E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

About Me

PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


Built using Django, served with gunicorn and nginx. The database is SQLite. Hosted on a FreeBSD VPS at Johncompanies.com. Comment-spam protection by Akismet.


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Stuff I Use

Bitbucket, Debian Linux, Django, Emacs, FreeBSD, Git, jQuery, LaunchBar, macOS, Markdown, Mercurial, Python, S3, SQLite, Sublime Text, xmonad

Spam Report

At least 237143 pieces of comment spam killed since 2008, mostly via Akismet.

Think twice before you let those domains lapse

In an effort to shed time-sucking side projects in the past couple years I've let a number of sites go dark and domain names lapse. Some of these were ideas that never got off the ground, but one or two were sites with real traffic and Google pagerank (PR 5 in one case, not stellar but not achievable overnight either).

Sadly, some of these domains have now been taken over by those useless squatter pages that manufacture lists of "related links" and "popular searches" and so on to trick people into clicking on ads. This only makes sense -- if you were a domain squatter, you'd certainly prioritize grabbing expired domains with high pagerank and many existing inbound links. If you set up your server never to return a 404, some of those linking sites might never even notice the change.

While I don't regret the move toward simplifying my life, in one or two cases I wish I had just spent $8/year to keep the domain going for a year or two, redirecting traffic to one of my own sites. This would be a better service to former readers and linkers, and it would eliminate that queasy sensation I get every time I visit one of those old domains by accident.

(How big a role the registrars themselves play in this phenomenon is a question I'm interested in, but that research will have to wait for another day.)

Monday, September 25th, 2006

0 comments pending approval
Comment from Fazal Majid , later that day

Another related issue is RSS/Atom feeds. If people subscribed to feeds on those lapsed domains, they are now vulnerable to spam through the aggregator. Of course, ubsubscribe is just one click away, but it will leave a bad taste in their mouth and damage the original domain owner's reputation.

I often wonder what happens if (when?) one of the many Web-2.0 feed distribution companies like Feedburner flames out and has its domains taken over by spammers. I have 17 subscribed feeds served by Feedburner, that's many unsubscribe links to click on (and to find updated feed URLs for).

Comment from Bob Gregory , later that day

Discovering that your domain of useful tools had expired was a little like losing a favorite pet. Inconvenient, but not life shattering. And it will be mourned only until a replacement is found. Nice to have around. I'll miss it.

Comment from Paul , later that day

Actually, that one (I gather you're talking about toolbot.com and were delicately omitting the name to avoid perpetuating the problem I'm talking about) should be back shortly -- just a snafu with Dotster. (Renewal via Paypal payments is badly broken when using Safari.)

Thanks for the kind words!

Comment from Bob Gregory , 1 day later

That's good news (like someone calling to say they've found my lost dog :-).

It wasn't clear whether you were also referring to Toolbot. Tracking you down was a challenge until it occurred to me to google "about.toolbot" and view the cached page. That led here, to a post about expired domains, so I assumed it meant Toolbot. I'm happy to be wrong this time :-)

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