Once upon a time, domain names were considered a hot item. These were the days when domain name sales were constant, well publicized, and even made headlines (the sale of business.com, for instance). During this peak time for domain names, a domain auction site called Afternic.com, or AN for short, was launched. AN became one of the leading domain name auction sites, and was eventually bought out by Register.com.
The concept of the site was simple: individuals would register, pay a small fee and list their domain names for auction. Yet AN/Register.com was constantly criticized for unethical business practices, and for not being actively responsible for activities of buyers and sellers who participated in the community. The site closed its doors on December 27, 2002 and the Afternic.com domain was sold to ProProject, Inc. who completely repurposed the domain — if you visit http://www.afternic.com now, you’ll find a completely different site from that which was once known as Afternic.com.
During the site’s existence, AN launched its own community forums. Because of the site’s popularity, the forums were quite active. However, they were an apparent failure because they lacked virtually any form of moderation. It is these posts that have been transcribed, seemingly word-for-word, into Sqwark! The Book.
Contents And Structure
Sqwark! The Book is a print version of hundreds of posts from the old AN Community Forums. This is all that’s included in the book. There’s no commentary, no real introduction — nothing else at all. Despite this lack of direction, Sqwark! The Book manages to fill out two volumes.
The posts published here are not organized into any specific categories. It appears that the posts are ordered by date, but not by thread. As a result, frequently, the reader doesn’t know which replies are linked, or where any given reply fits in. I found this to be annoying as I spent a good deal of time trying to piece posts together.
What’s It About?
The focus of Sqwark! The Book is the belligerent rantings of a few crazies, the foremost being a member who goes by the name of Radios. Radios posts domain idea after domain idea in the AN forums. These ideas were most often off the wall, poorly planned or unachievable. He is, more or less, a spammer. But, thanks to the complete lack of moderation in the AN forums, he was never reprimanded or punished for his behavior.
Then, of course, there are other characters. These are the members who actually replied to Radios’s posts, usually to say something nasty, thereby encouraging him to post more. Bickering ensues. There is profanity, poor conduct, and inappropriate content everywhere. Various members “quit” numerous times, only to return later. Some people try to pose as other members, or another member’s family. However, as there’s no moderation, this behavior goes on unchecked.
This all-in online brawling may sound interesting, but to be honest, it’s not. It gets old — fast. I giggled a few times, but only a few. One of the only things I found to be truly funny was the way AN completely ignored the complaints of their users, posting “News Stories” directly after complaint posts. The AN forums redefined the concept of terrible customer service.
There are a few gems of domain name and Website advice to be found in these pages, if you search very hard. But many of them are outdated, and is it really worth reading through the book for the others? The advice just isn’t that valuable — all of it can be found more easily online.
I would like to include here a clear warning to all potential readers: this book contains profanity. It contains sexual innuendo. It contains material that’s inappropriate for children. Men and women verbally assault each other. In fact, it happens a lot in this book — at times, you have a literal Jerry Springer show on your hands.
The Final Word
This book is billed as part humor, part useful information. I can’t understand why. It isn’t that funny and the information contained within isn’t valuable. To top it off, Sqwark! The Book costs $49.95. I know it comes in two volumes, but it is still definitely overpriced, and not really worth your money or your time.
Buy it at Amazon.com for $49.95.
Patrick O'Keefe is the founder of the iFroggy Network, a network of websites covering various interests. He has been managing online communities since 2000 and is the author of "Managing Online Forums," a practical guide to managing online social spaces. He has been responsible for the cultivation of communities. He blogs about online community at ManagingCommunities.com and more at patrickokeefe.com.