What is the difference between DonaldTrump and RealDonaldTrump? The latter is the twitter handle of Donald J. Trump, one of the candidates for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in the 2016 election. The @DonaldTrump hasn’t twitted even once since the account was created in October 2013. And apparently @DonaldJTrump is suspended because of impersonating the @RealDonaldTrump.

CyberSquatting, social media, domain names
Welcome to a new variety of Cybersquatting. According to Wikipedia, Cybersquatting is registering, trafficking in, or using an Internet domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price. When only few top level domain extensions such as .com, .net, .org, etc were available for registration, many cybersquatter used the opportunity to grab the brand domain names. Now with the release of more TLDs, you can register with many more varieties apart from .com or .net.

Social media cybersquatting is also very common. The above example of Donald Trump is a simple case of cybersquatting in social media. Twitter does a good job by providing a verified account status for celebrities and brand names to stop identity confusion. However, twitter can do a better job of releasing the usernames if they have not been active for say 3 years. They can delete accounts by giving account owners a 90 days reactivation period. Facebook frees up page names if the page is inactive for a certain amount of time.

What does this teach us? If you think you are going to use your name as a brand in the future, then it is time to register those domain names. Many testers use free WordPress or blogspot blogging sub-domains because those are free. Domains and hosting a full-fledged website are very affordable these days. You can buy a domain and run a website with the money you spend on a nice dinner. Even if you don’t plan to launch a website, you can buy just the domain for future use. If you skip a McDonald burger and a Starbucks coffee only once in a year, that will save you enough money to own a domain name for a year.
How much does a domain actually cost?
Domains are available ranging from 88 cents to a few million dollars. That is for initial registration, renewals are at normal price. If your choice of domain is not yet registered by some cybersquatter you can get a domain for less than dollar to 12 dollars for a .com, .net or .org TLDs for a year. There are few new TLDs such as .guru, .xyz, .help, .tips, .college, .engineer, etc. which are priced little higher but typically less than 30 dollars (depending on where you buy it from). I prefer Name Cheap – they have the cheapest domains and easiest dashboard I have ever used.

What about hosting?
Hosting is required when you launch a full-fledged website. I use hostgator.com – they provide industry standard c-panel. I earlier used to host in Godaddy but left if because of horrible customer service. Also Godaddy doesn’t provide standard c-panel. Hosting usually costs few dollars a month for a single site. Google provides free hosting if you use a custom domain in blogger. You can buy a domain from google and host it there or you can use your existing domain with google blogger. I have never used it but I guess you won’t have the flexibility with blogger hosting. What about the backend platform? I love wordpress, probably one of the best content management platform. WordPress has a robust support community and huge choice of templates and plugins. There are other platforms offered by Weebly and Wix. They offer drag and drop design capabilities. Very flexible, but not my type.

Buying a domain (and hosting it) is a not a rocket science. Go ahead and register that domain. Otherwise, someone else will have fun with your name as Donald Trump is having with TrumpDonald.org.

#Part of this post was originally published as editorial in Testing Circus February 2016 edition.