Domain Hacks and Why You Don’t Get Arrested for Them

You want to search for domain hacks right away? No problem, you can skip reading and jump to an interactive search table here.

Quoting wikipedia:

“A domain hack is a domain name that suggests a word, phrase, or name when concatenating two or more adjacent levels of that domain. […] Domain hacks offer the ability to produce short domain names. This makes them potentially valuable as redirectors, pastebins, base domains from which to delegate subdomains and URL shortening services.”

In other words, the “trick” for a domain hack is to turn the top level domain, often a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) into a part of the desired brand name, or generic term or phrase. And, following wikipedia, “hacking”, as it is used here, corresponds to uses in programming, meaning “clever coding (tricks)”, but surely not to a meaning like “breaking in”.

Brands That Use a Domain Hack

Examples for well-known brands/companies which acquired and actively use domain hacks are:

and many others. While all of the aforementioned companies also hold the corresponding .com names (i.e., instagram.com, youtube.com, etc.), it is worth mentioning that Microsoft redirects socl.com to the “hacked” version so.cl, thus favoring the latter.
Other well-known examples are:

  • blo.gs (first acquired by Yahoo, later by Automattic)
  • inter.net (a German Internet Service Provider. Note that this company does not own the corresponding .com domain internet.com)

Domain Hacks for URL Shortening Services

Companies that build and offer URL shortening services are for instance:

  • bit.ly, which is a “brandable” domain hack, as “bitly” is an invented word that (at the time of writing) can not be found in a dictionary
  • po.st
  • awe.sm

Notice that the latter two (po.st and awe.sm) build entirely on the domain hacks, that is they do not hold their corresponding .com names. For all three companies, URL shorteners are a part of their brand building strategies offered to business customers, targeting particularly the social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

“Crunching” the Word for a Short Domain Hack

Obviously, “awe.sm” corresponds to a “crunched” version of the word “awesome” (“crunching” here refers to shortening or condensing the word by leaving out letters, preferably those which would be most insignificant during the reading and perception process. Often, these are some or even all vowels of the word). There is more than one way to “hack” the word “awesome”, especially when including “crunched” versions of the word. On a side note, awes.me redirects to bitly.com (status quo at the time of writing). Of course, “awes.me” can also be read as “(it) awes me”.

“Letter crunching” often plays an important role when finding a good short company name or a domain hack: well-known examples include

crunched names for brand names

Domain hacks are a good way to build a URL shortener for a brand, and often “crunched” versions resembling the original brand name are used. For example:

  • The New York Times (nytimes.com) has nyti.ms as URL shortener, using the services of bit.ly
  • Techcrunch.com has tcrn.ch as URL shortener, using the services of bit.ly (before, they had used awe.sm)
  • Google.com has its own URL shortener at goo.gl (as well as at g.co)
  • Facebook.com has fb.me as a URL shortener, and another one, on.fb.me, has been integrated into bit.ly accounts

Crunching is not always used, for example orange.com runs its own URL shortener at oran.ge.

For more detailed information about company short names, you might also want to read “Company Short Domains: Why Many Companies Use Company Short Domains and How to Obtain Them”.

Other Ways to a Short Domain Name

Of course domain hacks are not the only way to achieve a short name resembling a brand. Sometimes the .co domain corresponding to a .com company or brand domain is used, or the .co domain of a “crunched” version of the brand. In an extreme case, the original brand is reduced to only one letter:

All three domains are used as URL shorteners by the respective companies.

Generic Domain Hacks and Domain Hacks Expressing Phrases

Besides brands, domain hacks can also be more generic, or express a short phrase, take for example:

Besides many others, these are all active sites at the time of writing. In general, the use of domain hacks is known to be very popular especially within the social communities.

Using the New Generic Top Level Domains (New gTLDs) for Domain Hacks

With the rise of more than 1,000 new generic top level domains like .company, .photography, .graphics, .land etc. released by ICANN, a large number of new domain hacks becomes possible. Most of them will be domain hacks for two-word compounds, noun phrases, or short phrases, like e.g. spanish.academy and book.limo (both examples are fully developed websites). More precisely, the second level domain (SLD) to the left of the dot is the first part of the compound or phrase, while the second part is constituted by the top level domain (TLD), situated to the right of the dot.

Domain Hacks for Sale: Your Chance to Obtain a Domain Hack Yourself

Are you interested in acquiring a sweet and short domain hack? If the answer to this question is ‘yes’, then the following interactive table will help you, it lists domain hacks for sale:

All prices are retail prices excluding value added tax
(we do not charge VAT as small entrepreneurs according to Section 19 UStG / German VAT Act).

Domain NameLink to DomainCurrencyPriceRemarks / Link
4f.re4f.reUSDSOLD.4f.re/e or 4f.re = "For Free"
SOLD.
4mo.re4mo.reUSDSOLD."For More (Information)"
SOLD.
4us.info4us.infoUSDSOLD.SOLD.
abyss.alabyss.alUSDSOLD.SOLD.
ac.tnUSDSOLD."Action" or "Auction"
SOLD.
algo.realgo.reUSD95
ba.alba.alUSDSOLD.SOLD.
"Baal", a domain hack for the demon or god
Bundle of bestna.me, bestnam.es, and everything offered thereBuy bestna.meUSD1295The complete website bestna.me, domain bestnam.es and all domains offered on bestna.me are for sale (except for domains under the TLDs .cf, .tk, .gq, .ga, and .ml) w/ content.
cars.holdingsUSDSOLD.SOLD.
clic.kzclic.kzUSDSOLD."Clicks"
SOLD.
crnch.itUSDSOLD.SOLD.
devils.codevils.coUSDSOLD.SOLD.
im.agim.agUSDSOLD.im.ag/e or im.ag = "Image"
SOLD.
ju.doju.doUSDSOLD.SOLD.
kt.tnBuy kt.tnUSD195URL shortener
kt.tn w/ content
lolc.atlolc.atUSD145i can has lolcat?
mp3.ggmp3.ggGBPSOLD.SOLD.
mp3.shmp3.shUSDSOLD.SOLD.
musi.czmusi.czUSDSOLD."Musics"
SOLD.
seehe.reBuy seehe.reUSD95URL shortener
seehe.re w/ content
trac.kztrac.kzUSDSOLD."Tracks"
SOLD.
zipth.atBuy zipth.atUSD145URL shortener
zipth.at w/ content