TechCrunch reported yesterday that Letter.ly, a startup email subscription service presumably based in the US (information is sparse), had lost its domain name “as a direct result of the ongoing unrest and war in Libya.” Effective immediately, the company will be found at Letterly.net.
.ly is the Libyan top-level domain. It’s become popular in recent years among startups looking to create short, active-sounding URLs that sound like adverbs. (See Bit.ly, Card.ly, Smak.ly, Smel.ly, Smile.ly, et al.)
According to an email Letterly sent to its subscribers, the company neglected to renew its domain registration, and the Libyan domain registry, NIC.ly, refused to renew it.
Forgetting to renew a domain is naïve or slipshod or both. But that isn’t what made my jaw drop.
The email continues, without any capital letters for some reason:
sorry for the hassle. it’s amazing that a physical war has affected our service in this way.
Or maybe “O R.LY?”
Yes, it’s amazing! A physical war! Has affected our service!
Why, I’ll bet it’s practically unprecedented.
Memo to Letterly: War is hell. Also, in case you hadn’t heard, the regime led by Colonel Ghadaffi is not exactly renowned for playing fair.
Memo to all startups determined to shun the counsel of professional name developers: You get what you pay for.
Oh, and make sure you renew your domain registrations before they expire.
P.S. Yes, I did recently recommend the Iceland top-level domain, .is, to a naming client. Yes, that meant taking a bit of a risk. But not the level of risk one assumes when dealing with Libyan institutions now and in the recent past.