Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nevada Secretary of State Fails To Look Ahead On Web

One of the folks I should have included as a WINNER in my list of media winners and losers from the election is Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller. The Web efforts he has helmed have been terrific, with timely and merged data rolling in and available for press and normal person alike at SilverState2010.Com.

Last go-around, they used now-defunct SilverState2008.Com, so they're building a bit of a trademark. The design is attractive and easy to use and I heard no complaints about load times or crashing on Election Night.

But. On a whim, I went to see how much foresight Miller's gang have had. I searched the GoDaddy.Com registry for SilverState2012.Com. Lookit:

The state doesn't own it. For about $10, a 35-year-old Chris Langhorst of Las Vegas snapped it up.

Two nights ago.


Langhorst, who has this audio/video company, tells me he was watching the TV coverage at home and decided to check the SoS site because numbers were slow to roll in. Then he went to GoDaddy.Com on his iPhone, saw that the next logical iteration of Nevada's election Internet center was vacant. He grabbed it.

"I was very surprised," he told me. "You’d figure they’d take care of that stuff."

You would think. And look what's still out there:

Langhorst didn't do it to cybersquat, really. He doesn't know why he did it, other than that it was cheap and he was curious what would happen next. He even asked me what I knew about this sort of thing, and I mentioned I'd covered the topic some. Here's my New York Times piece from September 2008 on political domain-name squatting.

Yet this is a little different. Langhorst hasn't grabbed someone's name, which could be considered their trademark or intellectual property and which Internet governing agencies have forced surrender of in certain situations. (And by the way, Sen. John Ensign does NOT own JohnEnsign.Com. Some dude named Eugene does. Really. A clue to his future plans?)

I'm just fascinated that the crack team in Miller's office -- and I mean that sincerely, because their election night site is really a model for the nation -- didn't think ahead. Their options now are to (a) ask Langhorst nicely to vacate, (b) pay Langhorst to vacate or (c) pick another URL. And if they go with (c) they might buy up the next permutations in advance. Or, better yet, pick one that's not year-sensitive.

Consider this an S.O.S. to the SoS.