XXX domain registration begins: Should you buy one?

Even if your business has nothing to do with adult entertainment, consider buying the XXX equivalent of your primary domain.

ICANN has begun accepting registrations on a limited basis for XXX domains. If you are in the adult entertainment business, or your site is related to adult endeavors, then buying a XXX domain is a no-brainer, but even businesses that offer more "traditional" goods and services may want to consider getting in line for a XXX domain.

Why? That seems like a fair question. The answer is simple: to protect your brand and reputation.

You would buy a XXX domain for the same reason you might buy the NET, US, INFO or other equivalent of your own primary domain--to ensure that your customers get to your site no matter what they type and just redirect all of the alternate domains to your primary website.

Funny story--once upon a time, if you wanted to shop online for some equipment from Dick's Sporting Goods, you had to make sure you went to 'dickssportinggoods.com'. Going to 'dicks.com' would reveal "equipment" of an entirely different nature. Apparently, Dick's Sporting Goods eventually managed to acquire the 'dicks.com' domain, though, because now it redirects to the sporting goods website.

That example is a little beside the point, though, because it focuses on buying varying spellings and permutations of your primary domain to try and ensure that anyone who would just go online and start typing to try and find your business can basically stumble on it no matter what they type. For example, you can type 'amzon.com', 'amszon.com', or 'amaxon.com' and you will be redirected to Amazon every time because Amazon has acquired the domains for virtually every possible typo or misspelling imaginable.

Is there any real risk, though, for a domain like fishingluresandbaits.com? Whether we consider the possibility of a customer in search of the legitimate fishingluresandbaits site inadvertently visiting the XXX equivalent, or the possibility of an actual adult-oriented site choosing to set up shop at fishingluresandbaits.xxx--what are the odds, really?

Dick's Sporting Goods is also a prime candidate for being first in line for a XXX domain. The name of the company is a double entendre in and of itself, and as the owner of 'dicks.com' the sporting goods chain should make an effort to ensure there is no sister site at 'dicks.xxx' that might be associated with the retailer in some way.

The flip side of that, though, is that nobody who is legitimately trying to find fishingluresandbaits.com or dickssportinggoods.com is going to accidentally type fishingluresandbaits.xxx or dicks.xxx. In other words, browsers default to COM domains if you just hit enter, and visiting a XXX domain--regardless of the domain name associated with it--requires intent.

Is it extortion? That is a bit extreme. It is unfortunate that some businesses may suffer some sort of reputation damage by association if an adult site with the same name sets up an XXX domain. But, the $100 a year or so that it costs to purchase the domain name and redirect it to your primary site is a small price to pay to protect your brand.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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