Internet Domains Names
Making the Online World More Difficult in the Name of Making It Easier
February 24, 2005
There's something that irks me about inappropriate use of tlds. And, actually, about multiple tlds to the same person or org, especially if it is to just point them all to the same site (or the same content on different servers...)
The non-country code tlds used to have meaning:
- .edu - accredited institutions of higher education in the US
- .mil - US military installations
- .gov - US government (non-military) installations
- .org - non-profit organizations in the US with proper tax status
- .net - network service providers in the US
- .com - commercial entities in the US not providing network service or network access to their customers
Granted, this leaves out the very important "personal sites" option - or does it? Should individuals have their own domains? (Yes, I own three.) Do individuals need their own domains? There are plenty of free services that allow you to host your site on their servers, and many ISPs allow their users to host personal sites for no extra charge.
On the other hand, the system is designed to be adaptable and flexible. Just add .pers or .name or something to accommodate these requests. Seems easy enough.
Of course, there are a couple of mistakes early on that made this a little more difficult, like America Online getting aol.com when they should have gotten aol.net.
Well, .info, .name, and .mus make sense, I think:
- .info - general information sites, non-commercial
- .name - domains based off people's surnames, where the surname is not actually for sale, the third level domain is actually what is for sale
- .mus - domains for museums
but .biz is redundant with .com - all of which is meaningless since .com=.org=.net=.biz=.info~=.pro~=.mus~=.name under the current management scheme.
I think that it would have significantly improved usability overall had the original regulation been stuck to, since users would then be used to seeing .net and .org more regularly and would not be confused by them...
Maybe when they were setting this up, they should have thought forward and made those all foo.us, but they didn't, the "US" part was just implied because no one else was really on-line.
Yeah, properly using .us to begin with would have probably also improved usability, but remember, not all countries break down the same way. The big example being Tuvalu which owns (read "is") .tv and sells L2s off of that. Or Japan, which will only sell a .co.jp (or a .ne.jp) to corporations (or network providers) that have a presence in Japan, but will sell a .jp to anyone. I would guess that the Japanese are savvy enough to pick up on the fact that a .co.jp is actually in Japan, while a .jp is someone outside trying to look cool.
Sometimes it is hard to explain this to marketing people. They want us to get .co.fr and .co.de, neither of which are options (and .fr domains require physical presence anyhow...), and they want us to "fix" our .com.au to be .co.au so that it matches our .co.uk and they don't understand that Australia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom all manage their domains differently...
When it was regulated, it was sometimes hard to explain to people, but it made sense. However, since then, it has become a complete cluster - and it has made it a lot easier for spammers to buy tuawnk;jghaeiogulhsdfljshd.com this week and agfoasrhigk.net next week, and qtiopfhbjn.com the day after that and sevopuihskvj.org four days later, making it much harder for anyone to track down spammers. The price drop also encouraged this. Yeah, there was probably not enough actual cost in domain name management to justify the $70/year price, but it made people actually think about it as well as use other URLs. All of which made the Internet, in my opinion, better and easier to use.