ClaimMyName at around 3pm this afternoon. The site allows users to register their custom URLs across hundreds of social networking and social media sites for a fee. And the service certainly doesn't come cheap to individuals. The 20 domain starter pack costs $80 and the 300 domain pro pack is $699. Then again, when has security ever been sold at cut rate prices? Essentially this is a seemingly easy way for companies and individuals to mitigate risk; however, when there is no verification process to keep out squatters, the system can definitely backfire.As proven by last month's Facebook Vanity URL rush, there's value in personal domain names. As an answer to brand protection across multiple networks, DandyID is launching
ClaimMyName works under the assumption that only you would be willing to buy your own domain name. While it seems like a high price tag for individuals, $699 is relatively cheap for a major corporation to buy hundreds of domains bearing its own name or competitor's name.
In fact, at a time when world news travels fastest by Twitter, and elections are financed via Facebook, $699 is an absolute drop in the bucket for politicos. Oh you don't think anyone would stoop to squat on the domains of key opposition figures? Look at the facts. The National Arbitration Forum denied former US President Bill Clinton's cybersquatting complaint against Joseph Culligan who has been redirecting williamclinton.com, williamjclinton.com and presidentbillclinton.com to the Republican National Committee's website.
The National Arbitration Forum is one of the ICANN's selected resolutions providers under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy. This piece of legislation deals directly with international domain names and cyber squatting. And because the group did not see "evidence of bad faith" in Culligan's usage of the domains, Clinton is left in a lurch. While this isn't surprising to see someone lose the battle for a domain, it is surprising to see someone lose the battle for a domain that is being used in such a obviously misleading manner.
While I feel for the former president, campaign strategists and business pundits have been warning us to register our chosen domains for years. Perhaps Clinton should've simply known better. Just look at the strange nomenclature of a ton of Web 2.0 companies. Do you really think Flickr's first domain choice dropped the "e"? Good domains are few and far between.
It appears that with the Facebook Vanity rush, the subsequent creation of the Personal URL Facebook App and now the launch of ClaimMyName, individuals and companies are thinking about their online legacies. While critics in the Open ID camp certainly have their fair share of issues with domain grabs on 3rd party sites, I've got a personal branding reason to avoid mass registering 3rd party domains. If you're just a normal person without any enemies, and you stake a profile without any intent to use it, you're really just a useless parasite in an otherwise vibrant community. When you don't even want to introduce yourself, but you lay claim to your namesake, you're branding yourself as both lazy and paranoid.
That being said, if you've truly got to protect your brand, or you're the type of person that will attempt to produce great content across multiple sites, then by all means pay DandyID the money and put your best face forward.