Diane at Strategic Name Development has researched several self-described Web 2.0 name generators that automate the process of naming your company. Sure, they're free, but do they work? I'm fascinated by generators and curious about what constitutes a Web 2.0 name, so I rolled the dice myself.
The results on Web Two Point Oh! and Benjamin's Web 2.0 name generator--well, my results, anyway--were far too random and nonsensical to be practical. (Update, July 22: Benjamin redesigned his generator--that's the correct link in the previous sentence--and it's better but still too clunky for a professional-level naming project.)
I got an error message every time I tried linking to the Razorberry generator.
HackSlash simply displays a list of names (hit "refresh" to see a new list), some of which turn out to have available domains. I like the way this generator goes beyond random letter assemblage to combine phonemes, words, and numbers in more or less credible ways (that is, if "True64" or "StyleTriangles" represent credibility where you live).
My favorite generator is Kira's, which presents only one surprisingly plausible name at a time and allows you to link to Dotster to check its availability. It took me only four attempts to find an available name (Quinyx.com), but it would take me a whole lot longer to backform a company, a product, and a story to accompany it. My next attempt, Rhymbo, also is available--right this minute, anyway--and kinda catchy, I think. (A commando poet?)
Although I make my living developing names for companies and products, I don't discount automated naming programs: they're fun, they're clever, and, if nothing else, they get your creative juices flowing. Some generators, like Benjamin's, force you to think about the key words and concepts behind your business--always a good idea when you're embarking on a naming exercise. And most of them prove that name development is a daunting business in which there's no good substitute for human intelligence.