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Is having a '.name' email address a good idea? (waleedkhan.name)
32 points by arxanas on Sept 19, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments



I used to run a minecraft server for my friends on $NAME.com and still own the domain. There's apparently a construction company also called $NAME, and they own $NAME.net. $NAME.net is on all their branding, emails, contact info. As far as I know, they've never used $NAME.com.

I routinely get email meant for them sent to to $NAME.com, sometimes including personal information, and sometimes from employees at the company. I guess their clients assume that businesses always own the dot-com for their name and don't think to verify the actual address (I'm not sure why the employees don't know their own email addresses).

Because of that experience, I try to own the dot-com for any project I start.


I have a common first initial last name gmail address and similar lastname.com domain addresses.

The mail I get is astounding. I've received:

- A word document containing most of somebody's online passwords, including work passwords and the vpn client for the persons work.

- multi-angle Video of an accident investigation involving a bus flipping over a highway medium

- a series of swimsuit modeling and sexy emails from some lady to her boyfriend, followed by angry emails about his lack of attention

- football and soccer pools

- emails from some guy who test drives various luxury cars every 3-4 months

- legal papers from various people

- fan mail to a niche celebrity


I have `echelon at gmail`, and I've received similar. The volume of mis-delivered email outweighs my own legitimate email at this point.

- Multiple PayPal transactions sent to me (up to $400), several of which I've reversed on my own.

- Résumés (Not blindly sent, mind you! They think they know who they're talking to, but they didn't do their homework on the email address.)

- Dozens upon dozens of architectural renderings from several parties.

- Shipping information.

- Order confirmations.

- Screenplays, some of them with actors attached to them in an official-sounding way. ("My client wants XYZ, ...")

- Random legal documents that are marked as "privileged". On a few occasions I've had people realize their mistake and ask me to dispose of the emails.

- Trip itineraries and flight information for several people traveling internationally. (I hope this doesn't put me on some kind of list.)

- Random personal photos.

- Stuff about fire department codes (a few times).

- People signing up for just about any service you can think of. This alone can be bad in several ways:

1) Services that don't do email verification essentially grant me unfettered access to the account that was created under my email address. (Dropbox, Snapchat, etc.) Zero friction, right?

2) Sony won't let me register with my email for PSN since someone in another country "claimed" it. That account is in Portuguese or something, and I've been unable to get US support to free my email address since I need to talk with supporters in that country. I don't speak the language, and I haven't gotten any help.

It's pretty crazy what people are unwittingly sending me or blindly trusting me with. If I were a malicious person, I could do lots of evil. I try to respond to many of these with "I'm not the intended recipient", but often I just don't have the time and I don't want to set up an auto-responder.


I have a first.last@gmail.com email address. At first, I was super annoyed that I kept getting emails meant for firstlast@gmail.com and was upset that Google kept sending those emails to me. But as I later understood that Gmail is simply trying to avoid creation of multiple email accounts that are too similar, I realized something else. People are just ignorant and stupid. It's not Google's fault if those people don't know the correct email address of the person that they're trying to contact.

So people will continue to email the wrong person, and I will continue to receive those emails. Although I don't know why nobody ever emails first.last@gmail.com as the wrong email. It's always firstlast@gmail.com. But whatever.

Because of people's ignorance and stupidity, I am changing my email address to a custom domain hosted by fastmail.com. It's just worth it in the end. Besides that, I'm currently living in China, and Fastmail is accessible here without VPN, while Gmail isn't. So two birds with one stone.

But it was not wanting to deal with ignorant and stupid people that was the driver for this move. The number of such wrongly directed emails seem to be increasing. Grr.


FYI, Gmail ignores dots before @.

first.last@gmail.com, firstlast@gmail.com, and f.i.r.s.t.l.a.s.t@gmail.com are all the same address.


Yes, I know. :)


Same here (name.surname). Next Gmail account will be a guid because I get far too much junk. At one point I set up a Google group for my namesakes. If I recognise the context I forward it.

Wish I could turn off Gmail equating namesurname with name.surname. That's far more than 50% of it.

The lingerie pic was nice. Poor lady was very pleased I'd deleted it!


If you exclusively use name.surname, you could set up a filter to catch anything sent to namesurname and automatically have it skip the inbox/put in a folder/deleted/whatever


Thanks! Just checked my filters and I have exactly that rule which I've turned on and off a couple times. I feel bad because I've had really important emails that people might have missed, e.g. an alert for a funeral of an old friend, or a hotel booking. Today was a flight in a Spitfire that someone had booked.

But upvoted for being helpful.


> - a series of swimsuit modeling and sexy emails from some lady to her boyfriend, followed by angry emails about his lack of attention

Do you not correct people after the first wrong email they send you?


I used to have all kinds of trouble communicating my personal email. My solution was to get the shortest unpronounceable domain name I could manage, paying as much attention as I could to visually unambiguous characters (though this was frustrated considerably by availability), and hooking it up to a catch-all domain mailbox. If I'm going to have to spell it anyway, why not make it as easy as possible? It makes it less cumbersome to use the NATO alphabet too, which I establish by starting with "b for bravo". Yes, this was a reaction to getting a few emails to "bravo@..."!

I had to go with the .net TLD, but .net is WAY less confusing to people than my old .org. This process has not needed refinement for years.


I was following the .family domain, set up a calendar date for the public release, etc.

Ended up learning a lot about these new private TLDs. They are controlled by a company, essentially, who can sell them for whatever they want and even raise prices on specific domains. ie. you can buy randomblah.family for the default $30, but for smith.family you're going to have to pay $5000 or whatever they set it at. My family name was set at $1300/year.

I emailed the holders of the TLD and complained to them, seeing as it's not my fault I was born with a semi-common last name. Eventually, after the domain didn't sell, they emailed me offering to sell it at a one-time $1300 price but the renewal would be $30/year, forever. Not bad, but I'm still not paying $1300. So I'm sticking with the crappy domain I currently have.


I find even having a .org email address to be a pain when stores/customer service/similar ask for it. They're expecting a .com or .co.uk on the end, I find, and I have to clarify what I said was right. Tempted to get a separate "easier" address to forward on :-)


Hell, even using an email address that's not a popular webmail host tends to throw people off. Mine is me@justinlardinois.com; I can't tell you how many times I've confused call center operators with it. I even had one think I meant justinlardinois@me.com.


I use Outlook.com for a lot and it confuses people. I say the first part and they immediately start typing @gmail.com. I even had a guy at my mechanic's shop tell me Outlook was the program I used to check my email, but Gmail was the actual address.


Try using justin@justinlardinois.com

It might be a bit redundant, but it's the pattern I use and I don't ever really have any problems, other than incredulous looks or comments about owning a domain name.


To add to the list of suggestions, the pattern I use is contact@<myname>.com. I've never received any questions with that address, though I don't use it particularly often.


I run with the pattern 'iam@<my domain>'

This works well for everything except my personal domain. My first name is Eoin, pronounced like Ian. Several people have tried to correct the words I just explicitly spelled out to them. I've resorted to having people spell that one back.


Using iam@domain when your name sounds like Ian seems like it's just asking for confusion.


Absolutely.

It was a naming scheme I adopted on other domains first and, being used to ian spelled my way, didn't notice as quickly as I should have.

It's relatively low traffic and has a catch all however, so more just trivia at this point.


I can understand you wanting it spelled correctly but maybe add ian@ as an alias? For those times where mistakes seem likely.


Yeah I have a catch all in, hence why I didn't change the address.


I use firstinitiallastinitial@<mynamedomain>.com.

It's not as redundant as firstname@<mynamedomain>.com. and still seems like a personal email address as opposed to "me/iam/contact".


I've never had problems with my .org domain. I think I once had a customer service person ask "Why dot org?", and they were satisfied by the answer "Well, I'm not a company..."

I've had more problems caused by the occasional assumption that everyone in the world uses gmail.


I don't find the org to be an issue so much as my FirstInitialLastName domain. I sometimes have to repeat that FirstInitial is there, since it seems more natural to people that I would have FirstName@LastName as my email address.


lastname.com is the holy grail of domain names. You'd think with my fairly uncommon surname I'd be able to get mine, but it got snapped up in 1999 but some French construction contractor that's been using it to host a static site about his business ever since.


I wouldn't know what to do if I got LastName.com. I'd probably make a service so other people sharing the name could have email addresses forwarded from it. heh.


That's what RealNames does; it own the domains for a lot of common last names. trinh.com is one that comes to mind.


Despite having some domains which I mostly use for gaming purposes and stuff, my main "serious" email address is @fastmail.fm. It is a nightmare to tell it to someone by phone. It goes as far as "dot fm, never heard that, do you mean .com?" Wtf, that doesn't even sound similar. Emails never arrive.


Luckily for you, Fastmail eventually got their .com, so I believe @fastmail.com should also work now (not a customer so I don't know for sure).


Ha! You think that's bad, you should try having a Chinese domain name.

None of the major webmail platforms would even acknowledge that it was a valid email address https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2014/01/poor-idn-support-from-major...

That was 2 years ago, time for an update!


After reading this thread on HN (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12247401) I made the move away from gmail to fastmail with my own TLD.

I used a `.me` TLD. I love it. Works great and haven't been confused yet. Still trying to work out what to host on the domain other than my mail... maybe a resume or something.


I host a résumé (and most recently, a blog). I used to be pretty discoverable on Google by linking my StackOverflow, LinkedIn, Github, and website together, which seemed to have worked well. I think it was something like three of my links in the top five results, although I don't remember.

(Then another Waleed Khan made the news and I'm still struggling to regain my search result spots.)


I gave up my .name domain a few years ago, primarily because people didn't understand it. I was wondering if the recent explosion of TLDs might help everyone collectively realize that there's more than '.com', but it doesn't seem to be happening yet.


I owned internets.computer for a year, then the novelty wore off. It was a tongue-in-cheek parody of branding and new TLDs, and great for catching certain tech-savvy people's attention, but ultimately not worth the several-times multiplier of a regular domain name.


I use a .name domain, but redirect .com to it. I also ended up using the .com for my MX record after experiences similar to those outlined in OP. This approach seems like the best of both worlds.


I have $lastname.co and used $first@$lastname.co for a while... I should have known better. Obviously people would end up sending it to $lastname.com, because they thought it was a typo or I've even seen people just add the 'm' from muscle memory. Then I bought $lastname.xyz, and people just think I'm giving them a completely fake email.


Have you tried $lastname.sexy?


I tried using $NAME.co, but everyone seemed to think it was a typo. I Recently switched over to $NAME.io and haven't had any issues. It's short, looks nice, and I've had generally positive reactions to it.


I've had a .name email address since the TLD was released. Never had any problems with validators.

'Name' is a surprisingly easy word to mis-hear over the phone if it's not expected, though.


We definitively had problems with validators early on (I co-founded the company that pivoted into the .name registry; not been involved in it for over a decade - and it was sold to Verisign years ago), but we spent a lot of time harassing site owners with stupid validation, so most of the high profile ones were fixed very quickly. It helped that there were a number of other longer TLD's launched at the same time, like .info (there were a few that used lists of valid TLDs, as well, but mostly people just assumed the TLD couldn't be longer than three characters).

".name" was a pivot from offering an e-mail service (Nameplanet) were we let people register <something>@<lastname>.<various tlds> - we negotiated bulk deals with a range of TLD operators and so had 50k-60k domains or something like that.

Problem with giving people a ".name", I think, is that people often don't get right away that you mean it literally. Especially if you have an unusual firstname/lastname that they know, and you try to avoid spelling out the e-mail address by going "my firstname at my lastname dot name".

I've since gone back to just using my .com - discussing our respective <lastname>.<tld> and how there must be more people who'd like that was actually how it started.


A .name email was what I went with after I graduated University, but I made the mistake of going for a first@last.name email address, instead of just buying the last.name domain directly.

Even at the time, it was hard to find a provider, and I can't imagine how many there are now, but it must be a real small number.

So, I've still got my first@last.name, but now I also own last.us, so first@last.us is my primary.


I currently have a <lastname>.so domain for private email etc. Its working good, just a few people ask to clarify in the last 4 years of usage. However, I do worry that I could loose it as its a country TLD? For example, if someone from the country of origin would start a company for example, could they claim it? Does it depend on the country in question?


Yes, each TLD is operated uniquely so it would depend on the country you're dealing with.


I use a .name address for all of my personal email. There are occasional problems but mostly it works just fine.


I used to do .name about 10 years but too many sites didn't allow "unconventional" TLDs and are/were hopelessly pathetic. Given that there are many more gTLDs and still sites can't manage a proper email "validation" regex, it's too hipster to bother with.


Perhaps I've just been lucky, but I've used a few novelty TLDs for e-mail, and never ran into any issues. My current go-to addresses are myfirstname@mylastname.email, for more professional settings, and <one letter>@<two letters>.<two letters> for quick throw-aways.


A rare occasion where Betteridge's law[0] apples in a non-cynical way.

.com was part of the zeitgeist of the late 90s and its cultural ties to the web and technology in general haven't faded since.

Even using a .net domain makes you look a little off; I don't see much utility in attempting to use any of the countless TLDs that have proliferated since then.

I get the impression that ICANN is trying to undermine the ubiquity of .com. I think it's a noble goal, but it hasn't been successful so far and I don't see any reason to believe things will change.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headline...


I was part of setting up .name - I'm named in the ICANN application - and I kinda agree with you. I've gone back to using my .com, because I had my <lastname>.com for years before we started .name and it's just simpler to get people to understand.

But I think .com is being undermined quite effectively simply by it being "impossible" to find good names. I get .com's when I can find something reasonable, but otherwise look at other alternatives. It will just take a lot of time. I also think this is more apparent outside of the US, where we're used to using ccTLDs a lot more often, and where ".com" in many cases implies "foreign, like US" which may or may not be what a company would like.

What's interesting to me is what "works" and doesn't as alternatives to .com.

E.g. I hardly ever seem to visit ".info" or ".biz" (who launched at the same time as .name) sites, even though at the time (I have no idea what the relative counts are like today) they were vastly more successful than .name. I don't see that many ".name"'s either, but still far more than many of the other early new TLDs. While many of the ccTLDs have managed to build some level of popularity (e.g. ".io") and others seems to have faded into obscurity (".cx" used to be quite popular in tech circles, but I rarely see it any more).


I think one of my favorite things about Hacker News is that you can comment on a technology and have a nonzero chance of someone who actually had a hand in it piping in.

Also, I realize now I forgot to mention domain hacks, which I think do give non-.com TLDs a lot more value than they'd otherwise have.

> But I think .com is being undermined quite effectively simply by it being "impossible" to find good names.

In my opinion, a "just okay" .com is better than a good domain with some other TLD. I suspect this is a pretty common opinion.

> I also think this is more apparent outside of the US, where we're used to using ccTLDs a lot more often

I thought about this when I wrote my comment, but as an American it's not something I'm especially familiar with. Our own ccTLD .us isn't commonly used.

> I hardly ever seem to visit ".info" or ".biz" (who launched at the same time as .name) sites, even though at the time (I have no idea what the relative counts are like today) they were vastly more successful than .name.

I think the only reason these were ever popular is because they were priced so cheaply. It seems like .info is/was mostly used for throwaway domains, and .biz is just a terrible name. It's supposed to be for businesses, but it sounds like it'd only be used by shady used car dealerships. Nevermind that .com is officially for commercial entities anyways.

> While many of the ccTLDs have managed to build some level of popularity (e.g. ".io") and others seems to have faded into obscurity (".cx" used to be quite popular in tech circles, but I rarely see it any more).

I think .io is a fad that's going to die along with infinite scrolling websites. The fantasy notion of a "startup" is trendy and sexy right now even outside the industry, just like a "dotcom" was two decades ago. It'll fade away just like .tv did after the novelty of TV services on the web went away.

Side note: would .tv still be big if Netflix used netflix.tv instead of netflix.com?


> In my opinion, a "just okay" .com is better than a good domain with some other TLD. I suspect this is a pretty common opinion.

I agree with that, but finding even a "just okay" .com is getting pretty damn hard. I use .com for most of my projects, but I've also got some .io's and was looking at .ai (which looks like a massively missed opportunity right now - you need to pay $100 just to register to be able to buy the domain, and then $100 per domain; if they made it a bit easier/cheapr, it'd seem the perfect time to profit from lots of deep learning / AI tech projects...)

> I thought about this when I wrote my comment, but as an American it's not something I'm especially familiar with. Our own ccTLD .us isn't commonly used.

Yeah, .us had a very brief period of limited popularity, but was effectively stifled by the silly policy of geographic subdivision.

> I think the only reason these were ever popular is because they were priced so cheaply. It seems like .info is/was mostly used for throwaway domains, and .biz is just a terrible name. It's supposed to be for businesses, but it sounds like it'd only be used by shady used car dealerships. Nevermind that .com is officially for commercial entities anyways.

Yeah, it really got off on a bad start by effectively feeling like cheap knockoffs of .com, to the extent that at some point it was a clear signal that you were probably a small two-bit operation or a scammer if you had the .info/.biz and someone else had the corresponding .com. And if you had a name that somebody didn't have on .com you'd be an idiot not to buy the .com anyway. This is very different from e.g. the ccTLDs, where someone might very well choose to have the ".co.uk" (you can get ".uk" too now, but they're not common) and not bother with the ".com" if they're genuinely geographically limited to the UK (personally I'd snap up the .com anyway, and redirect it, just in case, but a lot of businesses don't).

> I think .io is a fad that's going to die along with infinite scrolling websites.

Maybe, maybe not. I think .io makes a lot of sense as a "easy way to get a decent name" for projects that are not necessarily intended to be directed at the general public. If you're aiming for a tech savvy audience, the .com isn't so important. So <some random project on github>.io might very well persist. I agree that most who use .io for public-facing projects will probably end up moving to .com's as/when they find/can afford to buy suitable alternatives, though.

> Side note: would .tv still be big if Netflix used netflix.tv instead of netflix.com?

That's an interesting question. I think a lot of these domains come and go largely based on how good the registry's are at marketing them. Part of the challenge is that the individual TLDs for the most part are not huge money-spinners, so don't have the budgets to try to turn it into valuable brands.

For .name one of the challenges we faced was exactly that: We were contracted to sell at a relatively low price (the market wouldn't have been prepared to bear a higher price anyway for .name at that point, but for others, possibly), and we were dependent on registrars that in most cases had no clue, and the ones that had a clue had little incentive to invest hugely in it because to them we were just one of a bunch of other TLDs, and we couldn't give them anything extra of value (like exclusivity) compared to the other registries.

So unless you make it big, or can show projections that you will, the revenue potential drastically limits the amounts you can spend building a brand around the TLD. Which again limits the growth. And around in circles we go.

The painful irony is that we'd probably have done far better if we stuck to our original business (vanity hosted e-mail) - the e-mail service was bought by a company backed by Marc Cuban; I don't know if I can mention the sales price but it wasn't huge (we had ~2 million registered accounts; the sale happened after the .com crash) but as far I know they made the purchase sum back in 6 months by converting the accounts to paid accounts and ditching any user that wouldn't pay (a shame, but it was that or closing the service down entirely).

Our original business plan was actually to stick with paid accounts like they did, and we identified them early on as our only realistic competitor, but then we got seduced by the potential of building up a huge free user base and sell, with the enthusiastic agreement of the VC's we spoke to (this was at a time where there had been crazily ludicrous transactions selling free users for amounts accounting to decades of actual revenue per user, in the expectation that you'd be able to sell to someone else who would find magical ways of monetising them better).

Based on the .name registrations in early years I think it's safe to say that it took many years to get to the same revenue numbers as they did basically over-night. But we gambled on registration numbers for .name several magnitudes higher than that, and that's the price you pay sometimes.


Thanks for this writeup. You've given a lot of interesting thoughts and insights.


Thanks, I enjoyed this. Today on the HN frontpage is, "Is Tesla telling us the truth over autopilot spat?"


I have a .name domain which I don't use - I think ".name" just sounds... ugly. I use .id.au now, which I personally find much more aesthetically pleasing.


I used to own $lastname.email, but I ran into issues with other people's accounts flagging me as spam.


I'm not surprised. I tend to rate most of these new gold-rush TLDs as spam havens; I've certainly never anything but spam from a .club, .work, .rocks, .download, .stream, or other such address.




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