I've got some domain name related items I'm throwing into this post: a new typo-domain spotting tool from Microsoft, new stats on the difficulty of getting a short domain plus stats on how many sites there are on the web.
Strider URL Tracer with Typo-Patrol is a new downloadable tool from Microsoft Research that lets you discover typo domains, domains that are misspellings of popular web sites.
Why bother checking? So you can know who might be trying to tap into your brand name or so you can protect children or naive web surfers from landing at the wrong sites.
Typo domains have gotten renewed attention in part because of recent reports on how people are earning large amounts of money off of them. See these past articles from the SEW Blog for background on this:
Engines Making Millions Off Type-In Traffic From Domains
- Google AdSense For Domains Program Overdue For Reform -- And Yahoo & Microsoft Should Also Take Note
I'm still working on a follow up about the issue and how these domains are funded by the major search players of Google and Yahoo. The short good news answer is neither company says that typo domains are kosher. If they spot them, they're supposed to be ousting them from their domain monetization programs. The short bad news answer is that it seems like there's much more work that could be done to kill these off.
Need a good example of a type domain? Try windowsmessenger .com. When I was on a trip recently, I wanted my wife to try and reach me on my watch through MSN Messenger (a long story that I'll explain some other time on my personal blog, Daggle).
I told her to install MSN Messenger. She guessed at the domain, ending up at this place. It looks like the MSN Messenger site, which isn't surprising since it frames the real site in order to run Google AdSense ads alongside it. In my view, that's misleading and the type of thing I hate to see supported.
Yes, it's not a proper typo domain, in that it's not a misspelling of the real messenger.msn.com site. But it's close enough in intent to be annoying. FYI, messenger.masn .com is a better example of a typo domain for MSN Messenger. The new typo tool helped me spot that one. And yes, it's carrying ads from Google.
Back to the tool, I thought one of the best features is how you can point it at a web page, then watch what other sites get contacted as a result of your visit. For example, a visit to msn.messenger.com (the real site) shows me that Omniture gets contacted (probably to track my visit for Microsoft), as does live.com and msn.com (probably my live.com and msn.com cookies kicking in). Google also gets contacted, the result of my Google Toolbar calling back to the mother ship to get PageRank data.
In other news, The Search For A Domain Name came out at the end of last month has lots of interesting stats on the availability of domain names. Want a three letter domain name? Sorry, they're all registered. It also has stats on the length of domain names and other tidbits.
And who owns a domain name? Whois information can tell you, but only if it's accurate. ICANN has a system designed to let people report if they find inaccurate or missing whois info about a domain. Spotted via ResourceShelf, now out is a report (PDF format) on how the system performed over the past year. The system got 63 percent of problems solved.
Finally, got a domain name? You'll probably want a web site next. April 2006 Web Server Survey from Netcraft reports there are now more than 80 million sites on the web, with charts gong back to October 1995.