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Gotta be careful when you pick your URL, otherwise something like this might happen to you.

The Chinese Confucius and Mencius Association of Taiwan has the following URL for their website:


Documented in "A Most Unfortunate URL Choice" (9/24/15) on Michael Turton's "The View from Taiwan:  Commentary from Taichung, Taiwan".

Confucius, of course, was the "Great Sage" and "First Teacher" of the Confucian tradition, while Mencius was the "Second Sage".

[h.t. Mark Swofford]


  1. Keith said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 12:13 am

    Apocryphal stories about badly chosen internet domain names abound.

    Two that I remember are: (supposedly for finding the agent of an artist) (supposedly the site of a community living on Pen Island).

  2. John Speranza said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 12:29 am

    And let us never forget that indispensable mental health resource,

  3. mike said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 12:55 am

    In the tech world, the original URL for didn't have the comma.

  4. Mark Mandel said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 1:15 am

    @Keith, the story is true, but not that way. I heard it as a sales site for pens– and when I browsed to it that's exactly what it was.

    [(myl) See "Powergenitalia and penisland", LLOG 7/25/2006.]

  5. Mark Mandel said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 1:17 am

    @Mike, I'm pretty sure you mean "hyphen".

  6. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 6:42 am

    I have always suspected that 'penisland' is not like the others; while 'who represents' and 'experts exchange' are phrases that might occur naturally, it's not clear why anyone would think of pens as coming from an island, so it's likely the owners of that site were deliberately going for the double entendre.

    I believe – though I haven't checked – that the url was later acquired by a site more in line with its other implications.

  7. Jason said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 7:40 am

    Yes, the "pen island" was a double entendre – on the same level as (a chess site) and once upon a time, it was an ecommerce site you could really order pens from (at least it claimed you could.)

    It's now held by some some domain parker with debt consolidation ads all over it, if you were wondering.

  8. Rodger C said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 7:45 am

    Didn't the Lake Tahoe tourist authority once use

  9. Boursin said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 9:24 am

    No need to speculate about "supposedly" "apocryphal" web sites when we have the Internet Archive's marvellous Wayback Machine:

    Showing that and, among others, were completely real (innocuous) sites once upon a time. But is only shown in the form it assumed after repurposing.

  10. Maple said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 9:41 am

    The alleged pen merchant is and always has been at, not .com.

  11. tsts said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 9:57 am

    @Andrew (not the same one): I am not sure what "occur naturally" means in the context of store names. My impression (from long ago, and not sure it is true) was that this was the name of an offline store that later added a web site. I think the name is about as natural as "Sunglass Hut", and could work for a small store or booth selling pens.

  12. Francois Lang said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 12:05 pm

    A friend just told me that Don Glover

    originally had a Twitter handle of "donglover".

  13. Theophylact said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 12:43 pm

    Other real or supposed URLs include, the real but no longer extant ( a British birdwatchers group), and molestationnursery: "Situated 42 kms from Tenterfield, NSW, Australia, Mole Station Nursery specialises in Australian native plants."

  14. Idran said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

    @Francois Lang: Yeah, but knowing Glover, that was almost certainly a purposeful joke, not an accidental entendre.

  15. Anthony said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 2:14 pm

    A large and now lamented wine store in Chicago had the URL, which always put me in mind of Lolita.

  16. Michael Watts said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 4:42 pm

    I visited Pen Island back in the day; their copy mentioned that they had the pen you'd need, even if you were looking for "a big black pen that spurts ink". I think it's safe to say the double entendre was purposeful.

  17. tudza said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 7:15 pm

    Sam Swine, private pig!

  18. Garrett Wollman said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 7:24 pm

    Doesn't .tw have Internationalized Domain Name support? Then they could have used the actual Chinese characters for their domain (which would be encoded to 7-bit ASCII as an unintelligible "punycode" string starting with "xn--"). There are now a large number of top-level domains with IDN support, and even IDN labels themselves at the top level (most of which are Chinese characters if what I see from @diffroot on Twitter is any indication — recent examples include xn--efvy88h (新闻) and xn--mk1bu44c (닷컴) — but Arabic, Cyrillic, and Devanagari scripts are also in use.)

  19. The Other Mark said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 8:36 pm

    Pen Island is quite well known.

    But I had to write to a group promoting an art festival associated with Aspen Island in Canberra Australia to tell them that was a terrible site name. It's gone now.

    I was alerted to this because I once had a page on one of my websites with explained the tables of organisation and equipment for an army, almost always abbreviated TOEs. My wife asked if /toesexplan was really a good page name.

  20. Eric P Smith said,

    September 24, 2015 @ 9:58 pm

    A phonological (as opposed to typographical) example is Eurinvest.

  21. mira said,

    September 26, 2015 @ 7:35 am

    The website for Dům umění města Brna, a contemporary art museum in Brno, Czech Republic, used to be

  22. January First-of-May said,

    September 26, 2015 @ 3:19 pm

    @Eric P. Smith:
    It is said that both common pronunciations of Uranus (the planet) feature a somewhat bad word – though only in one of the cases it can reasonably be interpreted as a phrase with that word.
    My native language sidestepped the problem by pronouncing (and spelling) Uranus the same as uranium (the element).

    I also wanted to mention ExpertsExchange; I've actually encountered several derogatory references to it using the pun (apparently it's quite unpopular with people trying to find things online, because it requires one to have an account to be able to read more than just a few replies).

  23. M Briggs said,

    September 27, 2015 @ 5:01 pm

    A young member of the staff of the Wisconsin Trade Federation had to explain to her (older) boss why would not be a wise choice for a url.

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