A Simple Glitch

It happens to everyone; you want to go to Wikipedia, but end up typing wiipedia or some nonsense like that, and eventually come to a page that looks like Wikipedia’s, but isn’t. Usually the survey confronting you gives a hint that this isn’t the site you wanted, but sometimes it seems feasible that Wikipedia would be giving away gift cards or neat electronic devices to random participants. Wrong.

Websites with domain names very similar to web giants (like Google or Wikipedia) are usually typosquatters. These sites exist because of human error, and because ad companies pay the site per visitor. Because large websites generate high visitation rates (~ 6-7 figures), even a 1% chance of misspelling in the address bar equates to a large amount of money for these typosquatters.

In addition to gaining revenue, tricking visitors into filling out surveys/giving away their e-mails for advertisement purposes, and generally being annoying, typosquatting can cause a breach of security. Every domain owner can intercept every e-mail sent to the domain name. If you sent an e-mail to [email protected], you actually sent it to whoever owns googgle.com, which most likely isn’t your friend Ted.

All in all, typosquatting isn’t very appealing to the general public, will probably be around as long as the Internet, and can be very lucrative to some folks. Reportedly Google has an arrangement with some typosquatters and receives $500 million a year in ad money.