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Remember the drop back in early 2000's? A look back at the stats with analysis

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I dug up some old drop chasing data from my personal logs. The data is from May 19, 2004-May 31 2004. I chased/monitored 198 expiring names. Since these are my personal drop chasing logs, I am disproportionately represented, I was never anywhere near as big a player as most of the others on the list. It's selection bias that I show up at all.

First up, which companies actually won domains?

If I recall correctly, Pool was relatively new and kicking ass. BuyDomains and NameAdmin had personal registrars for chasing and left almost everyone else in the dust.

So who was winning all the domains?

Frank Schilling (NameAdmin), Mike Mann (BuyDomains) and Yun Ye (Ult Search) were clearly dominating the market. Anyone who ever bid on drops hated seeing names like benfranklin and competing with these guys. A few other big companies/individuals were sniping very specific names, but nobody competed on the scale of those three.

I was surprised that Vertical Axis (Kevin Ham) didn't show up. I don't know/recall when he got very active, but he didn't show up once during this ~2 week period.

What about the traffic?

I ran the names through January 2007 Overture data to get overture numbers for each domain. Then I counted the cumulative overture score of domains owned by a company. The second graph looks at current whois and makes assumptions that they were purchased by the company originally but my winner data was incomplete.

The most shocking part of looking at traffic is, UltSearch dominated BuyDomains and NameAdmin. UltSEarch only won 16% of the names but took home 37% of the traffic. NameAdmin and BuyDomains get approximately their expected percentage.

Notable Stats

  • Frank Schilling (NameAdmin) has sold only 1 name ( out of the 43 he won during this period.
  • BuyDomains has sold 24 of 41 (58.5%) domains picked up during this period.
  • Only 3 domains out of 198 (1.5%) expired again.
  • I didn't sell any of the names I bought during this period :(
  • The quality of drops was exceptional compared to today.

I am attaching the list of names, I bolded a few of my favorites. You can see some killer brandable names, pronouncable CVCV.coms, premium generics (, a ton of solid 2 word .coms, geo, geo services, and names.

MagpieRSS Encoding Problems

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I launched a blog aggregation website using MagpieRSS recently. I had all sorts of strange errors with encoding.

I had strings that had black diamonds with question marks inside of them.

I had strings that looked like: Today?s president obama said ?blah blah?

I tried (and wasted a lot of time) debugging my own code for far longer than I care t admit.
Functions to replace certain patterns in strings. Encoding and decoding inputs. etc.

What solved the issues were patching MagpieRSS.


Around line 358 you should see the lines I crossed out and replace them with UTF-8 versions:

if ( !defined('MAGPIE_OUTPUT_ENCODING') ) {
define('MAGPIE_OUTPUT_ENCODING', 'ISO-8859-1');

if ( !defined('MAGPIE_INPUT_ENCODING') ) {
define('MAGPIE_INPUT_ENCODING', null);

The only problem left was converting all the content to proper UTF-8 format.
Also make sure your database is using UTF-8 I chose general, but choose what suits you.

function encodeutf8($string){
return htmlentities(html_entity_decode($string,ENT_QUOTES,'UTF-8'),ENT_QUOTES,'UTF-8');

I html_entity_decode first because if anything in the text is already encoded (and many RSS feeds are)
htmlentities will encode the ampersand indicating it's a special character. So you run into issues
with ’ becoming &8217; which displays '’' instead of a single quote '.

If you still encounter problems, adding a header in PHP to the page displaying content also helped remove
strange characters and fixed encoding issues.

header('Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8');

That's all the tricks I've picked up so far trying to make MagpieRSS function properly. Hopefully that
saves others some pain and frustration. Feel free to leave any other tips or ask questions in the comments.

The Blackmail/Extortion Business Model

The Blackmail/Extortion Business Model


A business that has the potential to negatively influence perceptions of
another company but negotiates the information disseminated for some type of fee.

Examples (Allegedly, with sources):

Businesses want positive reviews in one of the web's definitive guides to local
businesses. Yelp allegedly takes advantage of this (source )
by changing what reviews do or don't show based on whether you pay or not.

Advertisers use ComScore as the definitive source for traffic statistics.
ComScore is accused of under-counting companies that do not pay their fee ($10,000!)
to get their tracking code. (source)

Better Business Bureau
Businesses get rated and consumers make complaints. The BBB makes money
from businesses subscribed to their service. It has been accused that the grading
system favors paying businesses (source).

Why it Matters:

These organizations have a reputation with the audience purchasing a service or product.
They take payment from businesses providing that service or product in order to
present information about those businesses. Exerting their power over businesses
listed in their system can increase their profits. This business model sustains
itself as long as lawsuits and legislation allow. It is one of the strongest
lock-ins available. Consumers keep using it because companies keep promoting it
because those that don't, often fail.

The Hobbyist Business Model

The Hobbyist Business Model


A business that grows out of a hobby or passion that did not start out with a commercial intent.


“The comic began in September 2005 when Munroe decided to scan doodles from his school notebooks and put them on his webpage. Eventually the comic
was changed into a stand-alone website, where Munroe started selling T-shirts based on the comic. He currently "works on the comic full time," making
xkcd a self-sufficient webcomic.” ( xkcd is one of the most popular
web comics and is listed as one of the self-sufficient web comics.

HuskyStarcraft / HDStarcraft
These two starcraft casters (someone who records gameplay and commentates what's going on) have built a legion of fans across the globe.
HuskyStarcraft has 378,000 subscribers and HDStarcraft has 322,000. Their views are also some of the highest of any channel in the gaming category.
They are both behind IGN and EA but ahead of GameSpot and Ubisoft. They have hosted tournaments, get invited to events and presumably make a pretty
penny off YouTube partner program with their 100 million plus views each.

A hobbyist's MUD started in college that had 1 million users before becoming a business. Today, RuneScape one of the more popular MMORPGs with ~$60 million
in revenue during March 2008 - March 2009 and ~$28 million profit. (

A twitter account that has spawned a book deal and a tv show. An unemployed guy decided his dad's hilarious comments needed to be shared with the
world. The world loved it.

Why It Matters:

People are being given the tools to self-publish, self-broadcast, self-develop all sorts of content. Comics, games, music, videos, books, news and any
other medium where an individual is given the tools to create *anything* can make a huge impact. There are thousands of people out there sharing,
creating art, shipping their passion across all sorts of mediums. The web has given these artists the means to share their work with the world easily.
The web has also allowed people to learn almost anything they wish to learn about. They can download any piece of software for free (legally through
open source and illegally through pirating) giving themselves the tools to required to create their art.

Today, any passionate individual has the tools to be as powerful as any corporation with regards to connecting with an audience. Their passionate
projects and art compete for free because they don't see it as a job. They are simply creating or doing what they love. Most will never be recognized,
but a few will be superstars. The superstars are presented with all sorts of monetization options simply because of their success and popularity. Any
business that looks at a passionate hobby turned business and thinks their business model made the business successful is fooling themselves. This type
of success cannot be replicated in a business plan. It is a lot of talent and passion combined with good fortune. for Sale

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I noticed for sale today at Flippa. The reserve appears to be 3 million with a buy it now of 14 million.

It's targeted at university services right now, but what would the value be as a domain registrar?

Google Search Volume and Typos

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This post/question was inspired by this one: Telepathy, Inc. Puts on the Market with Sedo.

How does Google count typos that it auto corrects?

I search for 'Massachusets' (typo) and it shows me results for 'Massachusetts' (proper spelling) which keyword does that count for? What about for advertisers?

Example of Auto Correction:

What we see is Google recognizes that we've probably made a typo.
Instead of showing results for the typo, it shows the results for the correct spelling.

This is fantastic for user experience, it gives better (more expected) results.

As an advertiser, I may be trying to get a better ROI by taking advantage of typos.
My decision to do this would be under the assumption that they were probably searching for
the same thing with and without the typo. There would be little/no bias in demographics.
Everyone makes typos (of course you should always test each hypothesis!).

But, if Google auto-corrects search results and it requires an extra step to search
for the typo, then it begs the questions

  • who are these typographically/spelling challenged searchers?
  • Are all searches auto corrected (eg. Google Search vs Domain Parking)?

I tried searching for an answer but didn't find anything.

Investigating Search Counts

The basic idea behind this methodology was, if there were wildly different ratios across various sources that correlated with auto correction being enabled, we could conclude whether or not it affected search counts.

Google ~ 30.45:1
Bing ~ 35.15:1

Bing also has some sort of auto correct going on:

Both and are parked pages. So I figured both would be pretty much just getting type in traffic as nothing was developed. Does the ratio hold?

Not enough data to say anything conclusive on Compete, sadly.

Wordtracker ~ 20.63:1 (5654:274)

I tried to find the old AOL search data to see if I could match this. I couldn't remember the site which used to allow you to search this information.


Google and Bing both seem pretty similar, Wordtracker is substantially lower, but I have no idea how they collect their data and from where. I think their sample is smaller and take the results less seriously. I checked some other sources (old Overture data for instance on domain matches) which didn't yield anything.

The answer is, I am still not sure. Maybe Quora can shed some light?

List Manipulator - Tool for Manipulating Lists of Data

I just wanted to introduce my latest tool, List Manipulator.
Basically, it allows you to quickly edit and format lists.

The basic functions:
filtering (alpha, alphanumeric, domain names)
matching (only contains X or does not contain X)
replacing (find X replace with Y)
prefix/suffix adding to all items

Why did I build this?

I find myself often working with lists of data:
keyword lists, domain name lists, HTML lists, repetitive code, etc.

I always do it manually or write a script each time to fix my current problem.
This time, I decided to build a tool to solve most of the general problems I
run into when formatting and filtering the data. Hopefully it saves me (and others!)
some time in the future.

If you have any feature requests, bugs or suggestions please contact me or comment!

Exploring Three Letter Domain Name Values

What makes 3 letter domain names valuable?

  • Demand - lots of company acronyms are 3 letters eg. IBM, BBC, ATT. (Fun Fact: 35 of the first 100 .com domain names registered were 3 letters long)
  • Scarcity - Only 17,576 combinations.
  • Tokenization/Liquidity - The domainer market has tracked values and created a minimum price

Why is interesting?

Three Letter .com prices could be a proxy for the overall secondary market for domain names.
That is a hypothesis and if anyone wants to help test that with data (monthly average sale price,
monthly sales total, something else?) please feel free to contact me / comment.

Three letter prices are the most well tracked and easiest to compare over a long period of time (thanks!)

What is the goal of this post?

There is no goal, it is simply exploratory. I had no idea what I would find when I looked at the data,
but a lot of things jump out at me when looking at the graphs and statistics.

3 Letter Price Timeseries (All Extensions)

The first thing that stands out is .COM is huge compared to the rest. You also notice the huge crash after
July 2008. It dropped $1650 in one month. (The data is actually incorrect from 3character, the
declined started at least at the end of June 2008 and perhaps was steeper, sold for 5550 on July 17, 2008,
3character didn't go below that until September).

Why did that happen? I am not certain, but my guess is a combination of bubble bursting and PPC profits declining.
Any other theories please comment.

3 Letter Timeseries (NO .COM)

.NET declines at the same time as .COM and starts to rebound at the same time.
For some reason it then crashes again in early 2010 and completely diverges from .COM.

.ORG and .MOBI also follow similar declines as .COM/.NET.

.BIZ and .INFO are on a slow decline but you wouldn't even realize the other TLDs crashed just looking at those two.
They seem unaffected by market crashing for everything else.

.US actually rises slightly when everything else is going down.

3 Letter Timeseries (NO .COM/.NET/.ORG)

Closer view of the lesser TLDs. Nothing really new, you do realize .MOBI never recovers from the crash.
They sit at reg fee currently.

.MOBI looks like a case study in hype and pump+dump. It soars far above more established TLDs and crashes
to worthlessness. I wish I had older timeseries data for other TLD launches and some sort of price index.
It would be fascinating to graph them all starting from launch.

If anyone has some data that would fit this contact me / post in comments.

3 Letter Timeseries + DJIA

I threw in the Dow Jones Industrial Average for fun. What does the domain market look like compared to the stock market?
It seems a similar crash but they don't happen at the same time. Perhaps domain investors aren't that connected
to the stock market? Did the money exit the stock market and go into domains for safety?

Either way, DJIA and 3 letter domains bottom out around the same time. Domains were slower to decline, but started
recovering at the same point.

Log 3 Letter Timeseries + DJIA

Everything at logarithmic scale so you can see DJIA all the way down to .BIZ and .MOBI. No new information,
just a visualization of everything at once at relative scale.

3 Letter Timeseries .COM, DJIA, Home Prices (time shifted to match peak with .com)

This one was just for fun, what does the DJIA, .COM and Median Housing Price look like together.
I shifted the peak of housing bubble to match the peak of .COM. It was to look at the shape of the curves.
I think more could be done, but there is a striking resemblance of bubble bursting. Housing price data came
from here. It's in quarters, not months. Again, this was for SHAPE ONLY.

Interesting Facts:

.COM and .NET prices have an adjusted R^2 of .513 (they seem to diverge mid 2007)
The adjusted R^2 if we cut off at mid 2007, is .967! They are almost perfectly correlated Pre-June 2007

Graph: log .COM prices with adjusted (matched starting points) log .NET prices.

Why do .COM and .NET prices stop correlating mid 2007?
By early 2010, they are going opposite directions in terms of value.

Do we have a 'loser' TLD in the making (demand dropping because of hype/artificial value)?
Is it a market correction that will level off at some point and correlate again?
Massive dumping pushing prices down?
.NET lacks a clear brand/purpose unlike .COM and .ORG?
Any other explanations?

Future Values?

The biggest question is what will the shape of these curves be in the long run?
.COM looks like it's on the rise again, but at a much less steep and not always upwards curve.
.NET is declining, hard to predict if it's temporary or long term, a lot of vested interests in the TLD, if it is dying, it will be a VERY slow decline.
.ORG is on a VERY slow rise again, I suspect this is because .ORG has a clear brand which .NET lack.
.INFO looks to be dying a slow death.
.BIZ looks to be dying a slow death.
.US is odd, it declines and goes up, but it's at such a small scale.
It's currently moving up, but it's so slight that I wouldn't expect it to hold indefinitely unless demand is increased in the US.
.MOBI looks dead.

What are your thoughts?

Is Facebook one of the Largest Referrers to Porn?

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I was discussing new gTLDs with a friend and .xxx extension came up.

I was wondering how much type in traffic versus search engine traffic
these sites got. What impact would a new TLD make on the adult industry?

Then I stumbled on something fascinating (to me at least):



Note: for those wondering how these were chosen, I used related links on Alexa to find some big sites

I checked a bunch of sites and Facebook consistently showed up near the top.

These sites receive millions of visitors:

8% of 10 million uniques is 0.8 million visitors to YouPorn via Facebook monthly.

(note: most of these traffic stats like Compete estimate low in my experience)

Why is that interesting?

I didn't know Facebook allowed porn links
I wonder how they preview sharing porn links - I am certainly not going to try

I've never seen a porn link publicly posted
Where are these porn links? All private messages and chat?

I searched pages and didn't find any page large enough (largest was 100,000 fans)
for youporn to support this type of traffic (none of the larger ones seemed to link at all)

I also checked which searches public status updates.
I saw one link in the last 4 days posted. Not exactly huge volume.

Who is sharing all these porn links?
The numbers would suggest a large demographic or possibly mass market behavior.

If anyone has some insights please share in the comments below!

My Christmas Present

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Personalized Chopsticks from my brother.


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