Would the real Donna Douglas please log on?

Coincidence is a funny thing.

About six weeks ago, I began planning a website. Purpose of the website is to publicize the federal government’s Self Employment Assistance Program, which I have the privilege to deliver. As well, I want to promote my own communications and training business, work I do in addition to small business start-up.

I have two people working on my website. Gail French, Net Visions, is doing the Self Employment part and Kory Hopkins, Decent Exposure, is doing my “personal” business portion. That keeps the costs entirely separate so there can be no concern about spending government money inappropriately.

First choice I had to make was in my domain name. Do I go with selfemploymentassistanceprogram.com? Or DonnaDouglas.com? If either was available. Kory did a little research on this, calling HRDC, the career centres, public library, Chamber of Commerce, and City Hall, querying if there was any help locally if he wanted to start a business. He was universally directed to Donna Douglas, not Self Employment Assistance.

So… off we went to register a domain name with Donna Douglas in it. Lo and behold, we had our choice… .com, .org, .net. We can only have .ca if we have branches across Canada, which we don’t.

I’m a bit of a neophyte when it comes to this stuff, so I took Kory’s advice. He said .com is becoming the most popular domain type, so we decided to go with that and registered DonnaDouglas.com. Kory stuck a placeholder on the site and began to meet with Gail to plan and build the site.

Imagine my surprise when, a week after my name was registered I got a call from Roger Field, in Lexington, Kentucky. He represents the actress Donna Douglas (from the television series The Beverley Hillbillies) and she’s asked him to build a website for her. Roger wants the DonnaDouglas.com domain name. Hmmm…

Now I know most of you are probably seeing dollar signs and I must admit that for 10 seconds I felt like adding up my debt load, but then I started wondering a few other things… like, what’s she going to put on her website? is he already working for her or is he hoping to? why not use .org or .net since they’re still available? would he be interested in sharing links for peoplewanting to visit the actress as opposed to people interested in communications, training, and entrepreneurship. And let’s face it, I’ve spent my life being asked about the coincidence between my name and that of the actress. I don’t imagine that happens much to her… let’s see, she’s buying critter food in downtown Lexington and the clerk looks at her charge card and says, “Are you the Donna Douglas who writes for the Barrie Advance, hee, hee?”

So Roger and I played phone tag for a couple of weeks and when I didn’t hear from him, I went ahead with my .com plans. Of course a website is a living, breathing thing (almost), very different from a pamphlet or a radio commercial. Kory progressed with the Donna Douglas Communications Training part of my website and Gail delved into government regulations around web pages on government programs. We had begun…

And then Roger called back. He said he really was representing the “critter” Donna Douglas, the popular, gorgeous Elly Mae whose innocence anchored pre-dinner television sets across North America in the 60’s. She’s published a reading/colouring book called Donna’s Critters, and her plan is to promote the book, along with her own acting career, and blend the two with her very strong religious faith.

I asked Roger about .net and .org as possible domain names.

“She’s a celebrity. If we don’t have .com, it sort of looks like we missed the boat,” he lamented. I was interested that he hadn’t put a reserve on either of the other domain names. He was quite determined that Elly Mae should have my site. I explained that I’m a tiny frog in a tiny pond up here in Canada, but that I’m doing important work.

I asked him if they’d like a link from my site to theirs, for people who go looking for her and end up disappointed with me. I could offer a flashing Beverley Hillbillies icon with the invitation to click here for Donna Douglas, Celebrity. He didn’t see how that would be any advantage to them. Who would come to my site looking for her?

I’m confused now. I thought that was the whole point around the attractiveness of the .com domain.

Roger and I parted with the agreement to continue to talk. He even promised me an autographed picture of the “real” Donna Douglas, in exchange for my domain name.

I don’t know… what do you think? Am I being selfish to keep the domain name that was registered (and paid for in American dollars) for me? Should I be generous of spirit and world wide airwaves, and heave over to .net? Especially if they give me a link? Is she the real Donna Douglas, or is this a stage name? What about using Elly Mae? You can appreciate my dilemma, I’m sure.

I’d sure welcome some advice on this. You can reach me by email at donnad@barint.on.ca.

Thanks, Gail. Thanks, Kory. And thanks, Donna… Elly Mae, that is!