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Username: dtobias
Date/Time: Thu, March 1, 2001 at 6:47 PM GMT
Browser: Netscape Communicator V4.72 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: Mixed feelings


While I'm a long time proponent of people paying some attention to the actual meanings of the top level domains instead of just registering everything under the sun for shallow purposes, I can't support the proposal to limit .org as stated here.  First of all, .org has always been a catch-all domain for miscellaneous noncommercial uses, and its spirit, even back in the days when the distinctions between the top level domains weren't as badly ignored, has never been one of being limited only to government-recognized nonprofits.  There are many other sorts of noncommercial activity on the Internet (and off it), including both nonprofit and not-for-profit entities (a significant IRS distinction), as well as the noncommercial activities of individuals.  I've long advocated the use of .org for individual-run fan sites (e.g., about a particular celebrity or a specialized hobby or interest) in contrast to .com, in order to distinguish such sites from official sites and marketing-oriented ones of a commercial nature.  I've regarded the widespread use of .com for noncommercial sites as a sign of the dumbing-down of the Internet.  While I did end up using a .com for my personal site (as a lesser-of-three-evils given that I might use it for any sort of activity connected with myself as a person, both commercial and noncommercial, so it seemed to fit closer into .com than .org, and since it wasn't an infrastructure network provider, .net didn't fit), I've used .org for some personally maintained fan sites about celebrities, as well as for a SIG of American Mensa which I run (not formally incorporated but noncommercial in nature; required by Mensa rules to be considered a separate organization not formally part of Mensa, hence unable to make use of Mensa's status in qualifying for a .org domain if qualifications are required).  Making me change those addresses wouldn't be fair, nor would I consider the .com equivalents (even if available) to be reasonable addresses for these noncommercial activities.  If there were additional TLDs for such things as fan sites and SIGs, I might consider moving the sites to those.

Anyway, if they're going to begin attempting to enforce limitations on the use of the TLDs (which would have been better to maintain from the start, instead of trying to shut the barn door later), they ought to start first with .com, which has been more heavily abused than any other TLD.  They should first kick out all the noncommercial sites that have ridiculously registered as .com, and maybe also the branches, departments, sub-websites and even e-mail servers that have unnecessarily registered separate .com addresses where subdomains would have done more logically, like the rash of "", "", etc., from entities that already have "".  And the same for .orgs, where there are groups that register "" and "" for their chapters instead of using subdomains like "".

That stuff ought to be cleaned up before they go after some individual with a fansite about their favorite singer in a ".org" domain.

If they do want to impose limitations on what sorts of entities can get domains in the different TLDs, they should be kept purposely broad and vague so as not to unnecessarily limit people.  I suggest requiring .com domains to be for entities or sites that are predominantly commercial in nature, .org for entities or sites that are predominantly noncommercial, and I don't know what to do with .net, since that's pretty much lost any coherent meaning.  Sites that have large degrees of both commercial and noncommercial aspects should be allowed in .com or .org at the site owner's choice.  Taking away any domain already in use should require a showing of blatant violation of the category restrictions, not just a subjectively questionable appearance of possible inappropriateness.  Standards might be enforced more strictly on new registrants.

Link: Dan's Web Tips: Domain Names

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