Somehow the registration for my main domain name lapsed. I don’t know how it slipped by me, but it did. Since my website gets a decent amount of traffic, it showed up on various radars, and someone snagged it. The guy who now owns my name told me via email, “I am planning to put in on Sedo for $2000 USD. These type of domains usually sell fast, because they have high PageRank.” The only reason this particular domain name has a high PageRank is because I have spent the last 15 years developing content for it, promoting it, and keeping it visible. Also, it’s not just some cute web domain, it’s my name. Because of the money-making land-grab of domain poachers, I didn’t even have access to my own email address.
I bought my first domain name in 1997. The ‘zine I was doing at the time was called “Front Wheel Drive,” so I made the leap online and bought frontwheeldrive.com. As it says on the About page here,
A few false starts later, it evolved into an archive of interviews and reviews that explored the peaks of theory and technology and the depths of the cultural underground. Following our interests and curiosity wherever they led, my small but dedicated staff (Tom Georgoulias, Brandon Pierce, Mark Wieman, et al.) and I kept the site up-to-date with in-depth reviews of books, films, music, and art from all the edges of culture — and interviews with the minds that created them. Scott McCloud described the site as “nicely designed and packed with ideas (a rarity on both counts),” and Mark Dery called it “brutally cool.” Though frontwheeldrive.com ceased operations in late 2007, the best of its content is archived in my book Follow for Now, and all of the above continues on this very site.
“This very site” was roychristopher.com, my main web presence from 2007 to, well, a month or so ago.
I spent those weeks trying to decide if it’s worth it to pay the guy off and maintain the name I have spent so much time and effort to build. To dispute this with iCANN would cost more than the guy wants for the domain, and I also don’t have a case. I inadvertently let the name lapse, and he bought it. I thought maybe since it’s my name–my legal name–and a brand of sorts that I’d have a legal precedent, but according to my lawyer friends, I don’t. So, I opted to see if I could raise the money to get it back.
I decided that getting my name back would avoid a lot of confusion now and in the future, but would also require help (as a grad student, I don’t have two grand just to get back where I was a few weeks ago). Eventually, the precious PageRank of my domain would lose its value. No one wins in this situation. Not even the poacher and his domain-trolling scripts.
So, I started an Indiegogo campaign, and I convinced the poacher that I’m no one and the only no one interested in this piece of surreal estate (save maybe the award-winning production designer of the same name). I also got his price down to $1000. Thanks to my gracious friends, I’ve raised enough so far to regain control. I don’t yet own the domain, but I am able to post here again. I know this may seem like a frivolous or minor problem in the grand scheme, but I work very hard on what you see here. If you like anything I do here, please consider helping me out of this jam. I have rewards available, and I will keep working on the site as ever.
Thank you all for your continued support,