How I Built DOJ.me

You probably heard or even visited sites like downforeveryoneorjustme.com and some of the other similar websites. It’s a very simple business model. People search for websites that might be down and they are served with a result along with some ads. The ads make money and everybody it happy.

I am not just a developer but also an entrepreneur. So I have been thinking about starting such a site for a long time. Starting it from scratch though is a lot of headache. There are huge established websites, so SEO-wise good luck beating them. They have one weakness though, their domain names are loooong.

Enter DOJ.me

One day I was looking through Godaddy auction listings and noticed doj.me, a 3 letter domain. The SEO metrics looked interesting so I took a closer look. This website was used exactly for what I wanted to build myself. It changed owners at least once, and at one time there were some spammy content on it too.

I saw a big potential, and considering that the price was incredibly low, I placed a bid. I was thinking someone will jump in with a higher bid, but the auction ended and I was the winner.

The Strategy

Since I know SEO the most, that’s what I am going to focus on the most. The site is already ranking for some of the keywords in the top 10, so I don’t plan to push link building other then what naturally occurs. I have added a copy link button so that people can share it easier.

Once the site is in decent position for some of the keywords, it will naturally grow since it’s much nicer to share such a short domain name than the ones mentioned earlier. Natural growth from there.

The Potential

It is really hard to estimate how much a site like than can make. My research suggests it can be as low as $1000/mo and as much as $30k. That is 100% passive, so it’s worth my time. Since I am a self-taught web developer, I thought this will be an ideal practice project.

The Tech

The tech stack is what I know best: Docker, Nginx, Node, Mongodb.

During my research I have found out that these sites can generate a huge amount of traffic and DDOS attacks are common. I had some experience with OVH in the past. They offer very good pricing on VPS-s. Currently the site is running on a $25 VPS.

The MongoDB database is running on the same machine. I am not worried about data loss, since the data is not essential and can be rebuilt literally in a day.

The big selling point for OVH is that they provide unlimited DDOS protection for all their services. In addition to that, they also offer a 1Gbit/s connection. That should be more than enough to handle traffic spikes.

It might not be 100% uptime, but until it makes money, I don’t care.

Docker

I am using Docker swarm to easily deploy and scale services. Kubernetes’ setup on a VPS is a nightmare, so Swarm is good enough for now.

Nginx

Actually I am using Openresty with AutoSSL. It’s a nice setup. Nginx is the point of hardening and security. This is where I have done some rate limiting, security headers and caching headers.

Node

The application is split in two in the backend, both containers running Nodejs. One is for serving the website, the other for doing the actual checking.

The one that’s serving up the website is running on Express. The other one is running a ping utility and Axios with interceptors to measure performance.

Mongodb

Since data is not that important in this case, I don’t need transactions or any fancy RDBMS feature. Mongodb is just perfect for this.

There is actually a second Mongodb instance running that is automatically updated weekly. It pulls down a list of bad websites. It’s important to have a blacklist so that DOJ does not link to questionable websites. This solution is not perfect since I have just noticed that an adult website is featured on the homepage. That’s bad for SEO and the brand as well. I am planning to add a word based blacklist in addition to the existing one.

Redis

Redis is used for caching. I am using the bitnami image since that’s very easy to configure as a caching layer.

The website is very fast. Before I added Google Analytics the whole website was ~40KB. Analytics doubled that, but it’s still good.

On the frontend I have used vanilla Javascript and the Parcel bundler.

There are still some little bugs present, but for the most part the website is ready. The server needs some hardening still.

Who Controls The Internet?

Before we can answer who is in control of the Internet, it’s good to know a little about the history and fundamentals of it.

The first successful message over the Internet was sent in 1969 from UCLA to Stanford. They tried to send the word “login.” They were able to send “lo” and then the system crashed.

The Internet came out of ARPANET. It was created by DARPA. They are the ones who create technologies for national security. Slowly they have started to open it up for researchers and the public.

Why did the military want to create the Internet? Because of nuclear war. They wanted to be able to communicate even if there was a nuclear incident.  Telecommunication back then was built on the circuit network.

The new system that was supposed to replace it was the packet-switching network. Messages are split into packets. The packets are addressed to the same destination. The packets are reassembled into the message at the recipient. They may travel the same or different routes to the destination.

We use TCP/IP for the rules of communication on the Internet. It stands for Transmission Control Protocol. HTTP uses TCP.

The World Wide Web

The Internet and the World Wide Web are different things. The WWW started in the early 1990s. You can think of the Internet as all of the hardware (the servers, satellites, fiber optic cables, etc.). The World Wide Web is a service that runs on the Internet.

The WWW was created by Tim Berners-Lee. He was working at CERN. In 1980 he had the idea of the hypertext.

Hypertext is text with links which can be clicked to take you somewhere else. Hypertext has hyperlinks. There is a markup language for it.

In 1989 he wrote a proposal for a large hypertext database with typed links.

He considered several names, including Information Mesh, The Information Mine or Mine of Information, but settled on World Wide Web.

In 1990 he created the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, the Hyper Text Markup Language, the first browser and the first web server.

In 1991 the first web server outside of CERN was switched on, and the rest is history (pun intended).

So who controls all this?

Does DARPA still control the Internet?

There is no one person or organization who controls the Internet. There are several standards organizations who make recommendations how it should be interpreted. There is of course money and big organizations involved who want to influence the standards, sitting in the boards of the standards organizations.

W3C – World Wide Web Consortium: an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web. Companies like Google, Amazon, and Yahoo are all members. They make recommendations on how the web should evolve.

WHATWG – smaller than W3C.

IETF – Internet Engineering Task Force – deals with more technical issues.

There are others. See Wikipedia Web Standards.

Legal Jurisdictions

Each country has its own jurisdiction. Things that are legal in one jurisdiction may be illegal in others. This makes for interesting cases when it comes to companies working in multiple jurisdictions.

Telecom Companies

Some Telecom companies want to charge more for better internet access. They basically want a fast-lane and a slow-lane. There is a huge movement to keep the internet neutral. Unfortunately, the Trump government favored the Telecom lobby and allowed this kind of discrimination.

Innovators

Innovators also influence the Internet.

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. (Alan Kay)

People always find new and innovative ways to use the internet. An example right now is WebRTC.

To sum it all up, there is no one organization who controls the internet. Many different organizations influence it. That freedom and lack of centralized control make it a really special place.