.com -- even if you're noncommercial?

I want to buy my own domain name and make my own web site. For the top-level element, you have a choice of .com, .net, or .org – which one to choose?

I just want to put up my writings, thoughts, ideas, and whatnot. There will be nothing of a commercial nature in the least. No business, no buying, selling, or trading anything (unless you think of it as the “marketplace of ideas”).

But I’m not a nonprofit organization. I’m just a lone individual. So much for .org – nor do I operate a network, or whatever you’re supposed to do to qualify for the .net – nor do I have any idea of how to get one of those newfangled dot-whatchamacallits.

Would it be dishonest to proclaim myself a one-person organization and take a .org domain? Would it be dishonest to take a .net domain when I probably have no rightful claim to it? I guess plenty of other individuals have done this–or have they?

It seems that .com is the default domain for “none of the above.” How does this really work? Can anyone explain the Straight Dope on domain names for none-of-the-above individuals like me?

I am pretty sure you have to prove you are non-profit to get .org and some people don’t bother with that and get .com instead. For example my son’s soccer league has .com and they are non-profit.

Anyone know why they have these extensions to begin with? I do understand that when the Web got started, they didn’t realize how big it would get. But still…

It seems to me that there should be only one http://www.WhiteHouse, for example. Putting a .gov suffix on it has opened the door to http://www.WhiteHouse.com, and http://www.WhiteHouse.org. Were the designers so shortsighted as to not realize this problem?

Or, for example, there should be only one http://www.RedCross. Putting a .org suffix on opens the door for competitors with other suffices (sp?).


The COM TLD (top-level domain) is basically a catch-all and its commercial use is not policed. Technically, if you just want a personal page you’re supposed to use .state.us instead of .com, but that’s not enforced and is rarely used. Technically, the ORG and NET TLDs aren’t strongly policed either. They’re for non-profits and network infrastructure companies, respectively, but there’s been a lot of overflow since COMs got scarce. Even EDU, which is probably the most policed of these four is not strongly enforced. It’s supposed to be for four-year degree-granting universities, but there’s a lot of JCs and trade schools in there too. In short, go with COM unless you want to be a purist, in which case you should go with state.us.

To answer Keeve, there’s a lot of reason to have multiple TLDs. There’s absolutely no reason there should be only one RedCross or WhiteHouse domain. I could start a company called “Red Cross Network Services” and use redcross.net. As long as my area of commerce does not infringe on the existing non-profit’s trademark, I’d be fully within the law and there’s no reason the domain space should be more restrictive than trademark law. Similarly, I could legally start “White House Bed & Breakfast” (no wait, that infringes…), or “White House Brand Cheese Substitute” (D’oh, that infringes too, but you get the point). We have multiple TLDs because it makes sense to provide some overall hierarchy on the domain system, and there’s no reason to monopolize certain names.

It’s a free for all. You can go with whatever extension that takes your fancy and is still available.

There’s guidelines that everyone started off following, like charities etc used .org, but they didn’t last. So it’s all a bit of a mess now. I know many charities take the commercial version of their site name as well, if they can get it, as otherwise people can have difficulty finding them with the less well-known .org. It also keeps them out the hands of fakers and spoofers.

There are regulations in the UK that limit ltd.uk to registered limited companies, but hardly anyone uses them anyway.

The new extensions that are being created soon (.biz, etc) are supposed to be a bit more regulated and less chaotic, but who knows what’ll happen once the rush starts. They may even be a flop.

.org is commonly accepted to be a nonprofit organization, but there are no rules or regulations whatsoever. I work for a nonprofit, and we have a .org. I’m the one who registered our address, and I didn’t have to submit anything at all, and I wasn’t asked any questions. I registered just like anyone else.

I am in the domain name business and you indeed don’t have to qualify for a .org. The only requirement is that for a .edu you have to be an accredited educational institution. As mentioned above there are new gTLDs coming out (biz, info, pro, museum, aero, coop, name) and I think some of those might impose qualifications. But com, net, and org are wide open.

Thank you. Could you please tell me even one?

No, I don’t get the point. In each of your examples, you could use the entire name, like “www.RedCrossNetworkServices”, or whatever. That way, people who are looking for you would not have to figure out which extension you are using, and you would not have to worry about people getting hijacked because they put the wrong suffix on.

Again, what was the perceived advantage of these suffixes?

Heck, I got http://www.sunspace.org, and I’m not even an org, except in a theoretical maybe-someday kind of way. (It was closer than .com anyway, since I definitely wasn’t a business at the time.)

Actually, I wanted a .ca domain because I’m Canadian, but this was before they opened up the second-level domains under .ca to anyone other than federally-chartered Canadian corporations.

However, later I went out and got http://www.squiglitos.com for a business parody site, and pointed it at a subdirectory of sunspace.org. :slight_smile: I didn’t need to ‘show any ID’ or anything to verify organizational or commercial status.

IMHO, they should have put a .co or .com domain under .ca for the commercial orgs, so we’d have ford.co.ca or ford.com.ca instead of just ford.ca.

Personally, I think they should have been stricter in their awarding of subdomains under .org and .net, and kept to the original plan of reserving .org for nonprofit organizations and .net for network infrastructure providers, without regard to location.

And how do you get something under .int? (www.euro.ecb.int for example)

Anyone gotten one of the new TLDs yet, like .info, .nom, .biz, or whatever they are?
Maybe I’ll get taliban.info… :smiley:

And why can’t we register our own TLDs?

CookingWithGas, for .edu you have to be a four-year (i.e. university-equivalent degree-granting) institution in the United States, correct? No community colleges? And .edu is not worldwide, like .com, .org. .net (the Three Biggies)?

Dot com has become so common place it is in effect the default code.

Some of the emailers use a dot com as it helps with email. For instance Webtv was dot net. But so many emails were getting lost from people just typing JoeSchmoe@webtv.com that they now let you use dot net or dot com.

Also before you get any of the new domains like .biz or whatever make sure you are aware, that not all ISPs will recognized them. In otherwords if they aren’t set up to point to .biz if you type in http://www.joeschmoe.biz nothing will come up.

Why not just use IP addresses then? The point of the domain name system is to map IPs to nice short convenient easy-to-remember and easy-to-market names. Granted, easy to market was not an original consideration, but it’s a huge issue now. If you have one single TLD, then the namespace is much more restricted than if you have multible TLDs. That makes first come, first served an even bigger constraint on businesses.

I’m sorry you don’t like my examples, but they seem perfectly reasonable to me. Given that the system is the way it is, I think the burden is on you to demonstrate why we should not have multiple TLDs. That is, why shouldn’t we use a domain name system which imposes some generic hierarchy at the highest level (even if it is weakly enforced). Why shouldn’t we have multiple namespaces so that the same name can be used by different organizations with completely different purposes, each with full legal rights to the name?

Logically, your argument would be extended to trademark law so that trademarks no longer considered the application in commerce. If I trademarked “micco”, it wouldn’t matter how I used it, no one else could ever use it for anything. Currently, trademark law allows multiple registrations of the same word or mark as long as they are not competitive such that one could tend to confuse consumers. The DNS tacitly mirrors this system by acknowledging that there are legitimate reasons why people would use the same name in different sections of the hierarchy.

Because “www.RedCrossNetworkServices” is quite a bit longer than “www.RedCross.net.” And that’s why more TLDs are being created. All of the good names in .com, .net, and .org are quickly disappearing. And more TLDs mean a bigger name space.

There’s also a technical reason. [Note: this is very simplified.] All of these domain names really only exist because humans aren’t very good at memorizing strings of numbers.

So say you want to go to the web page of the White House. So you type in http://www.whitehouse.gov. Your computer then goes to the server responsible for all of the .gov address and asks for the address of http://www.whitehouse.gov. It probably won’t know, but it will know the address of another computer to ask. Then your computer goes to ask that machine, and on and on until you finally find a computer who knows that http://www.whitehouse.gov stands for

TLDs serve as a starting point and they break down the search into manageable parts. It’s easier and quicker to search for http://www.whitehouse in just the .gov part of the internet than all of the internet. [Which would be the case if there were no TLDs.] It’s also why you can’t just register your own.


Keeve, keep in mind that the existing DNS system grew out of a need to differentiate between various networks in the days of non-realtime internetworking, mostly via UUCP. Having .arpa and .bitnet suffixes made message routing a lot easier. The current non-geographical TLDs were being standardized as far back as RFC 881 and were implimented initially to distinguish between multiple, physically isolated worldwide networks. Now that the Internet is essentially homogenous they have evolved into indicating the type of service associated with the domain. When NSI acquired their monopoly on registration services, they loosened the requirements, leading to the current preponderance of incorrectly registered names.

So are you saying that Shame’s Joys should just go ahead and register http://www.shamesjoys.com for a personal site, even though she (or he?) has nothing to sell? It just looks … I don’t know … somehow not quite right.

seven new top-level domains

aero Sponsored
.biz Unsponsored
.coop Sponsored
.info Unsponsored
.museum Sponsored
.name Unsponsored
.pro Unsponsored
The “sponsored” ones are domains where the applicant must “qualify” in some way. The unsponsored ones are open to everybody and anybody.
Back to the OP:
If you wanted a personal domain name, I would either go with “.name” or else with a “city.state.us” (assuming you’re in the USA) for your city. However, that scheme would only work if there were a for the city in which you live. You can see the list here:
Delegated Subdomains
For .us domain names, read also here Official United States Domain Registry

Correction: that sentence should read “However, that scheme would only work if there were a delegate for the city in which you live.”

When I regestered one of my domains [sboyle.com] with Network Solutions, they asked if I also wanted to register sboyle.net and sboyle.org to “protect my internet identity” [read: give us more money].

micco, I understand that some sort of hierarchy is a good idea, just that this sort of hierarchy ended up being too wild, uncontrolled, and open to exploitation. For example, if Servo would register under .net and .org, I admit that it would get more money for Network Solutions, but it would indeed also help “protect his internet identity” by barring others from use of those TLDs.

So my question was why they chose the .gov, .mil, .edu hierarchy than, oh let’s say, a geographic hierarchy by state. I suspect that Friedo answered this; if I understood correctly, these domains were once physically separated, and so looking at the suffix gave the initial part of where to go. That makes sense to me. Thanks.

In fact we have both. There is a geographical hierarchy. Every country has its own country code TLD, and within US, you can register, say, keeve.yourtown.yourstate.us. However, some things just don’t make sense in a geographical hierarchy. If I want a Cisco router FAQ or an HP printer driver, why should I have to know where that company is based? I would just guess cisco.com and hp.com and if I’m wrong, then I can go to a search engine.

Geographical hierarchies make a lot of sense for things like government services, which is why communities are encouraged to put their resources in the US TLD. Geography doesn’t make much sense for a lot of other things, so we have additional TLDs for topics. It makes a lot of sense to have both and it would work even better if the distinctions had been enforced.

I also don’t see how the current system is being exploited on any large scale. Sure it’s annoying that whitehouse.com is a porn site, but just move along. We shouldn’t tear down the DNS system or enact rules that would keep legitimate domain owners from holding names just because a few people are jerks. Passing some really restrictive rules to prevent a few minor problems is like suing your city every time you confuse 1st Avenue with First Street and end up on the wrong side of town.

Try a COM.

98% of the people don’t have a clue what ‘COM’ means anyway.

Some say ‘commerical’ some say ‘company’ well both were acceptable on some game show I saw.