Friday, April 22, 2011

More Domain Talk: Top Level Domains

Last time, I talked about what you should do before choosing a domain. Where to buy, what you might want to call it, etc. I only briefly touched on top level domains like .com or .net. However, most of my friends who are deciding on domains seem to have a lot of trouble with this particular issue, so it merits a closer look.

On the surface, there is no actual difference between the domain choices themselves. Changing a domain from .com to .net will not suddenly give your website a dramatic look, nor will it mess with your coding. It really is just a label in a grocery store. Taking a bag of Cheerios and dropping them in a box of Frosted Flakes will not suddenly turn those Cheerios into Frosted Flakes. Nor will pouring Pepsi in a Mr. Pibb bottle change it (although, why he hell would you pick Pepsi over Mr. Pibb, you sick fuck).

However, there are some restrictions in place, for obvious reasons. Over the internet, it's easy to fake just about anything. Which is great for people who know their stuff, but a little scary for people who don't. Without these kind of restrictions, there would be absolutely no guarantee that that .gov site is really a government website. And if you're registering for something online and give your private data out, well, suddenly that innocent act of reordering your drivers license online can become pretty scary. Plus, some countries want to ensure that their own top level domains are actually going to their citizens and not just a bunch of domain squatters. With that in mind, it's important to check and make sure there isn't some restriction on the site you want.

Finally, we get to the all important question. "What's better? .com, .net, .info, or .me?" Really, it's up to personal taste. It just sends different messages to different people. Com is short for commercial, so if you're a site that's looking to make money or showcasing a commercial product, go with that. Net is short for network, referring to the original use of .net, which was for network infrastructure. If you ask me, .net has a "geekier" and even an almost artsy feel to it, so if the commercial idea turns you off, it's definitely a good choice to go with. Info is a newer top level domain, and while it has no restrictions, it definitely sends off a different message. If you go with .info, you send out the message that your goal is purely to instruct and inform people, instead of entertaining or marketing. For example, this blog may go .info if I don't go with .com. And last but not least, there's .me. This did originally start out as a country domain, but of course they realized how globally this would appeal to everyone, and have made it available for unrestricted use. With that in mind, it's probably best to save .me for websites that are all about you as a person or your day to day life (which, as I said before, is a terrible idea for a blog).

Beyond those basic unrestricted choices, there are many others. Several country domains are unrestricted, so they're worth a look. In the end, you will just have to do the research yourself. But when you do, it's important to consider what the restrictions are, and what the original use for the domain was. That way, you can ensure you send out the right message to anyone before they click.


  1. I've tried to purchase domains in many asian countries from outside the country and it seems almost impossible. The prices are also out of this world too. Sometimes it seems domain names are even more restricted than visas to the country.

  2. i wanna get a but i have to fill out some government forms to be allowed the .au part

    too much effort if you ask me

  3. I like .net as well. I just wish they were free like the .ar

  4. Top level domains I have found to be pretty pricey...for a good name. Sucks.