Friday, January 15, 2010

What Your Online Name Says About You

What’s in a name? This timeless question has been asked by many a parent, trying to figure out what to call their future son or daughter, a child that just got a cute puppy dog, and now, by me, trying to figure out my home on the worldwide web.

Recently I bought my own name and – the thought of having to pay money for my own name is fodder for another blog. It wasn’t really hard coming up with a name for my soon-to-be home on the net. Just use what your mother gave you – so I did.

Where the name question came up was, what first-level domain should I use? Do I want to look all slick and professional with a .com? How about being all patriotic by going under Canada’s country-specific first-level domain .ca? I could sound all big and impressive using .net, or .org. Then there is .biz, .info, .name, .pro, there is even a .me – but no .i.

Careful thought is required here, because once something is up on the Internet, even if you take it down yourself, chances are somewhere, someone has a copy floating around on their computer. The shelf life of the online world never expires.
When the Internet was in its infancy, the choices weren’t as vast as they are today. If you were registering a company, you used .com.

Non-profit organizations would use .org, while primary conduits hosting connecting networks to the Internet (such as America Online, and the once all mighty CompuServe) would use .net. Government organizations kept to .gov, and schools used .edu.

And if the choice isn’t enough to throw you, what each category actually means does. Many getting started in television choose .tv for their online presence, but for those in the know, .tv is actually the country-specific domain for the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu. Some in Toronto, Canada have opted for .to showing some hometown pride, but .to is actually the country-specific domain for the Kingdom of Tonga, an archipelago of 169 islands in the South Pacific. Confusion about these things is far and wide -- .si has been used by Hispanic websites for it’s translation of “yes” (which is si in Spanish). But .si actually represents Slovenia.

So, based in Toronto, I could have chosen – but many may think I’m actually in Tuvalu. Wanting to sound big and impressive, I may have gone with, but I’m no AOL.

And then there are these online auctions. People with too much time on their hands spend their entire lives online, buying domain names, so that when you search for yours, you have to purchase it an outrageously inflated price.

I originally was nervous typing in my own name into the WHOIS search engines to find out if my own name was available. I was very lucky, and it was – but I had to think of other alternatives just in case.

The last thing you want your online address to be is something like – who’s going to remember that?

Other alternatives I came up with were the short and sweet, and the slick

Sometimes, people – often I think in a drunken stupor – create domains for themselves based on a nickname, or some random thought they have in their mind. Homer Simpson once told someone to email him at

Phew! It is like naming a kid or a pet. Only you have to contend with all those who may have taken it already, and are willing to put up a financial fight to keep it.

Like the time a few years ago, when some brainiac registered and computer giant Microsoft lost the domain bid, so the software company followed-up with a law suit to secure that domain because of their Windows operating system.

Shortly after that, Microsoft tried to copyright the term “windows,” but lucky for those of us with windows in our homes, the judge presiding over the case threw it out.

In the end, I went with obviously the best choice – or at least best in my mind’s eye – and

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