Some Really Poor
Domain Name Choices

Dear fellow entrepreneur,

In their delight in discovering that their eagerly-sought domain name is indeed available, some people forget to ask if they really want that domain name at all. The problem with domain names is that when you combine multiple words into a single-word domain name, sometimes you get unexpected — and hilarious (to everyone except you) — results. Other times, the domain name may look perfectly innocent, but when you say it, you get something that you didn't expect.

Sometimes the problem can be avoided by judicious use of the dash character. Although I agree with the "experts" that you should avoid using the dash in selecting your domain names if possible, there are certain situations where the dash is not only a good idea, it is downright essential. (Unfortunately, in other cases the dash doesn't help at all. The domain name is probably doomed from the start.)

Here are some examples of what I mean....

  • What would you call a site where you can discover who represents a particular celebrity? Your first instinct might be to name it www.whorepresents.com. But is that really such a good idea? Look at it again.

  • Then there's a site called where programmers and other techie experts can swap opinions and ideas. But their domain name of www.expertsexchange.com really needs a dash.

  • Want a pen? "Pen Island" is a cute name for a rather boring product. However, there's nothing boring about the domain they chose — www.penisland.net!

  • Do you want to find a therapist? This site can help! But their domain — www.therapistfinder.com — desperately needs a dash.

  • The site for the Italian Power Generator company... www.powergenitalia.com is "under construction". While they're at it, somebody should suggest that they rethink their domain name.

  • Since we're wandering around the world, let's consider the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales. Originally, they used a domain name of www.molestationnursery.com. It caused them all sorts of problems, so they changed it to www.molerivernursery.com/. What a difference!

  • Personally, I think "Speed of Art" is a cute name for a design-based web site. Unfortunately, it makes a lousy domain name — www.speedofart.com. Two dashes would help so much.

  • If I lived in Tahoe, I'd be upset that my taxes were going to pay the salary of the civil servant who chose the domain name for the site to promote vacationing in Lake Tahoe — www.gotahoe.com. There's a world of difference between "go-tahoe" and what they chose.

  • Of course, sometimes even a dash can't help a poor domain name choice. The people who sell software at www.ipanywhere.com really should have said their domain name out loud several times before they chose that particular name.

  • Finally, every organization based in Cumming, Georgia must be careful in choosing its name. Unfortunately, no one warned the Cumming First Methodist Church. Their first website used the domain name of www.cummingfirst.com. Now they're in the process of changing their domain name to www.cfumcga.com. The new name is not as "pretty", but people are laughing a lot less. (It has nothing to do with domain names, but I'm really curious if there's a "Second Cumming Methodist Church"?)

These are just a few of the domain names on the World Wide Web that would have benefitted from a little careful forethought. What about you? Have you thoroughly checked your domain names to be sure they can't be misinterpreted?

As always, wishing you every Internet success!

signed Jim Barber

Jim Barber