10 worst website names - Penisland and many more
Dumb, stupid and just plain bad website names which have an unintentional second meaning
Sometimes, people make stupid decisions, especially when choosing a URL for their website. They don’t realise it, but their designated name has an unintentional double meaning when the words are all pushed together in a web browser’s address bar. The new juxtaposition means new words are created, often with amusing consequences.
Consider, if you will, the flash memory manufacturer Swissbit. We’ve reviewed several of its clever army knives with integrated USB flash drives in the past, but only recently realised that it registered a website address for its own country as well as a general .com.
Unfortunately, the top-level domain for Switzerland is .ch, so you can see where the problem lies: www.swissbit.ch. Perhaps only for English speakers, but when the vast majority of the web is in English, it’s worth taking time to make sure your URL doesn’t have unforeseen semantic meanings.
Swissbit must have realised its mistake, as the URL no longer works. However, there are still plenty of genuine websites that you can visit today whose addresses could easily be misread. Here we pick our favourites that made us chuckle.
This is probably the most famous URL with a double meaning. Purporting to sell pens from an island, Pen Island is a rather obvious joke site that’s been created specifically because the words read completely differently when pushed together.
There are other variations on the URL, including www.penisland.org, although this domain doesn’t lead to a real site. Yet, it’s still referenced on Pen Island’s homepage where it’s called an imposter.
The fact that you can’t actually buy a pen from the site - various messages make excuses about an outbreak of swine flu on a nearby island - mean that we can’t rank this particular site any higher in our top 10.
^Not a theme park celebrating the male member, but a prank website supposedly selling pens
This is one of those ‘lost in translation’ problems where the meaning is different if the word is taken literally in English instead of the native language. This Finnish recipe site only needs an additional ‘e’ at the end to make more sense to English speakers, but as it stands, it’s possible to believe that it might contain images of primates’ breasts.
^ A genuine Finnish site whose name doesn't read too well in English
Here we have another example of a phrase that has a completely different meaning if read in English rather than French, as it’s supposed it. Les Bocages is the site of an English tree surgeon based in Brittany. Bocage is a Norman word that means wood or small forest, but when viewed in the address bar by an English speaker, it could just as well read Lesbo Cages and be a site selling enclosures for gay women.
^A second example of when foreign words appear to suggest something seedy when read as English
Visiting Rarotonga and need to rent a vehicle? This website can help. It’s rather unfortunate, as with every website that uses the Cook Islands’ top-level domain (co.ck) that it’s all to easy to read the word cock after the domain name. In this case, the visitor could well be after an inexpensive enlargement procedure, only to be disappointed when they find that they can merely book a rental car for their holidays.
^The Cook Islands have a hilarious top-level domain name
Although it’s conceivable that fans of the Klu Klux Klan might think this is a social networking site for racists, it’s actually for the Black Hat eBook. It’s all about SEO, you see - the process of making your web pages rank better in search engines such as google. We’re surprised that the owners of this domain haven’t changed it, but perhaps the site gets more hits because of the unintentional second meaning? We’re not sure, but it’s still live today.
^Hard to believe it's a genuine mistake, but Black Hat's eBook seems to be
Anyone with a head for business knows that the customer is always right, so it’s best not to tell them to eff off in the URL of your website. But that’s exactly what Effective Office Environments, based in Cincinnati, appears to do.
The firm aims to “be a leader in planning and managing effective interiors for working, learning, and health care facilities. We work with you throughout your move or renovation to make it a successful transition.”
We’d suggest a name change, though. It might prevent customers from skipping over the search result in Google and plumping for a company with a less offensive-sounding name.
As name shortening goes, this is one of the most inappropriate
Based just off the M56 near Runcorn, this British company manufactures bespoke bed spreads, both contemporary and traditional. We’re sure the products are great, but whoever decided to use a French word as the company name evidently never thought how it might look as a website URL. La Drape shouldn’t raise any eyebrows on headed notepaper, but in a web browser it takes on an entirely different meaning.
^Not rape, but drapes. A better name would have been Bespoke Quilts
Walk of Life is a Dutch events agency, but for reasons unknown to us, its URL is hollandshitfestival.nl. Obviously it’s meant to be Holland’s Hit Festival, but it sounds like it could be a gathering where people get to grips with manure.
Our advice to anyone choosing a domain is to make it plain what the website is about and this does anything but that. A more sensible choice would have been www.walkoflifeevents.nl but that’s quite an unreadable mouthful. Maybe a complete change of company name then?
^First rule of web naming: check there are no expletives in your URL
Struggling to find the perfect gift for someone who sleeps around? Don’t try www.whorepresents.com as all you’ll get is a comprehensive database of entertainment industry contacts.
If only the web differentiated between upper- and lower-case characters in domain names - or supported spaces - then this kind of unintended meaning would be avoided. Since it doesn’t we can continue to chuckle at poorly chosen URLs such as this.
^Far too easy to mis-read, this entertainment industry site refuses to change its name
Although well known, this is the URL that made us laugh the hardest. If you’re looking for a therapist, this Californian site can help you find one. However, it’s all to easy to mis-read it as The Rapist Finder, which is presumably why the domain now redirects to www.counselingcalifornia.com.
Similarly, a website called www.therapistschoice.com is now occupied by a ‘typo-squatting’ site which simply contains links to other sites.
^Although this URL links to a more thoughtfully named site, it still works
... And some more!
Try not to picture it, too late. This unfortunate collision of words, bringing to mind images worthy of a lemon party (don't Google it - NSFW), is actually for the Old Man's Haven Cabins in Hocking Hills, Ohio. The website mentions scenic beauty and outdoor activities, plus 'breathtaking views' - again we hope they're talking about the scenery. Of course, if you are an old gentlemen who likes to let it all hang out, then maybe these 'private and secluded' getaways will be just the thing.
This art website conjures images of a flatulent swimmer, and little is funnier than farting in a swimming pool. We're surprised that swimwear giant Speedo hasn't gently suggested a change of name to the owner, but for now Speedofart.com lives on.
This article was originally published in 2011 and some links and websites may no longer work