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Bob Hawkes

NamePros as a Domain Name Conference

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By Bob Hawkes, Mar 11, 2020
  1. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    In a world absorbed by concern over community spread of the coronavirus, many large gatherings are being cancelled or altered. For example, the South by Southwest events in Austin, TX have been cancelled for 2020. Last year the combined attendance at the events was about 400,000.

    The Collision conference, which promotes itself as “North America’s fastest growing technology conference”, has been transformed into an online-only experience called Collision From Home. The event, previously scheduled for Toronto in June, had been anticipated to draw about 30,000 people.

    The Google I/O developer conference has been cancelled as a physical event, with plans being developed for an online experience. Facebook cancelled the annual F8 developer event, as well as the separate Facebook Global Marketing Summit. Adobe cancelled the annual live summit as well. A host of other business, scientific and technology events have been cancelled, or transformed into online-only formats.

    People are thinking about new ways to work and interact, including online options that capture many of the advantages of in-person meetings. As I was thinking about these developments, I came across the following quote from a NamePros moderator team.
    In this blog post, I look at how NamePros is a never-ending online domain name conference. I offer tips on how to optimize the experience, and wonder about how we might make it even more effective.


    NamePros as a Conference

    A conventional conference brings together people with common, or overlapping, interests to hear speakers and panels, learn new skills in workshops, investigate job opportunities, network both formally and informally, and visit exhibitor booths.

    Let’s look at how you can do much of that on NamePros.
    • While NamePros does not have speakers as such, discussions fill the role of conference presentations. In some ways a NamePros thread is better than a live talk, with more opportunities for in-depth commentary from multiple viewpoints. Plus here everyone can be a conference speaker!
    • As well as keynotes and other presentations, most conferences have panels, roundtables, or similar structures. This does not formally happen often in NamePros threads, but there is no reason why it could not. Several people could get together, brainstorm and research an idea, and then together lead the discussion.
    • Workshops develop skills and techniques. While there are not workshops per se on NamePros, many threads become in essence learning about a topic or technique. Video could help some topics come closer to a workshop experience.
    • Networking While nothing can quite replace face-to-face networking opportunities, there is no doubt that you can readily make new friends. Just by participating in threads this will happen naturally. The Break Room and Chat are great ways to interact with others on almost any topic. And don’t forget the Networking Meet and Greet section.
    • News One thing you learn at conferences is industry news, and NamePros has its own section for domain news.
    • Job Board NamePros has its own Job Board, where you can browse listed jobs, post your skills in the domainers for hire section, or as a developer/designer. The Design Contests section is also relevant.
    • Free Stuff We all want the free swag that you typically get at conference exhibitor halls. Well, it is not quite the same, but there definitely are free things at NamePros. You can even get free domain names. Don’t forget to browse the coupons and offers section.
    • Exhibitor Hall The exhibitor area at conventional conferences is not only a good place for refreshments and networking, but it also promotes efficiently learning about new products and services. On NamePros the Promotional and Reviews sections, as well as advertisements, meet this role, to some degree.
    • Auctions The live auction is a major feature of NamesCon Global. The auction thread at NamePros offers a steady stream of auctioned domain names at various price levels.


    Learning New Things

    A key reason we go to conferences is to learn new things and hear different perspectives. While no online experience can quite replicate the excitement of hearing a passionate speaker live, the many threads at NamePros provide an opportunity for us to effectively learn new things every single day.

    Alvin Brown conducted an interview with Morgan Linton at NamesCon 2020. One tip that I picked up from that interview, applicable to any kind of conference, is that each night Morgan wrote down three things that he had learned that day at the conference.

    I have not yet tried this personally, but I plan to each day write down one or two things learned at NamePros. I think the exercise will help me focus on how to apply what I learn here to my own domain investing.

    One huge advantage of NamePros over a conventional conference, is the ability to archive the discussion, and to cross-link multiple threads. As well as NamePros own search box, you can use the full power of Google search via the site:NamePros.com command.


    A Few Hints

    So how can you optimize the experience of NamePros as a conference? Here are a few ideas.
    1. Part of getting the most out of a conference, is to make good choices on what to attend. The same is true at NamePros. Consider your choices and invest your time in the topics that are most valuable for you. Get in the habit of establishing a daily plan for the time you spend on NamePros and prioritize.
    2. Your plan will help guide which threads you interact with, but how do you make the most of your time spent in those discussions? In face-to-face conferences, I found that keeping a pad close and writing shorthand notes was beneficial. For example, I would put an exclamation point beside new ideas, and a question mark beside things that I want to ask a question about.
    3. Conferences generally require delay before we make a comment or ask a question. Delaying a bit before making a comment on NamePros, especially if unsure about what you are about to say, is probably wise, even though the system does not require it.
    4. If you start a discussion thread, ask yourself what benefits this topic will have for NamePros members. As the initiator, take responsibility for including accurate information and a clear focus in the initial post.
    5. In face-to-face conferences skilled moderators play an important role in keeping discussions on track and respectful. They also help spread the question opportunities around. The person who starts a thread should take responsibility for trying to keep the discussion productive. Of course the moderators will deal with clearly disruptive commentary.
    6. Sometimes discussion gets heated, so we should all keep in mind the NamePros Expectations for respect and constructiveness. Just as you would act in a professional manner at a conference, professionalism is important here too.
    7. Face-to-face conferences try to minimize duplication of sessions on similar topics. If you are considering starting a new discussion topic, do a search to make sure that a thread on that topic does not already exist.
    8. Take advantage of James Iles weekly Top Topics NamePros Blog series to help guide you to the most valuable recent topics.
    9. Networking and meeting new people will be facilitated by active participation in topics you find interesting, including posting and making use of the like/thank buttons.
    10. We were all new here once, so go out of your way to welcome newcomers and give them the benefit of the doubt in their early posts. Some long-term members do an outstanding job of welcoming new people in the Beginners section. Hats off to you!


    Ideas for Possible Change

    In writing this post, I thought about a few ways that NamePros could change to make the site even more like a conference. Here are some of my personal ideas.
    1. Conferences gain from the impact of inspirational keynote speakers. Would it be reasonable to have video presentations that would fill that role in a new keynote presentations section?
    2. Part of the excitement in conferences builds on the idea that they are time-limited and scheduled. The asynchronous nature of NamePros is one of its strengths, but would there be value in each week having a few scheduled events that are promoted on the side bar?
    3. I would like to see the Ask Me Anything section used more regularly. If we had a weekly announcement of a promoted guest in the section, I think that would help build excitement and interest.
    4. Could the auction section attract more interest if a subset of the auctions were highlighted beyond the existing promotion feature? This would require some small group of respected domain investors to select the few names that would receive this special treatment. Another possibility would be to have the featured auctions all take place in the same time window, thereby gaining some of the aura of a live auction.
    5. I think there have been improvements at NamePros in promoting high-value content, such as the addition of the Community Favorite on the sidebar. There are probably other ways to identify and promote high-value content.
    6. As mentioned earlier, I see value in threads that are organized and started by a group of people. There are perhaps ways to encourage this, perhaps by a new NamePros section where only threads started by at least two experienced members working together are allowed..
    7. The commercial content on NamePros has become a divisive issue. It is not easy, but if we could find a way to encourage most companies who provide products and services to domainers to be active here, and, within bounds of NamePros rules, to inform us about their products, I think it would be a win-win. I wonder if we need a new section solely for new product announcements.
    8. I think, particularly new members, could benefit from technique workshops. Should there be a new section of NamePros for Workshops? In most cases these would start with a video introduction, followed by a series of tips and questions and answers. I would see these offered both by domainers and commercial providers.


    Final Thoughts

    A great conference can be magical, opening your mind to new ideas and fresh insights, and allowing you to meet and work with people. Sure, numerous sessions will be disappointing, but the gems more than make up.

    NamePros is an exceptional online community. Let’s all continue to do our part to make it even more valuable, and to take advantage of the opportunities here.

    NamePros is indeed like a conference of the world’s domainers. And it never comes to an end. How great is that?


    What Do You Think?

    NamePros is not only a never-ending domain name conference, it is a community with a universe of different views and experiences. I hope you will share in the comments section your own views on this topic.
    • Do you think that NamePros is like an ongoing conference?
    • Do you have tips to share on making time spent on NamePros more productive?
    • What aspects of NamePros as a conference have I overlooked?
    • Could NamePros make changes so that it becomes even more like a conference?
    • Do we want it to become more like a conference?


    Just to be clear, any ideas in this post are simply personal reflections, and I have not discussed the content with anyone who manages or moderates NamePros. Also, I am sure some of the ideas were picked up over the years from member comments on the site, so I am not claiming them as original to me.
     
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. Bob Hawkes

    About The Author — Bob Hawkes

    Domain analyst, writer and informal educator, with particular interests in domain name phrases and non-business uses for domain names. I am a risk averse domain investor who only invests modest amounts in a variety of extensions and niches. Don't hesitate to contact me - I like to help!

    This is Bob Hawkes's 30th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (27)

  6. Pay.My.id

    Pay.My.id Established Member

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    Really meaningful @Bob Hawkes

    Appreciate and 100 % like on your explanation to remind us , this statement really true :

    "NamePros is an exceptional online community. Let’s all continue to do our part to make it even more valuable, and to take advantage of the opportunities here."
     
  7. Samer

    Samer Top Contributor VIP Blue Account

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    Do want it to become more like a conference?

    Yes, Bob gave me a great idea. Namepros should have own “NamesCon” Kidding!

    Still awesome, will be sure to make next NC. NP is Conference doesnt get due props;
    “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”

    Samer
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2020
  8. Samer

    Samer Top Contributor VIP Blue Account

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    Keep it the same; people getting mad Rob shifting momentum away their registrars imo.

    new section solely for new product.”

    Sorry for Rob, hurt rest; epik only innovating. why reward the same Rob naysayers?
    Bigger censor than ban from thread for month, you’ve managed to significantly cut exposure than if posted in “General discussion” and that always yields 10+pages of great debate! Rob faces all criticism, attack head-on, why respect

    Samer
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2020
  9. oldtimer

    oldtimer Do some good for humanity and the environment VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Bob, thanks for a great article with many good ideas,

    The most important task in my opinion is to make NamePros into a more Professional, Respectful, Constructive, and Fair environment that supports and encourages the free exchange of ideas and makes it possible for everyone to learn about domains and domaining without being harassed or demeaned in any way.

    Here are a few things that I had already suggested in different threads:

    1- Make some of the trustworthy and fair minded members here into Deputy Moderators so that they can help with monitoring the forum.

    2- Give a special paid section to each Registrar so that all their threads are found in one place and within their paid section allow them to discuss, promote, and advertise their services.

    3- Give a civility rating to members based on how they conduct themselves on the forum and give more weight to "Dislikes" given by members with high ratings.

    4- Add a "Disagree" button that people can use when they don't agree with a certain comment or idea, but that they don't want to "Dislike" another member for it.

    With everyones input and cooperation perhaps something good can come out of this after all.

    IMO
     
  10. ThatNameGuy

    ThatNameGuy Restricted (15-30%) Gold Account

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    Great idea Bob Hawkes. Count me in for the "outbound" workshop, conference golf and maybe a casino night:xf.grin:
     
  11. Steven McEvoy

    Steven McEvoy StevenMcEvoy.com VIP

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    I think making NamePros a conference is a huge step in the right direction!! I am all up for this!! Just dont make the tickets $500+ lol
     
  12. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Contributor VIP

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    NamePros needs it's own conference. I have never been to a domain conference, but from the outside looking in, domain conferences seem to be very clicky. Like a middle school group of kids who doesn't welcome the new kid. (Please be respectful if you don't agree, I know the conference elite take issue with constructive criticism)
     
  13. Samer

    Samer Top Contributor VIP Blue Account

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    Agree. NP doesnt get appreciated enough.
    The domain rockstars more active on Twitter. with a few cameo appearances made here.

    Why Robs greatest gift time give advice NP....
    the lack other CEO-counterparts is what make me appreciate Rob’s presence more, become even more loyal epik client, whether or not an NP conference comes to fruition.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2020
  14. Steven McEvoy

    Steven McEvoy StevenMcEvoy.com VIP

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  15. BrandCollectors.com

    BrandCollectors.com Established Member

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  16. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    Just to make sure there is not confusion, this article is about NamePros the online community is already in many ways like a conference. And a few minor tweaks that might make it even more so.

    I think the question of whether the world needs a new face-to-face domain conference, with some role for NamePros, is a very different question. I can see some merit in the idea, and I think a year and a half ago I actually made a comment along those lines. This idea has been discussed earlier. It is a worthwhile discussion, but I don't see it as very related to this blog post.

    I have only attended a single NamesCon, but I think the community is well served by that conference series. Organizing a conference is much more work than most probably realize and also there is considerable financial risk. While the idea of a lower-cost conference with some sort of NamePros association is attractive, there would be many roadblocks.

    I am not sure, admittedly based on a single time attending, that I agree with this @Internet.Domains. I have trouble thinking of anyone who I interacted with that I would describe as clique oriented. It was a welcoming atmosphere for a newcomer.
    I guess what did surprise me was the tiny number of people active on NamePros who were at the conference. There were a few, and it was nice meeting them in person, but not that many. I assume there are a variety of good reasons, and I think the cost of the conference, when everything is considered, was one for sure.

    I am not sure whether this spring of coronavirus fears will not damper interest in face to face conferences beyond the time frame of this particular threat. I might be wrong, of course, but I suspect those involved in conferences, and especially cruise ships, are very worried about long term.

    Anyway, my main reason to post was to make sure that people skimming the article did not think it was advocating for a new person-to-person conference.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2020
  17. karmaco

    karmaco Top Contributor VIP

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    Great article @Bob Hawkes probably one of your best. This is like an endless conference here and could definitely be improved with more relevant and educational material.

    I believe the staff is rather short right now so not sure how many changes are doable.

    The personal suggestions you made on behavior,starting threads are spot on. People often start a thread with click bait style title to get a “popular” post. We should not be posting just for attention but for good content.
     
  18. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Contributor VIP

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    That's because many who go the the conferences belong to private networks and don't interact on NamePros. They socialize amongst themselves, in private. Hence, why I mentioned "cliquey." I am not passing judgement, just explaining what's going on.
     
  19. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    I don't disagree that there are aspects of a clique, not specifically at domain conferences but more generally.

    But still, I really think that the main thing that keeps someone away was simply the cost. From airline, plus hotel, plus registration it is a major commitment, and many active on NamePros make some from domaining, but they are largely side-gig people and that one conference would eat up most or even all of a year profits after expenses.

    I would think a series of local events, augmented with some sort of online presence with those from outside, might be the way to go. But I think already NamePros gives us much of what we get from a conference -- we get to know new people, interact with familiar faces, share insights and ideas, get the news, etc.

    So Collision are doing their Collision From Home. How is that really different from NamePros except that we don't, yet, have the online video keynote presentations. Most of the rest of the infrastructure is already in NamePros as we have it now.

    Bob
     
  20. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Contributor VIP

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    Yes, I certainly agree NP's is like its own conference. I have been able to make friendships in this community and even met some members offline, when they were passing through the area. It's a great community and definitely not "cliquey." :xf.smile:
     
  21. Lox

    Lox _____ VIP Gold Account

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    A lot of dn investors tend to ignore Twitter / Social media. +/- 11k of 14k dn investors (whales) are simply invisible ... (y)
     
  22. The Durfer

    The Durfer Top Contributor VIP Blue Account

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  23. HotKey

    HotKey Made in Canada VIP

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    Great post Bob, it is like a blueprint for expanding the great forum we already have. Thanks for spending the time on the layout and presenting it to us. Stuff like this is what will keep NP thriving for years to come, and I truly think we all want that. Sometimes so much creative or innovative input by the members gets lost in the threads being overwhelmed by the amazingly opinionated, diverse folk we have here.

    Mitigating some of that enthusiasm to their respective sections could help calm the atmosphere, as well as all doing their part in respecting one another's style and way of communicating, be it different from their own.

    I like @Internet.Domains suggestion about an outside conference/convention, and Hawke's observation about the work involved into organizing it is definitely well-founded not to mention the cost to the organizers and attendees, many NP members whom span the globe.

    However, having said that, with the right amount of preparation and funding, it could happen. Namepros is coming up to it's 20th year anniversary, and could be quite the fiesta/convention combo. A big undertaking for sure, but with a couple years away still gives some time to plant the seed and have it grow.

    If anything, love this place I'm sure its grown from what people have gotten accustomed to over the years even being somewhat new myself still. I think NP has taken in some of the social media overflow frenzy, people have been flocking in here looking for a new and better home perhaps, and not just domain investors. Perhaps expanding from some of the conventional sections might help mitigate this overflow.

    Always liked and felt kinship to the original MO here, so with always keeping it first and foremost a domaining forum- A Rising Tide Lifts all Boats. Keep together guys we can weather any storm.
     
  24. handpicked

    handpicked Established Member

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    What Do You Think?

    NP is already the best. However, to answer the OP's Q&A:
    • Do you think that NamePros is like an ongoing conference?
    Somewhat.
    • Do you have tips to share on making time spent on NamePros more productive?
    Go beyond the name sales guys image, encourage fresh talent buzzing with more diverse topics, and an online magazine for daily reading. IMO Most of us over here own one or two houses already, and perhaps a full time / life time job to boot, hence not so money crazy from domain sales alone. We look for good engagement, and knowledge / life enrichment from the international community like NP as well.
    • What aspects of NamePros as a conference have I overlooked?
    Conference needs an Agenda, Venue (real or virtual), Fixed Time, Pre-plan, Expert panel, Q&A, Exhibition, Take away etc., - most of which is covered in the OP's article.
    • Could NamePros make changes so that it becomes even more like a conference?
    Yes. NP Being a matured, and aged forum which has incubated many CEO's and whales in the past, limiting the forum to just name sales could restrict both its revenue, and its multidimensional growth in the present crowded brand name market scenario.
    • Do we want it to become more like a conference?
    Yes. By giving more teeth to NP thru massive revenue generation programs, and influx of fresh talent / diversification could help NP to become a global, large scale professional body like the Institute of Engineers ( a.k.a. Institute of Domain Names) etc., with annual / life memberships / training / skill certifications / seminars / speakers / branch offices world-wide etc., paving way for future live conferences, and could also help drive the domain rock-stars / whales back to the forum from twitter as per comment @Samer .
    ...​

    We love NP with its treasure of diverse people, and knowledge, and special thanks @Bob Hawkes for penning this difficult subject in a subtle way, and also allowing relatively new bees like us from diverse backgrounds to contribute a bit too.
     
  25. Pay.My.id

    Pay.My.id Established Member

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    Main spirit for NP forum is for sharing useful experience from other members , so @Bob Hawkes really relevant to strengthen this forum
     
  26. mmmhome

    mmmhome Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    To be honest I think the price for a Namecon ticket is fair, compared to the prices that T.R.A.F.F.I.C or domainfest have charged in the past.
     
  27. PapaTama

    PapaTama Established Member

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    namescon :xf.grin:
     
  28. hawkeye

    hawkeye Top Member PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    You say this....
    All based on this admission...
    '':wideyed:'' good grief.

    Obviously those that have been going to conferences for years talk to and hang with those they know. Doesn't mean they don't/won't interact with others. In fact you may be surprised who you can talk to and interact with. Heck, Bob went and he talked to and interacted with many so called 'conference elites'. So before you 'judge' and make unsubstantiated opinionated assessments/statements like these, maybe you should go to 'one' first. You may be surprised the people that might actually talk to you. (But then you have already prejudged everyone, so maybe not.)

    And please do so explain what is 'constructive' about your accusations -
     
  29. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Contributor VIP

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    You make some good points......In my case it has been mentioned by several associates I trust. Everyone's experience is different. Clearly yours is different than some of those reporting to me. They are not wrong and either are you.
     
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