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Cyber Squatters Grab Up More Than 600 'Pope Francis' Domain Names 73

tsamsoniw writes "Although the newly appointed Pope Francis I has proven himself technologically savvy enough to use Twitter, the Vatican dropped the ball when it came to quickly registering a domain name for the pontiff after his appointment earlier this month: Within hours, cyber squatters grabbed up more than 600 domain names containing derivations of the pontiff's name, including,,, and, according to domain-name company"
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Cyber Squatters Grab Up More Than 600 'Pope Francis' Domain Names

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Friday March 15, 2013 @04:11PM (#43185791) Journal

    Although the newly appointed Pope Francis I has proven himself technologically savvy enough to use Twitter, the Vatican dropped the ball when it came to quickly registering a domain name for the pontiff after his appointment earlier this month

    Well, you've put me in the awkward position of defending papal technology. None of this really matters considering Vatican City has its own TLD of .va [] so it would be a waste of money and resources to try to accumulate every other TLD. I believe .va is tightly regulated to include only 1990s era website technology. The last pope's virtual dedication was done in comic sans as seen here [].

    Funny, if the pope was more like the humble carpenter Jesus of Nazareth and less like an enshrined emperor he wouldn't have this problem as there'd be no financial gain to drive extortion. Keep paying your tithes so the Vatican has deep pockets ... or would that be a Louis Vuitton to match his Prada shoes?

    • by djl4570 ( 801529 )

      The last pope's virtual dedication was done in comic sans as seen here [].

      This made me laugh and think about this defense of comic sans: []

    • by xevioso ( 598654 )

      What about Someone should grab it.

    • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday March 15, 2013 @04:30PM (#43185955) Journal

      Err, what extortion?

      The majority of catholics online just go to [] for anything out of the Vatican, and studiously ignore the rest, if they even bother to go at all.

      Seriously - even if every one of those squatted domain names pointed to lemonparty, it would make exactly zero difference to the laity. QED, no financial gain to be had. Overall, it's sort of like saying that the Vatican should have somehow snapped up any and all variations of @Pontifex on Twitter, when there's really no need.

      I guess the confusion comes from thinking that the Catholic Church is like some sort of commercial entity, where brand recognition and trademark protection online trumps all. Fact is, it doesn't - the Church has been around administratively since Constantinople was a living human being, and has had to put up with a hell of a lot more defamation and disparagement over the millennia than a bunch of wannabe blackmailers holding GoDaddy accounts can muster.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Obijon70 ( 2755699 )
      This pope has a history of being humble though, from turning down his limo and mansion (in his last post). Plus the name he picked in honor of St. Francis, in homage to the saint who was all about the poor. And as a bonus, he doesn't look like Emperor Palpatine.
      • by tibit ( 1762298 )

        He also has a history of indirectly getting people jailed back in Argentine, so I'd be careful not to be fooled by the appearances.

    • None of this really matters considering Vatican City has its own TLD of .va

      Because absolutely no one went to when trying to get information about the White House in Washington, D.C.

      (For those not in the know, was once a porn site; is the USG's website. According to Wiki the .com domain changed hands and content a little under a decade ago, shows how current I am.)

    • PS, concerning:

      or would that be a Louis Vuitton to match his Prada shoes? do realize that those (like most other finery, etc) are donated, right? Hell, I worked for a company that donated nearly 2400 solar panels [] to the Vatican (enough for 300kWh peak output), and all the trimmings to convert it to AC power.

      Seriously - it's one thing to pick on instances of actual snobbery and imperial trappings, but quite another to infer it from the donations.

      I know the next argument - "sell it to the poor!" Well okay, but who would buy a shitload of used solar panels, a p

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) *

        who would buy a shitload of used solar panels, a pair of red shoes of a specific size, or etc?

        I can't tell if you're serious or trolling so I'll try to keep this short. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. In our day of capitalism, the more capital you have the more inherent power you have based on what you can buy with it. All that gold and gilded shit in the Vatican? That could certainly be sold to collectors and the power structure could make do with a modest monastery in the middle of nowhere.

        To say that an auction on ebay wouldn't absolutely blow up with bidding on The Pope's used shoes

        • Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

          Err, what absolute power? The pope cannot have me executed, cannot seize my property or bank accounts, and would have a very hard time building an empire in the geographical sesne, considering that they have no army.

          You speak of money. Well, let's see what the money looks like [].. not a lot of money there, as they mention tens of millions of Euros and USD, not billions.

          Net worth? Not anywhere near as much as, say, the market cap of Intel, Microsoft or Apple []...

          So, err, yeah. Not much absolute power there, even

    • Keep paying your tithes so the Vatican has deep pockets

      Time to come visit us in the 21st century, the Church dropped the tithing requirement a long time ago.

      • The poster did no say anything about tithing being required.
        • We don't even have voluntary tithing, The tithe is 10% of gross according to most entities that do it and then they hunt you down to pay it. I've seen the elders of the Dutch Reformed Church going around knocking on doors depending their tithe.

          On the other hand, the Catholic church in Africa recommends 3% to 4% of disposable income after taxes and fixed payments. Most people will do the token dollar bills left in the wallet when the collection plate comes around.

    • It should be a .com. From "The Economist": []

      THE Roman Catholic church is the world’s oldest multinational. It is also, by many measures, its most successful, with 1.2 billion customers, 1m employees, tens of millions of volunteers, a global distribution network, a universally recognised logo, unrivalled lobbying clout and, auguring well for the future, a successful emerging-markets operation.

      . . . more choice quotes:

      The pope has no shortage of crisis-management tools at his disposal, including the doctrine of papal infallibility.

      His most pressing task will be to deal with the sex scandals. This is partly a theological issue: the church would attract a very different workforce if it did not insist that all priests be male and celibate.

      Still, he could learn from the private sector about how to manage the workforce he has. First, you need to punish errant employees rather than protecting them or shuffling them about. The best companies are quick to “proactively outplace” wrongdoers. Second, you need to treat your reputation as your most precious asset by drawing up clear rules on ethical behaviour, insisting staff adhere to them and conducting aggressive public-relations campaigns. Third, you have to keep looking ahead. Companies hold meetings of senior leaders to review their strategies every year, rather than every century or so.

      The church’s core competence lies in providing spiritual goods. Yet it devotes a lot of its energy to running an earthly operation. Some of this makes sense—schools and hospitals help fulfil Jesus’s mandate while promoting customer stickiness. But what about running an in-house bank (complete with the world’s only ATM machine with instructions in Latin)? Or managing property portfolios? Big companies like IBM and Ford have got out of non-core businesses and contracted out as much as possible to specialist companies. The church should do likewise.

      The church cannot take its success in the global South for granted. It is under pressure from lean start-ups with more vigorous marketing. Its market share in Latin America has declined from 90% in 1910 to 72% today, thanks to the growth of Pentecostalism. The Latin American church is responding by borrowing Pentecostal techniques such as holding “liberation masses” in soccer stadiums and allowing priests to speak in tongues.

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      Religion has long had problems with name-squatting and there was an early firm of IP protection back in Old Testament days. "Thou shall not take thy Lord's name in vain."

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      None of this really matters considering Vatican City has its own TLD of .va

      My first thought upon reading the summary. What are the spammers going to do with... oh, damn. Great, so we're going to see "forward this post to 100 of your friends or your soul is damned, also, you can buy absolution online" spam?

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        All of it is funded by ill managed google advertising, crappy pseudo search web site after pseudo search web site full of google paid for clicks. Millions of shitty pointless web sites funded by google advertising greed to the annoyance of hundreds of millions of web users.

        • Domain name squatting was around before Google Adsense. If you don't like Google, just say. But don't blame them for domain squatting.

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Google is responsible for the wildly out of control squatting, it is their responsibility to clean up their act or start facing some legislative changes about the responsibility of advertisers.

    • by rossdee ( 243626 )

      Who uses country code TLD's ? the internet is a worldwide medium., and country codes are just for stuff related to one country.
      Seriously the Catholic Church should be using a .org domain since its (theoretically) a charitable orginisation.

      I'll bet a lot of people would think a .va domain would be from the Commonwealth Of Virginia, or maybe the Veteran's Administration.
      Pf course va also means go in many Latin based languages

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Finally, some pope-related news in which a geek can take interest.
  • ? nope lol
    • by griffjon ( 14945 )

      It's best to not piss off His Holiness, Jean-Malreaux I

      If you get that reference, you're very, very geeky.

  • Cyber Squatter? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 )
    How is registering a domain cybersquatting? Unless they clearly expect to sell the domain back there are many reasons to register such a domain. For instance, information on a pope is highly censored. it may be that these people are setting up sites to report news that does not make into the media. Or they may be there to praise and promote the Catholic faith. Or many other reasons. What is clear is we should not just vilify these people who are legally exercising their rights. It just reinforces the
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      It just reinforces the prejudice that Catholics do not believe in individual rights when those rights but against the desires of the Vatican.

      Oh, all right. I confess. Now would you please back that rack off a click or two?

    • by jfengel ( 409917 )

      Indeed; one expects that once the new Pope actually starts doing something, there will be legitimate sites springing up to criticize him.

      But when the sites spring up within hours after his having been appointed, anybody with a well-founded opinion is more likely to be doing research than grabbing a domain name. Who's going to grab domain names that quickly? People who grab domain names for a living, and hope to sell them at an enormous markup to people who research their opinions before starting blogs about

    • Re:Cyber Squatter? (Score:4, Informative)

      by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Friday March 15, 2013 @05:51PM (#43186669)

      What is clear is we should not just vilify these people who are legally exercising their rights.

      Yeah, it makes total sense that someone in Australia would register, a French domain name, to publish a news site about the pope. Or that, from Florida, would register, a British domain, for the same reason. These people aren't out to make a quick buck, they obviously just want to spread news and praise about the pope and Catholics.

      Or maybe, and just maybe, I mean stick with me here, there are people like this [], part of the "domainer" community, complete with their own domain news sites, magazines, etc, saying things like this:

      On Tuesday I saw a list of 20 possible picks for pope. So I decided to hon my skill as I usually do on events of great interest. Being Jewish I was not aware the parameters for the pope changing his name but I was glad to see I had no shot anyways.

      But while I did not hit the bullseye on this mission, I circled around that eye.

      I got these 24 hours before the announcement:,,,,,

      Then after the announcement I got these.,,,,, got the most traffic yesterday. 82 visitors in the first 5 hours and 45 as of 10AM today.

      All these names are availabe to transfer to the Vatican without charge....not that they would want any.

      I can only imagine the amount of traffic the REAL domain got. could have easily gotten over 1 million TYPE INS! Type ins! What more proof would folks like about type ins?

      If the .com gets 1 million visitors and the .net gets 5000 visitors and all the rest combined get 5000 visitors, does that not illustrate the power of .com?

      And this:

      Godaddy came out with a press release and said theu sold 500 in the first 1 hour of Pope related domain names. So you could assume worldwide many thousands were registered. It is now a cottage industry in and of itself. We will see in what form this plays out. But a popular Pope could make for some very interesting domain stories.

      As I write this I registered 2 more., Like I said, a cottage industry is likely to spring up.

      Here [] is one of his domain names. Go ahead, click on that and get all of the pope news and Catholic praise you can stand. Surely he's not in it just to try his luck gambling. (by the way, every time you click that link, you probably earn the guy fractions of a cent)

      In case it isn't obvious, I have very little respect for people who go around registering domain names wholesale and trying to monetize them. Talk about a worthless existence. If they aren't going to use it, don't register it. But that's just my opinion.

      • I should have put this in my original post, but I think this line is pretty funny:

        All these names are availabe to transfer to the Vatican without charge....not that they would want any.

        "Uhh... Rick? Hi Rick, this is Sam over at the Vatican. Yeah, doing fine, thanks. Listen Rick, the pope is starring in a new reality TV show, and we understand that you own Yeah, of course, well done on snapping up that gem. Well, obviously is a pretty valuable name, so we'd like to have you transfer that one over. Thanks so much."

  • The squatters want to get closer to god or they are buying teh stairway to heaven...

  • ... Apple snatched

  • FYI: There is no Pope Francis I until there is a Pope Francis II.
    • This wasn't entirely clear, owing to John Paul I's precedent.
      New Pope: It's Francis, Not Francis I []

  • by Vrtigo1 ( 1303147 ) on Friday March 15, 2013 @04:57PM (#43186229)
    Cybersquatting implies that they hope to profit by selling the domains...more likely the Vatican will just take the names they want via the UDRP process as that's the defined way to get a domain name from someone that registered it with the intent to sell it. In that case cybersquatter gets $0 and loses the money he spent registering the domain.
    • by CptNerd ( 455084 )

      So, cybersquatting is basically a thought crime. So, would registering a "cool name", say "" years before someone else later thinks up the same name, is that cybersquatting? And how do you prove intent, or is proof not necessary, since "everyone knows" what cybersquatting is?

      • So, cybersquatting is basically a thought crime.

        But, yes, the description "cybersquatting" refers to both an act and the intent behind, not just an act; just like, e.g., "murder"; but, if it were a crime, it would be no more "thought crime" than murder is. Of course, its not a crime, so its even less a thought crime than murder is.

      • I think that is a delicate issue. IMHO, the very first question to ask would be : Are you using that domain? If the answer is yes, then you deserve that domain. If the answer is no then you should let someone who is going to use that domain have it.
        But then there is a problem: Define "using". Is having a server displaying a single page with ads or some simple massage/whatever be considered using it?
        Needless to say there are other problems: is the name related to the purpose of your webservice? is it infri

      • There are pretty clearly defined rules if you look at the UDRP process. If you register the name immediately after some event occurs that would make the name valuable and you don't do anything with it and then immediately try to sell it, then that doesn't pass the test. As far as registering a name 5 years ago and then trying to sell it, if you haven't done anything with it in the interim then that hurts your credibility (just let it expire if you don't have a need for it).

        A friend of mine had a domain
  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Friday March 15, 2013 @05:05PM (#43186305)
    Just send the Spanish Inquisition. No one would ever expect it.
  • Proudly I am one of them
  • still seems to be open? Someone get on that...
  • it should always be based on first to apply, first to get. maybe the church (or any other business/charity/whatever) should have bought every domain name related to their brand/product/whatever (in this case, names of saints). sick of late to the game shortsighted fucks not wanting to pay what they think is oh so valuable. pay up, motherfuckers.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972