One aspect of Web 2.0 that continues to entertain is the strange, sometimes awful, names that startups come up with to promote themselves. Some of them turn out to be successful - e.g. del.icio.us - but others prove to be ineffective. Some web 2.0 names have been compared to Star Wars characters and there's even a Web 2.0 Name Generator, in case you need inspiration.
The R/WW authors had a pow-wow on Basecamp and we've come up with a (fun) list of the worst 10 names in Web 2.0. But you're bound to disagree with some of them, or we've missed some obvious ones, so please jump into the comments to add others. In no particular order...
Fairtilizer - an online music service we recently reviewed. The service is great, but the name attracted a bit of attention, for example Valleywag suggested (rather subtly, given their rep) that Fairtilizer re-brand. And The Name Inspector posted about it. Although even he seemed lost for words, starting off with: "Oh dear. The Name Inspector doesn’t even know where to begin." He eventually concluded that it is a bad pun, which has some unfortunate connotations. In case the penny hasn't dropped yet: the name is basically a pun of fertilizer. And while fertilizer makes things grow, it is also translates as 'a pile of shit'.1.
Profilactic is a social network product, which aggregates and mashes up feeds. It sounds like a cool product, but the name is just bizarre. It could be a way of getting attention, because they've proudly listed on their homepage some criticisms of it. For example Marc Canter is quoted as saying "Profilactic sounds so - so - so named by a young person. How can that be a product?". Nuff said.2.
gravee is a community-powered, social search engine that personalizes results according to users' interests. The name is a pun on gravy, but uses the web 2.0 standard of two 'e's.3.
LicketyShip is an e-commerce service that delivers goods within a couple of hours of ordering. It's a reasonable pun on lickety split, but seems like a hard domain for people to remember.4.
Oyogi is a community built around questions and answers. The name would connote spiritual peace of mind... except there's an 'o' in it.5.
Layoffspace - this is a social network for the unemployed, so this name is contextual and even slightly witty. It is mainly on this list because it's an unwieldy attempt to copy the MySpace name.6.
iStalkr - it's a web app that allows you to create a lifestream tracking all your RSS feeds for services you use, like Digg, Del.icio.us, Ma.gnolia, etc. It creates a time line of your activities. The name is a good fit, it's just a bit scary ;-)7.
Agester - a community where you can guess people's age, find out how old you look, and meet new people. It's on this list because it's a lame use of the "ster" cliche (Friendster, Napster, Dogster, etc).8.
hoooka is an online store for sharing videos, photos and audio. OK it's pretty witty and appropriate for its target audience. Maybe the extra 'o' threw us (we seem to have something against extraneous 'o's...Zooomr is another cuplrit).9.
Qoop is a service allowing users to create and sell content. It's a meaningless word, a naming tactic that has become common in web 2.0 - pretty harmless really. We only selected it because it sounds too much like "goop".10.
So there's our list - which 'bad' startup names would you add? Remember that this is just a fun list; we're not implying that the web apps themselves are bad.
Top image generated by Web 2.0 Logo Creator