RaganTV.com has an interesting interview posted with Paula Berg, media manager at Southwest Airlines. She explains how Southwest buys domain names that may be used by hostile consumers to denounce the company or it’s execs — these kinds of sites are also known as “gripe sites”. Per Paula, “[For] $10 or $15, what’s the harm? It can prevent some PR crisis down the line.”
My take is this can become a slippery & expensive slope. The best way to quiet an angry mob is to listen, then promptly & efficiently react — I’ve found that more often than not, they’re right. Having a company engage in the discussion on the gripe site might actually be perceived as more credible since the conversation is happening on community turf. At best, buying gripe site domains might make the conversation slightly less findable.