Rantings and Ravings
  Joyful little columns by us.

A Big Zero

By: CereCere

One of the nicest things about the Internet is all of the "free" services you can sign up for and use. For years, we have all been using things like free webspace, free e-mail, and free messaging services. Everyday something new is coming along, and just a few months ago, yet another new company popped up: "Namezero". For those of you who haven't heard of it, Namezero provides its members with a "free" domain service. Now you can get www.whatever.com for your site for free. You may think this is not a bad idea, well in theory it is, but in reality, it's not.

Let's say you are now considering getting a domain. First, do you really need a domain? I once ranted about this and came to several conclusions. Some assume a domain automatically gives you a lot of hits. This is simply not true, it's a good site that gives you hits, not a domain. A domain simply makes it easier for people to remember your address once they find your site. To find your site, they usually will need to hear about it from someone. Because, at this point, all of the "best" possible SM domain names have already been taken, and no one sits at their computer and just types in random, and obscure Sailormoon terms or names. They do searches, and they hear about it from others. So a domain does not mean your site will automatically be found more easily. I could go on, but maybe it's better if you just read the rant first: SM Business 101

If you have decided you still want a domain, and want to give Namezero a try, well let me run down some of the problems with the service. Like other "free" services, Namezero is not actually free; you trade, or barter for it, by allowing companies to place ads on your website and so on. You're required to use their ads, whatever ads they want, and however they want to place them. Namezero does place an ad on your page, and they can also send email ads to you from Namezero and its "partners". Now the email ads you may opt out of, but the ad bar you must use or your Namezero account, and access to your domain is cancelled.

This is where the first problem comes in. Namezero's ad bar has to be one of the largest ad banner devices around. It sits on the bottom of your page in a frame-like layer, very similar to those used on Homestead.com member sites. It takes up about one-third to one-quarter of the viewable space in a browser window if you are using a lower screen resolution, and still takes up a large chunk in the higher resolutions. It not only includes the usual ad banner, but links to Namezero, and a referral service so you can tell others about Namezero. The bar is also much larger than it needs to be, with a lot of empty space, but of course they will keep it large so it's harder to ignore it. Sites that use Namezero with Geocities, Tripod, and other free space providers will end up with a cluttered site covered with ads. Actually forget those possibilities, a really bad one just popped into my head, a Homestead site with Namezero… ick! Now that could get really messy.

Now, you may notice if you visit the Namezero site, they do not provide you with an example of the ad bar. I looked all over to see if they provide you with one in order to help your decision if you should sign with them, but I could not find one. However, I did find a little clause that once you have accepted your domain from Namezero you have to keep using it for a year, or you end up possibly paying a Termination Fee. This fee is also used if you want to leave Namezero and transfer the domain. So if you approve the domain, and then decide the ad bar sucks, you're stuck, unless you want to pay the fee. This makes Namezero much different than other "free" services. With other services you may leave when you want, but Namezero can charge you if you want to leave before your annual renewal is up.

Then there are the other considerations, the traditional "perks" of owning a domain. Domains are used not just to make a site address easier to remember, but are often used to make a site look more professional. How professional looking is that giant Namezero ad bar? It can clash with your site layout, slow down your site's loading time, and really, really annoy people with smaller screens. Not to mention it shows you were too much of a cheapskate to spend a few messily bucks on a domain name.

That's only one of the things you miss out on. If you registered and paid for your own domain, you could sell it if you wanted to give it up, or you could bargain or fight for it if someone else is interested in your domain name. With Namezero, you lose those "rights". It's really their domain name, not yours. You may not transfer the domain, and if some company comes along and wants your domain, well, Namezero decides if they will transfer it to them or not, not you. Namezero does say you may use the domain for at least a year once you sign up, but if a company comes along a makes a trademark or copyright claim to the name, then it will be signed over to them. If you registered the name yourself, you could try negotiating a settlement with the company, but Namezero isn't going to spend the time doing that for you.

Both of these problems add up to another lost perk, the loss of freedom. One of the nicest things about getting a domain is often buying space to go with it, being free of ads, being able to set up your own layouts and structure how you want it, also have some more freedom in what you say or show on your site. Also, if you want to use ads, you decide where they go, and you can better integrate them into your layouts. Namezero's required ad and Terms of Service restricts this freedom.

Why give that freedom up?
You can buy domains now from other services as cheap as 17 bucks (US) a year, so why get one with a huge ad from Namezero, when you can buy a domain that's free of any ads for a little over 1.40 a month? It just boggles the mind why anyone would want to sign up with them. Yes, it's not "free", but you get so many more advantages when you pay just a few bucks. This service just defeats the whole purpose behind getting your own domain. My advice, shop around, find a company that will register a domain for cheap and forget those ads and problems.

  • August 17th, 2000
  • As usual any comment made on this page is that of "The Amazoness Quartet" or one of its members. Tripod has nothing to do with our opinions, etc, lalala...

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