Why were 98 domain names beginning with LEVI-S registered in China on January 29th?

Two weeks ago I launched Domain Name Trends, a new tool on Lean Domain Search that lets you visualize how many .com domain names have been registered over time for a given topic. Along with the main search tool I also released hot topics feature which analyzes all of the .com domain name registrations on a given day and attempts to identify topics that saw a lot of registrations.

Most of the time the hot topics analysis identifies terms that domain name investors are in the process of speculating on. Recent terms include eurovegas, wedding venues and motorcycles for sale. On January 29th, however, the hot topics analysis tool identified a term that I had never seen before: LEVI-S.

As you can see from the search results LEVI-S saw an explosion in domain name registrations on January 29th:

What was so special about this term that led to so many domain name registrations that day? A quick Google search for levi-s doesn’t turn up any relevant results for that term. The sites themselves do not appear to be in use either.

Composition analysis

Looking over the actual domain names I noticed a perplexing similarity: Not only do all of the domain names begin with LEVI-S, but the next part of the domain name always was a single English word beginning with the letter F: LEVI-SFACT, LEVI-SFACULTY, LEVI-SFAIL, LEVI-SFAIR, LEVI-SFAITHFUL, etc:

Given the choice of words paired with LEVI-S, it was seeming less and less likely that whoever registered these domain names was doing it for speculation purposes. After all, if someone truly believed that LEVI-S was going to be a popular topic there are a lot better domain names they could have speculated on including LEVI-SONLINE, LEVI-SSPOT, LEVI-SHUB and so on.

Registrant analysis

If the domain names themselves weren’t of any help, maybe I determine their purpose based on who registered them. I wrote a quick script to check the WHOIS information, parse the results, and output it as a CSV file:

You can download the CSV file yourself here (2KB).

The 98 domains were registered by 37 unique individuals: 29 people registered 3 domain names, 4 registered 2 domain names, and 3 registered 1 domain name.

DomainTools has a service that lets you look up domain names given information about who registered them (a reverse WHOIS). Unfortunately the only domain names registered to these individuals appear to be the ones they registered here:

Moreover, all 37 registrants were located in China, though not in the same location:

Summary

To sum it up: 98 .com domain names beginning with LEVI-S and ending with an English word starting with the letter F were registered on January 29th by 37 individuals spread across China all of whom haven’t registered domain names in the past. The term LEVI-S has no obvious significance and the domain names do not appear to be in use.

I sent an email to the 37 email addresses listed in the WHOIS contact information asking for more details, but have not received a single response.

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