Another day, another idea for a niche website. I really have to stop doing this. I have more personal projects that I can handle, but this one? THIS ONE IS THE ONE (as are each of my crazy ideas).
Anyways, when I finally decided that I wanted to go forward with a new site, I wanted to get a strong, branded domain name. If you’ve ever searched for a proper domain name after 1997, you know that there’s not much out there that hasn’t been taken or being squatted on. If you want a .com, you kind of have to be creative (ahem, Stuarte.c0).
Imagine my shock when one of the first domains I searched for was available. And it was a real phrase/word! I couldn’t believe it. The only problem? It was a .ly domain, the TLD for Libya and wasn’t available to be registered in the U.S. Crap….
How to register a .ly domain online
Not easily deterred, I began researching how to obtain a proper Libya top level domain. Apparently, you can’t go the normal GoDaddy or NameCheap routes, but had to register your .ly through one of the approved vendors.
Here’s a list of Libya’s domain registrars that I found on Quora. Oddly, I went through each site and only a one actually had a domain registration process. A few of them don’t even have fully-functioning websites. Alshamel.ly offers domain registration as one of their services, but it looks like you’ll have to register a domain by contacting them. I don’t see a way to do it from their website.
Through that list, I found that there are a couple options to register an .ly domain in the United States. You can register an .ly domain at Libyan Online.com, Register.ly, or a few others.
The sticking point? A Libyan TLD will cost Americans $75/year (.coms and .nets usually cost ~$12USD).
Are there any .Ly registrar options that are cheaper than $75?
If you live in Libya and want to register a website with your country’s TLD, then it’ll cost you 40.00 LYD, which as of this post, is about $32 USD. Not prohibitive, but I’m not in Libya.
If you are outside of Libya and want to register, you’ll likely have to pony up the $75/year unless you want to go through some painful steps or want to register it the domain for multiple years. See below:
Digital Group and Telecom & Informatics Co. offers a price of $50 registration in the first year. In order to get that price, you’ll have to register manually meaning you have to look up domain availability on whois, send in an registration application, and after that you have to send them your payment information to pay for the domain. Wow. — odd that you have to jump through so many hoops for an online service.
Another cheaper option I was able to find was registering the domain arRegister.ly for multiple years at a slight discount.
Register.ly allows you to save $5 over two years, $15 over 3 years, $30 if you register it for 4 years, $50 over 5 years, etc.
Due to the multiple steps or high costs of registering for more than one year at a time, I’m sure 99% of people don’t think that’s worth the extra savings, but if you want to save a couple bucks and have the time, there are options for you.
Are there any problems/dangers in registering a .ly domain?
In researching .ly domain names, it seems like there have been problems you should be aware of.
Because these domains sit in Libya, there are different laws, customs, religious considerations that you should be aware of before purchasing a .ly domain.
There have been cases where domains have been seized because the content have run afoul of the country’s cultural guidelines. For more on this, read Ben Metcalfe’s experience with his URL shorterner service VB.ly being deleted by the Libya registrar service without any notice (update: Libyan Spider refutes this and says that they contacted vb.ly multiple times).
Also, check out Letter.ly, who had problems renewing their domain after the agency they used was “taken down” by the unrest in Libya. Letter.ly was forced to move to Letterly.net.
(In this case, Letter.ly should have been much more aware of their domain expiration date and if you have a real company, you should just register it out several years).
With all that, these are still just two instances. I’m sure there’s more, but there’s also those that have had good experiences with .ly – like Joshua Strebel owner of page.ly and sal.ly, as well as the owner of progressful.ly.
So, what to do?
In the end, even with the costs and potential dangers, I decided to register a .ly domain.
Here’s why: Due to the potential problems and high costs, the domain landscape isn’t barren due to squatters, so I was able to find and register a really strong, branded URL.
I’ve been registering domains for 15 years now and seeing that the domain I wanted was available was shocking.
On top of that, the proposed content of my .ly site will be so innocuous that I don’t believe it will offend anyone of any religion or race. At least, I hope that it won’t, but just in case of my content being misinterpreted, I’ve also registered the .co equivalent.
The one bad scenario I can see is Libya completely shutting down their internet in another middle east uprising. That’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility, but I’ve decided to take that chance with my sparkly new .ly domain name.