Improving the Availability Dropdown

I’ve been making small improvements to Domain Pigeon throughout the day based on the initial feedback.

Most were through the HackerNews thread, but one particularly helpful visitor, Hoan, emailed me with several suggestions including the following:

* Instead of “Views 64” perhaps you could say “64 people interested in this domain” (conversions could go up…)
* You can get rid of “Added on Jan X”, and make the previous statement larger




Good suggestion — Thank you Hoan.

Keep ’em coming.

Troubleshooting: /MSOffice/cltreq.asp

Scrolling through Domain Pigeon’s log file, I see:

ActionController::RoutingError (No route matches "/MSOffice/cltreq.asp" with {:method=>:get})

What’s going on here? My first impression was that someone was probing the site for vulnerabilities, but it turns out that’s not the case. Googling points to the answer:

Is someone attempting to hack my system? No, Not really.

These are requests from a user who has installed Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, and who has enabled the “Discuss” toolbar in his browser. When that toolbar is enabled, the browser will automatically query for these two files when visiting each site, to determine whether the Office Server Extensions are installed.

Microsoft, was there not a better way to do this?

The Green Light Flashes, the Flags Go Up

Here goes nothing.

Cross-posted from HackerNews:

The short of it:
Domain Pigeon helps you find unregistered domain names for your websites. Please let me know what you think.

The long of it:
In March of last year I was in the process of writing some poker software and trying to decide on a name for it. I wanted a good name and also wanted to own the corresponding domain name so that people could easily find it. I used Ajaxwhois, a great site that lets shows you the availability of domain names as you type, and quickly got pulled in trying to find a good domain. I would spend hours trying things like “”, “”, “”, “”, and so on. After a lot of time and energy later, I found “”, which became the name of the software.

Fast forward to about July. ALL IN Expert had just flopped and I was trying to decide on a new project to work on. I had several ideas in mind and again, I wanted a good domain name for whatever it wound up being. It was kind of sick: I wound up going back to Ajaxwhois and using it as the tie breaker. If I could find a good domain name for one project and not the other, that would be what I worked on.

It was crazy. There’s got to be a better way. I wrote a small piece of software that played with various word combinations and displayed their availability.  Surprisingly, there are a lot of decent domains out there… you just have to be patient enough or resourceful enough to find them.

Then it hit me: This is something other people could use too. I put the other ideas on the back burner and started on this one.

Domain Pigeon, an eccentric but hopefully memorable name I discovered with the same software, is intended to make finding unregistered domain names easier. It has been my learn Rails/JavaScript/web development nights and weekends project over the last few months. I hope you like it.

This is round two of its launch. Last week I posted a link to Philly on Rails, a local group of Rails aficionados, and received a lot of great feedback. The result is what you see today (hopefully, depending on how DreamHost does with the traffic).

I’ve got a list of about two dozens features I intend to add over the coming weeks, which will be modified and prioritized based on your feedback.

For me, Domain Pigeon has been as much about learning the process as it has been about the releasing the product. On that note, all feedback, positive and negative, is welcomed. I also keep a blog,, where I write about Domain Pigeon and its progress for anyone that is interested. I try to be as transparent as possible, as that’s the best way to get valuable feedback.

On a final note, a lot of the design decisions for Domain Pigeon were adapted from feedback given to other people launching their sites on HackerNews and for that, I owe you all a thank you.

Please let me know what you think.

Delayed Launch

I had planned on relaunching Domain Pigeon today, but decided to postpone it for a short while longer. At this point, I’m fairly confident that everything works the way it’s supposed to, but want to triple check just to put my mind at ease. I’m finding myself making minor tweaks, like adjusting the font sizes by 0.1em or changing the shading of green slightly, which is a good indication that I should just do it already.

One factor that has contributed to the delay has been the payment integration. Technically it wasn’t very hard and because I’m using Paypal I don’t have to worry about handling credit cards. The reason its taking time is that I want the price of the service to be an accurate reflection of the value and quality of the site. It has to match in order for it to be received well.

There are pros and cons to charging the initial users:


+ You’ll know pretty quickly whether you have a viable business model
+ The people that won’t pay will give you lots of valuable feedback/criticism on what you need to improve
+ You won’t miss out on the traffic spike on the day of the launch
+ You don’t have to suddenly start charging for something a few weeks down the road


– Criticism of the business model might draw attention away from the usefulness of the service
– Mistakes in the initial launch are accentuated by the fact that you’re charging for it
– Less buzz (or more, maybe)
– Since the service hasn’t been tested by more than a dozen people, there may be undiscovered bugs

I strongly considered waiting a few weeks before charging, but ultimately decided not to. My fear boils down to the possibility that I’ll have overlooked some embarassing flaw with the site and that these months of preparation will be overshadowed by whatever that is. The problem with that line of thinking is that there’s always going to be that possibility. All you can do is hope that your preparation has paid off and act like a professional in the event of a misstep.

Also, as someone pointed out on HackerNews a while back, you need to move beyond the big launch day mindset. It is important, but, what you do in the weeks following when the traffic has stabilized is what really matters in the end.

A great site with a crappy launch is better than a crappy site with a great launch.