MysteryDomainAuction Is Canceled

Following much debate and criticism, the Mystery Domain Auction – billed as the Domaining Revolution by John Motson of has been canceled just days after being launched.

Here is the official blog release taken from DnXpert: “Following legal advice obtained as a result of concerns raised by fellow domaining bloggers and some NamePros members about the legality of an all-pay auction in the US where this site is hosted in addition to consideration of the problems I may face at the end of the auction in case more than one person bids with the same amount which is very likely I have decided that the best option is to cancel this auction effective immediately.” – read the full release here (

John Motson cleverly created much hype prior to the launch of MysteryDomainAuction and within minutes of the launch on January 1st 2009, there followed a frenzy of blogs and forum posts that drove further publicity towards what was billed as the Domaining Revolution.

Drumming up the Hype!
Just over a month ago, John had decided to give away his popular eBook “The Domaining Manifesto“… but in order to download it, users were required to join the mailing list for “The Revolution”. A lot of people, including fellow domainers blogged about this and the word spread pretty fast. John also mentioned this on his own blog (DnXpert) and the ball was rolling.

Not exactly “The Revolution”
Everyone assumed that “The Revolution” was either going to be another eBook or some kind of site that changes the domaining world. Following the success of “The Domaining Manifesto”, everyone expected this to be just as good or even better. Unfortunately it was neither. It turned out that “The Revolution” was in fact the “MysteryDomainAuction” – an auction site for a domain name worth $10,000, or $10,000 in cash.

It was an “all pay” auction, meaning bidders had to pre-pay for their bids regardless of whether they win or not. In exchange they get to have a link back to their site/blog etc.

Criticism & Publicity
Just a day had passed since the release and the criticism began. The so-called “Revolution” or the lack of it annoyed many in the domaining industry. A lot of domainers expressed their disappointment via forums (eg. and via personal blogs (eg. / just to name a few). Some even went as far as calling it a scam.

Whatever way you look at it though, there was a lot of publicity, good and bad.

My Take on the MysteryDomainAuction
I personally thought it was quite a good idea and it had potential, but it just wasn’t executed properly. Had it been done differently, I think it could have actually brought more attention to the domaining industry. It would’ve been interesting to see the outcome and also to find out what the domain name actually was.

Would it have changed the domaining world? Most certainly not. John said that he was hoping that this auction would bring attention from businesses and individuals outside of the domaining industry, but I don’t think that would have happened. I don’t think many outside of the domaining world would’ve have been interested in it at all. But I guess now we’ll never know.

Scam / Rip-off – I think those are too harsh words to use. Everything was clearly explained on the website. But of course, one person stood to benefit the most and that wasn’t the winner of the auction, but it was John Motson. Maybe that wasn’t his sole intention, but that was the reality… and I think that the massive share of profit in comparison to the little benefit this would have brought to domainers is what annoyed a lot of people (domainers).

Hopefully there’s lessons to be learned here and I certainly am interested to see the reaction on forums and blogs to the news of the auction being called off. Hopefully we’ll see John bounce back with something more innovative and helpful in the near future.