Low profile search for the cheapest, shortest domain on the Internet


Short URL’s are useful in their own right. But they are in demand, prohibitively expensive, and also hard to find. You have to know some tricks to find unused URLs without raising the eyebrows of hucksters, but with the explosion of top-level domains (the end part of a URL, like .com), it’s actually possible. Using this price sheet, you can find all kinds of stuff: prices are going below the standard $15/year for .com, and also well above, like over $8000/year for a .makeup link. Rooting around, with .za not available yet, .uk comes out as the cheapest 2 letter domain per year. In .com, two, three, and four character domain names are allg gone, and super valuable. How about in .uk? Are there any two, three, or four level domains? I wanted to find out, so I wrote the following shell script
#Low profile search for the cheapest, shortest domain on the Internet
for i in {0..9}; for j in {0..9}; do whois $i$j.uk | grep "No match"; done;
for i in {a..z}; for j in {0..9}; do whois $i$j.uk | grep "No match"; done;
for i in {0..9}; for j in {a..z}; do whois $i$j.uk | grep "No match"; done;
for i in {a..z}; for j in {a..z}; do whois $i$j.uk | grep "No match"; done;

The key part is whois, which takes a URL and queries an official database of registered URLs. grep pulls out all error messages returned by whois, indicating URLs that have never been registered. It returned exactly one value, meaning that out of (10+26)^2=1296 possible URLs, only one had never been registered. So here you are, talking to the proud owner of the least desirable possible 2-letter URL: 0w.uk. And rather than paying thousands or millions, I pay less than $10, less than one pays for .com or .org.

What’s so undesirable about 0w.uk? It wasn’t clear at first, but here’s what I’ve come to: Two ‘w’s are desirable because of the invocation of the World Wide Wieb’s “www” convention. But a single w doesn’t do that. All it does is give so many syllables that the url takes longer to pronounce character-by-character than some five-letter URLs. And the 0, being easily confused with o, makes it so that the most available possible word-level pronunciations (“ow!” or “ow-wuck”) are positively misleading.

Still, it’s got some charm for being the runt of its litter. I expect to put it to good use.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 11th, 2020 and is filed under Uncategorized.