What's up with personal top level domains?

I’m thinking about starting a blog/place to put things about hobbies/whatever the hell.

As part of my reading on that subject I came across mention of various new TLD’s that are designed to be for your personal use in your actual name or nickname etc and which you could use as your personal domain or email address for life if you so wished. This got me to thinking about reserving a good personal TLD for my children, both of whom have distinctive enough names that they seem to be available at present. They may never use what I reserve for them but who knows they may thank me for it later, and it’s not as if the annual registration fees are more than a couple of cups of coffee per annum.

But now I get to the hard part. There seems to be a mess of possibilities. Here in Australia a number of registries suggest I should get an id.au TLD, but then there is .me and .name and .net (and .net.au).

I suppose I’m trying to look ahead to 2023 and say “when my children are becoming adults and maybe looking to have a personal online presence, what is the standard TLD for that going to be?”

Is that an answerable question at this point? Anyone have the straight dope?

TLDs are all the same, in that none of them are “designed” for anything. Originally, “.com” was for commercial businesses, “.org” was for non profits, “.edu” and “.gov” were for universities and governments, etc. But nobody enforced anything like that, and you can get any TLD and do whatever you want with it.

There have been various expansions since the beginning, including country level TLDs, “.xxx”, and recently, companies can buy their own, such as “.coke” or something for Coca-Cola. But that costs a lot of money and isn’t really meant for individuals. (A personal aside, I think TLDs are a money grab by ICANN. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to register any string of characters, except then Coca-Cola wouldn’t be forced to buy up “coca-cola.xxx” or “.coke” before the porn sites do.)

Still, “.com” is the king. My advice would be to look up their names and buy all the main TLDs that are available, at least in “.com”, “.net” and “.org”. That way, no matter what people type or link to, you can have it redirect to their main site. Personally, I have “lastname.org”, and my wife and I (and maybe in the future, our kid) have “firstname.lastname.org”. When “.com” becomes available , I’ll register that as well.

THe different TLDs are simply namespaces that are administered by different organizations. COM, NET, and ORG were originally handled by IANA, but that changed and now I don’t know how that works. The country ones are administered by the government of that country.

.gov is still restricted to US government-related organizations. Also, according to wikipedia:

*Partially ninja’ed here: *Unless something’s changed quite recently, you have to prove you are an accredited educational organization to get .edu, and that you are some level of government to get .gov. (And show up with a tank, bomber or battleship to get .mil…)

But yes, most of the rest are free-grabs, despite older rules about .org, etc.

Concur. It may be needless for 99 businesses out of 100, but locking down the common alternate TLDs can save a lot of headaches for $20-100 a year. I always grab the big three for any serious domain I register. But you always want .com if you can get it.

I think we should have continued the original distinction: .com for profit-oriented entities; .org for non-profits, and .net for network providers. Grabbing all three every time essentially makes three times the work (registration, maintenance, infrastructure, etc) for no real benefit. I have a .org; the corresponding .com is owned by a company in the area; I’m fine with that. (I had the .org first, I suspect.)

Most of these replies seem to be USAcentric, but the OP is in Australia, where different considerations may apply. I am sure that if you actually are a commercial organization in the USA then the best domain for you will be the appropriate .com one. Even in the USA, though, there is probably not much advantage to having a .com domain, as opposed to something more appropriate to your site’s actual function, unless you actually are a commercial organization.

The .com, .org, .edu, .net etc. system was originally set up in and for the United States and is still the standard there. That is not necessarily the case elsewhere, where national top level domains are in wide use. Many British commercial enterprises, for example, use .co.uk instead of .com (including large, worldwide organizations such as the BBC, which owns both bbc.co.uk and bbc.com, but uses the former as its main domain), and British universities use .ac.uk. Australia uses a similar system, I believe, with the .au national TLD.

Anyway, to actually address the OP’s question, I do think that “personalized” top level domains, that respect neither the original .com etc. system nor the national TLD system are still widely regarded as a bit tacky. (Although that may change in the future.) Domains under TLD’s such as .biz and .info have been available for some years now, but seem to have a bad reputation, having been used a lot for porn sites. Again, though, that may change.

If I were the OP, I would be looking for suitable domains under .au. If you don’t want to tie things too much to Australia, then by all means look for .com, .net or .org domains, but there is really no advantage to .com unless you are actually expecting to use it for commercial purposes (in the USA or internationally) to represent an American, for profit company.

My company is an NPO and we have .org and the real problem is everyone sends emails to Carryon@abcd.com instead of Carryon@abcd.org.

We should’ve gotten the .com and redirected it to .org.

Just go with .com. The others are essentially meaningless — except to hold the name from rivals — then again the entire concept of tlds is meaningless.

It all seems kind of scammy, and designed to increase the profits of domain registrars (“Oh, you want a website for your company Widgets3000? Well, you better register widgets300.com, and widgets3000.net, and widgets3000.org, and widgets3000.biz … so on and so forth”).

I could understand that at the dawn of the creation, people who were designing the system might concieve of a world where pepsi.com went to one site and pepsi.org went somewhere else.

But that isn’t the world we live in now. Dot-com is far and away the (only) desirable TLD, to the extent that if your domain name isn’t available in a dot-com variety, you’ll likely change the domain name before adopting an alternative TLD.

But this proliferation of TLDs has only worked mischief, allowing unsavory operators to engage in a little reputation extortion (“Can you be sure, Widgets3000, that consumers will be able to distinguish my porno site, widgets3000.info, from your company?”) We know that is purely for extortionate purposes because nobody has ever chosen a dot-info domain for legitimate reasons.

No points awarded for saying, well, you can always file a domain-name dispute. By reducing all TLDs to dot-com, we don’t need to worry about misappropriated other-TLD domain names. (Yes, first-occupiers will still need to be handled, but in this day and age, those sorts of suits are virtually relics of the late 90s.)

In sum, there should only be one TLD, “.com”.

Yes, registering all three is a few minutes’ more work and a continuing cost, but I can’t tell you the number of times that (1) having the alternates under control and redirected to the primary has saved trouble and (2) the larger number of times having something other than .com and having other addresses perpetually misdirected caused trouble. i recommend it for all my clients who are building a new web presence or want to make theirs more reliable and bulletproof.

I have one very kewl personal domain in the .co spectrum, and the owner of the parallel .com one throws abusive email at me every time he gets misdirected email. Politely suggesting he filter out my primary usernames or all unassigned ones just gets me more abuse.

You make good points, but that would be far, far too restrictive. We need to condition the greater online population that everything is not always and automatically dot-com instead.

Why? The proliferation, or non-proliferation, of TLDs should be guided by what is most convenient for the computing public. Not by what appeals to the sensibilities of central planners.

Both content providers and internet users would have their lives made easier by the “one TLD only / dot-com only” rule. Content providers would no longer have the costs associated with registering and monitoring an ever-increasing number of TLD permutations. Users wouldn’t have to worry about remembering atypical TLDs.

Yes, those who currently “share” a domain name differentiated only by TLD would have to come up with a new way of distinguishing them from one another. But in this day and age, I think everyone basically expects all the various non-dot-com TLDs to resolve to the dot-com variant (i.e., xyz.org, xyz.net, xyz.biz, xyz.me, xyz.info, xyz.blahblahblah all resolve to xyz.com).

I think it is time to make this de facto rule the official rule. The few benefits obtained by allowing “shared” domain names are substantially outweighed by the mischief created by intentional efforts to mislead under a non-dot-com TLD. And we are not running out of domain names. Dot-com will suffice.

It’s not restrictive at all: domain buyers should concentrate their creativity into the crafting of the name — and there are still a lot of choices with the number of languages in the world and infinite combinations of words — rather than having to snap up each xxx.[tld] the diseased minds at ICANN invent.

People automatically assuming it’s a .com is good — clears away the clutter; just as automatically recognising www. in print as an internet address is good.

No one said all the collateral TLDs need to be acquired; I have, at most, in extreme cases, included .info and .biz, making six in all. I could care less if someone registers mydomain.tv or .cc or whatever; they’re gritware. I’m 50/50 on .co as it continues to rise in prominence but is not yet much of a factor.

There is also the problem of length. Past about ten letters, domains get increasingly hard to remember and enter correctly, even when they spell easily. Using TLDs - in one functional form or another - to multiply the number of short, meaningful names is more to the good than eliminating the level of division. YMMV and clearly does.

Just to clarify terms here, the OP first talks about getting a TLD. I figured he was talking about the new gTLDs but that wouldn’t make sense for an individual. The later sentence makes it look like he wants a second-level domain name and advice on which TLD it should be under.

Depends on what you mean by “administer.” ICANN manages IANA and has provided governance of the gTLDs since something like 1998. I am unclear as to the scope of ICANN vs. IANA but ICANN operates IANA under a Dept. of Commerce contract. Each gTLD is operated by a registry under license (license is probably not the correct technical legal term) from ICANN. Originally Network Solutions managed all registrations for second-level domain names under .com, .org., .edu, .net. Then Network Solutions was required to split the business into two firewalled parts, the Registry and Registrar. ICANN then approved a number of other businesses to operate competing registrars. A Registry operates the underlying database for the domain names under the TLDs and a Registrar sells the SLDs and services the customers (wholesale vs. retail). Network Solutions was bought by VeriSign, who kept the registry but sold off the registrar to a private equity firm in 2003, which continued doing business as Network Solutions. VeriSign continues to operate .com and .net. PIR operates .org and I think Educase operates .edu (not sure if that’s current).

I just grab .net and .org in addition to primary .com and redirect them to .com: I strongly object to having to do this and having to pay for items that provide no benefit to me whatsoever. If someone registered xxx.sex and people assumed it was connected to my site, xxx.com, I shouldn’t be happy.

Nor if some scammer registers xxx.info or whatever and tries to get me to buy it from him.

I don’t have this problem. Mind you, there is a prejudice presently against hyphens in urls — mainly as far as I can see held by SEO loons — but I prefer them to separate words and prevent unfortunate concatenations such as www.jujubesexposition for Jujube’s Exposition forum.

I try to avoid hyphens and get users to always camelcase compound domain names - I have one right now that is something like BoffingtonPublicMuseumFoundation.xxx and the rather conservative board visibly shudders every time I type it that way.

SEO loons… not sure both words are needed, there.

Jujube sex… the mind reels.

How much do domain names even matter these days? I never type in an exact address; I use the url bar as a search box. Google then finds the domain name I’m looking for.

For example, I open a new tab and type “straightdope” into it. Google then gives me this website as the top search result. It doesn’t matter what the top-level domain is.

Hmm. This seems to follow the same logic as experts who claim that complex passwords are useless, because when the password file is stolen the bot can enter a super-complex password as easily as “mykitty”. In both cases, you’re talking about a very limited subset of what a domain name represents. By your argument, we could go to dotted quads and be done with it.

I’ll just say that a good, identifiable, memorable, easily-entered domain name remains a business and organization asset and probably always will. You don’t tell people about the great 888-463-7271 deli, do you?

ETA: On reflection, the level of “Google does it for me, so why should I bother with anything else” makes me shiver. But then, it always does.