The Loser.com redirect
or How I learned to love URL squatters
or Netflix presents: Making a Troll-er-er
I, like most people, was alerted that some glorious troll “purchased loser.com after the Iowa caucuses and redirected it to the Wikipedia page for Donald J. Trump” this week. This level of trolling deserves applause and some LOLing. But after a moment of reflection, there was no way that loser.com was available. It is too perfect a URL. URLs of this caliber aren’t just sitting unowned in the DNS galaxy.
So I had to dig a little deeper. Step one, whois loser.com. It turns out, loser.com has had the same owner since 1995. Twenty one years. The person who purchased the url is not just troll, this is a person who had vision. I wish I bought up URLs in 1995 just for the purpose of reselling them. The person who bought loser.com in 1995 is not just a troll, they are a URL squatter. Or maybe a trURL squatter…
It’s amazing to me how much I think I know about said person just based on this little bit of information. But that says more about me than anyone else. It turns out the owner is a company called tucows, with a logo that is actually two cows. There is also a mention of hover.com, which is another awesome URL to have and just a great internet related word (:hover). I’m sure if I looked deeper or understood all the little details of whois, these two companies are related, but I’m not solving a murder. I’m making assumptions about someone based to their internet archive.
I was curious, I had to go a little deeper and learn more about this site. Step two: our old friend the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. This is where the story became fun to me. The tldr; of the story, is someone knew they bought a great URL, but they couldn’t quite get anything out of it. Eventually they settled on just redirecting it to various other sites because as URL squatting matured and nothing really came of the site (I would assume no great offers came in), they realized the true power of the word loser. To call someone a loser is also to troll them.
The birth of loser.com (1997 or so):
Steven Armato, I bow to you. There were too many google results to narrow down exactly which Mr. Armato this is, but he had the foresite to purchase the URL. He has questionable taste (if that is the actual site of the group that brought us the power ballad “The Sign”) and somehow made a text only website not responsive, but he bought a damn good URL. To be fair, I think I made a similar page for a class in college around the same time…
What am I doing? Why am I here? (2000–2005)
Not sure what happens during this period. Armato may have lost the URL, or maybe he works with one of the other companies. The site goes down for some time. The owner starts experimenting with redirects. We see redirects to Yahoo Stores, algore2000.com, home.net, google, a local project and edns1.com. There is also a directory page, I assume this is when the owner started to realize he was missing out on the true potential of an incredible URL and like a lot of people I meet, they assume building websites is easy.
“I could just slap something together, the URL is too good and the traffic and monies will start rolling in. Hell, I built a pretty decent website for it’s time in 1997!” — Probably Not Steve Armato
Eff this, I need a partner, but no damn losers (2005):
2005 ends with the owner looking for a partner. “If you have more than soft skills” implies the owner has dealt with some saps. Or maybe he’s talking about himself. “Get me someone hard, with hard skills!” And you need to “have the drive to create a world around loser.com” because “I need hard person who will come up with an idea that works, damnit”! They have realized they aren’t cutting it by themselves and the need some fresh ideas. Building a website for the URL is not working out after seven years of partially trying. I remember around this time, I met someone in Vail Colorado who got paid $80k to test websites, from her apartment. Everyone was making money off the internet, but the owner of loser.com was flailing, they needed a partner.
It turns out that partner likes Joomla, because that is the next relevant screenshot we get. Making your own judgement about loser.com using Joomla, but the site goes pretty dormant for a few years from there. In 2011, Hover appears as the webpage, they come and go for a few years, with redirects to Reddit.com, whodon’t.com and a hover sponsored version of loser.com.
My name is loser, and I’m a troll. (2015)
And then it happens, it clicks for the owner of the site. In 2015 we see our first quality troll move (if we don’t count algore2000). Loser.com points to Wikipedia’s Kanye West page. Why the hate for Kanye? I can’t be sure, but I got search results for the Amber Rose and Wiz beef he has way back in early 2015. Maybe it’s that simple. It lasts for the first half of the year and then the site shows Hover again. We end the year with the Hovered sponsored version of loser.com again. It’s a “totally awesome idea that is still being worked on”, but it’s coming.
Making loser.com great again. (2016+)
On January 1st, we see that awesome idea, the redirect the best user of the term loser in the great United States of America. Wikipedia’s page for the Donald.
What happens next for loser.com? I want to believe the publicity will lead to Trump’s people buying the URL from hover and the person behind loser.com finally gets their pay day.