Prefab Domains
#research #text #web / year: 2005

Prefab Domains was an online domain name redistribution operation specializing in word-phrase domains I stumbled upon while compiling research for a dictionary of English “prefabrications” (idioms, clichess, catch phrases, collocations, and other multi-word strings that some linguists group as “prefabricated linguistic units”.) A few of the scores of domains I bought, sold, or gave away were the following:


While doing this project, I learned a lot and earned a small reputation as a domain name speculator, sloganeer, and namer/brand developer for online projects. Some of my collaborators still email me requesting ideas for names/urls of projects they’re planning. I invite anyone to contact me and make your own request.

Below I have archived the Prefab Domains FAQ for those who want to learn more about the logistics of the project.

How do you think of these domain names?

Most of my domains are what linguists sometimes call “prefab(rication)s”, phrases which are more or less lexicalized, or stored in the brain and recalled easily like single words. People in advertising and PR love them for this very reason and use them all the time as titles, taglines, and slogans. I love them because they say something about the way language really works, and how it’s really used by real people. And for a few years now I’ve been compiling them into a massive dictionary that fills in the gaps of many other dictionaries.

Isn’t this cybersquatting?

I don’t think so. Depends on your definition. Read Wikipedia’s cybersquatting entry. Or see the answers to the next few questions below and judge for yourself…

Why the $8.95 starting price?

All of the domains I put up for auction are registered with GoDaddy. You may have noticed that my starting price of $8.95 is the same as the cost of their year-long domain registration. That’s intentional. It’s no secret that $8.95 is what I paid for each domain. Since my auctions have no reserve price, this means that the winning bidding price (minus $8.95) is all the compensation I get for the time and effort it takes me to find and register the domain, create the auction, and manually initiate electronic transfer of the domain to the winning bidder. The auctions are set up this way to protect myself from LOSING money while allowing for the possibility of making VERY LITTLE money and guaranteeing that the winning bidder will walk away with a good domain name for a reasonable price.

Why eBay?

Ebay is where normal people shop for all kinds of interesting and unusual things like my domain names. Ebay is not a specialized market where cybersquatters gather and try to realize their get-rich-quick dreams. So when I sell a domain name on eBay, the buyer is more likely to be someone who will hold on to the domain and use it for their own unique project rather than park it on some generic ‘For Sale’ page with a ridiculous asking price.

Why so cheap? (Or, why so expensive?)

Finding and snatching up interesting prefab domain names is my hobby. It’s satisfying for me to sell them for reasonable prices to people who are happy to have a catchy name for their website. And to hear their surprise at the fact that such familiar phrases haven’t “already been taken”. And sometimes even to keep in contact with them after the sale to see what creative uses they’ve put the name to.

Whatever I get out of this hobby I put right back into it. So the little money I (might) make enables me to find and sell more (and better) domains. I hope it will remain self-sustaining at least. But if it comes to the point where I don’t make any money, I’ll simply stop selling and keep the best names for myself and my friends, for whatever projects we might envision in the future.

How do you transfer ownership of domains?

With full cooperation of the winning bidder, that’s how. After an auction ends, I will ask the winning bidder for the information GoDaddy requires. I will do nothing more with this information than initiate safe and secure transfer of the domain. Once the winning bidder has paid, I will submit this information to GoDaddy, and the winning bidder will be notified by email with instructions on how to complete the process and assume registration of the domain name. I try to be as upfront and on-the-table as possible with the entire auction and domain transfer process. If you cooperate fully, it really should not be complicated at all.

How long will I own my domain?

All of these domains names were purchased for year-long registrations within three months of their being put up for auction. That means that upon successful transfer of the domain to you, you will own if for 9-12 months before GoDaddy asks you to renew at their yearly rate (around $9/year for top-level .com domains).

Can you find a domain name for my website?

I can try. (I can try harder for non-profits and projects I like.) Contact me and let me know what you have in mind.