Friday, April 11, 2008

Internet Terminology: Typo Squatters

One of the most fascinating aspects of language is its constantly changing and evolving nature. A word that means something today can have a completely different connotation years from now. And new words and idioms are being coined all the time.

The explosion of the internet and all things related to computers and technology provides another source for generating words and adding to the English language lexicon.

"Typo squatter" is a perfect example.

This new compound noun takes two pre-existing words and forms a clever description of a fairly common practice in the internet world.

"Typo" is an abbreviation for "typographical error," which describes an unintentional mistake when using a keyboard to type out words.

A "squatter" usually refers to someone who is illegally staying on another person's private property. For example, a homeless person who lives and/or sleeps in an abandoned building. Here is a case of a squatter whose exceptional endurance paid off.

The new internet terminology, "typo squatter," refers to someone who buys a domain name almost identical to an existing website that is already very popular. This is done with the intent of pulling in people who have mistakenly typed in the wrong website address.

Take a look at the most popular website address on the internet: google.com. It is very easy to type in foogle.com or hoogle.com instead. Many thousands, if not millions, of web surfers do this on a daily basis. Take a look at those addresses and see what you find. One of them, hoogle.com, redirects to another address, while foogle.com is a waste of space advertising some kind of worthless crap.

So there are typo squatters who offer up valid content though the tendency is to plaster their space with advertising. In both types of cases, there is little doubt that the name was chosen to capitalize on the presence of the well known site.

Just as with the real world kind of squatter, on the internet there are those who go to varying lengths to settle in and enjoy the benefits.

Take a look at this online address: http://johncow.com .

This name was clearly chosen to take advantage of another website, http://johnchow.com. The latter is a famous blogger who gives advice to legions of individuals bent on achieving the same kind of success he has created for himself. He is the equivalent of the president of a pyramid scheme who has convinced millions of dupes that they will become rich by selling the 18 dollar tubes of toothpaste that he supplies.

Johncow.com has not only chosen a very similar name that could be mistakenly typed in by those seeking the original, but he has dedicated his site to the same topic. He also offers up the occasional loving paeon to the person he is trying to emulate. If the whole world of search engine optimization (SEO) is a subject that appeals to you, he has a few interesting things to say as well.

Just as bricks and mortar businesses who fashion a logo similar to an industry leader may turn off some people, the online version may strike a few as disingenuous. But many simply see it as a clever way of trying to establish an immediate presence on the web.

As for this blog, apparently the TEFL industry in Spain is already suffering the effects.

1 comments:

The Tefl Tradesman said...

Nice blog - but very dull! More gratuitous swearing, please!!

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