BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: In Depth: dot life  
News Front Page
N Ireland
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
dot life Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK
Jumble sale for internet dreams

Want to pick up a weird domain name cheap? This could be your chance, as open season is declared on other people's abandoned dreams of internet glory.
If you ever wanted a guide to the folly of many people's dreams then look no further than the Deleted Domains website.

This site lets you search through the millions of domain names that people have abandoned because they have now realised that there is no chance it will make their fortune.

At the time of writing Deleted Domains had on file 16,139,249 deleted domain names.

Some deleted domains
The fees for registering a name vary wildly but even if you assume a low figure of $10 per domain that is an enormous amount of money that has been spent on something that is now demonstrably worthless.

The lists have grown quickly of late because the domain name buying craze was at its most frenzied a little over two years ago.

Typical domain name purchase periods are two years, to which you have to add on a month or so for it to be put on hold and then finally released back into the ever deepening pool of names that suddenly nobody wants.

This only happens with .com, .net and .org names. Many others have very different policies and some, such as .uk, rarely release unwanted names.

Genius or idiocy

Anyone of a generous nature wading through the lists of deleted names, some of which are frankly bizarre, might take it as a celebration of human hope and a testimony to the sunny optimism that infected the boom.

On the other hand perhaps it a demonstration of human idiocy.

Browsing the lists gives a real glimpse into how unrealistic some dreams were.

For instance, someone registered Why, I do not know.

I'm prepared to admit that there are byways of human experience that I'll never walk down, but I simply cannot think why anyone would want that domain.

Or or

Curiously, there is no sign of (with five 'es' instead of six). Perhaps the owner is holding on to it, just in case.

Prince Charles eats cheese at Scottish Crannog Centre
Who's big cheese this month?
Then there are all the people that registered domains featuring the phrase "dotcom" such as

Perhaps it has now been abandoned because Mr Taylor got sick of trying to explain it to people on the phone.

The same could be true of's owner who was forever hearing people say: "How many minerals was that?" every time they passed it on.

There are also many examples of people who obviously thought they were on to a big trend and snapped up many variations on a single theme.

At last count I could find eight variations on the "Cheese of the Month club", most of which lapsed about the same time, suggesting they were bought as a block.

Like a lot of people I am partial to cheese, often more than once a month, but also like most people I'm never going to join a club to celebrate my affection for it.

Optimism clearly knows no international boundaries either because it is not just domains that people were looking to make a fortune with.

Nigel Roberts, managing director of the Channel Islands' registry said a Japanese man registered more than 1,000 domains that ended ".gg", the islands' suffix. Each one was the name of a city of town in Japan.

Mr Roberts speculates that "gg" sounds like a Japanese word but as none of the domains has been renewed then it's hard to find out what use they might have been put to.


Other domains make it to the deleted list by accident, because negligent owners have forgotten about their site or the admin e-mail address has changed.

These lapsed but once-working names are valuable property.

"People are grabbing these domains that expire because they have a ready stream of visitors," said Ken Sorrie, founder and managing director of registrar Internetters.

While it is hard to build traffic to a site from zero, it becomes a lot easier if you can just take over someone else's location.

But as the fever for hot domain names continues unabated, some dreams are taking a long time to die.

People are grabbing these domains that expire because they have a ready stream of visitors

Ken Sorrie
There are many sites on the web, such as eBay and Usenet, where people offer domains for sale.

Some of the asking prices are a little unrealistic.

How much would you pay for A few pence only I would wager, yet the owner of it wants $1 million.

The chances are slim given that and 65 other similar ones have been deleted.

Truth be told the chances are slim for almost anyone who owns a domain and thinks they can make a mint out of it. After all and were deleted a long time ago.

Any bright ideas for what to do with a dead domain name? Let us know using the form below.

Besides being the company which is selling all these deleted domain names, the only way I can see of making money from them, is to publish a book on 101 Uses for a Dead Domain Name.
Dave S, UK

Thanks for the tip-off. I've been looking for new addresses to expand my soccer prediction site, and had almost given up, but now I have the opportunity to add "Winners Hits" (dotcom). Hmmm...on second thoughts maybe I'll give that one a miss.
Stewart, UK

Is there a "" ?????
Simon, UK

It may well be worth finding a name that flopped so bad, that it received press. Nothing better than using a brand name that is already familiar. It could work like Skoda did for VW, turning an old joked brand into a sales winner.
Adam Rogers, UK

If you put them in the oven and warm them up, you can mould them into ashtrays. My dad ties them to bits of string and uses them as bird-scarers in the garden.
Frances Morgan, UK

I suggest every person now alive should be assigned a once registered name (pregnant women in last trimester get 2!) This way each person, however poor or remote from computer technology, can be said to participate in the "revolution".
Mary Byrkit, US

A "Whose Line Is It Anyway" skit, requiring the participants to have a conversation using nothing but detritus.
Mark Hucke, New Zealand

Using a domain name that has failed is to me like taking a dead soldier's weapon. It obviously didn't work for him, so why would it work for you?
Jason, Canada

I'm glad that a lot of cybersitters have lost out. A band I was in a while ago were asked for $2000 for the .com name. To put it bluntly the owner received a massive amount of spam from us just as a little payback.
Lees, UK

At last :-)
Nigel Martin, GB

I've just run up a bill of 80 registering the domains listed on this site...
Amit, UK

I couldn't find any appropriate domain names to register two years ago, so I thought I'd buy "". It had gone.
Ben, UK

Send us your comments:

Your E-mail Address:



Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Weely guide to getting buttoned up

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more dot life stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more dot life stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |