My beef with domain name trolls

Garikai Dzoma Avatar

Some of the most popular domain name extensions on the internet.

So what is a domain name troll? I cannot think of a better example than having you type into your browser. You will be redirected to the page of the website which is a company that says:

[We] use vision, creativity and expertise to connect businesses with their customers and drive commercial success across multiple touchpoints. Working with us isn’t just about achieving the end result, it’s about what we do getting there, changing the way you think about your business and the benefits of digital forever.”

Its mission statement is:

Our mission is to provide clients with premium digital services and impeccable care. We want to be admired for the talented people who work at Leighton, who create and develop solutions that help our clients and aid them to profit through the advanced use of technology.

We want to be known as a great place to work, one that nurtures and cares for its employees, that innovates and invents.

If you are like me you are left wondering what on earth that has to do with Harare?! Some people are actually going to rail against me using the name of an actual company here but I am not going to apologise for it. If there is indeed a link between this Leighton and Harare I would call it tenuous at best. Its Leighton and not Lighton by the way. How many people out there are thinking about Leighton when they type into their web browsers?

Domain trolls are individuals who sit on the internet waiting to snatch up domain names as soon as they become available in the hope that the brand owners will part with a fortune in order to regain control of these domain names.

This is especially true when such a domain name would confuse ordinary people if it were to be used by another company. For example a domain name troll would register the domain name (which is available) and hold it to ransmon in the hope that they can sell it for a fortune to Google at some point in the future because everyone out there knows Gmail is a popular Google product.

Some trolls just misuse a domain and use its popularity to direct unwitting visitors to little known sites that they would never dream of ever visiting.  However, others act like real life patent trolls who amass large portfolios of vaguely worded patents that allow them to sue those engaged in the task of actually improving livelihoods in the real world, Domain name trolls typically just sit on their domains without ever actually using them.

Harare seems to be especially popular with these trolls.
Harare seems to be especially popular among eerr trolls.

Harare is understandably popular with these trolls. In addition to the page which directs you to the strange page above,,,,,,,, ( that would be an absurd domain name any way), ( which would make sense for an airline business maybe or a travel agent to use on a microsite), and all have no website associated with them even though they are prime keywords that could be productively used instead of being held to ransom.

The only harare.tld domain that I could find being used for, what in my opinion, seemed to be a legitimate purpose was which seems to list Harare restaurants, bars, hotels and attractions and more. The domain redirects to I am not saying they are trolls but seriously? From Harare to ProMarket Financial how does one even make such a connection?

Most of these domains are being sold for over $2 000 each. Call it enterprising I call it kidnapping and demanding a ransom.

The domain is especially susceptible to domain trolls because currently it lacks a renewal feature which would at least force a would be domain name troll to fork out money for each year they hold a domain to ransom.

Years ago, I registered a domain through an ISP on behalf of the company that I worked for. Despite the fact that the company has not used that domain for a couple of years now (try 6 years) I was shocked to find that not only is the domain not available fore registration, its MX records are still intact!

This has resulted in some people being unwitting trolls I think. One day you have this brilliant idea for a start up. You go to or or some other popular local registrar and register your domain using the prime key word which just luckily happened to be still available. You give it your all but unfortunately Zimbabwe is not yet ready for your idea (a euphemism for your start up fails), you throw your hands and move on.

A more motivated entrepreneur comes along 4 years down the line tries to register the same domain name you once used and they hit a speed bump because it’s still registered to you.

For all the improvements the *.zw domain is still a mess. And here is a fun fact; you can create your fancy highly available apps and websites as many times as you want but the .zw domain names only has one zone server: ( IP

The backup has been down for as long as I can remember. To mitigate this they have set a really large expire time of 2 weeks which in my opinion is like holding a nuclear bomb together using duct tape; it actually works but it’s not something you want to do. If there is a successful DDoS attack on the IP for two weeks then it’s bye bye .zw! Of course I am being silly but nobody thought the Hacking Team could be hacked either.

Because there is no renewal option, that I know of, and because I am afraid of being made to disappear by angry folk who might or might not be trolls, I have decided against naming .zw trolls and hope that sometime soon the .zw domain woes will be fixed because while some may think otherwise they are a big deal.

This tirade was written after I failed to register the domain name I tried to do so only to discover some guy/lady is holding it to ransom and is actually selling it. I mean when people Google Garikai they are obviously looking for me, right?

Image credit:


  1. tinm@n

    The conventional noun that defines them is cybersquatters.
    Corresponding verbs being cybersquatting or domain squatting

    Its big business. Loved by those in it, and hated by the likes of you AND me!

    I absolutely hate cybersquatters.

    I remember trying to help someone negotiate one of Zimbabwe’s city names that was already registered by a squatter.

    We didnt win it. That was way back in 2003.

    What was revealing was that all the cities were registered by the same squatter who was speculatively holding onto the domains.

  2. 263CodeNinja

    “… in my opinion is like holding a nuclear bomb together using duct tape; it actually works but it’s not something you want to do.” – Garikai.

    On another note, I think I found my next big idea for entrepreneurship.

  3. kilotango

    to be fair, .com .net .org .co etc really are US based TLD’s…. and Harare isnt a trademarked name that belongs to anyone. we just register domains names on their platform, and because their TLD’s are common and widely know, they abuse it cyber-squat. would you be as annoyed if someone registered or probably not?

    1. Ndinizangu

      No offence, but what i think Gari is saying is that these people just buys a domain and sits on it. His beef is, why not give it to someone who can actually do something with it.

  4. ic0n1c

    Lol, I must confess I didn’t know that “Domain Trolls” is the name that its given! One thing that you don’t realize is that its an opportunity, a domain is not something private unless it has been taken and “owned” by someone… Its a finite resource that is out there just like any other. So if someone realises that an opportunity to make money exists why castigate him? I mean if the company that actually needs that domain goes and buys for $2,000 or $1m for that matter who is there to stop them?

    I know you have all these ethic issues you might bring up but really can I be sued for hoarding domains? I for one I have several stashed… Just waiting for the value to hit $10k then…

  5. Jerry Kurl

    And, there’s a term for the author and others like him: Entitlement Trolls. These are people who suddenly decide they want to own or control some asset and then whine and complain when they discover that someone more forward thinking already beat them to it and owns that asset. Just because the owner “isn’t using it” doesn’t make any difference.

    Seriously, compare your thinking to real estate: you suddenly decide you want to start a business on a prime empty lot near a busy intersection in your town. You discover that the current owner bought the empty lot 10 years ago for $50,000 and “has done nothing with it.” It’s just sitting empty and unused. Yet, the owner has dutifully paid the $5,000 property taxes each of those 10 years to retain her rights to the empty lot. That’s $100,000 cash out of pocket that this owner has invested in the land. You ask how much she wants to sell it for and she says $200,000. Do you scream “she’s holding the land hostage!” or “she’s holding the land for ransom!”? No, you logically reason she has every right to ask whatever price she wants for her piece of raw land. After all, she is the legal owner who bought it fair and square before you could get to it and you know that you are in no way legally entitled to the land.

    It all comes down to: do you yourself have the financial means to pay her her asking price to convince her to transfer ownership of the raw land to you? If you do, congratulations, the piece of unused, raw land is yours! If not, you’ll need to find a more economical piece of land to start your business on. That’s just how it goes.

    It’s no different with Internet domain names — virtual raw land. The only exceptional difference is limited to those few companies or individuals who are truly entitled to a domain name by law: those who earned a registered or common law trademark used in the domain name well before the domain name owner registered the domain name. THAT is cybersquatting, for which there are legal remedies for the trademark holder. If you are not such a trademark holder, then you are in no way legally entitled to the domain name no matter how badly you want it, no matter how envious and jealous you are of the person who beat you to it, or how much you hate that person for outsmarting you or having greater foresight to register it or to buy it at a lower price than you can today.

    So, stop being Entitlement Trolls!

    1. ic0n1c

      Thank You! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    2. Taurai B

      Entitlement trolls. LOL. Excellent comment!! We need to stop the wanting culture and get what we deserve or can afford.

  6. macd chip

    If l had money l will be buying everyone’s name, surname, place of interest and register it hopping for the best future to come.

    Its a capitalist world we are in! Kakara kununa hudya kamwe.

    Registering a domain is actually buying it for a period of time because you do not get it for free, then if l can sell it for more than l bought it, happy days, profit!!

  7. Andrew
    Thats a great business idea, thanks.

  8. Garikai Dzoma

    I think people should separate between schadenfreude and capitalism. Besides it has been my observation that those who buy these domains rarely do well in business anyway. Rather than buying a domain being sold for millions you should spend time creating a product that will sell no matter the domain name.

    Best case example instead of trying to buy Larry and Sergey just bought and made it work.

    1. ic0n1c

      Not everyone is a Larry or a Sergey whatever… you just gotta take the opportunity presented to you. Simple!!!

    2. macd chip

      Do l have to be a racing driver to sell racing cars?

      The fact that google bought their name from someone, to me thats business. If lm selling a product which l bought somewhere, should l care how you intend to use it?

    3. tinm@n

      They do very well in THAT BUSINESS.

      Domain reselling is big business!! And there are people in it making good money. It is legitimate, though a great annoyance when you need a domain name that someone is just speculating on.

      Cybersquatting or domain name squatting is something different, and involves latching onto another entities IP or tradename for speculative purposes. If you can prove you own the IP rights, you can actually win the dispute with ICANN and its governing affiliates.

      There is a fine line between the two allowing people to cross over and claim to be investing in domains, yet they are squatting on a recently expired domain or using a name of an existing entity with the hope of being paid off

  9. Carl

    Techzim you have some problems in the stances you take. A few years back you attacked ZISPA for refusing to register domains on the grounds that the register did not have the rights to domain. Now a few years later you now understand what domain squatting is . . .