I try to monitor the web for interesting domain name-related stories, and every now and then I stumble across one in a place where you wouldn’t expect it.

Today must be one of those days, because it can’t be often that Stars and Stripes, a daily newspaper published for the US military, prints a story we’re interested in. But here it is: an interview with Gary Sinnott from Mildenhall.

Gary decided to close down his www.mildenhall.com website because he kept getting sent emails meant for personnel at RAF Mildenhall, the US Air Force installation down the road. The installation’s website is www.mildenhall.af.mil and people frequently get the two confused. As the article expains:

Sinnott says he has received tens of thousands of unsolicited e-mails from military personnel, including scores with attachments he describes as sensitive to security or of questionable taste.

“So much of this stuff I wish I never saw in the first place,” he said.

Now he’s posted some of the more colorful entries on the site, and the response hasn’t always been friendly.

“You wouldn’t believe the kind of stuff that comes in here,” he said. “I wonder if they have any type of Internet training or security considerations.”

Reading on, it looks like there’s some tension between Gary and the top brass at the air base. Like most domain owners, Gary had a catch-all address set up so that emails sent to any address ending in @mildenhall.com would get forwarded to him. The military asked him to stop using this facility:

As early as four years ago, officials told Sinnott that to solve the problem he had “to block unrecognizable addresses from his domain,”

That doesn’t seem entirely fair to me - it’s not him who was mistyping email addresses and he didn’t ask to be bombarded with messages meant for military personnel.

Either way, the story has come to an end of sorts, if not an entirely happy one. Sinnott has given up trying to run a website on mildenhall.com, perhaps paving the way for the US military to snap up the domain and put an end to the worries about emails going astray. And maybe there are some lessons for us all:

  • Before you choose a domain, do some research. Do any other websites share similar addresses? Our domain name search will check all the common extensions (.co.uk, .com, etc) automatically.
  • If you’re buying one domain, consider purchasing some common variants of it too. For instance, if you’re picking up the .co.uk, maybe check for the .com too.
  • If you find yourself receiving email meant for someone else, try and contact the intended recipient. For instance, I went through a phase of receiving emails meant for a Scottish construction company that shares my surname, but they seem to have stopped since I contacted them.

Has this happened to you? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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