Friday, October 30, 1998
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Hargittai GS collects Website hits by imitating company page name


A Hungarian company might be a little annoyed with Eszter Hargittai GS.

Hargittai discovered that MATAV – a Hungarian phone company that also owns the search engine Altavizsla – had not bought a domain name for the engine ending in “.com.” And so, being Internet-savvy and enterprising, she decided to capitalize.

When Hargittai, a native Hungarian, bought the address, the company did not own the “.org” or the “.net” versions either. Instead they used the suffix “.hu,” a lesser known but functional domain ending.

“The day the site went up I got a message from the a MATAV representative. He said that the company was glad to see that the MATAV search engine’s popularity has led to the creation of the ‘.com’ version of the site,” Hargittai said.

Whether MATAV was “glad” or not, the company’s quick collection of the other domain names was of no consequence; Hargittai had what she wanted.

Taking advantage of the fact that many people trying to use the search engine likely would stumble upon her page, Hargittai “put links to pages about breast cancer self-examination, safe sex and blood donation – sites that I feel may not be able to afford to advertise,” she said.

Successful reception

Hargittai has met with success: The site has proven to be very popular, receiving more than 30,000 hits.

Hargittai said she also provides a way to access search engines directly and more efficiently. By entering search terms on the page, users are forwarded directly to one of five search engines of their choice, making the search more efficient. She said she has received many letters of support in response to her search engine links.

Hargittai has already become somewhat of a celebrity in Hungary. A national radio station interviewed her a few weeks ago and the country’s biggest daily newspaper featured her site in its technology section. The site has maintained its popularity, gaining support even from the people who accidentally access it looking for the MATAV search engine, according to Hargittai.

Much support also comes from people angry with MATAV itself, said Hargittai.

“MATAV is a powerful monopoly in Hungary. People don’t like them because they keep their prices artificially high,” said Hargittai.

Buying a domain name

A small industry has developed around the practice of buying popular domain names. It is common to buy a domain name that a major company would potentially want and then sell it for a profit, according to Hargittai.

She bought the MATAV domain name from for $70 and gets to keep the name for two years, according to Hargittai.

Though she is open to selling her domain name, she said the has yet to approach her. Until then, she is updating her site daily. However, she said she does not plan to devote her life to it.

“Being a graduate student in Princeton takes up a considerable amount of my time as it is,” said Hargittai, who is pursuing her doctorate in sociology.


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