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Video: The Biggest Problem for The Domain Industry: Other Domainers

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Jul 11, 2011
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Couldn't agree more! Ever since I began actively domaining, I've been appalled by the amount of petty backbiting that goes on in this "community". To be sure, there are plenty of hard-working, courteous, ethical domainers who pride themselves on professionalism and take time out to offer feedback to their colleagues. But they're often overshadowed -- both inside domainer circles and facing outward to the general public -- by individuals whose standards of politeness and fairness are, let's say, well below average.

I'm sorry to say that today in 2013 I'd estimate the percentage of bad apples to be much higher than I would have a couple of years ago. And it's not simply the anonymous blog trolls and argumentative forum regulars that I'm referring to. Professionalism (or the lack thereof) cuts across all levels within the domain industry. I've met promising, hard-working, nice guys who are even newer to the domain space than I am. And they had stuff to teach me. Meanwhile, I've encountered some stunningly unprofessional behavior from domainers at the top. And vice versa.

Rather than single out any of the bad apples, I'll mention someone whom I respect. Rick Schwartz has a reputation for being a bit abrasive with his blog; and (as one of the most visible domainers out there) he certainly draws lots of snarky anonymous insults from the usual suspects. But the trait that stands out about Rick Schwartz to me is how he engages with everybody, large and small. Plenty of domainers never miss an opportunity to advertise their business and personal brand, but they won't make time for anybody at an individual level. Rick (as far as I can tell) actually responds to messages personally. To me, that's a basic sign of respect -- not to ignore or dismiss other people. And so, for years, I've always made a point of responding by hand to every non-spam message I receive. Even when it's just someone randomly asking me to buy domains that don't interest me, I still try to respond with a "no thanks" and an explanation. (Obviously, there's more than one right way to handle email; and someone isn't necessarily a jerk just because an email doesn't get a response.)

Another good apple is Toby Clements. Really, that's not surprising. As an intermediary between buyers and sellers, he has to communicate and treat all sorts of people (even aggravating people) with respect. Yet, as basic as that seems, Toby does this better than any of the other mailing-list domain brokers. In my experience, Toby has never missed a chance to reply. Nothing falls between the cracks, and he seems to respond to everybody with the same careful attention and politeness that they put into their domain submissions or offers. Other mailing-list brokers are good guys too, but Toby is impeccable.

Perhaps I'm biased because I entered the domain industry coming directly from what's probably the most team-focused community out there -- submarines. But I still think domainers are -- on the whole -- less professional as a community than other groups out there. I'm a full-time domainer myself; so I'm definitely not trying to insult domainers. But when I compare the kinds of interactions I see among domainers with the behavior I'm used to in daily life with all sorts of regular folks ... well, the comparison isn't very flattering to the domaining industry.

Why the difference? Partly, it's just because domaining is online. And people feel less inhibited when they can slander and insult strangers from afar rather than in person. But there's another reason. Basically, one of the things that attracts many people to domaining is that it's a solo activity -- rather than a group or team activity. Plenty of domainers have day jobs, and many of the domainers that I've met or know personally would work well as part of a team -- with all the patience and outward mutual respect that teamwork entails. But there's a disproportionately high percentage of anti-social misfits in the domaining community. Perhaps for them domaining is a retreat from normal social interactions. Plus, it's a way to "get rich quick" -- not just that, but a way to "get rich quick" (as some domainers think) at the expense of others.

My experiences with domainers have been mixed -- some good, many bad. Fortunately, I'm optimistic that the industry will change. The survivors will be team players who make a habit of treating everybody with respect (even when they disagree). And the bad apples (large and small) will simply be buried under the good ones.
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