Wednesday, November 3, 2004
By: Matthew Doucette
You may have stumbled upon websites like del.icio.us, blo.gs and inter.net, or emails like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org... How is this possible? And, where can you get your own?
With the extinction of available dot-coms, webmasters have begun to choose unconventional solutions for their domain names. From the examples shown above, del.icio.us, blo.gs, and rome.ro spell out "delicious", "blogs", and "(John) Romero", and are called "domain hacks."
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com spell out "David", "James", and "Wayne", and are called "email hacks." Email hacks are less common than domain hacks, as they are more about obtaining personal individuality rather than obtaining a nice domain name for a website. Usually when you are able to obtain a nice domain name, appropriate email addresses are available based off the same domain name. (By the way, the email hacks shown here are all non-working examples.)
Where Can You Get Your Own?
We created a Domain Hacks search utility to help search domain hacks and email hacks. Please note you must click the IANA links (in the results) for information on domain registration services. Our domain hacks is only a search, not a registration service.
Domain Hacks Explained
We call domains like del.icio.us "domain hacks". Our domain hack search utility allows you to search domain hacks (and email hacks.) Let me explain how such domain names can be created.
Let's look at John Romero's rome.ro domain name, as an example. The .ro TLD (top-level domain) is actually a ccTLD (country-code top-level domain) for Romania. With approximately 300 different TLDs in total, there are many possible variations for domain hacks. Likewise for email hacks.
The technical definition of a domain hack is a domain name that uses all letters found in the URL (not including the "http") as the website title. A non-working extreme example of this would be de.li.ci/ou/s. It is fairly obvious that a domain hack such as del.icio.us, that does not make use of folder/directories, is more desirable. I always thought a cool example of a domain hack would be one that used a gTLD (generic top-level domain), especially one of the three most popular TLDs, .com, .org., or .net. A non-working example of this is lamb.org/hini, spelling "Lamborghini", which uses the .org TLD. (lamb.org is taken as of the writing of this article.) The best, subjectively speaking, working example of a domain hack using a gTLD that I know if is sit.com, spelling "sitcom".
Email Hacks Explained
We call email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org (and even email@example.com) "email hacks". Let me explain how such email addresses can be created.
Email hacks are similar to domain hacks, but they have one extra restriction and one less restriction. First, they can only exist if the title of the email contains a letter "a" in an appropriate location to be replaced with the commercial at "@" symbol. Secondly, email hacks are not required to use all letters found in the email address as the email addresses' title. All that matters is that the commercial at "@" symbol is used in place of a letter "a". So, although firstname.lastname@example.org is an email hack shown in previous examples, email@example.com is also considered an email hack that spells "David", by ignoring the "com" letters in the email address. That said, the ultimate email hacks make use of all the letters, so firstname.lastname@example.org would be much preferred over email@example.com.
Let's look at how to construct an email hack. To pick on firstname.lastname@example.org for a moment, the email would be constructed by first registering the domain name "v" under Indonesia's ccTLD ".id". Next, once you have the domain "v.id", you would setup the user "d" under the domain name. So, you would be left with "d" at "v.id", or d@vid. (Searching "david" in our Domain Hacks search results in d@vid.)
I actually own my own email hack which spells out "Lamborghini". I will not list it here because spambots will harvest it, but you can figure it out on your own by telling you it is constructed via my mborghini.com domain name. It starts like this: l@mborgh...
Here are some possible (currently unregistered) domain hacks I found quickly:
http://doom.id/ (".id", this would be the shortest domain name possible!)
300,000+ Domain Hack Suggestions
Jason Doucette has created the largest domain hack suggestion list on the Internet. It contains, at the time of this writing, over 300,000 possible domain hacks. It contains all the suggestions in many different formats. Alphabetized, sorted via word length, and sorted via TLD (top-level domain.) One great feature is that the most common words are bolded. Please be sure to check out this huge list and contact us if you register any domain hacks.
Looking at this suggestion list, I searched the .ca TLD and found afri.ca, ameri.ca, and antarcti.ca, all of which are taken. Next, I search the .it TLD and quickly found adm.it, albe.it, and aud.it, all of which are also taken. It shows there are a lot of possibilities listed here, many of which you would never think of on your own. If you are in the market for a unique domain name, I recommend you browse through some of these suggestions.
The "hack" part of domain hack and email hack is meant in the computer programming sense (or even a programming exploit sense) as opposed to the computer security sense. In other words, a domain hack is a hack of the domain name system in the sense that it makes it do something it was not intended to do. It is not a hack in the sense of an illegal security system hack. Do not confuse this with the media's strong tendency to use the computer security related meanings of "hack" and "hacker".
"Perfect Domain Hacks"
A perfect domain hack is a domain hack with periods used as perfectly placed word separators. The most notable example, at the time of this writing, is stop.spamming.us. del.icio.us, for example, is not a perfect domain hack because the periods cut up the word "delicious". Perfect domain hacks are very rare and difficult to create due to lack of options.
Please contact us if you know of any perfect domain hacks.
"Minor Domain Hacks"
A minor domain hack is a domain hack when the following two things occur:
- The TLD is not used in the title of the domain name, and
- More than the SLD is used in the title of the domain name.
An example of a minor domain hack could be http://dr.phil.com/ (Dr. Phil) or http://j.ames.com/ (James). Both of these are non-working examples.
As you can see in the examples above, the domain names are still "hacked", but they are not official domain hacks because not all letters in the domain name are a part of the website's title.
Our Domain Hacks search utility does not give minor domain hack results. Minor domain hacks are very easy to "search" on your own. For example, if your name is James, and james.com is taken, then it is easy to try ames.com (for j.ames.com), or mes.com (for ja.mes.com), etc. More information is available on our Domain Hacks search info page.
Please, if you find our Domain Hacks search utility useful, link us and help spread the knowledge. Thank you.
About the Author: I am Matthew Doucette of Xona Games, an award-winning indie game studio that I founded with my twin brother. We make intensified arcade-style retro games. Our business, our games, our technology, and we as competitive gamers have won prestigious awards and received worldwide press. Our business has won $180,000 in contests. Our games have ranked from #1 in Canada to #1 in Japan, have become #1 best sellers in multiple countries, have won game contests, and have held 3 of the top 5 rated spots in Japan of all Xbox LIVE indie games. Our game engines have been awarded for technical excellence. And we, the developers, have placed #1 in competitive gaming competitions -- relating to the games we make. Read about our story, our awards, our games, and view our blog.