I’ve been trying to move away from Google’s services for a while. I’m not going to list all the reasons why anyone should do this, people have explained this way better than me already, but in short, because you shouldn’t keep all your eggs in one basket, or in other words because if one day for some reason Google suspends your account, you may loose a significant part of your digital life. This is one reason, but there are many others and a ton of alternatives that will help you in this journey of degoogling yourself. But I’m not writing about this process itself, but because during that process I found myself with another issue which involved a pretty important decision, a decision that I feel it wasn’t the best one: The domain I chose to move for my own site and for serving my self hosted services.
See, I wanted a domain easy to remember, easy to spell (so I don’t have to repeat it several times when I give my email to someone) and short because I’m lazy typing. Of course most of the domains that fulfill these requirements were already taken (I remember an episode of Futurama joking about that), or are they? Thing is, by then new Top Level Domains started to become available, and it was a good oportunity to score a short, easy-to-remember domain. And I got
nico.red. It was perfect,
red has a meaning in both English and Spanish (in English, obviously is the color, in Spanish red means network), it was short, not weird, and I had my own name in the domain.
And I started my process of setting up my own stuff. My goal wasn’t ditching Google for good, but dettaching myself on key areas… I still use Youtube, I keep my Gmail for some stuff, but I moved my main email to mailbox.org, I started hosting my own Calendar and Address Book using Radicale, I started going through many services to remove Google’s Single Sign On, etc. Until I got into a weird issue: A site told me that the email I was entering wsa not valid. Yep, it seems a site was validating the TLD with a hardcoded list, and
.red wasn’t in the list. One could argue that this is plain and simple a bad practice from the developer, and I agree, plus the validation was on the client side, so it was easy to remove that stupid check, but still an annoyance, and we can’t expect that all developers do what we thing is the right way to implement a login page. These kind of issues will come from time to time, and we can do little about it besides complain hard and loud.
But that was a minor annoyance, the big one is when I got this email from my domain registar:
The price increase wasn’t big, actually it was a couple of dollars a year, but made me realize that I was adding another hard dependency, and quite a big one. I decided to go with my own domain because it allwed me to move from different email providers, or host providers fairly transparently as long as I keep the domain, but then I added a dependency on an ICANN Registry Operator that I know very little about (it’s Afilias in case you are curious), and I don’t know if they are great or a terrible company, actually I don’t know anything at all but I do know is that all the listed domains with a price increase belong to them (owned, not just operated) and I don’t know if there is any kind of regulation around renewal prices for TLDs. Is it going to trust on the market self-regulation? (just by writing this I get shivers). Not long ago, when the
.dev TLD became available, the price was variable, depending on the word or domain name used, so for example
hello.dev was crazy expensive opposed to
bslkfgjndx234csxkhj.dev which was pretty cheap. I don’t know if this is going to be a practice in the future, but I do know that
nico is a pretty common word (
nico.dev was over 200 dollars and I skipped it because I thought it was stupid to pay that money for a personal domain, and no I wasn’t planning to speculate either).
At that point I asked myself if having a cool, easy to remember, with a funny top level domain was worth it, and decided it wasn’t. I went to the good old
.com, added a number (basically replacing from my name the la part from Nicolas with a 2) and registered. Yeah I know, I still have a hard dependency on the
.com domain, but I feel is a bit more reliable than a
.whatever domain. Maybe because more people use it? The domain is under the US Jurisdiction so it can be shut down by that government, so no domain is entirely safe so there is no lesson or advice in this post apart from the fact that we can’t be totally dependency free from third parties as long as we want a public, reachable profile.
I only hope
nico2sh.com lasts longer than my previous domain.