Saturday, January 19, 2008

Defensive Domain Registrations--NOT! The FAFSA Story


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When you Google "FAFSA," the first non-sponsored entry will take the searcher to FAFSA.ed.gov, which is a free service for prospective college students wishing to apply for financial aid.
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But wait! If you're not a savvy searcher, you just might click on the sponsored FAFSA.com site; you might not realize that this site, not affiliated with the student loan program, will do the same thing as the .gov site, but for a fee of $79.99.
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A recent local news story, which referred to FAFSA.com as a "clone" site, followed the FAFSA experience of young man who had unknowingly applied through the paid service; he had no idea that he could have filled out the freebie form and received better financial aid. His mother went on camera, lamenting that she decided to tell their story so that other families wouldn't get snookered into using the paid service.
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Evidently the FAFSA lawyers have been doing battle with FAFSA.com (registered since 1997), but, other than requiring the commercial site to add a disclaimer to show that it's not government-sponsored, there isn't much that FAFSA.ed.gov can do.
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I'm not going to argue for or against the merits or ethics of so-called clone sites. What FAFSA.com is doing is probably legal--as long as they deliver a viable product and don't out and out rip off applicants or misrepresent themselves as a government site.
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However, this is yet another case of a big government agency not being proactive in securing the dot-com version of its acronym.
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They should have bought the FAFSA.com domain years ago. In fact, they should be actively in negotiations to buy this domain and the major extensions, the business itself, and then redirect the domains to their .gov site--180,000+ hits a month isn't exactly chump change.
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When will the government start "getting it," and begin protecting their (our) interests?
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Ms Domainer

2 comments:

  1. I can't agree more why pay a fee for something that is worded the exact same as the government document.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think you're off a litle and people should become more educated on domain extensions. I'm not saying that extension are always accurate, but at least the .GOV is pretty darn close to it.

    Basic US TLD (domain extensions):
    .GOV means government
    .COM means US commercial
    .ORG means non-profit
    .NET means internet provider

    In other words, a government entity with a .COM extension should never exist. People need to understand that if they are on a .COM it is (more than likely) a commercial site.

    The biggest issue is that there is not enough names to fit all the businesses out there. So then you see company.com and another one with company.net

    What bothers me the most is seeing a foreign company with a .COM When I hit a .COM address I expect it to be a US company not one from India or another country. They were supposed to never be able to register these domains. Instead they were supposed to have something like company.IN.com So there people could be unknowingly dealing with a irreputable foreign company with zero recourse if something bad happens.

    ReplyDelete

Word verification has been enabled to circumvent spammers, not to censor bona fide posts. ;=)

I welcome your comments!

Ms Domainer

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