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I hate .net

Okay, as a .net developer, I need to clarify that I don't hate the .net application framework, but I hate .net as an extension for domain names. Of the nearly 1k names I own, I own less than a dozen .net domains. All but 2 of the .net's I own were purchased to protect my IP (which means .net has really just cost me money without adding significant value), and one of those was a 3 letter domain I bought for $15 at a drop auction. The other .net was essentially one of those "wtf was I thinking" moments and I can assure you it will not be developed or renewed!

Now, I don't say I hate .net domains because I'm some sort of .com snob. You know who you are out there... but that's not me. I've talked about how I love .info, .tv and many ccTLDs. I also like .org domain names though I haven't talked much about it on this blog. They are classier and have a sense of community involvement that .net *should* have, but just fails to deliver on. Sure, there are examples of good .net names out there that get plenty of traffic, but it's not due to some benefit of the .net extension. It's really in spite of the poor extension.

Here are the cons you have to overcome if you own a .net:

1. Very few type-ins compared to the .com. If you are hoping that you'll get loads of traffic just by having a great keyword and a .net extension, I can assure you that is not the case. If you want type-ins, get the .com or a relevant ccTLD for a country that has completely adopted their extension. Examples include .co.uk, .com.br, .de and .es. .Net names have a habit of not being developed and instead being parked. This will consistently make people gun shy of just typing in the .net extension - they will be worried about being hijacked. This trend isn't likely to change and more and more extensions will dilute the value of .net even further.

2. No extra love from search engines. .Net may have some perceived advantages when users could click between the same name but say with a .info or .net extension, but the search engines almost universally don't care. Again, exact match keyword domains in .com are great for getting people to click on your link in the search engine results. If you are just trying to get in the search engine results though, then other extensions are just as good, if not better. Personally I'd click .info, .tv and .org just as easily, if not more so, then the same name in .net.

3. Fewer names are available in .net. It's usually the second to go. This is largely a hold out from "olden" times. This isn't bad though for domain investors because we don't want them anyway. If you have the choice between picking up any other extension and the .net, buy both and have the .net forward to the other one. :) The resale value of .nets is slightly higher comparatively, but that advantage won't last long so if you own .net names that aren't developed or aren't protecting your IP, I'd recommend selling now and selling aggressively.

4. They require development to get significant traffic (unless you got lucky and picked up a drop name that already gets traffic). If you are going to develop a site, I'd recommend going with a more memorable extension than .net. Even geo names are bad as .net because you'll not stand out among the crowd and so return visitors will struggle to remember which extension your great content was on. So just don't waste the time or money on development of .net web sites.

I'll admit, there are some extensions that .net is a step up from - .ws, .cc, um... maybe .me (though some clever uses of .me work better than .net). Otherwise just use .net defensively and focus your development efforts on more memorable and relevant extensions. Sell 'em if you got 'em. Pretty soon you'll be like me - you'll pay the reg fees for the .net names simply to protect your Intellectual Property and see no other benefit at all. It won't take long for you to start to hate .net, too.

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