Being Robin Hood is often a thankless job. Turns out being a digital Robin Hood is not only thankless but nearly impossible. By day, Javier Castaño shines shoes in Malaga, Spain. By night, he tries to give away the most valuable Twitter handles in the world to countries and cities that should rightfully own them. We learned about Mr. Castaño from a great story by Caitlin Dewey on WashingtonPost.com.
If you could legally sell Twitter handles, Mr. Castaño would be a multi-millionaire and shoe shining would be a distant memory. In 2007, when Twitter was a barren plain, the man registered Twitter handles like @canada, @japan, @rome, @madrid, @riodejaneiro and more. He didn’t try to make a penny off them.
Instead, he has attempted to give the names back to the cities and countries that should have them. Mr. Castaño is a new breed of Robin Hood, one who doesn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor, but one who prevents people from taking digital assets that he believes belongs to others by keeping those assets in his custody until he can transfer them to the party who should own the asset, in this case a Twitter handle. It took him years to get the governments of Japan, Canada and Italy to respond to him and finally take their premium Twitter handles.
The reason we love Mr. Castaño is because we thought we were the only digital Robin Hood out there. Now we’ve found our robin hooding soul mate. What Mr. Castaño does with Twitter handles we do with domain names (at least what we’ve tried to do, but with little success). If we see a domain name of a person or business we recognize that is expiring or being auctioned, if the name is cheap enough, we buy it, so that we can return it. If the name is at auction and gets too pricey for us, we attempt to reach out to the person (or company) via social media or email and let them know about the auction. We expect nothing in return. Like Mr. Castaño, we’re just paying it forward.
And, it’s been hard. We saved the domain of a business. That was cool, and the owner thanked us. Then we thought we had saved the domain of Chase Blackburn, an NFL star, by tweeting to him. But, it didn’t work. He never grabbed his name from the Godaddy bargin bin. Then, we tweeted to actress America Ferrera to tell her we saw her name at another Godaddy auction. A last minute bidder did appear and won the name, but we have no idea if it was Ms. Ferrera or her reps.
We’ve collected a number of domains that we will be robin hooding in the coming months. Well, attempting to robin hood.
Hello, is anybody out there?
In the modified words of Henny Youngman, “Take my domains, please!”