Exposing peoples type errors, unethical or damnright clever?

I’m sure we’re all aware of the top domains such as Youtube and Facebook. And that alot of people (if not the owners themselves) have bought out domains like yyoutube.com or youutube.com to make sure visitors get to the proper location due to typing errors.

Out of curiosity, how many visitors do you think do this on a regular basis? make typos on the address bar? i have done it a few times with yotube.com or fcebook.com

How many visitors do you think you’d get if you aquired one of these domains… somehow. 10k a day? or more?

[FONT=verdana]I have no idea how many visitors you’d get if you did what you’re suggesting. But I do know that any visitors you got would be of no value at all to your site. What you’re basically suggesting is that, of someone was looking for YouTube (for example), you can trick them into visiting your site instead. Do you really think that they would then buy whatever it is you’re selling? More likely they would immediately realise their mistake and go straight to the real site.


The idea would be to have ads served on the page, with either a dedirect to the orginal proper page or…

a site about that site with ads if you know what i mean? for instance say you were lucky enough to own facbook.com, you could write a site about facebook, news, updates etc; with ads served on them. Most people, you’re right would simply click off the page, but some of them may see an ad they like etc;

[FONT=Verdana]I don’t know if you’ve read Google’s quality guidelines, but what you’re proposing definitely falls foul of them. So if you’re hoping to use Adsense adverts, then you’ll need to think again - and I don’t see any other reputable advertising scheme wanting any part of such a deception, either.

You would probably also find yourself in trouble with the legitimate site whose visitors you’re trying to con.[/FONT]

I suppose it depends on how you’re doing it. If you’re just going to host a blank page on there with nothing but ads, then google wont like it. But if you make the site useful and productive. For instance, the domain digitalkpoint.com is available, people could easily have mispelled digitalpoint.com. You could use this to your advantage and have a site based forum where people talk about digital point etc; Or have news about digital point. It’s highly unethical but you would get visitors.

Looking on google trends just i see words like amazonn, amazoon and goofle reap heavy amounts of search volume.

Also if the legitimate site wanted the name so bad they can just buy it off you


I think you’re kidding yourself here. You are trying to exploit other peoples errors; how is that ever “useful” to them?

And you seriously think that (a) people who stumble across your site will decide to stick around there and join in your “discussion”, rather than head for the forum on the site they meant to visit, and (b) the site you’re ripping-off will sit back quietly and let you profit from their many years’ work?

No kidding. :rolleyes:

And as Mikl has already pointed out, those visitors would be of no value to you.[/FONT]

Another thing to mention is that the companies of the real domains will probably get very angry if you are profiting off of money they feel should be going to them. You may make some money with a lot of luck, but that luck could soon turn for the worst if one of these companies decides to come after you.

Why should they?

But they can’t do anything to avoid this and there’s nothing illegal about it (as you long as you don’t fool people and try to make them believe that you are them, of course)… taking advantage of people typing errors is just as taking advantage of any other commercial oportunity… you go to a bar and even if you get confused with the names and don’t go to the right one, you may not care and stay… that wouldn’t be anybody’s fault but your own for not going to the “right” place.

You can use Google’s keywords and analytics tools to know the searches caused by mispelling and the traffic it may get but… is it really worth it?

As @TechnoBear ; and @[URL=“http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/member.php?u=489569”]Mikl ; said, once the user knows that they’re not where they wanted, they’ll leave. Of course, maybe you have such a compeling and incredible site with so much good information that the user decides to stay… but that would mean that you have to be much better than your competitor… very specially at communicating the message and creating a better user experience.

Because, let’s face it, if someone misspelled youtube… it is because they’ll be looking for videos, often they will search for a particular one… and the only way that you can beat youtube’s content is by using their content and being so much better than they are at providing extra features than they do…

Because if you do provide anything else, like tyres, only a little, tiny minority will think “oh, I was going to look for this one of these days” and stay.

Since taking advantage of this mistakes is hard (website-wise), it is better to use those misspellings when you do your adwords campaigns

Thanks for everyones feedback on this, it’s good to get different views on things. I’m not going to post direct links for obvious reasons but, i was looking at various Facebook variations in domain names such as dacebook facevook etc; etc; and alot of those sites are owned by people who redirect a user to surveys, so obviously making some money off the back of it. Even if just 1 person out of 500 clicks on an ad or survey, that’s money in your back pocket.

I saw a Facebook variation being sold on Sero is it? (something like that which sells domains) and it was being sold for over 10,000$. Obviously people do know about this and there is definitely potential there, even if it is highly unethicial. Also as i mentioned earlier, if the big companies are that bothered about your domain then surely they’d just buy it off you? Someone i saw has facebuck.com parked, not sure how many hits it gets though.

Someone is sitting on paypa.com and it’s just sitting there! ahhhh! i want it!


It would be interesting to know your own point of view on this. You seem to be arguing that it is possible to make money from this idea. But you also seem to agree that it is unethical. Are you raising the subject purely for the sake of discussion? Or are you seriously considering imnplementing such a scheme yourself? And, if the latter, do you really think that it’s legitimate to make money from such dubious practices?

By the way, you mentioned “if the big companies are that bothered about your domain then surely they’d just buy it off you?”. If they did, your actions would be just an unethical. Instead of making money from the site visitor, you’d be making money from the “big companies”. Are you suggesting that makes it somehow OK?



The subject of this has been on my mind for a while, and i only just refreshed myself to the idea. I wouldn’t say i’m that serious about it but it’s definitely worth looking into if you have a brand name similar to a big one.

For instance, a very very long time ago there used to be a domain called poogle.com, it was a for a pet dog, but alot of people went to it thinking it was somehow related to google. No doubt Google must have bought them out of the domain and paid them for it, as now it’s owned by a company called park.com, so either them or google did at least.

All i’m saying really, is that there is money to be made through this route, as long as your not ethically modest then it’s a good money maker. Everyones different i suppose but that’s just my take on it.

[FONT=verdana]Well, I don’t whether or not it would be a “good moneymaker”. I’m inclinded to doubt it, but I might be wrong. (By the way, I like your phrase “ehtically modest”).

Personally, I would like to make as much money as possible. But I would like to do it by my own skills and effort, not by taking advantage of other people’s mistakes. But that’s a decision each of us make for ourselves.

Regarding “poogle” and the like, keep in mind that the big company’s remedy is not limited to buying you out. If they think you are exploiting the company’s branding for your own gain, or that you are deliberately trying to make people believe you are somehow connected with the company, they can bring a “passing-off action” against you. If they do, they can seek damages for any loss you have caused them. The amount of damages could be very high, especially if you succeeded in taking a substantial amount of traffic away from their site. Just something to keep in mind.



It is very difficult to even guess.

First of all, it probably depends a lot on the typo. I am guessing that even if it’s a common typo like a double letter (e.g., youutube) or a dropped letter (e.g., youutube) that there are some keys that are more likely to be doubled up or dropped than others.

However, I would also guess that the number is still very high if you’re talking about a one letter difference, such as one letter transposed or one letter added or dropped. YouTube gets over 1 billion unique users every month and approximately 4 billion views everyday. I don’t know what that translates into in terms of number of visits, since a dozen views could be a single visitor watching 12 videos or up to 12 users watching a single video. For the sake of argument, let’s say that 4 billion views represents 400 million visitors. I’m sure the vast majority of those visitors come from search engines, links or mobile apps or even view the videos on YouTube through embedded links on other sites and never actually visit the YouTube site. Again, for sake of argument, let’s say that only 5% of the visitors type the YouTube URL in the address bar of their browser. That is still 20 million type-ins each day. If people typing in the URL are 99% accurate, there would still be 200,000 mistyped URLs every day. Spread among the 20 or so most common mistyped variations, is certainly easy to see that a very common mistyped variation could see 10,000 visitors in a day.

Of course, that really only works because of the massive numbers of sites like Facebook and YouTube, combined with the somewhat longer and easier to mistyped URLs. Shorter URLs like CNN.com, bing.com, MSN.com, ask.com or even yahoo.com are likely to see many fewer typos. And sites with a fraction of the daily views of Facebook and YouTube but obviously see proportionately fewer mistyped URLs.

Can companies or websites claim and force you to give them the domain? or do they have to pay for it? say you have it parked and not using it. Surely they can’t just force you to hand it over? ie you’re just parking it

[FONT=verdana]In general, a company cannot force you to relinquish any particular domain name. If you own a domain that someone else wants, they can’t force you to hand it over. It makes no difference whether you are parking it or actively exploiting it.

However, that doesn’t mean that you are necessarily allowed to register any name you like. In many countries (including the UK), there are certain top-level domains (TLDs) where the domain name can only be registered by a registered company whose name matches the domain. Similar rules might apply to .gov and .edu names.

Also, just because you have registered a name, that doesn’t mean that you are immune from a passing-off action. If you registered youutube.com, and made it look like youtube.com, the chances are that You Tube would be able to bring an action against you. But, passing-off actions aside, You Tube would have no legal way to force you to hand over the name.


That clarifies things well, thanks

I’m not sure on the specifics, but you can absolutely get in trouble for having a domain that is unquestionably “like” another persons domain.

One of the clearest examples for me was the Mike Rowe case, where a kid named Mike Rowe started his own consultancy, and created a domain called mikerowesoft.com. Microsoft took offense to this and took him to court, knowing that they would win against the kid. Sadly, the case put them in a terrible light, and they settled out of court by letting him off and giving him a ton of Microsoft training. Google have sued countless people, and so have Facebook and MySpace.

It’s called “typosquatting”, and even if it is not illegal the companies that will sue you for doing so will probably bankrupt you before you can win.



Ok. So it seems I was wrong.
Although this partcular example that you mentioned is absolutely ridicoulus. If it was the guy’s name… can you blame him for that? How many companies add “soft” after the name? The only reason that I would see Microsoft winning something like this is basically because they can pay better lawyers. No wonder it put them a bad light.

It’s called “typosquatting”, and even if it is not illegal the companies that will sue you for doing so will probably bankrupt you before you can win.
I think there’s a good chance that they will just do that.

I do find it a bit unfair, though. If you’re not trying to replace the company and lie to visitors (and that even includes if you used that web to rant about that business itself, as long as you can back up your comments and prove your point and you don’t lie, it should be accepted) I don’t know why a big company should sue you because you’re taking advantage of people’s typing errors.

Guys, I don’t have any intention to divert your thread, but here I read last week, which I think relate with this thread.

I would say that Microsoft’s case was valid too. There’s a lot of names you can give a software consultancy, and this was at a time when Microsoft was the undisputed king of all computing. Although the kids name is Mike Rowe he was obviously aware of Microsoft, and would probably be aware that the name of his chosen domain would be spoken exactly the same as Microsoft. Microsoft would have wiped the floor with him if it didn’t cause a PR storm.

Obviously, a software consultancy by a high-school kid isn’t going to be mistaken for a multi-national corporation, but you are betting your business on a third-party being happy, and that is never a good idea.

Most large businesses will have their own huge legal departments, whether internal or external, and these men and women are tasked with protected the intellectual property of their company. It is not just their legal right to do so, but their obligation for holding trademarks. If they don’t protect their trademark at all times then they run the risk of a court allowing its use elsewhere.

The best example of this is Google, which became a widely accepted verb. Google took offense to this, not because they didn’t like their brand name being the generic term for searching the web, but because they have a legal responsibility to protect their name.

In these cases, the likes of Facebook and Google are just doing what they have to as owners of a company. It’s nothing personal, it just has to be done to uphold the integrity of their brand name.

A fantastic link, and in no way diverting the thread! :slight_smile: