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The Internet

The Google Effect And Domain Name Speculation 285

Posted by Hemos
from the mix-it-all-up-and-throw-it-together dept.
A reader writes "Google brought us the age of high quality searches, and with that may come the end of domain-name speculation. Good thing we paid for all those laws to punish cyber-squatters. Read the article and learn more."
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The Google Effect And Domain Name Speculation

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  • If you and I can quickly locate the Web address we're seeking, who cares what it's called?
    Uh, possibly the dumbs marketing departments of every company in existance.
  • by RC514 (546181) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @10:58AM (#2854199) Homepage
    Never underestimate the appeal of a nice email-address. You don't want to print a google search url onto your business card, do you?
    • Never underestimate the appeal of a nice email-address. You don't want to print a google search url onto your business card, do you?

      This is true now, but probably won't be for long. I foresee "swipe-able" business cards that read your info right into the contact list, including your not-human-readable email address.

      • They already have em. You know why people still have normal cards? Because until everyone you could ever care to give your card to has one of these special readers, you're gonna want paper cards and a human-readable, easily remembered email address and domain name.
        • Seen those mini cd business cards? [cdrombusinesscard.net] They're starting to put all kinds of stuff on those mini CDs, one neat aspect is that the CD does not need to be round. The business card ones I've seen are more-or-less business card shaped. I've even seen mini CDs is the shape of a duck. I think they will work in just about any cdrom drive made in the last few years.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I foresee "swipe-able" business cards that read your info right into the contact list, including your not-human-readable email address.

        I can just see it now: Boy meets girl. Boy hits on girl. Girl puts up with boy. Boy asks girl for her phone number. Girl swipes her card. Boy asks why the card has the picture of a pizza on it. Girl thinks "good thing he didn't see 'Bobs Pizza' written on the back."

  • by HEbGb (6544) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:00AM (#2854210)
    I mean, "the Google effect"?

    I think the most likely cause of the shrinking market for domain names is simply the internet bubble bursting - it's been clearly shown that such trivialities as domain names (among other things internet-related) are of dubious real value.
    And as for Google searching, while I'm happily using it as my primary search engine, it's by no means perfect, and the author claiming that Google is an example of "search tools that unerringly bring you to the page you want" is total nonsense. I suppose your odds might be better than typing in a domain name blindly, but I'm not so sure.

    If I'm looking for a company, I always try the domain name directly *first*, and only after (and if) that fails do I use Google. Seems to work most of the time.
    • Clearly the author is viewing things through Google Goggles.
    • by SirSlud (67381) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:09AM (#2854274) Homepage
      Actually, if I know what page I'm looking for (ie, I've been there), Google is 98% successful with my searches. The Via Technologies example is a very good one. There are lots of other (mostly asian technology ;) companies that don't have the benifit of www.theirname.com domains, and Google will get me the right page on "theirname homepage" almost every time.

      Obviously, if you don't know /what/ you're looking for (ie, you know what you want, but not where it is), obviously, Google is not going to be as effective in this case, since you probably don't know a unique set of words appearing on the page on which you'll eventually find what you want (or maybe it doesn't exist!)

      Also, I think the "google" effect is more of a Kleenex thing (where a brand name becomes a common slang for the generalized technology) than it is credit, although I also use opera and have configured it such that I only have the google search box on my toolbar. Google's all /I/ need, although I realize there are some other kick ass search engines out there too.
      • > although I also use opera and have configured it
        > such that I only have the google search box on my
        > toolbar.

        I have it set up too, but I never use it; it's easier just to type "g foo bar wibble" in a nearby address bar.

        You can make IE do this too, btw; HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchUrl\g, set the default value to http://www.google.com/search?q=%s. Repeat for other search engines.

        (Yeah, editing the registry for something like this.. I know.. bleugh :)
        • oo, thanks for the tip ... and about the registry, good thing I'm not an MS support engineer, or I'd have pointed out that you just voided any rights to a stable OS, buddy! I'd yell, "Hey, we set that minefield up so that you couldn't plod through it, damnit! If everyone could choose to set their search engine shortcuts, this planet would be in total complete chaos right now!" Heehee.
    • by sql*kitten (1359) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:24AM (#2854375)
      it's been clearly shown that such trivialities as domain names (among other things internet-related) are of dubious real value.


      Even on the internet, domain names were never important. Think about it, who is the best-known web-based book retailer, bookstore.com or Amazon? The biggest ISP isn't isp.com, it's AOL or MSN. Even Google or Yahoo, not search.com.

      I blame NSI et al - they should have been a lot more rigorous with registrations, as the NICs in some other countries are - no registering of .com unless you are a legitimate business, no generic words, and so on.
      • NSI should have rigorously regulating domain registrations? Sorry, not in a capitalist society. This is America. NSI makes much more money letting every freak register any domain they want. No surprise that .orgs are usually not registered to non-profits.
        • NSI should have rigorously regulating domain registrations? Sorry, not in a capitalist society. This is America. NSI makes much more money letting every freak register any domain they want.

          I'd have to disagree with you there. Look at Verisign. They could probably do quite well in the short time just issuing certificates to anyone who wanted one, but that would devalue their products. Their whole business is based around transitive trust, the browser trusts the CA, the CA trusts the merchant, therefore the browser trusts the merchant.

          Back in the old days, NSI could charge $70 for a domain registration and people were willing to pay that price, nowadays you can register a domain for $5.
  • by Proaxiom (544639) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:00AM (#2854215)
    ... would be the search engines themselves.

    I have a feeling awesomesearchenginefortheinternet.com wouldn't do very well, know matter how good the underlying technology.

    At some point maybe you could just do away with domain names themselves... As long as you can get to the search engine, you just pull up raw IP links. It would sure make the Internet safer without all those DNS vulnerabilities.

    • by RazzleFrog (537054) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:05AM (#2854247)
      As long as you can get to the search engine, you just pull up raw IP links.

      I would like to introduce you to the idea of virtual domains. It's this nifty idea where one IP address can host thousands of different websites - all with their own domain name.

      Now unless you are suggesting that they come up with a different way of putting distinguishing information in the header then I think your idea is fairly moot.
  • One Quick Point (Score:3, Informative)

    by iGawyn (164113) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:01AM (#2854217) Homepage Journal
    On several recent occasions, Web sites critical of big companies -- using domains called, generically, companynamesucks.com -- have had their names revoked and given to the companies that claimed trademark violations. It's still outrageous that the companies can win these cases, but maybe the victories are transitory if the critics' sites, by other names, can still be found easily.


    The point that he either neglected to mention or totally missed was the freedom of speech. Some people [2600.com] just prefer to use it as free speech, which is perfectly acceptable.

    Either way, it's a good article, and judging by the increasing prominence of "Register yourname.com!" advertisements everywhere I go, he's right. People are registering less, and the companies are getting worried that they won't get as much money.

    Gawyn
    • Just take a look at this page [errorcom.com] or even this [pinkbubble.com]. Basically the company Eircom [eircom.ie] who is Ireland's primary telecomms company (see my previous post [slashdot.org] for more of an explanation) intimidated offline a parody website called errorcom.com (not linking as it points elsewhere now). As anyone who had seen it thought it was absolutley brilliant it is now permanently stored online all over the place.
    • I don't know that I buy the arguement that more advertisement = less purchasing. I would assume by an increased attempt to advertise these items that people are registering them.

      Alex
  • by tolan's my name (234431) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:02AM (#2854223) Journal
    Google is a wonderful tool, but there are times and situations were it fails. Its at its very best at [say] finding every article ever written on a line like 'ORA12345 Oracle', as there is only one possible meaning. It is weaker however when one wants to buy something, because often people have only partialy defined needs for what they want to buy before they engage in the buying process.

    A search of 'Bicycle shop UK' will produce many hits, almost all of them not online bicycle retailers. which is why bikes.co.uk will always have worth.

    Now my own view is that all retail should be stuck on a separtate domain [.shop par example], and the rest returned to the 'good ol' days', but it aint going to happen
    • which is why bikes.co.uk will always have worth.

      I don't see it. Does anyone bang in random URLs containing a search word as a means of finding sites?

      Even "x".com is not usually a useful site if you're interested in "x", much less "x".anyotherdomain.

      Short, obvious URLs do have value, but I think it's the "legitimacy" (such as it is) of the short name, not the url-searching potential.

    • perhaps ".com" for "commerce"? What we need is a resurgence of .org's for non-commercial sites. The communities of old can still exist, you just have to know where to look (just like in the old days)
    • by Masem (1171)
      Remember "PQ"?

      That is, some company, the name I forget, had grabbed a large batch of domain names that looked like "pq.com", such as "pbooksq.com", "pflowersq.com". The idea was that if you wanted something in those areas, you'd mind your Ps & Qs, and just typed in those names as URL and be whisked away to a portal run by that company for those products. (and yes, there was advertizing for this as well on the TV, as well as net ads).

      So yes, this was nice, but it failed because the portal was for only products or sales by that company, and wasn't a price-comparative thing. Since the prices that this company offered were somewhat high compared to Amazon or other sellers, they weren't really turning a profit. They appear to be out of business, or have at least let those domains rot, as spot-checking that pattern shows none of them existing.

      If .uk.co or .com *always* went to a page run by a non-profit group that simply listed vendors and possibly had competitive price checking scripts, those types of domains certainly would be of use. But I suspect that it's too easy to find numerous examples where one for-profit company owns the generic name to push their own brand, instead of a comparitive site. If anything, the organization of Yahoo is better than nothing for finding competitive prices for a generic type of product.

  • by adlam.bor (547789) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:03AM (#2854226)
    It'll be hard to have TV ad campaigns for a website that say: "Okay, first, go to google, and then type in the following keywords, and then click the fifth entry that comes up!"

    If nothing else, you'd have to update the silly ad every month depending on how google indexed you this time around...

  • ...there are laws passed to prevent people from "tweaking" search engine results so their page comes up with or even before one of the "big guys." I mean, what if more people link to a Ford sucks [geocities.com] page than Ford [ford.com]?
    • by Koos (6812)
      ..there are laws passed to prevent people from "tweaking" search engine results so their page comes up with or even before one of the "big guys."
      When I did research because a certain company was telling me idefix.net [idefix.net] infringed on their copyrights I searched on similar cases and I found that in a few cases of 'misleading domain names' in the Netherlands as part of the verdict the 'cybersquatter' was also ordered to 'remove misleading results from search engines'. It did not tell exactly *how* the 'cybersquatter' was supposed to do that.
  • ...but it will be slowed down considerably. There will always be a market for domain names that are nouns. Some people just don't know any better than to put what they're looking for in their address bar. I am continually amazed by the number of ordinary (read: AOL) net users who haven't heard of Google yet. Every time I find one, I change their home page.

    I hope this convinces some people that competition beats regulation, at least most of the time.
  • Um, gee? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Masem (1171) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:04AM (#2854236)
    IIRC, the idea behind TBL's vision for the World Wide Web would that all sites would be intralinked and indexed by search engines, such that the normal end user would never have to enter URL directly into the browser, instead clicking through a series of links or through bookmarks to get to the end site; thus, there would have been no need for the DNS system explosion that we saw and the need to continue to push it further (And most likely it would have remained uncorrupted by the WIPO policies and similar). URLs could have been entered by the power user, of course.

    I wouldn't say Google is part of fixing the problem; search engines before Google could have just done the same. But now that Google is pretty much the only search engine in town, and that people tend to stick to whatever their default portal advertizes to them, the trend in the article is only natural, and really shouldn't be associated with Google directly.

    • Yes but other search engines were pretty bad back in the day, and really haven't gotten any better. I occasionally throw caution to the wind and press the "I'm feeling lucky" button. I wouldn't dream of doing this with another search engine even if they presented me with the option. For instance, searching on MSN for poland spring (I have a bottle sitting in front of me) the top two results are Poland Spring campgrounds and Elan Schools. Google ranks the water company number one- makes more sense to me than a college prep school in maine or a campground.
    • Yeah, this was essentially the idea behind the Gopher protocol. Remember ... heirarchial bookmarks to resources, including links to other gopher sites? Very similar to what you described. Personally, I think that method of indexing data is far more succeptable to corperate ownership than DNS is, as links (ie, destinations) could 'disappear' at any time, and most people wouldn't know how to reach a destination directly. I think the whole DNS thing was a very important fight in the battle to keep some level of individual power and right on the web. To me, it is amazing that I could theoretically own www.sirslud.com .. just as easy to remember for my friends than www.ford.com. So, even if that fight it winding down (I feel confident enough to say that the individual has not been obliterated as in so many other mediums), it was an extremely important one to have; otherwise the idea of the URL and www.domainname.com would have always remained under the popular vote's radar, and people would be more dependant on the googles of the world to remain unbiased in their indexing services. Conversely, if google.com ever sells out, either more search engines will slide in to replace it, or people can shift back to storing and managing URLs (maybe the pervasiveness of handheld organizers that can store all your bookmarks, for instance, will herald another shift back to direct methods of reaching your destination). The beauty is, both technologies are in place and functional for the people, which I think it's extremely important.

      Compare that to phone numbers, where the ease of remembering personal phone numbers depends more on how /lucky/ you were when you were assigned one.
  • by Bazman (4849) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:05AM (#2854239) Journal
    In today's Grauniad:

    Seeking Search Engine Perfection [guardian.co.uk]

    Well worth a read.

  • The article makes an interesting argument and it's probably valid to a point - if you mostly rely on search engines for your surfing. I find, however, that my behaviour is dependant on whether I want a specific site or just general info (e.g. on a topic, product, etc.). When a specific site is what I need, then I typically try to 'guess' the URL. After a few tries I'll fall back to a search engine (and curse at what a pain it is - which is kinda pathetic for sure).

    For commercial sites, I think site naming is still important and it's a matter of branding. Google may take away one's attention to naming at first, but once you find a site you want to re-visit, naming is still important.

  • by imrdkl (302224) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:09AM (#2854273) Homepage Journal
    As reported earlier [slashdot.org] domain registrations have declined steadily. Many hoarders and sheisters have packed up for a new scam, I suppose. Even the ordinary registration fee can add up eventually, especially if the squatter is not receiving any interest in the domain which they hoped to sell for big bucks just a year or two ago.

    I say good riddance. I'll keep an eye out now for the few domains that I was interested in back then. But I still wont pay a squatter. Not one cent. If I dont use google to search for my desired name once in awhile, maybe I'll try the Verisign Waiting List Service also discussed quite recently [slashdot.org], so long as I can get my money back if I get tired of waiting.

    In general, I think this is a good thing. It seems that demand for and profitability of the service that lives on the domain name is just as important as the domain itself. What a surprise.

  • The Google effect. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 13Echo (209846)
    This is interesting, and very true. For a long time, I have just used Google to search for a web page instead of trying to make a guess. Often, the closest guess are wrong. Even some less experienced computer users, like my parents, use a search engine, and almost never type in an address.
  • True, but (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NiftyNews (537829) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:09AM (#2854280) Homepage
    That's nice and all, but what happens when Google (and the other 1 or 2 decent search engines that will exist) stop being free?

    It seems to me that the current trend in internet marketing is to offer a great product free of charge for a few months, then slowly tighten the screws. Take a look at Hotmail, for example. A few months ago they started pushing their Pay Upgrade more and more. Then they started slicing off quota space (down to 2.5 now) and lowering the window for you to login before they kill your account. In fact just today I got an email from them informing me that I must now login once every 30 days or my account will lose all emails and contact lists.

    Unless I opt for the $19.95 Paid Upgrade of course...
    • Real danger (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The real danger is that Google already wields too much power on the web. Just like so many other companies that own the majority of the market.

      All we need is for Google to start charging or dictating so change to us and they will be little different than ICAAN or Microsoft.

      Scary.
    • According to the article [guardian.co.uk] in today's Guardian Newspaper [guardian.co.uk], Google is running a profit that they recognise is down to being good, thin, and useable, so we hopefully won't see it go the way of the IMDb etc.
  • by GdoL (460833) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:11AM (#2854287) Homepage
    Google is one of the greatest tools on the internet. I use it all the time to look for work on my thesis, commercial sites, phone books, order flowers, buy laptops, books, etc.

    But to say that Google is the reason whu you don't give so much importance to domain names is a bit too strong. I think the mature age of the www and the bad shape economy are greater factors of the less importante domain name factor. You don't see so many fight around domain names because people have major concerns about other survival things.
  • by dschuetz (10924) <slashNO@SPAMdavid.dasnet.org> on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:12AM (#2854300) Homepage
    Something I've been talking about for years is the concept of a "subject based directory." Pretty much all the web search engines work based on the content of a page, not the more abstract subject matter of the page. Some of the directories Google, Yahoo) get close to a good subject-based lookup, but they're not quite what I (think) I've been looking for.

    What I'd like would be to go to a search engine, type in "ford," and get a list of websites, with a brief description of each. Not pages on a website, but a list of things like "Ford Automotive," "Ford Aerospace" (are they even still around?), "John Ford", "Ford's Theatre," etc. Maybe in decreasing order by some kind of popularity rating.

    Or are the directories now pretty good at this kind of lookup? Google Directory did a passable job with "ford," but it's not well organized and still (apparently) takes its description information straight from the web page, rather than from a carefully crafted, entered-directly-into-the-directory abstract of the site. The "Realnames" service looks like it might have been a solution, but I think it's just moved the problem from a for-pay DNS issue to a for-pay keyword issue. (use "ford" there, and you get FordVehicles.com, no other choices).

    This'd be easy enough to implement with some kind of meta tag, in which someone could place the legal and common name for their organization, or for the specific information on their site, along with a one-paragraph description. Search engines could then let people search against that "abstract" database.

    Does this make sense? Is anyone doing anything like this (and I've just missed out, being under a rock)? Or are there big feasibility problems (like people stacking meta data) that I haven't addressed?
    • You're talking about an Directory? Like directory.google.com [google.com] (or dmoz.org [dmoz.org] which is the exact same thing with a different look)? They are human edited! Take a look at their description of how to add a site [dmoz.org]. The description you find there are all entered-directly-into-the-directory. If you don't like the quality of them, you can update them. (Sounds familiar? It should.)

    • The problem is that you have to pay someone to create all of the information that doesn't (and won't, because 90% of web developers use something like FrontPage and don't know what a meta-tag is) exist in the document. Also, you need to verify every entry's accuracy, or you'll end up with pr0n sites (or competitors) stealing all the meta-tags of legitimate businesses.

      Yahoo! tries to do this. Every entry is Yahoo! is done by a human being. This is why you only get 1% of the businesses you're looking for (if it's that high) when you try to browse the directories. They don't even go to the trouble of creating abstracts for each site, and it is still way too costly and slow for a large-scale search engine like Google.

    • I think Vivismo [vivisimo.com] does exactly what you are suggesting.
      • Vivisimo? Never heard of it. Looks very nice, though. I'll have to add that to my bag-o-tricks...

        To the other respondents, yes, I know all about directories, and even mentioned both google and yahoo in my message.

        I guess what I was really wondering was if there were any effort to standardize a set of meta tags with a nice interface to get a better subject-based lookup. I know that 90% of websites don't have the info, but then, that helps to enforce that people would actively try to get added to such a directory, so maybe the info added would be more useful.

        I know I tried to get a site added to yahoo and dmoz, and it was MONTHS before it showed up. There oughta be an easier way to simply add your own directory entry, though problems with vetting still remain.
    • Believe it or not back in the day when Yahoo! was king this is exactly how they operated. They had tons of people submitting links and then a Yahoo! staffer would review the content of the page place the link in the correct category and add meta-data to thier database.

      When Yahoo! was the only game in town it seemed to contain all the internet. Then along came the crawlers which were not as accurate but a whole lot faster than 1000 monkeys at 1000 terminals. For while however Yahoo was still more accurate at finding what you wished. Then scripting got better, someone came up with a better algorithm and out comes the likes of Lycos and AltaVista.

      Yahoo! still has staffers review sites. When you do a Yahoo search it is normally split into 2 parts (1) the Yahoo! search results (human checked and entered) and (2) whoever their crawler of the month is (used to be AltaVista now is Google).

      There are many problems with a human reviewed system though. The main one being that you could never have enough staff to keep up with the growth of the internet and still have a profitable business. Also once you enter a link you can't forget about it you have to have a process in which you go back and re-check old links to assure the categorization and the actual link are correct. Now that you have some of your staff reviewing old links you have an even harder time keeping up with the new stuff. Thus why some Yahoo! links haven't been changed in about 5 years.

      For more information on the logistics of this kind of thing I suggest you look at some of the commercial products out there that do this. There is a whole industry that deals with this and not just for the Internet. Some of them are:

      Content Managment Systems:
      Plumtree
      Interwoven
      Viginette
      LiveLink
    • The problem is management. How many people does it take to verify that the 2 billion pages on the net (just a guess) are correctly labeled? Yahoo tried, and they had a good category list for years, but the net is just too big now for that to be economical.
    • You mean like the Dewey Decimal System? Or whatever it is that my college library used, where all the math texts were found under QAsomething instead of 510something?
  • by Tassach (137772) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:14AM (#2854311)
    I've often wondered, what percentage of domain names that have been registered are actually being used, as opposed to ones that have been scarfed up by speculators and squatters. I was looking for a domain name for a client a few months ago, and found literally hundreds of names which would have fit his requirements, but which were registered but unused.


    It appears that a whole lot of domain names were gobbled up in 1999 and 2000, with the result that many of these registrations will be expiring this year. One can hope that many of these domain names will become available to people who actually plan on using them. As good as Google may be, there are still a lot of reasons for wanting an easy-to-remember domain name for your company or product.

    • Good luck on actually getting expired domain names, especially if they were registered through Network Solutions/VeriSign. In 2000, I waited for a domain name to expire, and then the record remained for months after the expiration. Network Solutions ultimately auctioned off their expired domain names, and the name I wanted popped up on a cybersquatter site for $5000.

      I think Network Solutions is still doing this, because the name (even as a couple of different TLDs) has been expired since last year and is still unavailable to purchase. They're probably waiting on the market rebound and auction off their expired domain names again.

      Hmph.

  • Cause and effect (Score:2, Interesting)

    by letxa2000 (215841)
    I agree with what others have said. This isn't so much because of Google but because of the declining demand for domain names in post-com world.

    What I do believe is that adding additional TLDs, for the most part, will not help free up names. Currently companies will typically purcase theircompany.com, theircompany.net, and some even go as far as getting theircompany.org. If you start adding additional TLDs all it means is that companies will start buying theircomany.TLD, where TLD is the new TLD that is available to them.

    This won't increase available names... it'll increase revenues to registrars that end up selling the same domain name in more TLDs, costing companies and other domain name owners more money.

  • by texchanchan (471739) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `yelworcc'> on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:17AM (#2854324)
    No matter which way this comes out, the professional namers will get new business. (These are the people who come up with names for vehicles such as Isuzu Axiom and new corporate identities like Verizon.)

    Memorable domain names and searchable business names both need these characteristics:
    - Short, or few elements
    - Unique
    - Memorable in itself, and,
    -- easy to associate with your product
    -- and just your product, not everybody's
    - Pronounceable on sight and spellable from memory
    - Without ribald connotations in major languages

    An excellent example: Slashdot.

    Ordinary business people are no better at making up names than they are at drawing their own logos. If you can do it for them, you've got a niche.
    • Or you end up spending a really big wad of cash (forget the amount, but it was rather large) and end up getting wonderful advice like "You should change the company's name from 'US Air' to 'US Airways'." Took 6 months to come up with that, too.

      I need a racket like that...
  • whois 'google*' lists 50 records, including GOOGLE.COM, GOOGLE.NET, GOOGLE.ORG, GOOGLE4SEX.COM, GOOGLEA.COM, GOOGLEBAY.COM, many of which are blatantly for sale.
  • Feeling Lucky (Score:2, Informative)

    by Schnapple (262314)
    I have the Google Toolbar [google.com] and one of the features is the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. This is just like the same button on Google.com. The basic effect is - you type in the name of something you want, hit "I'm Feeling Lucky" and you're instantly taken to the right page (most of the time). As a result, you don't even need to "search", you just "go". The Google Effect is pretty damn effective.
    • Re:Feeling Lucky (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fleener (140714)
      The "I'm Feeling Lucky" button takes you to the first search result link. Why would I want to go there automatically instead of scanning the first few results to confirm I'm loading the correct one? Most of the time my target link falls somewhere between the between the 3rd and 10th links.

      Every time, and I do mean every time, I refer a friend to Google two things happen.
      1. I have to explain that Google is not a children's site, despite the color scheme and the lack of a tagline indicating that Google is a search engine.
      2. The friend asks, "What does the 'I'm Feeling Lucky?' button do?" Their follow-up question is, "Why would I want to do that?"

      Google needs to improve their usability testing because they have a long way to go. They're coasting right now because the interface is simple, so the annoyances are less noticeable.

      Googles' ranking criteria can be duplicated. It's the finer details of site design that no one has gotten quite right yet.
      • You're right that for the vast majority of searches, you'd want to review the results, rather than being automatically sent to the first result.

        However, if you use Google enough, you get to know what type of searches are likely to bring back your desired page as the first hit.

        95% of the time when I search on Google, I just "Search" rather than use "I Feel Lucky".

        About 5% of the time, I'm pretty confident before I click on anything that Google's first result will be the one I want. When this happens, I click on "I'm feeling lucky." When I do this, I get the page I was looking for 99% of the time.

        So that's why someone would want to use the "I'm feeling lucky" button. I don't use it every time I search Google, or even most of the time. But I do use it, and I love having that option.

  • ICANNWatch (Score:2, Informative)

    by swimfastom (216375)
    "Meanwhile, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international governance body put together several years ago at the behest of the U.S. government, was set up in part to bring competition into a system that sorely needed it."

    If you are at all interested in current ICANN news I highly recommend http://www.icannwatch.org/ [icannwatch.org].

    Personal websites for the common user do not need their own domain. They can benefit from Google [google.com] greatly. However, it is very important for companies to have their own domain so they can both host a website and use email addresses with their own domain.
  • by anpe (217106)
    As google also bases its search on the domain name ...
  • by diablochicken (445931) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:19AM (#2854346) Homepage Journal
    I think it's a bit difficult to discount the current economy's role in the decrease in spending on random domain names. Google may play a role in this trend, but I'd guess that a lot of squatters have run out of cash to spend on wild speculation.
    • Not to mention that no-one in their right minds is going to bet the farm on starting up an online business/website without an air-tight business plan. Such business plans generally don't allow for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on one domain name, when another will do just as well.

      Not only that, but in trademark-related domain name disputes, the trade mark holder generally wins. There's not a lot of money to be made in trying to sell, eg, f0rd.com to Ford anymore.

      Cheers,

      Tim
  • paid links.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asymptotal (464141)
    what happens when search engines start mixing paid links with "normal" search results?

    already many popular sites do this without so much as an indicator to help the searcher. so while google and other search engines ^may^ have taken care of the cybersquatters, it wont be long that marketers of the world run to exploit this usage pattern....

    ...i'd rather type out the url myself, i think.
  • real names? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dlc (41988) <dlc@noSPaM.sevenroot.org> on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:20AM (#2854352) Homepage

    Wasn't this the point of the Real Names [realnames.com] system? From their about page [realnames.com]:

    Keywords replace complicated URLs with simple names and brands, and work in the consumer's native language, making the Internet easier to use.
  • by fleener (140714) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:25AM (#2854379)
    Dan doesn't get it. Domain names are critical for so many reasons:
    1. People don't guess domain names, except in really obvious situations. Example: IBM.com, sony.com, etc. Having domains like "widgetworld.com" were never about guessability. They're just easy to remember and spell and rank better in search results when the keyword searched for is actually in the domain name.
    2. If your company or web site is not high profile, you don't get found in Google. If I'm a small-time widget seller, Google gives me no traffic because it places the big-time popular widget sellers at the top of the search results. I have to somehow gain popularity without search engines before being assisted by them. It creates a snowball effect where the big sites stay big by the little guys being pushed down.
    3. Web addresses are publicized many ways and need to be memorable when seen on billboards, spoken over the phone, etc. Many businesses have similar names - it's much easier to go directly to a web site than to rely on a search engine to determine which company you want.
    4. Dan Gillmor is obviously savvy at forming search queries. The average person is clueless. Google helps, but not nearly enough. It's always easier and faster if the user knows how to load a URL directly instead of relying on a search engine.
    5. Google could go out of business. Where's the Google-effect then? We're supposed to hope the next search engine to come along is as good and won't go out of business despite reliance on yet-to-be-proven economic models such as web advertising?
    6. His example of searching for "Dan Gillmor" is laughable. What if your name is John Smith, Bill Jones, David Chow or any number of highly generic names? Google is great, but many searches are still very frustrating for many users.


    I would like to see domain names publicized as they are, and by IP and by bar code, but for them to also carry other information, such as the company name and description. Then people carry a pen-like or card-like device to grab URLs off of everything (a can of baked beans, back of a cereal box, off a business card, in a newspaper, etc.) to take back to your computer later to load the appropriate page. Nothing proprietary like that CueCat crap. A real standard and simple technology to make addresses easily accessible.
    They need to be ubiquitous.
    • Domain names are critical for so many reasons...

      Well, yes, for legitimate business and other interests. But what about useless or misleading domain names?

      Examples of the useless:

      mycatfluffy.com
      thedorkfamilyvacation.com
      any of the nearly infinite variations on "pr0n" words: xxx, lesbian, suck, etc.

      Examples of the misleading:

      notmilk.com
      notharvard.com (since litigated out of existence)
      britneysucks.com
      slahsdot.org (and all of the "mis-type" sites)

      My point is this: domain name registration should long ago have been subjected to some sort of test for legitimacy, something like the .EDU registration now, but with perhaps looser guidelines. To get an .EDU, you must be a "regionally-accredited, degree-granting institutions of higher education," [educause.edu] among other things.

      But to get a .COM or whatever, you only have to be able to type (and not even that). I might be wrong, but that seems to contribute to confuson on the web, and massive bloat in the dns databases. Why couldn't there have been at least some minimal requirement for getting a domain? Maybe you should have to be an actual licensed business or registered non-profit or something.

      I'm not trying to make the web corporate here, or keep individual voices off, but couldn't the Dork Family put their loser pictures up at "earthlink.net/thedorkfamily/vacation" or whatever? Why do they need a domain for that?

      While I'm on it, here's a similar issue: why does every movie that comes out need it's own domain name? Is a movie really a "domain", the way domains were intended? As a business interest, for advertising, the film needs web exposure for maybe six months. But listen, The Siege [thesiege.com] wasn't even an average movie way back in 1998. Why does it still need to have a web presence with a stupid flash intro screen? Even if it needed a web presence at all, which it doesn't, couldn't it be done as "universal.com/thesiege" or something, the way Sony does it with all their movies from the get-go?

      I know this is a bit off-topic, but I'd be thrilled if someone could explain to me why I'm wrong about these issues. It's been bugging me since about 1997.

      Belloc
      • I'm not trying to make the web corporate here, or keep individual voices off, but couldn't the Dork Family put their loser pictures up at "earthlink.net/thedorkfamily/vacation" or whatever? Why do they need a domain for that?


        Because that ties them to one ISP for the rest of their lives. Think about hte effort of changing your phone number, or moving house. With email its just as hard, if not harder, same with the web. I want to give an email addresss out to someone and not get an email 6 months later saying "Hey, do you want that job we talked about?" because I moved to a cheaper ISP? With my own domain name I can move it wherever I want (or just point to another email/website).
  • Corporate Takeover (Score:2, Insightful)

    by theghost (156240)
    Might the shrinkage in number of websites have something to do with the corporate assimilation of the web?

    As anyone who's been here from the start can testify, things have changed substantially since the early days. First there just wasn't much out there, and what there was was pretty random. Then Yahoo and other search/gateway sites began to come along just as the first boom of sites hit, making things a bit more organized and predictable. Soon after this, the corporations began to make their presence known, and then they started to take over.

    Now if you want information on a topic you go to a corporate website that specializes in providing that information along with lots of other info, banner adds, pop-up adds, redirects to partner sites, etc. ad nauseum.

    Old sites are lapsing because their place has been usurped by profit-driven sites. Times may have been hard for the tech industry lately, but who's going to go offline first: the business paying $1000 per month in hosting fees or the unemployed tech worker who's paying similar fees for his personal domain.

    There's also the rise of the umbrella site that hosts a number of smaller sites under a single domain so that Jim's tech page is no longer at www.jimstechpage.net, but is now found under www.acmeweb.com/jimstechpage/.

    Not all of this is bad, not all of it is good. The times they are a changin', and if we don't want to be caught unawares, we should keep our eyes open to the way its changing instead of sticking with an utopian vision that went bye-bye 5 years ago.
  • av.com (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mirko (198274) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:33AM (#2854431) Journal
    IMHO, Google has lost its accuracy and its results lack relevance compared to the all-time-favourite Altavista (which I usually access the light [altavista.com] way).
    I just can't find the equivalent of Altavista's syntax on Google.

    Need an example ?
    Remember the hint that appeared in italics :
    Need a bedtime story ?
    Type : +Fairy +princ* -dragon

    (note the wildcard use)

    There are also lots of short ways to find which pages refer to one another (+link:...) or if you want to filter whichever result after a given url part (+url:...)

    But, on the bottom, the guy is right, most people now ask Google first instead of looking for a funky domain name which sounds like what they'd enter in the Google form.
  • in searching for your own name. If Google returns your own name accurately (as it does mine), then there is little use registering yourname.com because people can find you as easily using Google. This is the telling point in his argument; an example that is not commercialized that underscores his point.

    Of course, the search engines aren't the only reason for the drop in registration, but they play a part... and perhaps a very important part.
  • by Vingborg (141225) <vingborg AT nomicon DOT dk> on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:49AM (#2854544)
    When finding stuff, we basically use one or both of two basic methods: Directories and indices.

    DNS is, basically, a directory. So was the original Yahoo. Google is an index.

    The difference is, that with a directory, an external categorization is applied to predefined entities (such as websites). With an index, the "categorization" is derived from the content itself.

    Of course, deep down below, at the core of "finding stuff"-logic, directories and indices are the same. Google, too, operates with externally defined entities: words and pages.

    The ultimate searchengine, one that would REALLY kill the need for DNS in day-to-day surfing, would somehow combine these two notions, and possibly include many more.
  • because the Google public relations hype-machine is cranking up for the IPO.

    Expect to see more articles along the lines of "Google saved my life/company/favorite pet/etc"

    As others have pointed out, after the IPO Google will become a subscription service.

  • by Uttles (324447) <uttles AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:54AM (#2854580) Homepage Journal
    The most interesting from a domain-name point of view is this: With the rise of search tools that unerringly bring you to the page you want, the need for a highly specific domain name -- one that a casual Web user would be able to guess -- has practically disappeared.

    I agree with this article for the most part; Google is a great search engine and it eliminates the need to memorize a bunch of URL's. There's a few assumptions the author is making that aren't exactly correct.

    1 - Google doesn't "unerringly bring you the page you want" because no matter what you type into the search field, it can't tell exactly what you're looking for. It gives great results most of the time, but it still stumbles once you move into more vague searches. This isn't Google's fault, it's just the fact of life that neither people or computers are psychic, we can't read each other's minds.

    2 - Having a domain name that someone could guess, or that someone might not even know relates to your company, is still pretty desirable. People are familiar with having a .com after most websites, so if you put up toys.com, you'll probably get a lot of hits, no matter what your actual company is. I agree, typing in www.lucenttechnologies.com is a much worse method than going to Google and looking up "Lucent Technologies," but I think people have always preferred search engines for looking up specific companies.

    3 - This is probably the most important point: domain names are about advertising in today's internet economy. The companies would like for people to be able to guess their website address, but what's more important to them is that customers can easily remember the address when they see it in advertisements. So, when you see a commercial for Nike Shoes, and they show you www.nikeshoes.com, you will easily remember that for the next time you're browsing the web. Now, it really wouldn't make a difference if it was www.nike.com, www.shoesbynike.com, www.gonike.com, or www.swoosh.com, because the point is they're giving you an easy to remember location. Now, if they gave you www.commercialwebsites.com/shoecompanies/nike/shoe s.html, it probably wouldn't stick in your mind very long, and you wouldn't just causally browse the site. Now, don't get me wrong, if that was the URL and you REALLY wanted to check out Nike, then you'd go look it up on Google, and you'd get there anyway. The point I'm trying to make is that it's not about the companies trying to guess what domain you'll type in, they're trying to make it easy for you to associate a website to their company, and that's why I think there's still a big demand for specific domain names.
  • Another reason why domain speculators (especially in the pr0n biz) bought so many varied domains was because of the fact that just about all the search engines gave a big relevancy boost to content if it was at the root of the domain vs some buried URL, with the assumption being that /index.html is somehow more legitimate. The SE's also gave a lot of weight to keywords in the domain itself, so it paid to have a bunch.

    It's a good thing those assumptions have been thrown out the window in favor of link popularity... since astroturfing takes a lot more work. :)

    --

  • Two things seem apparent to me:

    1) Most knowledgeably computer users aren't typing in "http://www.tires.com" to find a place to buy tires
    2) Most new Internet users aren't typing in "http://www.google.com" to find what they are looking for

    Until the Internet population becomes more educated, there will always be a benefit to domain name speculation.

    I doubt anyone that uses Slashdot types in words as a domain name to find what they are looking for (unless they are bored or desparate). On the other hand, Mr. Billy-Bob Joe from the midwest who is using the Internet for the first time doesn't quite know what he is doing, so he will try to do just that, likely.

    In other words, Tom's Hardware would have absolutely no benefit to domain spculation, but another company more oriented to older, less experienced Internet users would continue to have success.
  • How Google works. (Score:2, Informative)

    by afinn (467407)
    "In general, the more links there are to a particular page from other pages, the higher it ranks in Google's hierarchy on that search term."
    Most people have a vague idea of how google works. This paper [nec.com] goes into some detail.
  • by jafac (1449) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:19PM (#2854791) Homepage
    A Domain Name is the name of a BOX, a piece of hardware, an address. Just because it's more friendly to humans than an IP address, doesn't mean that it's the best way to get a WEB user to the right place. Having companies jump through hoops to 0wn "ibm.com" "ibm.edu" "ibm.org" "ibm.net" "ibmsucks.com" "international_business_machines.com" "international_business_machines.org" etc. ad infinitum makes NO fucking sense at all. Just as it makes no sense for some guy named John to get his "john.com" domain legally removed from his posession, because the international brotherhood of guys looking for prostitutes comes along a year later and decides they want a website.

    If I want to find Apple Computer's website, I should have a place on my browser where I can enter text: "Apple Computer" and get www.apple.com. And if I want Apple Records, I type in "Apple Records". If I type in "Apple" it gives me a choice, plus all the Apple advocacy and rumors sites, and both Apple Computer and Apple Records should be satisfied with that.

    I, as the Joe Sixpack user of the net shouldn't have to know if the correct address is "www.apple.com" "www.applecomputer.com" or "www.apple_computer.com". Relying on these weird domain name permutations will often get you the WRONG site!

    For you and I, the average clueful slashdot user, domain names are a fine way to find where you want to go - but even WE rely on bookmarks, favorites and shortcuts for many of our favorite sites. The typing of actual DNS names should be the resort of the technical though - and my mother should not have to know what an underscore is, or why a site should be a .org, .com, or .edu. (not that anybody follows those rules anymore).
    • A telephone number is the name of a BOX, a piece of hardware, an address. Having companies jump through hoops to own 1-800-FLOWERS, 1-877-FLOWERS, 1-866-FLOWERS, and even 1-800-FLWOERS for the idiots who can't spell, makes no f___ing sense at all.

      If I want to find a flowers retailer, I should have a button on my phone where I can just say "Flowers" and it takes me to the flower delivery service I want. If I say "pizza" obviously it should call Pizza Hut and not Domino's, because they're a better value and their corporation isn't evil. And if I say "Brian" it should call my friend from high school, not that guy I know from work, because he's weird and antisocial.

      I, as the Joe Sixpack user of the telephone, shouldn't have to know if the correct phone number is 1-800-FLOWERS or 1-877-FLOWERS. Relying on these weird phone number variations will often get you the WRONG number!

      For you and I, the average clueful Slashdot user, telephone numbers are a fine way to find where you want to go - but even we rely on telephone books, rolodexes and personal organizers for many of our favorite numbers (not to mention the speed-dial buttons on our cell phones). The actual typing of telephone numbers should be for the technical - my mother should not have to know what a pound sign is, or what the difference between 800 and 877 is.
  • by jason99si (131298) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:20PM (#2854799)
    The article's author has a good point. I don't try to guess a companies domain anymore either... ever since that embarrassing moment in the lab at school when I found out that Dick's Sporting Goods web site is not Dicks.com.

    ..duh.
  • by cperciva (102828) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:24PM (#2854824) Homepage
    You'll find that the first page of results gives you a pretty good overview of who I am. One page is a project I ran while an undergraduate student; one page is a press release from my undergraduate university talking about me; one page is from an orchestra of which I was a member; one page is from Oxford's computing lab. I don't need to tell people my email address; they can find it very easily through the pages google provides.

    All that is good and useful for me, but what of the other people (I know of three so far) who share my name? What if someone wants to contact them?

    If we're going to rely upon Google to translate names into URLs, we're inevitably going to run into such problems, where only the most famous person/company using a name is brought up, even though some people will be searching for their lesser known isonyms.
  • Google Search: www.slashdot.org

    ----------
    Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters [slashdot.org]
    OSDN | Freshmeat | Jobs | Newsletters Slashdot X. Click
    Here! ... faq ...
    Description: Timely news source for technology related news with a heavy slant towards Linux and Open Source issues.


    Yup, works like a charm.
  • by SilentReproach (91511) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @01:04PM (#2855208)
    It may be true that names are currently being dropped at a greater rate than they are being registered. However, has anyone here looked at the names being dropped? I have looked at them in both a) painstaking detail and b) written programs to narrow down tens of thousands of really useless names to a few dozen possibly useful names. For example of the junk being dropped, here is a tiny number of recently deleted names:

    0-0-TEEN-SEX.COM
    0-CALLSANTA.COM
    0-DOMAIN-REGISTRATION.COM
    0-POINT.COM
    0-SHIPPINGPERFUMEBASKETS.COM
    00-FREE-WEB-PAGES.COM
    000000000.COM

    Lot's of long names, names with hyphens and numbers in them, and typos. Also, people who previously saved .net and .org names are now ditching them, keeping only the .com version of the name. This tells me that dot-com names are holding value better than the others.

    I feel that a good name is still quite valuable, even if not as valuable as a year or two ago. There are few, if any names available today that could be called "jewels". So, if you have a good name, keep it, but if you're sitting on some junky names for speculative purposes, ditch them.

    Don't expect people to purposely begin throwing valuable names away.
  • ...is great for telling people "the URL is too long so just type this into google and it's the 2nd link".

    This really is better if your site has a URL like:
    http://www.podunk.edu/cs/prof/smith/student/~joe_b low/cool_stuff/turing/passes.htm

  • I agree fully with the article, and I imagine that most people are aware of some search engine to find the company they need (albeit, it might not be google).

    But what about the return visitor that isn't 100% sure of the domain name, but they can get close.

    Slashdot is the perfect example. It appears to me that they have both slashdot.org and slashdot.com registered and pointing to the same machine. But supposing Slashdot didn't have the .com address registered. What's to prevent someone else from picking it up? As is the case with Orange Juice [ojuice.org], a very respectable demoscene resource, someone registered ojuice.com several months ago, and turned it into a porn site, hoping that sceners might accidentally type .com instead of .org. I'm sure it worked for a while...but it pissed off a lot of sceners.

    Things could've been worse. After all, someone could've registered slashdot.com -- and created a spoof site (using the open source slash code) with no purpose other than to blacken the name of the real slashdot. It might have useless articles about porn, out dated technology, and stupid shit like that. What would that do for slashdot?

  • Link popularity, too, can be spammed. I saw an irrelevant porno site at the top of a Google search recently, and queried "links" to see who linked to it. It turns out that the porno operation has a huge number of interlinked domains, creating the illusion of popularity. They've found a way to spam Google.
  • Today, I will try an experiment.
    I will disable my location bar.

    The only time I will actually punch in a URL directly into the browser is if I have a URL in print that I have to go to, and it's not very generic (like, if I'm debuggin a web page at work, etc).

    Anyhting I want to look at, I'll use google, even if I know the url.

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