Tag Archives: squatting

Domain Squatting in Google Apps

You want a unique domain name? You register it. If the name is not already taken, it can be yours for a price – indefinitely.

And this is what squatters do: buy high-value domain names in the hopes that (a) they’ll make tons of money from direct traffic; or (b) someone else will eventually want the domain name and they’ll be able to sell it at a premium.

So, once you have this domain name, you can pretty much do anything you want with it – and it’s about the closest thing we have to an identity marker on the Internet today. You should be in full control of what happens with or on that domain name until you decide you don’t want it anymore.

Say you want to start tracking more about how your Web site is doing in Google. I would most certainly recommend that you sign up for the free Google Webmaster Tools. From there, you can add as many domain names as you want to monitor – provided you can verify that you actually own the domain names you’re wishing to keep track of and control. That makes sense, huh?

I mean, why would Google allow you to configure options for domains you don’t have the rights to control?

But that’s what they’re enabling via a gigantic loophole in their Google Apps for Domains service – currently allowing any user to squat on a domain name in their system without first requiring verification. Ouch.

We discovered that someone was squatting on LockerGnome.com within the Google Apps for Domains system. This means we couldn’t actually start using their service without first asking Google to relinquish the name to us – a name which we can readily verify, not the individual(s) who already laid claim in their system.

If you need me to put a finer point on why this is a problem, we reserved SeattleTimes.com in much the same manner – of course, we don’t intend on keeping the domain managed in Google’s system for the Seattle Times, and will absolutely pass it to someone within their own ranks as soon as we know who needs to manage it. We can’t do anything with it other than cause the Seattle Times and Google to waste time. We snagged it to further illustrate the problem, not to cause headaches for anybody. Hell, we love both Google AND the Seattle Times. 😉

To me, this is an oversight that can be remedied by reordering the process – managing new accounts in Google Apps for Domains much like Google does for its excellent Webmaster Tools suite. Not doing so is… well, it’s just kinda hard to believe that nobody else has reported on this matter yet.

We’re hoping that Google sees this as an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: Now, according to an official Google PR representative, a domain which is reserved on the system without validation after 14 days, reverts to an unreserved domain. Still, this doesn’t make sense – an undue inconvenience, to say the least. Someone has been sitting on LockerGnome.com in Google Apps for Domains since 2008.

Have you ever Been Cybersquatted?

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When I went to register Lockergnome years ago using GoDaddy, I was worried someone else would get it. There are people out there who purchase domain names that they feel will be a hot commodity, and then sit on them… or sell them for high amounts of money. This is called Cybersquatting. What is Cybersquatting, you ask? Cybersquatting is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price.

The term is derived from “squatting,” which is the act of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use. Cybersquatting however, is a bit different in that the domain names that are being “squatted” are (sometimes but not always) being paid for through the registration process by the Cybersquatters. Cybersquatters usually ask for prices far greater than that at which they purchased it. Some cybersquatters put up derogatory remarks about the person or company the domain is meant to represent in an effort to encourage the subject to buy the domain from them. Others post paid links via Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and other paid advertising networks to the actual site that the user likely wanted, thus monetizing their squatting. As with many controversial issues, some argue that the dividing line of cybersquatting is difficult to draw, or that the practice is consistent with a capitalistic and free market ethos.

When was the last time you tried to look up a website to see if it’s available? Some people swear that if you do these lookups using a service like GoDaddy, a Cybersquatter will zap up the domain you want. Why don’t you just open a browser, and type in the URL of the site you’re thinking of buying? If you go to a website, you know it’s already taken. If it takes you nowhere… you know it should be available for you to buy!

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