mertner.com/allan

Net annoyances

Tags: — Allan @ 3:15 am

One of the things that bother me about the net is that so much of it is US-centric, particularly commercial stuff. Imagine for a moment that you live somewhere else and want to buy something – the internet does not make it easy as it might sound.

In my view, one of the main culprits is the .com top-level domain. It means “Commercial”, which is somewhat vague and not tied to a particular geography so it’s appropriate for companies that have a global reach. So it’s fine for IBM to have a global website, but I doubt that it makes sense for Fred’s Pizza to have a .com domain unless they have a delivery service that reaches further than most. Looking at the site, I somehow doubt it

I happen to live in the UK, which has its own top-level domain: it’s .uk (which makes it nice and easy to remember). And this domain is neatly divided into various categories (.gov.uk, .co.uk, me.uk, etc) to distringuish government web sites from commercial and personal ones. Cool! Way to go – but while every country has its own domain, I unfortunately know of just a handful of them that use subdomains in this way.

If only people would use the country domains, it would be even better. Say you are a travel agent in Germany: would it not make sense to use a .de domain instead of a .com one? Then people could google after what they want in their own country by using the site:co.uk syntax. If you try that today, half the results are missing because those people have a .com domain instead.

There is an argument to say that all of this stuff doesn’t belong in the domain name, which after all just needs to be easy to remember, and that it should all be in meta tags instead. True enough, but this would imo only work if people were forced to use these tags – and if people couldn’t fake them. This seems like utopia, so I’d be happier with a better subdomain system. If Fred’s Pizza could be available at freds.pizza.london.food.co.uk, I think it would be great 🙂

Then there is the issue of shipping, or more precisely, getting people to ship stuff to you. For example, take the fine company Global PC, from which I wanted to order a new PC when I lived in France for a while. “Sorry, we only ship to mainland UK” was the response. I kindly suggested that they get themselves a new name, but I think the pun was lost on them. Sadly, the “we don’t ship there” attitude is one I have encountered annoyingly often.

One last thing, and I’ll leave you in peace. All of the review sites that I know of are based in the US, sites like epinions.com or resellerratings.com. This means that they rate products and show prices and links to retailers – and they are all in the US. And don’t ship anywhere else.

It’s not that this is intrinsically bad, but it annoys me in at least a couple of ways:
* I can’t filter the results out if I don’t want to exclude .com domains from my searches.
* It shows me what the things I want cost in the US. And they always cost much more over here… even if you buy from the same retailer.

At least Amazon has a local site in every country they cover. If only the prices were not normally the same in £ as they are in $ – the exchange rate is 1.8, not 1.0, after all.

Oh, and finally you may have noticed that mertner.com also is a .com domain. Although it’s just a family web site with no commercial content at all. So sue me – it’s a free world (some of it at least)… 🙂