Edited to add, June 8 2017: I ended up having to change the name of my business for unrelated reasons, but I was glad for the excuse to move away from the domain hack. I am forever done with domain hacks for anything that needs real visibility. My opinions on this haven’t changed in nearly a decade.
I’ve been a
proud sheepish domain hacker since 2009. My main business, Lovebug, has a top-level Ugandan country code, so the website is www.loveb.ug. It’s short, sweet, and a tenth the cost of the parked dot com equivalent. I found that I kinda liked this short and sweet system, so I later registered Heliotro.pe and Framboi.se for two personal blogs. I was seeing domain hacks like Del.icio.us, Who.is, Despicable.me, Youtu.be, Goo.gl, Bit.ly, About.me, and BrokenRul.es, so I hoped that they would catch on and the non-geek world would relax a bit about them all.
That is not what happened. At least, not enough for me.
Strike One, early 2009: I’m calling my local phone provider to reserve the business number 206-LOVEBUG. The gal keeps putting a .edu at the end of the email address I give her. No matter how many “No, B DOT U G AND THEN NOTHING ELSE WHATSOEVER” directions I give her, I end up giving her my Gmail address because she’s incapable of processing it over the phone.
Strike Two, circa 2010: I’m wearing a T-shirt with the URL www.loveb.ug on the back, at a big fancy foodie event called Voracious. A white-haired woman comes up to me all concerned-like, and tries to inform me kind of subtly that I put the dot in the wrong place. I ask what she means, even though I’m starting to piece it together amusedly, because I wonder where she’ll tell me the dot should go if there’s no dot com whatsoever. She fumbles. I explain it to her. She glazes over and just walks away.
Strike Three, a few weeks ago (late 2012): I’m bantering with someone online about a podcast we want to do. We need a name and its respective URL. I ask the main host how he feels about top-level domain hacks, in case our target URL is taken or too much. He says “Nah, looks cheap.” Now THAT is a different complaint than I’d heard before.
Strike Four, a couple days ago: I post a loveb.ug/blog link on Facebook, and one friend can’t access it. She says it just goes to a “Frontier search page.” Some troubleshooting and a screenshot later, it looks like Frontier (a local crappy ISP), when confronted with a .ug domain that isn’t prefaced by www, decides that the user must have intended a search query, and just inputs the entire URL into its search engine. A couple days after THAT, the same thing happens to an App.net buddy with a DIFFERENT blog post. Thanks, guys. (After multiple visits Frontier or whatever other ISP usually does finally parse the link as a link, but who knows what other shitty ISPs don’t recognize that TLDCC as a valid URL? A: Too many for my comfort given that this is supposed to be how I make my money.)
Strike Five, always: I link loveb.ug in an Apple message or doc, and it always fails to be automatically hyperlinked because .ug isn’t parsed as a TLD suffix.
The verdict: I give up. I’m not doing any more top-level country code domain hacks, at least not for sites that really matter to me. :) You’re too slow and clunky at adapting to this, you dumb world, you! How come Nyan.Cat is fine, but Loveb.ug isn’t? Uganda is a COUNTRY and Catalonia is a GENERALITAT! (Don’t get mad at me, Catalans; I’m pro Independència in theory, but so far it hasn’t technically happened.) Anyway, no more hacks for me, unless they’re just for fun. I’m going to be changing the name of my business in the next few weeks, and you can bet your sweet .be I’m using a dot com this time around.