OPPORTUNISM. It's something like a once-conquered infectious disease: it keeps popping up in expected or undesirable places. The Net is no exception. Now, I have always been aware that the Internet is the great tool of the modern age for the opportunist. After all, people have found ingenious ways to make money, further their personal causes and flaunt their superiority using electronic communication. But, it had always seemed so remote. It never involved me or my friends or, quite frankly, anyone I had ever personally interacted with on the Internet. So, it came as something of a surprise when it hit close to home with a friend of mine. This particular situation centres around domain registration. Most readers have probably heard about the famous situations involving the likes of McDonald's and Coca-Cola where the less-than-obvious name holder registered the domain first and the logical name holder was left in something of a quandary. Well, it seems that the trend is now firmly established of people registering domain names which are the logical candidates for large companies and organisations and then turning them over for extortionate amounts of money (at least it's extortion when compared to the $50 annual fee normally paid for an Internic domain name). In this particular case, this individual volunteers with an international, non-profit, non-governmental organisation which has recently tried to register its domain with Internic. There is really only one logical domain name for this organisation and it turns out it was registered the week previously by an unknown individual and now this group is faced with buying its domain or choosing a cryptic alternative which means the effectiveness of their on-line communication, especially their future Web site, is hampered. At first it would seem like this is the responsibility of Internic - that they should be doing more to ensure that only those who deservedly can lay claim to a domain name get it. However, this is a huge task for verification that is almost impossible. After all, anyone can represent themselves as the representative of any group, organisation or company and get a domain name registered. In order to prevent this, Internic would need to implement more stringent identity checks, require more paper work and need more human and organisational resources. This would ultimately mean more expensive name registrations for the .edu, .com and .org domains - these are the popular domain groups handled by Internic. More expensive domain names would mean a less accessible Internet for many content providers. This isn't that attractive of an option. So, for now, the moral of the story is: get out there and register your domain fast. And, when you are at www.pancakes.com , is it really the International House of Pancakes?