.co vs .com?

So how come British and New Zealand websites have “.co.uk” and “.co.nz” suffixes respectively, while significantly more of the world has the more ubiquitous “.com.whatever” suffix?

Thanks all


In the UK the two-letter second level domains (.ac - academic and .co - commercial) were already in use in the JANET name registration scheme which was established before the familiar DNS system was fully established.

So basically, .co was adopted in the 1970’s before .com became established in the public consciousness.

IMO it sounds better and is easier to say than .com.uk.

It’s probably worth mentioning that the top level domains are .uk, .com, .net, etc - equivalent to the .us TLD - in other words, .com isn’t the USA version of .co.uk - it’s a top level domain in its own right (which just happens to be US-emphatic as a legacy of the way the internet evolved)

.co, .ac and so on are second level domains and could just as easily exist (perhaps they even do) for the .us TLD

Very true, although some countries (such as my own - .com.au) have adopted .com as a second level domain. This is probably adding to the confusion for many people. That confusion then gets worse when many non-US organisations and companies go for .com as their domains.

Since TLDs such as .com, .net, .org and so on are not conspicuously country-specific; it would be conceptually simpler for everyone if we just stopped thinking of these as being USA-related TLDs and treated them as global ones - it is after all how they are being used now.

I’ve never thought of them as being American TLDs.

FWIW, a few large British organisations are anomalous in that they only use the .uk TLD, and I suspect it’s because they’ve been using their addresses for longer than the current norms have been in place. The NHS, British Library and MOD are three which I know of, which are www.nhs.uk, www.bl.uk and www.mod.uk respectively.

Note that the .gov and .mil TLDs are US-only. The .edu TLD is not officially US-only but nearly is. The only 3+letter TLD of comparable “specificity” is .cat for Catalan language related sites.