainnamesales.com domain inquiry form

One reason was because I had no idea how legit Domainnamesales.com was. And the second, more obvious reason, is that I didn’t want to provide my contact info. “Hi there, my name is Brad Frost. I’m inquiring about bradfrost.com. How much for the website?” I considered using a burner email or whatever, but was told using an escrow service would allow me to anonymously bid on the website. Again, apparently I got this way wrong.

And here’s Andrew wrapping it up:

Frost was clearly pissed that he had to pay someone to get “his” name. But if you look beyond that, a lot of his frustration was because he didn’t know how the system worked. The system is confusing, and only insiders who spend a lot of time with it know how it works. If it weren’t so confusing, it wouldn’t upset people as much.

Let me address the first part.

Frost was clearly pissed that he had to pay someone to get “his” name.

I understand why “his” is in quotes. I know that I was never entitled to this domain, and if the previous owner renewed at the last minute, or another Brad Frost beat me to the punch (it would most likely be this guy har har), I’d be fine with that. Sure I’d be disappointed, but that’s life.

What I’m not fine with is the systematic, opportunistic domain name land grab by these companies whose sole reason for buying domains is to hold them over peoples’ heads to try to squeeze a whole bunch of money out of them. And while they wait they stuff a bunch of bullshitty ads on a crappy landing page. As I mentioned in my post, I know this isn’t illegal, or even dishonest. It’s straight-up capitalism, and I get that. But that doesn’t mean that we should all be cool with it.

If you look beyond that, a lot of his frustration was because he didn’t know how the system worked. The system is confusing, and only insiders who spend a lot of time with it know how it works. If it weren’t so confusing, it wouldn’t upset people as much.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m relatively tech-savvy, and hell, my day job is designing and building websites. So I can’t imagine what this process looks like to a normal person who happens to be interested in buying a domain.

Until someone proves me wrong about this aspect of the Web ecosystem, I’m still going to have a bad taste in my mouth about the whole domain business.

P.S. To address some of the comments, I did indeed reach out to the previous owner via email and phone at least once a year. I even considered driving to Fort Wayne, Indiana at one point. I never got a response, which was especially frustrating considering the domain was totally abandoned for over 5 years.

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