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Original Top Level Domains

In the early days of the internet there were only a few top level domain names - i.e. what the extension was (.com for example):

  • .com (commercial) - This is an open TLD (Top Level Domain); any person or entity is permitted to register. Though originally intended for use by for-profit business entities, for a number of reasons it became the "main" TLD for domain names and is currently used by all types of entities including nonprofits, schools and private individuals. Domain name registrations may be successfully challenged if the holder cannot prove an outside relation justifying reservation of the name, to prevent "squatting". It was originally administered by the United States Department of Defense.
  • .org (organization) - This is an open TLD; any person or entity is permitted to register. Originally intended for use by non-profit organizations, and still primarily used by some.
  • .net (network) - This is an open TLD; any person or entity is permitted to register. Originally intended for use by domains pointing to a distributed network of computers, or "umbrella" sites that act as the portal to a set of smaller websites.
  • .int (international organizations) - The .int TLD is strictly limited to organizations, offices, and programs which are endorsed by a treaty between two or more nations. However, there are a few grandfathered domain names that do not meet these criteria.
  • .edu (U.S. higher education) - The .edu TLD is limited to specific educational institutions such as, but not limited to, primary schools, middle schools, secondary schools, colleges, and universities. In the US, its usability was limited in 2001 to post-secondary institutions accredited by an agency on the list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies maintained by the United States Department of Education. This domain is therefore almost exclusively used by American colleges and universities. Some institutions that do not meet the current registration criteria have grandfathered domain names.
  • .gov (U.S. national and state government agencies) - The .gov TLD is limited to governmental entities and agencies in the U.S.
  • .mil (U.S. military) - The .mil TLD is limited to use by the United States military.