The web’s new neighborhoods

The Internet is about to get a lot bigger...

One of the biggest changes and most exciting opportunities in the history of the Internet is here. Starting October 2013, the Internet landscape will change dramatically, as existing domains like .com, .net and .org will be joined by .cool, .fun, .ninja, and many more.

.ninja
.guru
.com
.شبكة
.pink
.みんな
.uk

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1. What’s a domain?

A domain is simply a unique address on the Internet. Domains are most commonly used to identify websites, such as the one you’re on right now: www.whatdomain.org. Just like addresses in the real world have country, city, and street, domains are made up of different levels, separated by dots.

Top-level domains —
the Internet’s neighborhoods

The first level of a domain, top-level domains (TLD), define entire categories of websites. The most common ones are quite familiar to everyone who uses the web:

www.whatdomain.com
www.whatdomain.org
www.whatdomain.net

Top-level domains are like neighborhoods in the real world; some have rules defining what is allowed in the neighborhood, while others don't. For example, .edu is for US post-secondary educational websites only, while on .com pretty much anything goes.

Second-level domains —
buildings within neighborhoods

Second-level domains are like the buildings in a neighborhood. They’re the website addresses that people, businesses, and organizations can register and own.

www.whatdomain.org
www.yourawesomenamehere.org
www.yourotherwebsite.org

Subdomains —
rooms within buildings

Subdomains are like the rooms, spaces, and facilities in a building, representing specific uses or resources.

blog.whatdomain.org
shop.whatdomain.org
mail.whatdomain.org

If you own a second-level domain, you set up and control all of that domain’s subdomains.

2. Today's neighborhoods

Today’s top-level domains can be classified into three types:

Open Neighborhoods allow any person or organization to register and own a second-level domain. For instance, .com was one of the original domains and is open to anyone to use.

Specialized Neighborhoods have rules for who can register second-level domains and how they can be used. Some of these are familiar, like .edu. Others may be less familiar, like .cat for the Catalan language and cultural community.

Country Code Neighborhoods (ccTLDs) represent nations around the world, and always with two characters, from .au for Australia to .zw for Zimbabwe.

Open Neighborhoods

These top-level domains were originally created to provide general categories for websites but they don't have any actual restrictions as to what kind of website can be registered. You can have any kind of website on any of these domains.

.com

commercial sites

.info

informational sites, now unrestricted

.net

Internet infrastructure sites

.org

for everything else

Specialized neighborhoods

.aero

The air transport industry.

.asia

Companies, organizations and individuals in the Asia-Pacific region.

.biz

For business use.

.cat

Catalan language/culture.

.coop

Cooperatives.

.edu

U.S. post-secondary educational establishments.

.gov

U.S. federal, state and local government entities.

.int

International organizations established by treaty.

.jobs

Posting job listings.

.mil

U.S. military.

.mobi

Sites catering to mobile devices.

.museum

Museums.

.name

Families or individuals.

.pro

Business use by qualified professionals.

.post

Post offices and related organizations.

.tel

Online services involving telephone networks.

.travel

The travel industry.

.xxx

Adult content.

Country Code Neighborhoods

Some country code top-level domains are restricted to individuals and organizations located in that country, like websites on .ca for Canada and .de for Deutschland (Germany). Other country code domains are open and are used for everything from representing types of content (.tv, the country code for Tuvalu, is commonly used for video sites), to clever ways to make the domain spell a word (in the website pho.to the .to domain is the country code for Tonga).

Internationalized country code domains

Some country code domains can appear in the native script of that country, like ไทย and .ලංකා.

3. New Neighborhoods

Over the next two years more than 1,400 new top-level domains will come online, each a new neighborhood. Think you have places to go now? Wait until you see what’s coming.

Open Neighborhoods

Some new top-level domains will invite anyone to register a domain for any purpose. Need a laugh or want to spread some laughter? Visit a .lol website, or set up your own. Interested in motherhood? .mom is there for you. And there will be hundreds more to choose from.

Internationalized Neighborhoods

Why let the Roman alphabet have all the fun? This new domain era will see the first top-level domains in numerous other languages and there will be a موقع. for .みんな in the .世界. The World Wide Web is about to start living up to its name.

Geographic Neighborhoods

We've discussed country code domains like .ca or .de. We’ll soon be able to get even more specific with domains related to a specific geography such as a city (visit.boston) or region (wine.aquitaine).

Specialized Neighborhoods

Some of the new top-level domains are intended for websites created by members of specific professions, communities, or interests. Looking for a lawyer? A website ending in .esq will signify a certified legal professional. Similarly, .ngo will be reserved for non-governmental organizations’ websites, and .catholic and .shia for sites representing those religious communities.

Gated Neighborhoods

Numerous companies have applied for closed top-level domains and will have complete control over what websites to make available on them. These are usually recognized brand names, like .montblanc or .gucci. When you visit a website on a closed top-level domain, you can be certain that it’s authorized and overseen by that brand.

The new generation of top-level domains will start launching in the fall of 2013 and continue rolling out through 2015. We appreciate your time and interest in learning about this major change coming to the Internet and hope that you’ll find some great new places online, and maybe a new home of your own.

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