* Erik Heels Had This Great Idea For A Funny Website Called FailBlog.com

But Ben Huh beat him to it by launching FailBlog.org.

Two men talking in office. "It's not that you're under-performing so much as you're over-failing."

[Editor’s note: Erik Heels wrote this piece in the third person, because one is first person only to one’s self.]

Erik’s Failblog Story

This is a story of idea vs. execution. Great execution of a good idea beats good execution of a great idea every day of the week. Or in Erik’s case, non-execution.

But first, some background. Because what this story lacks in quality, it will make up for in quantity. As Erik’s kids know all too well, he has never met a boring story that he can’t make longer.

  • In August 1984, Erik Heels first got on the Internet at MIT as part of Project Athena. He knew, somehow, that the Internet was going to be a thing.
  • In August 1992, Erik Heels published his first book, “The Legal List.” The book was the first to be published simultaneously online and in print. The novel print-and-pay copyright under which the book was published payed for Erik’s law school education. Framed in Erik’s office is a copy of a check for “The Legal List” from the United States Supreme Court.
  • In October 1993, Erik Heels registered his first domain name, justice.eliot.me.us.
  • In August 1995, Erik Heels registered his first domain dot-com domain name, Heels.com.
  • In September 2008, Erik sold the Heels.com business (high-end shoes for women) he co-founded to his co-founder.

And just like Erik’s subsequent books have been less popular than his first, Erik’s subsequent domain name projects have been less successful than Heels.com.

On 2007-08-24, Erik registered 184 generic domain names with “blog” in them, including FailBlog.com. Erik started with the General Service List (GSL), a list of about 2000 words that occur most frequently in English, and then he added “blog.com” to all of the 3-letter, 4-letter, and 5-letter words on the GSL. Plus a few interesting longer words. His intent was (and is) to sell the domain names to help pay for college for his kids. Erik also hired his then 9-year-old daughter to blog about each domain, to teach her about writing, blogging, business, and the Internet.

On 2007-10-10, Erik registered 24 generic domain names with “buzz” in them, with the same (lack of) results.

Ben’s Failblog Story

On 2008-01-03, Ben Huh launched the comedic blog FAIL Blog (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fail_Blog).

In May 2008, Ben Huh and Erik Heels had this very boring email conversation:

Date: Mon, May 19, 2008 at 8:03 PM
Subject: failblog.com
From: Ben Huh <benhuh@gmail.com>
To: heels@alum.mit.edu

Hi Erik,

I'm interested in the domain failblog.com. Are you the owner?


Date: Mon, May 19, 2008 at 9:49 PM
Subject: Re: failblog.com
From: Erik J. Heels <heels@alum.mit.edu>
To: Ben Huh <benhuh@gmail.com>


Yes, I am the owner.

Erik J. Heels
work: 978-823-0008
Date: Mon, May 19, 2008 at 10:16 PM
Subject: Re: failblog.com
From: Ben Huh <benhuh@gmail.com>
To: "Erik J. Heels" <heels@alum.mit.edu>

Hi Erik,

Would you be interested in selling the domain?



Heels reports that, although he and Huh spoke later by phone, Huh never made any written offer for the FailBlog.com domain name.

On 2008-05-21, two days after the above email exchange, Ben Huh’s company purchased the FailBlog.org domain name for $15,750 (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fail_Blog&diff=701538700&oldid=438377855).

By January 2010, FAIL Blog was receiving 1.1 million unique visitors per month (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fail_Blog#History).

In February 2016, GeekWire reported that FAIL Blog’s owner, Cheezburger, had been sold to an unnamed buyer (http://www.geekwire.com/2016/internet-cat-picture-site-cheezburger-sold-to/).

Whither FailBlog.com?

On 2016-04-01, Erik Heels announced his intent to sell his 184 blog-related domain names and 24 buzz-related domain names, preferably in bulk (https://www.giantpeople.com/5906.html). As he said in his blog post, “I registered these domain names in bulk, so I think it makes sense to sell them in bulk.”

What happens next is anyone’s guess.

There are certainly multiple fails in this story. But whose is the bigger fail? Heels for registering the FailBlog.com domain name and failing to build a business on it? Or Huh for building his business on the FailBlog.org domain name and not on the dot-com?

Told you it was boring. It’ll be longer the next time.

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