Is the Domain Available? The MuckRock.com Story
There's a great piece at Fortune from Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph about the thin line between pure spin and believing in your product. My favorite part, though, was Netflix's original name, Kibble:
First, pick a name that's so bad, that you won't even be tempted to use it when you run into difficulties finding your real domain name. Second, pick something meaningful. It's a great way to start aligning everyone around what you think is really important."
So I called it Kibble. Kibble.com. Like the dog food. Unlaunchable name? You betcha!
First off, Kibble is a great name, if a bit generic for an "online video rental service." But I liked the piece because it reminded me of something I forgot about: Why we named MuckRock, MuckRock.
Mitch and I have kicked around a lot of bad names, a tradition that goes way beyond the first seeds of MuckRock were sown, probably starting around 2006. I actually bought up a bunch of domains with the -rant suffix to build a media network on (IvyRant, CollegeRant, IthacaRant, etc.), and I still think that was pretty good as far as naming things goes. The worst, I think, was Kadada. I don't even know if we came up with the name first, or the awful Latinate bastardization of what it was supposed to stand for, which was something like "long tail" (this was a big deal back then).
So when we came up with the idea of FOI-as-a-service, we wanted something:
- Easy to spell
- That vaguely explained what we were doing, without confining us too much
MuckRock was the least awful idea we had after a few weeks of brainstorming. I really liked it at first:
12:28 PM me: http://paidcontent.org/article/419-local-online-the-hyperlocal-rev-model-sell-services-not-just-ads/
12:30 PM domain name: muckrock
2:29 PM Mitchell: muckrock?
2:30 PM me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muckraker
2:31 PM Mitchell: i know what a muckraker is
are we muckrockers?
is the domain avilable?
2:33 PM me: a) ideally, or at least promoting citizen muckrackers
b) more pertinently, yes
2:34 PM Mitchell: ok, can we get it in .biz and .info, i heard those are more important than .com
2:35 PM me: it's true, they're mroe descriptive and they stand out
2:36 PM Mitchell: try to get a .gov also
2:37 PM thatll give us double reverse street cred
And then I grew to kind of hate it for a while, but we were so busy trying to actually build the site that there wasn't really a lot of time to stop course and think of something less gimmicky. And at first, it was surprisingly useful: People came up to me at little journalist parties and said, "Hey, I've heard of you!" They were always, always, always confusing us for MuckRack for the first few months, but by then they'd already heard our elevator pitch and were kinda intrigued, so I didn't mind the confusion. Plus, hey, the domain was available!
Update: The original post insinuated that MuckRack was done by a PR firm. It was actually done by the fine folks at Sawhorse Media, which does all sorts of lists.