Harris’ Lament

For all those wondering what Harris’ Lament means – The term originates from a Barney Miller episode in which Detective Ron Harris attempted to find a good apartment in New York City (no easy task!). Inherent scarcity has been expressed in popular media as Harris’s Lament: “all the good ones are taken!“.
And how true is this about the Domain Industry too. Imagine – a lazy Sunday afternoon when you just lazing around watching a boring classic on HBO when Eureka! A fantastic business idea strikes you. You quickly rush to the computer, log on to a website in excitement to register the domain name. Alas, its not available. You try breaking up the word, putting a hyphen, using the most common misspelling but its just not bloody available.

There are roughly 50 million domain names that end with “.com,” making that space the biggest and most prestigious piece of real estate on the Internet. I was surfing the net the other day, and came across extremely interesting facts about how narrow the available Domain Name pool is. A certain Mr. Forbes, an analyst at Vastardis Capital Services, got the list of all registered .com Domain Names from Verisign, and since then has been regularly studying the list, becoming probably the worlds first domainologist.

Some interesting finds from his research:

  • Every possible two-character and three-character combination — including both letters and numbers — all possible domains are taken.
  • Virtually all English words with four letters are claimed
  • All of the 1,000 most common English words have been snatched up.
  • The word “a” appears more than any other, though most of the time, of course, it’s just a letter in a longer word.
  • The least-used common word is “consonant”
  • Mr. Forbes checked the U.S. Census Bureau’s 1,219 most-common male names, the 2,841 most-common female names and the 10,000 most-common surnames; all were booked. Not only that, but when you link the top 300 first names with the top 300 last names, 89% of the resulting combinations are taken for male names and 84% for female ones.
  • The most common word four letters or longer, though, is “home”; 719,000 domains have some sort of home in them.
  • 114,700 URLs mention “mortgage,” which is more than discuss “science,” “nature” or “children.”
  • Because you might be curious (or interested ), “sex” appears in 257,000 domains. It may be tied to one of the most popular uses of the Web, but the word itself is only the 89th most-popular in dot-com domains.
  • A domain can have, at most, 63 characters, and there are 550 such domains.

What’s more, I even came across some Unconventional Domain Names – called domain hacks which have gained huge popularity. del.icio.us which spells out to delicious and blo.gs which spells out to blogs. Unconventional domain names are also used to create unconventional email addresses.

I can’t end this post though, without a mention of a couple of hilarious Domain Name confusions. Pen Island, a Pen selling site registered the Domain Name penisland.com. And the one that takes the cake, is expertsexchange.com, an Expert Exchange programmers’ site.