TalkPress bbPress Domain Dilemma

LelandThe following guest was written by Leland Fiegel who operates ThemeLab.com. While you’re there, be sure to check out his free WordPress themes. You can catch him on the WP Tavern forums under the username Leland.

Quiz time: What is one thing that the following Automattic products/services have in common?

WordPress, Akismet, IntenseDebate, PollDaddy, Gravatar, BuddyPress, TalkPress

Answer: Each of their respective .com domains are each controlled by Automattic.

I’m sure you can guess which one is missing off the list, and that’s bbPress. The domain name bbpress.com has been registered since 1997 by a company called B&B Press, Inc. It has nothing to do with online forums.

I’ve been involved with domain names for a few years now, and there are a few general guidelines that are involved when buying domains. One of the more important guidelines is: always get the .com.

I realize most of you reading this are relatively web savvy but imagine this: you’ve never heard of bbPress, but you knew it was a free open-source forum software. You would probably simply type “bbPress” into Google, realize the first result is the one you were looking for, and click through.

Unfortunately, most of the rest of the internet are not that savvy. I would imagine a lot of people mistakenly type in bbpress.com into their address bar, wind up on the wrong site, and give up.

At the time of this posting, it looks like Matt Mullenweg is the listed owner of TalkPress.com/net/org/info/biz/us. So why doesn’t Automattic just dump the “bbPress” name, and move everything over to talkpress.org?

There are a number of reasons that were outlined in this bbPress blog post.

  1. It avoids the sort of confusion users experience trying to distinguish between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
  2. bbPress is not a particularly good product name for that service
  3. The bbPress.com domain name is already registered to someone else

Okay, I can understand there is some confusion trying to distinguish between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, but wouldn’t it be even more confusing trying to distinguish between bbPress.org and bbPress.com, considering bbPress.com is a completely unrelated site? Could this “dilemma” be solved by simply switching from “bbPress” to “TalkPress” or do you think it’s fine the way it is?

11 Comments


  1. This is completely irrelevant. Sure, non-internet-savvy people may just go to bbpress.com, but as you mentioned, anyone who has the faintest knowledge of the ‘net will google it at least.

    If you simply type “bbpress.com” into a browser in hopes of finding it, then you’re almost definitely not going to own a server to run bbPress on anyway. If bbPress was aimed at beginners, I’d agree, but it’s not; it’s aimed at site administrators.

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  2. @Ryan: I understand your point. Keep in mind however that I was writing this post from a domainer’s perspective. I guess the fact that bbpress.org is aimed at “site administrators” make up for the poor choice of domain?

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  3. Actually you’re wrong. Less savvy people don’t guess the domain and try bbpress.com. They go to google and type “bbpress” and there go to the first result. My wife, my mom, my dad, they all use Google to find a site, even a site they know.

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  4. @Ozh: Not really trying to start arguments here, but do you understand the concept of “typo” traffic? This has been around for a while. Just because your family members use Google to find domains doesn’t mean the whole world does.

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  5. Actually, I do agree with Ozh. My family/friends/etc. also navigate via search engine (my wife uses Yahoo, most everyone else uses Google).

    I’m also not sure that I agree with the post’s premise. As with WordPress, a .org is entirely appropriate for bbPress. WordPress.com really has very little at all to do with WordPress.org. The .com is actually built on an entirely different application (WPMU) than what is offered on the .org.

    Besides, the Automattic-run service based on bbPress is significantly different from the Automattic-run service based on WordPress.

    In the latter’s case, the symmetry in self-install versus hosted-install domains broadens the reach of the hosted-install domain. In the former’s case, the hosted-install domain is targeted at such a precise, niche demographic that it can handle having an asymmetric domain name.

    All that said, would it be nice for Automattic to own the bbPress.com domain? Well, sure. I don’t know what they’d use it for (maybe even just a redirect), but of course, it would be nice.

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  6. Leland,

    Don’t let these other commenters get you down. You are approaching this through the eyes of a domainer, which is a different view of most people :)

    I don’t think Automattic needs to own BBPress.com (and they can’t anyway if someone else has it, develops it, and has a legitmate claim to the domain), but I think they should consider changing the name, whether that be TalkPress or something else.

    As to your point about typo traffic, yes, many people use direct navigation (i call it natural traffic) to a domain. Thing is, when they get there it is obvious that it isn’t what they are looking for so they will search for it. The times this is a problem is when direct navigation is going to a competitor’s website, or that of a similar product or service. That is when you NEED to own the .com.

    Great post, as always!

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  7. @Chip: That’s a good point which I didn’t really consider. Since WordPress.com is pretty much free for all, while TalkPress.com is much more selective.

    @Kyle: Yes, in retrospect maybe this post would have been better suited towards a domain-related blog. I know you have some background in domains so your comment is greatly appreciated.

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  8. Firstly bbPress and TalkPress are explicitly different things.

    It was an unfortunate mistake IMHO to name the hosted WordPress solution WordPress.com, a large portion of people just don’t see or understand the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and support questions get sent the wrong way for both.

    It is good to see the seperation in branding between install it yourself (bbPress) and hosted (TalkPress).

    While I agree is is good practise to try and get all the relevant domains for your brand there are other issues at stake here too.

    The bbPress name fits well into the *Press family.

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  9. Regardless of the past confusion with wordpress.com and wordpress.org (which I think is overblown), Auttomattic/Matt choose to keep it that way. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to me that talkpress.org (bbpress) would be the self installed software while talkpress.com would be the hosted solution JUST LIKE WORDPRESS. At least there would be continuity. BB, which stands for “bulletin board” is a lot less hip than “Talk”.

    As a domainer myself, I can tell you its true, a fair percentage (surprisingly) of people do type in the domain in their address bar and the .com TLD is almost always the extension they use under that circumstance. Just because you or people you know don’t do it doesn’t mean others won’t. In fact their have been many millionaires made within the domain industry based on the very fact it frequently does happen.

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  10. I’d prefer the domains to be consistent too. I don’t see WordPress.com changing it’s domain name any time soon, so renaming bbPress.org to TalkPress.org would make more sense to me. I suspect they won’t be changing now though, the decision has already been made and I assume they’ll stick to it.

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  11. I agree with OZH here. It’s almost like it’s second nature now to browse the internet strictly through the search engines. I and everyone else I know do this, unless you’re talking about sites like myspace or facebook, but other than that, if I want to get to Target or Walmart’s websites, it’s to the search engine, and typing up the name of the store in there.

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