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Rate My Startup: DomainPigeon.com (domainpigeon.com)
31 points by matt1 on Jan 29, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 74 comments

I'm pretty big domain collector, and to be honest, I see no compelling reason to use this service. Something like Freshdrop.net, which allows sorting by numerous data types, searching, and the ability to get the jump on newly expired domains is much more useful.

Of the 10 most popular domains, only 1 (campdeal.com) is moderately attractive. I browsed through a bunch of the categories and most of them were terrible. There is also no ability to search a keyword and have relevant names appear.

I would be very interested in a service like this, but you will need much more functionality to compete. I think you may have opened up for review before the product was ready.

Thanks for the feedback and I understand your critiques.

The 10 most popular were only elevated to that level from people testing out the site (all of those were on the front page when people were testing it). I don't think they accurately reflect the best domains the site has. It should as the site gets more traffic. Plus, eventually some will start to get registered, which I'll highly prominently on the homepage. It needs time though.

As far as releasing before it was ready, all I can say is that there's a lot more I'm going to do, but wanted to get something out there to get feedback. This is not a final product by any means; it's an iteration.

Edited to add: While Domain Pigeon may one day be popular with domain collectors such as yourself, I'd consider it more successful if it becomes popular with non-collectors. If you go to the site expecting to find domains worth thousands of dollars, you'll likely be disappointed--most of those are taken. My objective is to make a good place to go for people simply looking for options.

I think you should reconsider targeting more serious collectors. I personally buy 5 or so domains per week, so that adds up to many more sales than the average person who might buy 5 domains their entire life.

You might be right. I'll try to make it a great site for both audiences.

Release early, release often.

I think the headline at the top is longer than necessary, too much of a sentence.

So instead of:

"We help you find an unregistered domain name for your website"


"Find the best unregistered domains"

Or something else short and sweet?

Just a thought. Best of luck!

It's funny, I must have changed it about fifty times. It's amazing how many variations you can get on the same phrase. For example:

- "We help you find an unregistered domain name for your website"

- "We help you find unregistered domain names for your websites"

- "Find an unregistered domain name for your website"

- "Find unregistered domain names for your websites"

- "Find a great unregistered domain name for your site"

Etc etc. I think I'll get rid of the "We help you", as that was something I was indecisive about.

Thanks --

Use Google's Website Optimizer to do AB testing with the different phrases that you've come up with.


I would drop the "for you website" bit. It sounds a little 1994. What else would they want the domain name for?

I too fell into that trap. One day I woke up and saw "best * on the Internet" in my copy and hated myself all day.

I think keeping "for your website" makes it clearer for normal people.

At the same time, "normal people" who don't know that domains are for websites will not have a prayer of understanding what domainpidgin.com is about.

How do you expect these "normal people" to find domainpidgin in the first place?

It seems to me that the text in the header should be "Domain Pigeon helps you find unregistered domain names for your websites." These are the first words you used yourself in describing the site and I think they work perfectly.

Yeah, that's smart. Done.

Digging back in the logs and I found this-- Not sure if you ever changed this, but that's a weird tagline. The other poster is right, it sounds very 1994. It seems redundant in one sense, and awkward in the other. A website suggests a domain, so do you mean I need a new domain for my existing website?

unregistered domain locator

Can I get that with a ".com" please?

@OP, how about "Get a great .com, .net, .whatever right now!"

The short of it: Domain Pigeon helps you find unregistered domain names for your websites. Please let me know what you think.

The long of it: In March of last year I was in the process of writing some poker software and trying to decide on a name for it. I wanted a good name and also wanted to own the corresponding domain name so that people could easily find it. I used Ajaxwhois, a great site that lets shows you the availability of domain names as you type, and quickly got pulled in trying to find a good domain. I would spend hours trying things like “pokerguru.com”, “pokermaster.com”, “pokercalculator.com”, “pokerexpert.com”, and so on. After a lot of time and energy later, I found “allinexpert.com”, which became the name of the software.

Fast forward to about July. ALL IN Expert had just flopped and I was trying to decide on a new project to work on. I had several ideas in mind and again, I wanted a good domain name for whatever it wound up being. It was kind of sick: I wound up going back to Ajaxwhois and using it as the tie breaker. If I could find a good domain name for one project and not the other, that would be what I worked on.

It was crazy. There's got to be a better way. I wrote a small piece of software that played with various word combinations and displayed their availability. Surprisingly, there are a lot of decent domains out there... you just have to be patient enough or resourceful enough to find them.

Then it hit me: This is something other people could use too. I put the other ideas on the back burner and started on this one.

Domain Pigeon, an eccentric but hopefully memorable name I discovered with the same software, is intended to make finding unregistered domain names easier. It has been my learn Rails/JavaScript/web development nights and weekends project over the last few months. I hope you like it.

This is round two of its launch. Last week I posted a link to Philly on Rails, a local group of Rails aficionados, and received a lot of great feedback. The result is what you see today (hopefully, depending on how DreamHost does with the traffic).

I've got a list of about two dozens features I intend to add over the coming weeks, which will be modified and prioritized based on your feedback.

For me, Domain Pigeon has been as much about learning the process as it has been about the releasing the product. On that note, all feedback, positive and negative, is welcomed. I also keep a blog, mattmazur.com, where I write about Domain Pigeon and its progress for anyone that is interested. I try to be as transparent as possible, as that's the best way to get valuable feedback.

On a final note, a lot of the design decisions for Domain Pigeon were adapted from feedback given to other people launching their sites on HackerNews and for that, I owe you all a thank you.

Please let me know what you think.

Looks very cool.

One bit of feedback:

A surprisingly large number of people (10.5 million in the US, or about 7.5% of the population) have some form of red/green colorblindness. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_blindness#Prevalence)

I am one of those people... On domainpidgeon.com it is extremely hard to tell light green from pink, and therefore to know which domains are available and which are not.

I would suggest some other visual indication... maybe strike out the names which are unavailable (http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com/_STRIKE.html), or make the text gray?

Other site I found useful is Nameboy. You give it terms and it tries to find combinations of them that are available. It's pretty slow though, so I think they are not using a local database but are instead doing something expensive to check each combination.

I have my own one too which checks expired domain name listings for promising looking stuff that will become available soon. I can crosslink if you like, but only get 1000+ uniques per month. Not making any money after the expiring domain registrant affiliate programs were closed.

I think the site, your blog and write up are all great - thank you.

Can you use it to help find a better HN username as well, since it seems that "matt" was taken? ;)

The name immediately made me think "So, what, it's going to shit all over my site and be a general annoyance?" You need a better name :)

Bloodhounds come to mind.

Six months from now, I bet you're going to remember the name though :)

You have some competition, how do you stand out? (like nameboy.com, domainit.com, domainnamesuggest.com, domainsbot.com )

Eventually, do everything they do better (and more).

thats not an answer :P

why should I use your service over theirs?

Yeah, I know :D

Here's a start:

1) You don't have to type in any keywords, you can just browse and see what you like. Soon I'll add the ability for people to generate lists based on keywords similar to those other sites, but I wanted to get this out there.

2) Sometimes you don't know what type of domain you want. For example, consider a domain like "posterous.com". That's not something any of those other sites would likely show you based on your keywords. Domain Pigeon would.

3) You can quickly tell what's popular based on the shading, making registration a kind of game. At the moment, the recently added list is mostly white, but it will light up as more people visit the site. The top 10 will change accordingly too.

4) Usability is valued and the site isn't littered with ads.

awesome. Good luck - you've switched me :)

How do you make money?

Membership, affiliates, and maybe some quality ads. There's a lot of options down the road depending on how things go.

at a guess, by affiliate links from when users buy domains

I hate to say this, but do you know who you are up against? Domain squatters are the sleaziest web entrepreneurs known to man. You are basically making their job much easier...

If this site gets at all popular, domain squatters are going to scrape your site for domains that have any value whatsoever and register them. That's how they operate. They are set up to register domain names quickly and cheaply, and squeeze any profit from them at all.

For example, it used to be the case (might still be) that if you did a search on GoDaddy.com for some domain, and did not register that domain within X hours, GoDaddy would sell their searches to squatters which would then often register the domain you just searched for. My guess is their whole process is automated based on how long the domain is, which dictionary words it contains, etc. Shitty, right?

You are a dream come true to them: more than just data on if the domain was searched, but actually tracking non-registered domains' popularities... and posting it for all the public to see! All it takes is one of these self proclaimed "web real estate guru" assholes to come along and see your site has decent domain names listed, and tell his programmer crony to scrape and register them.

I see your only option being using images to display domain names, and mangling up the URLs, to hopefully stifle anyone trying to scrape your site. Then, if you have a lack of morals and want money really bad, you can sell a feed of popular domains to squatters from some good money.

Good luck.

This will be useful to a lot of us, I'm sure.

Just nitpicking here, but you have the words "Click a domain name to begin" that shows up no matter what page I am on (including the registration page). Feels a little out of context there...

Maybe its just me. Great job.. Wish you the best

Thanks and good point about the click message. It now only appears when the user is within the domain controller.

Just purchased 3 domain names, oisie.com (for the shape and look on paper), sayideas.com (maybe a live video site, for idea sharing), idgeo.com (hmm, maybe a tracking solution of some kind)

A bit late in the day perhaps, but I had a couple of observations:

* Search should be above the fold. On my MacBook I have to scroll down to see the input field. Also on the results page I’d put a search box at the top, auto-focused (a la the Google homepage) so I can quickly perform another search.

* "You may have better luck with an account :)." - Why not tell me how many domains I could see if I did sign up instead? I’d be much more likely to fork over $14.95 if I knew what I was getting in advance.

It must be kinda good, because I just bought one of the domains I just saw on your front page - rollwall.com. Sure I can find a use for it :)

It's dangerous on some level. I'm looking for a domain for something I have in mind but while browsing through I've been thinking up functionality to match up to any good names... must stay focused :-)

That's the nicest compliment the site could have received. Appreciate it --

Someone just got campdeal.com too :)

yeap, I got it! thanks mate :)

I realized after you grabbed this that the color calculations were also including registered domains, which it shouldn't have been doing. I fixed that so now that you grabbed campdeal, which was by far the most heavily clicked domain, everything is a lot more colorful.

I think your site is great - could use some synonym heuristics to suggest simillar domains and, ofcourse, an easy way to buy domain through you as a reseller.

or it looks like I wasn't fast enough when I bought the domain even though I was charged, weird. :D

- Put your price on the front page. I'm distrustful if you try to hide it.

- Does the search do substrings? Auto-acronyming? regexs? Startup folks may enjoy that.

- You probably killed off the cream of your inventory crop by showing it here first :-)

Also, perhaps do AB testing with $14.99 and $9.99. See if there's a psychological barrier there. You may find the drop in price is compensated by the increased conversion.

Very good observations.

- I'm not sure what the best way to show the price is. I played with having it big and bold on the registration page but couldn't get it to look right. In an effort to learn how to do it better, I've been taking photos of price tags at Walmart, the mall, etc and have got some good ideas in mind on how to make it better. There's definitely an art to it...

- The search does do substrings. No auto-acronyming (not sure what that is). No regex, as I don't think most people would use it.

- $14.99 vs $9.99... its tough. I figure I'll start higher and drop lower eventually if it seems necessary. It's easier to lower your price than to raise it.

- Inventory... most people haven't scanned past the first few pages. I'll need to find a way to make this easier.

Search should be much more prominent. I have a set of product names with a common keyword and I always am on the lookout for good domains with that keyword. Search should be the first input box I see on the page, not tucked away in the left sidebar below the fold.

When the site has 100K domains rather than 10K domains, I'll definitely make it more prominent. Right now most search results will be 'No domains found' which is why I don't want to showcase it too much.

Also, as mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I'll eventually add a feature that finds unregistered domain names based on your keywords. Domain Pigeon will go hunting for your domains and show you what's available. In time...

I like the look. I thought that clicking on one of the domains felt a little slow. After clicking and waiting, all the info I got was 'This domain is available', with no further action items. Do you keep a blog or feed that we can subscribe to for updates?

Thanks. No feed available yet and because of the way the site tracks popularity, that may never be an option. At some point I will add the ability to sort by specific dates and for people to "mark as read" domains for that date, allowing you to make sure you're not looking over domains twice.

As for the speed, well, that's a function of DreamHost and Verisign... what are you gonna do...

Put the search at the top, next to the sort. Put the login at the top. Five letter 'sort' is a filter. Make the sorts reversible with a second click. Add registry links for available sites. Good luck!

Users can "view" a domain name repeatedly to make it look more popular...should assign 1 view per domain per ip

Yes, as someone who voted up "adenosineetriphosphate.com" figured out, that can be done. I limited it to one view per unique IP address to avoid that problem in the future. Thank you.

Still riggable with a little effort (Tor re-login + BeautifulSoup script).

Does dicking with this affect anything important or is it more of a prank?

It's more of a prank, but, one I need to solve.

When shitty domains get voted up to the Top 10, people will see those and infer the overall quality of the domains on the site. Worse, no one will ever register those domains and they will sit on the Top 10 list forever, unless I delete them manually. So I've got to figure out some way to make the Top 10 list accurately reflect which are the best domains. Currently I'm thinking something along the lines of a popularity equation which uses time and clicks, similar to what HN does with time and points.


I'm bookmarking this, love it!

BTW, I use aplus.net to register all my domains. If you put a drop down box to select the register that I would like to use, I think that would be very convenient.

".com Checker:" must be a real pigeon; it ran forever it never came back.

I will never use it. I take as my enemy any site which supports and enables the crimes-against-humanity naming scheme of modern Internet startups!


I mean that any site which helps some random social spreadsheeting startup choose some dumb name like Oodlu or Uffli is NOT MY FRIEND.

(Thankfully for you and them, my friendship is not worth much in USD.)

My hope is that Domain Pigeon will give people options so that they don't have to use names like Oodlu if they don't want to.

In a sense, we're on the same team :)

What a wierd comment

Quick pg, register hackerer.com!

how are you defining good?

one peeve: I can't copy and paste the domain name text.

campdeal.com is available? wow.

Yeah, good question.

There's a tradeoff between adding less domains but making them of a higher quality and adding more domains but risking that some are of poor quality. At first, I was religiously nixing the bad ones, but I realized it wasn't worth the effort. Not only is it time consuming, but surprisingly, someone may actually register it. You should see the list of registered domain names... there's a lot of garbage out there :)

it was...

Why are you not making money off the sale? For example by using a referral code to a domain registration service?

It's in the works.

It's a tough business selling the domain name ideas.

I make a buck or two on each sold domain at http://HotNameList.com. But it's too easy for users to skip your link, or have an ad blocker etc. Then you get nothing for the sale.

Site looks nice, though.

Good luck.

The tougher a market is the more you can make by doing it well, no?

There are no more interesting domains left.

He who comes up with a solution to that problem will become filthy rich.

Time to drop the addressbar and use a wordbar with disambiguation?

Who is in charge of pushing the world forward?

Sorry, I'm the guy in charge of pushing the world forward. I accidentally fell asleep.

"Time to drop the addressbar and use a wordbar with disambiguation?"

Aren't you roughly describing the way Chrome works? (Maybe not the disambiguation part, it defaulting to a Google search doesn't count.)

Unless you've looked through all of the current 10K+ domains on the site, you can't really say that :) There are actually a lot of decent ones out there...

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