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Domains for good

Matt Haughey wrote about one of his personal websites that, gradually (and understandably) neglected, he eventually let go, giving up the domain name… only to see the site re-emerge in an odd way, now as one of those peculiar domain-squatter/SEO/spammer websites.

Which got me wondering if there could be a better thing to do with relinquished domain names.

I expect any domain that’s “good” enough, or that was previously hosting a website with any kind of traffic, is re-purposed by these search-result-clogging spamhouses that only make the web worse. Couldn’t we do something worthwhile with them instead?

I don’t know exactly what.

Occasionally a domain is obviously worth enough that it’s worthwhile trying to work out how to sell it for $$$. But often we just want to let it go because it’s not worth the hassle. And then strange things may happen to it.

But if there was an organisation that you could donate your old domain to, is it feasible they could do something worthwhile with it? I mean, these domains are presumably worth something to the spammers — that’s why they buy them — but could they be worth something to… well… good people?

Or is the only way to monetise (kill me; I said it) these expired domains by luring folk in with SEO and sending them off to terrible, worthless, money-extracting places? I don’t know how they work. What are the economics? Maybe there’s no other way to make more-than-the-annual-registration-plus-hosting-costs, without spending a lot of time making an actual website?

But this pattern, where we buy a domain, maybe use it for a bit, then relunctantly give it up, only for it to be sat on by some squatter/spammer seems a poor one.

What if, instead, you could… hand the domain over to [Organisation Name] who would then either sell it, and use the money for [Good Cause], or put up a site containing [Noun] that would [Verb] in order to [Amazing Result]?

We just need to fill in those blanks and we have a better plan. Easy!

UPDATE: Nelson Minar had a good idea in response to the same post: create a static snapshot of the site and either charge for hosting it, or run ads on it. The whole “how to keep a website alive permanently after it’s ‘stopped’” can be a tricky thing, but I guess that’s the simplest way.

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