Short .org domains go on auction block beginning next month.
Next month .org registry Public Interest Registry (PIR) will begin auctioning off domain names as part of Project 94.
Project 94 is the marketing name for releasing 94 one and two character .org domain names that have been reserved since the top level domain was introduced in 1985.
A handful of the 94 domain names have already been allocated to users (such as country code owners) and the remaining 85 will be auctioned off with the help of Go Daddy and eNom.
The first set of domains will be auctioned at Go Daddy starting March 18. eNom will auction domains through NameJet beginning April 7 with the last auction closing April 19. eNom’s information page
should go live next week is here.
In a somewhat interesting but smart move, Go Daddy and eNom selected domains in a round robin format similar to a draft. Go Daddy ended up with some really good vowel domains (a.org, e.org, i.org, o.org) while NameJet selected all of the single digit domains (e.g. 1.org, 2.org). It’s kind of amusing to picture Go Daddy’s Paul Nicks and eNom’s Chris Sheridan sitting down for a fantasy football draft but drafting domains instead.
PIR also made a smart marketing decision by setting up the domains to resolve to web pages that announce that the domains are for sale.
Unlike some previous registry auctions for short domains, these auctions come with restrictions and some rather high reserve prices.
In order to bid you need to apply, and all applications will be reviewed directly by PIR. The exact applicant requirements are a bit fuzzy. The Go Daddy application requires you to state the intent of your purchase and to check a box saying you agree to certain buyer qualifications and will not use the domains for morally objectionable activities. The buyer qualifications give examples of how you may use the domains, but there are no states exclusions beyond morally objectionable uses.
The bottom line: PIR wants people who buy the domains to actually develop them and make them .org domains they will be proud of. I don’t think they’ll be happy if the domains end up parked, although it doesn’t seem to be strictly forbidden.
The reserve prices on single character domains will be steep, which will make people without a business plan think twice before placing a bid. Single character domains being auctioned at Go Daddy have starting bids of $50,000 and reserves north of that.
At Go Daddy, two character domains will start at $1,000 with no reserve and two number domains will start at $10 with no reserve.
Bidding more than $2,500 for a domain at Go Daddy requires passing a verification process and/or making a deposit into a Good as Gold account.
Although .co has had success selling single character domains at high prices, I’m somewhat skeptical that .org will be able to repeat this beyond a handful of obvious domains (e.g. Overstock and o.org). Some domains will sell for high prices, but I suspect a number will go unsold.