Running out of names

A question in the WordPress forums about being unable to retrieve a previously deleted blog got me thinking. WordPress have been going for a few years now, in that time they’ve had several million blogs registered, with a certain percentage over that time either being deleted or abandoned. I don’t know the ratio of current active blogs compared to the overall figure.

As most know, and some have found out too late, a deleted name can not be resurrected. It is gone for good. It will not be available after any length of time for someone else to use. That URL is dead. This is the situation after a few years in business. What will the case be in 20 or 30 years time?

How long will it be before all the names people want are either in use, or dead. Each name is a series of words after all, how many have their first choice of words? Nowadays I’d guess, very few, unless they got in early when those words were available.

What’s in a name? It’s part of our identity, rightly or wrongly we are judged partially on it. If the URL has the words “herbal” and “viagra” in it, what do you think (judging by the name alone) that site is about? I’ve seen some great blog names on WordPress.com for all different reasons. The name gives you (the surfer) a hint of who we (the owner of and contributor to the site) are…….with that in mind, how many would accept a URL with a number in place, because all the decent names are unavailable? A user name is different, since that’s private…..the URL is public.

Those of us who have a Yahoo, AIM, GMail etc account know it can be a frustrating process to have every name we ask for returned as “unavailable”. Yahoo and GMail (if you arrive at the right sign up door) at least have a suggestion script, to give you free variations on the words you ask for.

The name I blog under is Dirk Gently. This is not a name I created, Dirk Gently is a character in the late Douglas Adams (the genius behind Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy) “Dirk Gently” series of books. He has a cult following, and as such ID’s directly linked with references to his are unavailable. So the ID “DirkGently” is long gone, but “DirkGently332” is free. Personally I don’t like the whole numbers thing….but it’s an option.

A PM ID is a public face, linking to you….just as a URL is. So what does happen when the names run out? WordPress will have little option but to free up previously “dead” URL’s, unless they switch to a different URL naming strategy. Otherwise the growth will slow to a crawl. Of course this is a question for the future, but failing to think about it and plan for it will see WordPress in trouble due to it’s polices. This is not an issue exclusive to WordPress…it applies to ALL companies who practice the same “burning bridges” policy for security of ID theft.

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5 Responses to “Running out of names”

  1. Cat Says:

    You are not the only one that has wondered about that and I for one am very, very glad that I managed to secure my standard username. My gmail account isn’t what I wanted, even though I signed up in the early stages. I am very glad that my username is rather rare and I hardly ever have problems on forums with it being taken.

    I think wordpress now has around 850000 blogs and I would love to see just how many of those are active.

  2. Dirk Gently Says:

    I was stunned when I signed up for this blog that the name “DirkGently” was available. I was thrilled, but stunned.

    A name shows part of who you are….in my case it shows my public allegiance to the work of the late Douglas Adams, for those who have read his work will recognize the name. I’ve already had a few references to “how’s the detective work going?”.

    I have a whole series of top notch Harry Potter Yahoo ID’s for use in PM’s, chat rooms or emails like Lord.Voldomort and Professor.Dumbledore. I used Yahoo for PM’s and Chat for so long, most of my PM contacts are Yahoo. I could publish the full list, but I’m not going to.

  3. Not thinking straight Says:

    i think my name def says something about me, i definately dont think staight at the best of times so knew what to i had to have and luckily it was there

    N.T.S

  4. Dirk Gently Says:

    It’s about self expression, and through a blog we can do that easily with no PC knowledge and no financial outlay. Part of that self expression is the URL. Other community based sites like MySpace work on the same principle.

    I have three URL’s that ARE free. My blog will end up going to one of them…..but I’ll keep them under wraps until I’ve decided….and registered it.

  5. Dirk Gently Says:

    I just spotted this on the main WordPress.com page. I guess it’s more specific than my guess…..but it still don’t tell us how many are active, abandoned etc.
    “873,297 blogs on WordPress.com”


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