Pricy 'Net names and Gates a no-go

The domain-name aftermarket -- or, if you prefer, speculation/ransom market -- eclipsed the $100 million milestone for the first time last year, according to Zetetic, a research company. Here's a look at some of the numbers:

A total of $111 million and change was spent on 17,974 names; the average price was $5,582, an increase of 13% over the previous year's $4,954. Five names went for more than $1 million, four more than in 2005.

Which leads us to our quiz portion of this column.

The $5 million-plus names in alphabetical order are:,,, and

The amounts paid from least to most were: $1.5 million, $1.6 million, $3 million, $7.5 million and $12 million.

Now match 'em up. Answers below.

There has been a million-plus sale this year, as fetched $1.5 million.

‘Gates for president’ group gives up

There will be no West Coast White House in Redmond, no Air Force One with a Windows-based navigation system, no Vice President Dilbert.

Alas, the "Bill Gates for president" bandwagon, which launched in November with such promise and fanfare - primarily because of Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams - has pitched over a cliff and called it quits.

From an e-mail alert just delivered to my inbox:

" 'Bill Gates for President' . . . We give up! We've tried . . . We really have! We wanted to evoke political debate and to a certain extent we succeeded to do just that. On the other hand, we failed miserably to draw enough attention our way. Bill Gates probably noticed and read the Web site and our arguments, but he probably didn't feel the drive needed to go for that presidential candidacy . . . We would like to thank all of you who tried to get this thing to work, and we hope we've inspired some people to think about the U.S. presidency in a way they never did before."

And so it goes.

What about Ballmer? Wouldn't he be a fun president?

By the way, I dropped an e-mail to Adams just to make sure he had heard the bad news. Here's his reply: "So much for my king-making skills!"

Mob rule overruns Reddit

The problem with "meritocracy" social-bookmarking sites, such as Reddit, is that sometimes the wisdom of crowds turns into an unruly mob.

So it was at 5 a.m. this past Thursday, when 14 of the top 15 items on Reddit - as voted by the Reddit community - involved the various calls to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Granted, a few were complaining about the overkill, but those voices of reason had failed to stem the tide at that early hour.

They've got themselves a problem at Reddit. The vast majority of readers come there not to be part of a political movement (however important) but to find interesting stuff to read. Same goes for the other up/down vote aggregation sites.

The good news for Reddit is that, by late afternoon, all of the pro-impeachment stories were voted off the island that is the Reddit front page. My guess is that this was not an indication of the Reddit community's support for the president, but rather a cry for their site to return to normalcy. A number of comment posters suggested that the "correction" shows that there's nothing wrong with Reddit. That strikes me as overly optimistic. . . . Although, I suppose it depends on how often this type of thing is going to happen.

(Answers to the quiz: Top one was easy, of course: $12 million:; $7.5 million,; $3 million,; $1.6 million,; and $1.5 million,

What do I hear as an opening bid for this e-mail address:

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