Confusion over domain names and profanity is mushrooming.
"I am trying to register the domain name 'shitakemushrooms.com,'" complained
Netizen Jeff Gold in an email message to CNET's NEWS.COM. "It is available, but the
InterNIC is refusing to register it because it contains four letters they consider obscene."
Gold attached a note from Network Solutions,
the company that provides InterNIC registration services, denying the
application for "shitakemushrooms.com." The note reads, in part, "Network
Solutions has a right founded in the First Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution to refuse to register, and thereby publish, on the Internet
registry of domain names words that it deems to be inappropriate."
So what's so inappropriate about a little gourmet fungus?
"We do have an automated screening system," Network Solutions
spokesperson Nancy Huddleston explained. "Because it's an automated system, it
catches things like 'expresshitech.com.' But all a person has to do in a case
like this is call our customer service number and the name will be
Network Solutions' automated system screens for the so-called Network
Seven, referring to the seven words the major television networks do not permit on the
The Network Solutions screening system introduces yet another apparent
contradiction: While "shitakemushrooms.com" and "expresshitech" didn't make
the automated cut, "shit.com" is already registered by GlobeComm and is listed as "sold" by
its BestDomains domain name sales
division. The URL leads to the BestDomains home page.
Huddleston said that domain name was
registered before the 1996 installation of the automated registration
system. She said the name will be denied when it comes up for renewal.
The InterNIC record for the name was created on September 1, 1995, and was last
updated February 5, 1998.
Another apparent contradiction is that the Network Seven leaves out a host
of words that many Netizens would consider obscene,
including the Network Seven's foreign language equivalents.
Spelling enthusiasts point out that Mr. Gold could have avoided tangling
with the Network Solutions automated screening system if he had spelled his
domain name differently.
"There are two conventions for writing long vowels in Japanese," noted Martin Hoffman, director of San Francisco-based Global Village Translators and Interpreters. "The old style of Romanizing long
vowels would be to put a bar over the letter. But more recently the
convention has been to double the letter," as in shiitake. (For the
record, it is pronounced shee-tah-kay.)
"He could have saved himself a lot of trouble by looking it up in the
dictionary," Hoffman added. "Or by taking a hike down to his local
As of posting time for this story, "shiitakemushrooms.com" was still available from Network Solutions.