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Show HN: DotComAgain – Find free dropped .com domains (dotcomagain.com)
86 points by adminu on Dec 6, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 65 comments

Hi, I am the author of dotcomagain.

With dotcomagain you can search through recently dropped .com, .org, .net, .biz, .cc, and .tv domains. I check the .com, .net, .org, .biz domains daily, to make sure they are free. The .tv and .cc are not checked currently, due to technical reasons.

The nice thing about dropped domains is, that many have been bought with a business in mind. So, not only are these domains free for purchase, many are also spellable and "make sense". So, find the domain to your next idea here or just be inspired or amazed by what people previously bought.

If you have questions or feedback, feel free to leave it here or in the feedback box on the website :)

Neat! Would you be willing to share your source for the info? Are you accredited yourself, or are you using a 3rd party api?

(Just curious! I used to be in the registrar business myself, always interested in what people are building!)

Of course:

Droplists are from namejet, domain cleaning is done by checking against zone-files from ICANN (that's why I don't currently check .tv and .cc domains as there are no zone-files by ICANN provided for them. As they are country specific, I would have to build custom solutions for them, which I don't want for a proof of concept).

Tried "file" and "doc" and both appeared to be stuck loading for over 30 before I gave up

Edit: seems to load if I refresh a few times. Android Chrome. Also, debounce time is a bit short

Yeah, the database is under too much load right now (should have chosen RDS t3.micro when posting on HN). Updating to a bigger instance right now, should be up in a few minutes again. Thanks for the feedback

I imagine your entire database would fit easily in memory, so you should consider caching instead of hitting your database on every request.

I’m in the process of learning React to build Webapps and this sounds like something I’d need to know eventually, any resource recommendations?

No resources off the top of my head. I learned this stuff a pretty long time ago!

Deciding how to cache is often much more complicated than writing the actual code, although the code can also be very complicated.

For any caching layer, you have to decide:

- storage? (on disk vs. in memory)

- host? (app server vs. database server vs. third-party like ElastiCache)

- what to cache? (DB query results and/or rendered views and/or DTOs)

- when to delete cache? (ex: row #12 was changed in the DB, so now I need to delete any cached data that should change because row #12 was an input for it)

- how to segment cache? (logged-in users may share some parts of cache, but not others)

- TTL for cache? (is it OK to just keep everything in memory forever, or does there need to be a time limit that will reduce the size of the cache?)

- max size for cache? (same issue as above, but the limit is the storage size instead of a proxy like time)

These seem like decent jumping off points:




Thanks for the starting point. I find one of the biggest challenges is figuring out what I should learn to be efficient (the unknown unknowns), so even just a point in the right direction is very helpful!

My suggestion would be, to not focus on that stuff right away. I know, this comes from the guy, whos website suffered the HN hug of death, but, look, I could bring it back up within 10 minutes.

My suggestion is, to build it as easy as possible, ideally with AWS or something like that, where you can throw computing power at it in a matter of minutes, when needed.

Build the stuff first, worry about scalability later, when you actually have proven that you need to worry about it. That's the lesson from my first startup anyways. We made the server slick and scalable, but in the end noone cared, because the product didn't meet demand. Don't waste your time on prematurley optimizing. Just my two cents :)

Interesting, I wonder if all the new TLDs have eased the pressure on .com/.net/.org/etc.

10-15 years ago, any remotely intelligible expired .com/.net domain would be picked up by bots as soon as it was available and held for years.

They would put them on sale for a much higher price (10x+ the yearly fee, much more if they were good domain names).

That was the last time I cared about domain names, as did many other people it seems. Now it's just whatever. Make up a word that's easy to spell/pronounce/remember, even if it's nonsensical, and build a brand around it.

That still happens. And everyone that gets approached by someone else for a domain name wants $10,000, at least, everyone.

Outside of that market, the main pervasive idea in the collective conscious is that people need a .com, which also died 10-15 years ago.

Making money on the internet does not require that.

If you need "organic traffic" from a search engine or people typing your domain name in, your idea isn't one of the kind of ideas that make you any convenient amount of money. It just makes some youtube marketing guru some clicks, and some passive income course seller some money, because you'll definitely be coming back to those once whatever outdated SEO becomes clear that its not working.

You can host entire businesses on a github hosting page. yoursubdomain.github.io

You can host entire businesses on a mailchimp mailing list shared around as a direct link

The reality is that your actual users will never be typing your domain name in. They will click and tap on it from social media and chat rooms. Your no name publication with a garbage domain name created yesterday can influence politics, we've seen that clear as day for half of a decade. You can absolutely sell ads on that stuff, or take hundreds of thousands to millions in payments directly from political action committees and NGOs.

So, sure, do all sorts of domain name hacks using obscure TLDs, have fun with the branding, don't worry about the dot com, its just a "nice to have".

> And everyone that gets approached by someone else for a domain name wants $10,000, at least, everyone.

I own pandorasbrain.com and want to sell it. Every couple months I get an "offer" for a few thousand dollars, and every time I say yes -- which inevitably leads to the other person replying "actually I don't have the money right now, would you sell it to me for [$100, $200, maybe $400]". ... which I also say yes to! ... and then they disappear and never respond.

I have no idea what this presumed scam is about, but rest assured there are people out here with .coms who want to sell for much less than $10k, but ... nobody's interested!

I’ve been doing the same with the spammers that ask me if they can send me an SEO report or “generate content for my site” for which I’ll be paid.

I respond, eagerly, in the positive. And not one of them has yet responded.

What’s the point? Am I just confirming my identity to a bot? And even so ... to what end?

When you accept immediately people automatically think their offer was too high and the name (or whatever item) must not be worth it. Next time ask for 20-50% more than they offer.

What marketplace are you selling it on? I think on some of them like sedo you can set up a fixed price that doesn't involve bargaining and that people can buy instantly if they are interested.

None. These are cold emails.

I'm an actual buyer occasionally that has dealt with actual people with no problem. My offers were real.

As someone that owns domains names, I haven't really seen this market but I keep whois privacy on I guess.

This happened to me this year. I had a domain for almost 20 years that was on register.com. I refused to pay their fee, the discount codes no longer worked, and they made it very difficult to transfer (I made a few attempts). Eventually I got fed up and let it expire.

It was instantly snagged with a $8500 price tag to get it back. Fortunately I had moved off every meaningful account so all they were left with was a bunch of spam. As much as I liked it, it was nice to make a fresh start with a new domain.

For future reference, and for anyone interested, not only do (ICANN accredited) have to provide a transfer authcode within 5 days of being requested, it's also possible to transfer a domain after it has expired, as long as it's still within the renewal grace period.

I don't know the answer to your specific question, but I can say that .com still makes up the vast vast majority of what customers are purchasing, even when presented with all of the other TLDs when they search.

Anecdotally, I've had conversations of the form:

Me: "My website is joe.pizza"

Friend: types in joepizza.com

Appropriately enough, both joe.pizza and joepizza.com are parked domains...

They've deeply weakened .net as it was always second fiddle - now there are more specific/relevant second fiddles to choose from.

Good .com's are worth much, much more now (e.g. Voice.com sold for $30 million USD recently).

I think some of the shady behavior from the new extension registries (they seem to hold back every decent name as a "premium") really hurt their adoption.

I think there might be more pressure on .COM (nobody cares about .net and .org only if you're anything non-profity - it's still the 800 lb gorilla). A lot of TLDs, people don't even know or recognize. There's questionable billing policies/pricing policies. A lot of it feels like a gold rush from registry side, not to actually benefit consumers. Premium domains from registry, get that nice one word domain you want - but instead of a one time fee, pay it to us yearly to the registry. At least with a .COM the fee is low post acquisition.

> There's questionable billing policies/pricing policies.

I blame ICANN. A few years ago Uniregistry changed pricing for a bunch of TLDs including existing registrants and ICANN did nothing.

All of the other registries routinely reclassify domains as premium when they drop and it's really short sighted IMO. Domains would make an incredible, pseudo-anonymous, collision free web identity system, but many of the registries (AFAIK) are owned by private equity and can't see past the next quarterly earnings report.

It's really sad. The new domains could have been an opportunity to expand the market by convincing regular people to buy domains for email, identity, etc., but instead we got a bunch of short sighted price gouging :-(

I can say that one organization I've helped with IT for had a few associated domains for future use. One of them, an eight-letter English word followed by .net, expired accidentally due to personnel changeovers. Someone snagged it and apparently used it for a game server for one year, and after it expired again it's remained unclaimed since. (I advocated for not worrying about it, since said "future use" has never materialized.)

it actually happened recently to me with an unused .io domain I let expire. Io is an Italian pronoun for me/I; judging by the silly joke-page he put on it, the new registrant is also Italian and is basically just squatting.

How does one even get a list of dropped domains to populate this database? This is something I really have no knowledge about.

Have built a domain registrar.

The industry term for this business is called “drop catching” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_drop_catching

Domain registries provide registrars with reports of domains which are set to expire, and if you’re not a registrar yourself, you can often purchase these lists on a secondary market or use APIs built upon serving this information.

But even if you don’t have that list, you can do a Whois search for any domain and know its expiration. You could build your own database!

Note that most domains have a grace period (eg, 30 days) where the original owner can renew even after it has expired. So it’s not like you’d be able to steal someone’s domain just because of a clerical error.

> Note that most domains have a grace period (eg, 30 days) where the original owner can renew even after it has expired.

Back in the day Microsoft dropped the ball with passport.com, shutting down hotmail over Christmas.



You’d think Microsoft would have learnt their lesson but no, 3 years later it was Hotmail.co.uk that dropped off


It turns out that grace periods (called a "redemption grace period") weren't proposed until 2003. I'm not actually sure when this process was approved by ICANN - sometime between 2003 and 2013.

The latest version of ICANN's registrar accreditation agreement, in 2013, includes grace period provisions. https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/approved-with-specs-20...

Hey, also posted it above, but here again:

Droplists are from namejet, domain cleaning is done by checking against zone-files from ICANN (that's why I don't currently check .tv and .cc domains as there are no zone-files by ICANN provided for them. As they are country specific, I would have to build custom solutions for them, which I don't want for a proof of concept).

Is there a legitimate use for this besides being a domain squatter?

Sure, find good domains for your websites and businesses. It can be a source of inspiration at least, because you can see, what others have deemed good domain names in the past. You don't have to hodle them, you can use them

Does not seem to work in Firefox:

> Cross-Origin Request Blocked: The Same Origin Policy disallows reading the remote resource at https://[...].execute-api.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/[...]. (Reason: CORS header ‘Access-Control-Allow-Origin’ missing).

edit: I also get similar error messages intermittently in Chrome.

Thanks for the feedback, I am looking into it. I am sure though, that it is not an Firefox issue, as I tested in FF while development. I guess, the database is overloaded, currently...

Same with Safari for me.

This could have been interesting. But search for anything and it’s clear why people dropped these domains :/

Thanks for the feedback. I made the opposite experience, that’s why I build the website for it. Of course, you will wade through some trash, but I did find a lot of interesting domains

Maybe we search for different domains ;) glad it worked for you.

I searched for 'Nintendo' and got the following:

* nintendoswitchvr.com

* nintendopocket.com

* nintendomarathon.com

* supernintendoworld.org (there's a new theme park of the same name)

I wouldn't buy any of these domains but I can see the value in being able to quickly find them.

I wouldn’t recommend buying them - generally, registrars and ICANN seek to avoid trademark infringing behavior and would likely disable your site if Nintendo were to complain.

(Source: Have built a domain registrar)

Any good registrar would expect Nintendo to go through the proper UDRP procedure before doing anything.

Totally - that was my using the word "complaint" to simplify the terminology!

It would be interesting to have a feed of domains here, and you could filter not by keyword but other parameters. For example, domains that have been registered for more than 5 years (age).

I had a .com domain lapse while I was in hospital a couple of years ago, and The hijackers wanted $20,000 to sell it back to me. I don’t know what planet they were from, but it is a name that would be useful to literally only five or ten people at most. I just waited a year or so and then bought it back when it became available again for the more sane $10. Somebody is paying these idiots or else they would not be up to that sort of rubbish.

It seems on iPhone at least you have to type really fast or it searches for the first few characters you entered and doesn’t update.

Maybe because I have content blockers.


bad data. paa.com is not available.

I did see that, according to whois it was registered today, and the OP said that he refresh daily, so probably some lucky guy got it.

It was dropped (mistakenly) by CSC Corporate, caught by Dropcatch: https://www.dropcatch.com/domain/Paa.com

Is there an API or service that can tell me the value of a domain by looking at things like backlinks or Alexa ranking or something like that?

What if I were to make a tool that monitored dropped domains and ran it through the service and then automatically bought domains which had some base value according to the tool?

If your tool also reoffered the domain to the secondary market and automatically accepted high bids then you could make money just by leaving your tool running...

Nice idea, and nicely done.

This is where an endless list does NOT work. I want to know the total # results for my search, so I can better decide judge if I should add more words to the search query.

My workflow would be to compare a bunch of saved choices, would be nice to make it easy to add bunch to a cart/list of some sort then

Thanks for the feedback.

Yeah, I agree, that sticking a number of results on the list could be beneficial.

About the save list: That is a feature, that I wanted to build, too, but decided to first see what the HN reaction to this project is. So, might come in the future :)

Nice! This brings back some old memories from a long time ago..

Would be great to have a wildcard such as * as well as basic filters to allow for search by: numbers or letters only, .com only etc. Also found right away a domain that is not available and registered since 1997 so wondering how accurate the list is.

Thanks for the feedback.

Sorry that you found a registered domain. Because of how everything works, I can only make sure, that most domains are free, but there are some in ther, that might be taken. Also, .cc and .tv are not cleaned at all, currently. So there might be a lot more taken ones of these tlds.

Concerning the filters: You can search for one or multiple tdls and also exclude numbers or dashes, but only on desktop. Wildcards are not yet supported, but might be in the future.

I really like your logo. I think it’s very clever making the “dot” in the place of the “.”

This is an AMAZING tool and very useful. I appreciate you working on it and love it. I feel like you offer suggestions for domains, but maybe its just pulling in the lists.

Just a heads up, a few domains are coming back as free but are registered. Check out paa.com

Nice stuff. Congrats

Have you posted on namepros? That’s where all the domainers go to

Thanks :)

No, didn't know about that forum, yet. Will post there.

This is neat.

Quite funny to put in some 'naughty' words to see what comes up

Also, try www or something like that and you can see what the scammers were after... e.g. wwwgodady.com or wwwamazln.com

Aside of not find it useful and find it excessively slow, -1.

Hi, I just upgraded the database, it should be a lot faster again

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