Let’s face it. The hundreds of millions of people coming to the Internet are taking up emails, screen names, and domains. Think how hard it is now to get a Twitter account name that you want and the site just started a few years ago. If you are opening a new gmail account chances are you’re gonna get something like Shane435r3w5r@gmail.com. The requests at Twitter have become so overbearing that they very infrequently turn over any names unless their is a blatant trademark infringement. But the rule stands the same. It is against the Terms of Service to sell a name and while they frown upon selling, there haven’t been many cases other than trademark based, of Twitter taking away names.
Despite the rule against selling handles but we all know it happens every day “underground”. It’s as simple as selling a fake company or your website that includes the twitter name. There is no doubt in my mind that Twitter knows it’s sitting on millions of dollars of dusty names and in my opinion, will start auctioning off unused account names just like Godaddy. They even state that in their response emails when you try and claim an unused name. “We’re currently unable to accommodate individual requests for inactive or suspended usernames. We may release all inactive and/or suspended usernames in the future, but have not yet set a date for doing so” Ie “We will have auctions down the road”.
So that leads to this. If I am willing to pay for a better user name, why should I be punished because I started using twitter later than someone else? With domains, I can buy my way into the name I want. In this case, the domain owner benefits from getting in early. In the Twitter case, Twitter keeps all the money. They could also allow reselling of name but force all sales to be approved by them with a percentage going to Twitter. I see no negatives in these scenarios and at some point I see Twitter agreeing with me. Look for the Twitter owned Twitter Name Auction platform in the near future. If you can’t fight it, monetize it.