& domain names

Can an ampersand or other top row number figures be used in domain names, ie www.straight&dope.com?

I don’t have a cite but I’m pretty certain special charaters cannot be used in a domain name, only alpha and numeric characters.

FWIW www.straightdope.com is not a domain name but a website URL that points to a partcular computer on the straightdope.com domain where the com part is the top level domain.

I was going to say no, but apparently for some you can link which was news to me.
Though I do not think it is possible for top level domains. (.com .org .net)

News article

The .nu confused me but looks like you have to associate that name “I-L♡ve-NY.nu” with an actual A-Z name.
For now anyway.
I found out because when I tried to register i♡♬.nu, i♡u.nu, and i♡NY.nu and none where taken I knew something was up.

The current system allows only letters A-Z, digits 0-9 and hyphens. There are proposals to allow more than that, but they are just proposals. The biggest problem with changing this is that all the software out there only allows the letters A-Z, digits 0-9 and hyphens. If that is changed, then ALL software handling DNS resolution worldwide will need to be modified. This would NOT be trivial.

Also, there are a few other restrictions. straightdope-.com or -straightdope.com aren’t allowable. There is also a length limit. Thus skjfhkjsadfhufhsbxnvfiuersjksdjsdjkfjskdhkjscfhksdjfhsdjdshweiuhfschbvuhgsdvsyfgwguskchzxjkhcvuisdvhsckjzfhsdiufhsdihscsdfhuisfhsiuhuihcsddnczncshiusdfhvcuasdifisfuisdhciusfsdhsduihsduihsdsdfhdsijsdfhsdhigsdiohsdhsdiosgiosdhigsi.com is NOT a possible domain name.

And only one hyphen in a row, IIRC (I used to work for a large registrar), and the first character must not be a hyphen. Yes, there have been proposals to allow Unicode characters for DNS, which have been proposed by factions who criticize the DNS system as being English (read “American”) centric.

In the last couple of years before I left Large Registrar (2000-2003) they were selling “multilingual” domain names using some kind of encoding, it’s been a long time since I’ve looked at this, so I’m a little fuzzy on it. Unicode can be encoded into A-Z 0-9 characters for use as a domain name. When you register the name, you provide the Unicode characters, the Registrar encodes them to get the name into DNS. You input the Unicode characters at the browser, which encodes them to standard characters and resolves them in DNS. This system requires a plug-in for the browser, and is not supported in any way by the DNS system. I think we were registering encoded names in Chinese, for example. It was a bitch to do lookups on these names in the system because you had to type in the encoded name for lookups, and it was very easy to make a mistake typing in something like ciwmsklckrikuj3jmdivc9878fnqu49013y8rtkxje873uhwnxcjmc8.com.

One of the controversies around this was trademark infringement. You could register, for example, Microsoft.com where the o was not the English o but some character from some obscure Baltic language that looks like an o. So in the most technical sense it was not Microsoft but in all practical sense it was.

Network Solutions comes in a Google search but the referenced page no longer exists. They may have dropped this.


They do have this wording on their T&C site, I do not know if this is current:

Since the referenced page is gone, I intended to show the full URL just to show this was offered at one time but no longer. However, the Board truncates long URLs and automatically links them. Let me try this wtih > instead of slashes


Nope. I used to work for a company that has an ampersand in it’s name. When they bought the domain name, they replaced the ampersand with the word “and”

Zev Steinhardt

No wonder my cousin, Michael Skjfhkjsadfhufhsbxnvfiuersjksdjsdjkfjskdhkjscfhksdjfhsdjdshweiuhfschbvuhgsdvsyfgwguskchzxjkhcvuisdvhsckjzfhsdiufhsdihscsdfhuisfhsiuhuihcsddnczncshiusdfhvcuasdifisfuisdhciusfsdhsduihsduihsdsdfhdsijsdfh sdhigsdiohsdhsdiosgiosdhigsi, (we call him “Skjiee” for short) was so pissed when he tried to register a domain.