Who profits from web domains?

I’ve been trying to figure out who profits from the sale of web domains. Like any resourceful, 21st century American, I googled it.

“who profits from web domains.”

Zero results.

Do you know what you have to type into Google to get ZERO results? Things like “Monica Gill is the wisest, most talented, intelligent woman in the world.” Or 10 letters of gibberish in a row, like omdglewpzl. Or something. Every comprehensible phrase or question typed into Google will yield results.

I tried rephrasing: “who profits from web domain sales”


“who profits from domain sales”


“who profits from the sale of web domains”

Zero results.

Does anyone else think this is really, really strange?

I guess I’m the only one asking this question. Well, I look forward to meeting all my new readers who should now find this post as the only result when they try to figure out what on earth is going on.

In the meantime, that is, before the CIA hauls me away for questioning, I would really like to know why I have to pay $10 every year to retain every domain I “own” and exactly who is cashing the check.

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12 Responses to Who profits from web domains?

  1. Jaimie says:

    It has something to do with this: the internet people make sure everyone who types in “www.monicagill.com” gets to your site. It costs them nothing, but they’re essentially threatening you to keep paying them or they’ll give your domain name to someone else, since they know there’s a demand for it. Even if it is a very small demand, like a private website.

    Hosting fees make more sense.

    Again, this is just my understanding of “how the internet works.” It’s all code. You type something in, you get something. The internet people make sure “www.monicagill.com” goes to your site. It’s like typing in “who profits from parking spaces?” It’s a weird question, but the answer would be, “The valet service.” And that metaphor is assuming most of humankind is not physically saavy enough to park their own car.

    • Monica says:

      But who are the internet people?

      • Jaimie says:

        The people who host the domains, have the servers, etc. Like WordPress. GoDaddy. Dreamhost. People with an established stake who can propagate your information more reliably.

        Our computers aren’t running 24/7, don’t have the bandwidth, and don’t have the reliability or perhaps we could do it all ourselves. We pay someone for that service.

        Again… I might have screwed some of the finer nuances up, but this is my understanding having studied it some.

        • Jaimie says:

          In fact, back in the early ’90s, I knew of some people who hosted and propagated their own website stuff. But it didn’t work nearly as well.

        • Jaimie says:

          Well not early 90’s. Just 90’s. Gr.

        • Jaimie says:

          Also, you know no one “owns” the internet because when I bought my domain name, I could have gone to any one of hundreds of companies to do it. It’s just a matter of paying someone to use their super-computers (bandwith, 24/7, reliability) to direct all people who type in “www.jaimie.com” to my info.

          • Monica says:

            Well, it is sort of hard to comprehend for me, but I do see what you’re saying. It’s fascinating. And yes, I understand that know one “owns” the internet.

            And I typed “who profits from parking spaces” into Google. No results. Good analogy. šŸ™‚

  2. suzanne says:

    Well, this goes to my age old question that I’ve never gotten an answer to:

    “Who owns the internet?” or “Who profits?

    Let’s keep circling the question and at least get people wondering about it.

  3. Jaimie says:


    I’m reading this article, and it’s sorta enlightening. If you wanted to research it further, this would help you. I didn’t know that domain names are strictly a human conveniences, and that the DNS just translates them into IP addresses.

  4. Jaimie says:


    Name servers do two things all day long:

    * They accept requests from programs to convert domain names into IP addresses.
    * They accept requests from other name servers to convert domain names into IP addresses.

    When a request comes in, the name server can do one of four things with it:

    * It can answer the request with an IP address because it already knows the IP address for the domain.
    * It can contact another name server and try to find the IP address for the name requested. It may have to do this multiple times.
    * It can say, “I don’t know the IP address for the domain you requested, but here’s the IP address for a name server that knows more than I do.”
    * It can return an error message because the requested domain name is invalid or does not exist.

    This answers my nagging question of, “What if two people registered the same domain name? What about competition?” But this shows that when people invented the internet, they did so with this “rule” where every server would communicate with other servers so that IP addresses and domain names were NOT duplicated. Which makes sense, because it wouldn’t work otherwise.

    ……. sorry. Geeking out in your comment section.

    • Monica says:

      I can’t say I would have ever imagined such a thorough response to this post. I am quite amazed at the extent of your knowledge. Thank you for all of that. Visiting the howstuffworks article now…

  5. teri bittner says:

    Monica-if you still haven’t found out about this contact Ben Bernhard at: http://twitter.com/#!/benstarkmedia

    He can explain it so well!

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