Friday, April 2, 2010
Back during my tenure at a regional alternative newspaper in the 1990s, the whole Internet bubble suddenly inflated. Thus, we went from not needing a Web site to needing one immediately.
Since we were named Pitch Weekly, we began searching for a suitable URL. To our surprise, www.pitch.com was available. No baseball site had claimed it yet. No vocal instruction site. No sales site (as in “sales pitch”) or tent “how to” page. For such a common word with so many uses, it was remarkably untapped.
Of course, in 2010 that could never, ever happen. Even the most bizarre combination of words and bastardized phrases are utilized these days by a Web site, somewhere in the world.
But last week I was doing a search and I prematurely hit return with only the preposition “to” in the navigation bar.
It took me to a German site called Thinking Objects (www.to.com). Despite taking a few years of the language in high school, I had no idea of the site’s purpose.
But it started me wondering: What are the sites that employ the simplest, most common words as their URL?
For this I consulted World-English, which provided me with a list of the 500 most commonly used words in the English language. I started typing these words in and adding “.com.”
The top two words, “the” and “of,” were real disappointments, with their respective sites revealing little more than functionless pages employed by squatters.
But the next most common word, “and,” delivered the homepage of Automotive Navigation Data — a “leading provider of digital mapping data used for navigation and location-based services.”
Other common ones such as “a” and “you” turned up non-working URLs. While “in” led to a freaky search site from India.
I started scouring some of the more general nouns, only to find those such as “first,” “number,” “new,” “walk,” “friend,” “place,” “sound” and “work” were all squatter fodder.
Others proved more functional:
• “hair” — “an online guide to the latest in hair, fitness and relaxation”
• “eye” — Lasik surgery and contact lenses
• “music” — music videos
• “name” — domain search and registration service
• “every” — “everything for your mobile”
• “know” — Russian etiquette site
• “money” — CNN money.com
• “water” — bottled water delivery
• “fish” — aquarium supplies
• “food” — recipe search
• “back” — back pain relief
• “open” — American Express, oddly enough
• “move” — “homes for sale and apartments for rent” (not to be confused with MoveOn.org)
Perhaps the most surprising aspect was how minor these sites proved, despite having such major URLs. Also surprising? Not one single word searched led to a porn site. I didn’t think that was possible in 2010.
— Entertainment editor Jon Niccum explores facets of pop culture that have established a unique niche on the Internet in Net Worth. He can be reached at 832-7178.