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Domains for Good

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Are you feeling more and more out of control as Coronavirus tightens its grip on the world?

If so, you’re not alone. In these challenging times, it’s easy to feel weighed down by all the doom, gloom and uncertainty surrounding us – now more than ever, it’s okay to not be okay. If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress, please get help immediately.

It goes without saying that we’d all love a cure, but the best we can do right now is stay home and practice social distancing to slow the spread of this disease.

In these dark times, there are also some incredible acts of generosity, kindness and selflessness, so in the spirit of positivity, I’d like to focus on something good today: the acts of kindness we’re seeing when it comes to domain names.

I’ve been working in the domain industry since 2002. During this time, I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing people, and our relationships have grown beyond mere work colleagues to what I consider true friendship.

There are lots of people in our space who consistently donate their time, expertise, money and much more to non-profit organisations, the underprivileged, and newcomers to the industry. Most of the time, these individuals do not want any thanks or fanfare, so the good they do, flies under the radar.

Something that has brought me a little joy is hearing about how some domain investors are using their domains for good right now, whether they’re developing non-profit informational websites or redirecting their medical-related domain names to ensure type-in traffic is finding the right resources during the Coronavirus crisis. Domainers often get a bad rap, and it’s acts like these that make me proud to be part of this community.

Domains making positive headlines.

Here’s a look at some positive stories about domains that have made headlines lately…

Blood.com

When Paul Nicks of GoDaddy mentioned on Twitter that blood drives have been cancelled in many places due to Coronavirus, it inspired the owner of Blood.com to forward the domain to the Red Cross.

Those who head to the site will find themselves right on the Red Cross donation page, where they can schedule an appointment to make a donation during this absolutely critical time. This good deed, in turn, inspired the owner of BloodDonation.com and BloodDonation.org, two sites that would also have type-in traffic, to do the same.

Coronavirus.com

Coronavirus.com is owned by an entity that is associated with GoDaddy, but it’s worth noting they didn’t acquire this domain name for the purposes of capitalizing on search traffic related to the current crisis. Instead, they acquired it as part of a deal that saw them taking over Uniregistry assets. The domain appears to have been a part of the portfolio as far back as 2007, so it’s clear the recent outbreaks had nothing to do with their ownership.

The site has long been parked with ad links related to various illnesses as well as a banner announcing it’s up for sale. However, toward the end of February, it started forwarding to a page on the website of the World Health Organization (WHO). This means that anyone who heads to Coronavirus.com will be greeted with trustworthy and up-to-date information about the virus and how they can protect themselves against it, coming from one of the most trusted sources in the world.

It’s a domain name that is certainly receiving a huge volume of traffic right now, and rather than monetize it, the company has decided to do something that can benefit all of humanity with it.

In addition, GoDaddy also owns Ventilator.com which they are forwarding to the WHO as well!

COVID19.com

COVID19.com is currently forwarding visitors to a GoFundMe webpage. Flexport.org setup the fundraiser to expedite the production and delivery of critical supplies to Frontline Responders combating COVID-19. The registrant is unknown as it appears the domain was recently registered (February 2020) under privacy.

It’s good to know that even as some people use tragedy-related domain names for questionable purposes, two of the most obvious and popular domain names related to the pandemic are being used for good, not profit.

Service providers take action.

A number of ICANN-accredited domain name registrars have pre-emptively banned Coronavirus-related domains from being sold on their sites. In some cases, customers can’t add domains with keywords like “covid”, “coronavirus” or “vaccine” to their carts – but they can call customer support for manual registration if they can demonstrate they want to register the domain for a legitimate purpose. They’re also working actively with authorities to take down abusive sites related to the virus, such as those peddling fake remedies or carrying out other types of scams.

Several parking providers and marketplaces have also announced that they would no longer let sellers list coronavirus-related domain names on their sites, calling the astronomically high prices owners were asking to be “unethical and unacceptable.” They’ve also encouraged clients who own such domains to donate them to non-profits, charities, or government agencies.

ICA #domainassist initiative

The Internet Commerce Association (ICA), a non-profit organisation supporting the rights of domain name owners, has launched an initiative that is aimed at helping those in need. People can tweet their need along with the hashtag #domainassist, and those in the domain name community will see how they can help.

Domain generosity is nothing new.

While it is true that the tragic circumstances facing the world today are inspiring a lot of good in people, the concept of domain generosity isn’t new. Back in 2006, the New York Times reported on two domain names that were used in very positive ways.

Farm.com was donated by its owner, Tom Bird, to the Boston Foundation non-profit, who sold it for an impressive $200,000 in less than a week. At the time, several major domain sellers reported that thousands of people had given domain names to charities, but this was different as the domain name was always intended to be sold by the group for profit rather than to simply be used for their own site.

A similar situation occurred with Holocaust.com, which was donated to the international Jewish human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Centre in a gift that was valued at over $1 million.

How you can use your domains for good.

If you want to use your domains for good, consider redirecting any that are related to medical terms or pandemics to non-profit organizations or authoritative sources of information that can help other people.

If you’ve got some extra time, develop a basic website and add some helpful resources and links.

These are just small ways that we can do our part to help during this challenging time – if it helps just one person, I’d consider that a victory!

Stay home, stay safe and be kind.