WordPress Words: Domain

A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name.
Domain Name definition by Wikipedia

Every website is located by a domain name or address, creating a form of phone book or address book for the Internet.

About the Word

A domain is created through a domain registrar, a company that registers the address of a site and links a name to that address. The address, the Internet Protocol (IP) resource identifier is actually a set of numbers, unique identifiers and namespaces, but for usability, words are used for website addresses. When you type in example.com, the browser taps into the IP addresses to locate the number or address of example.com, which might be 1234567 and directs the web browser, thus the user, to that location on the web on that specific server and that specific address.

The first dot com domain was symbolics.com, a computer manufacturing company in Massachusetts. Registration was free until 1995 when Network Solutions was created by an award of the National Science Foundation, designated to charge for registering domain names. In 1998, ICANN was created by the US government with the long term plan to privatize the registration and sale of domain names.

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit organization in the United States responsible for the maintenance and standards for the unique identifiers and namespaces for Internet addresses. Released from official US government control in 2009, ICANN is now overseen by governmental advisory committees representing international associations and organizations. Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) us a partner and is responsible for management of the Domain Name Server (DNS) root addresses that assign the operators of top-level domains and maintain their technical details.

A top-level domain (TLD) features an extension such as com, net, edu, org, info, me, etc. These extensions serve to indicate to the user the nature of the site’s business such as a commercial company, a network or association, an organization like a non-profit, etc.

Your site maybe hosted on any web server such as GoDaddy, Dreamhost, MediaTemple, etc. You may use the domain registrar services of that web host company or a different one. Once the site is set on the server, addresses to the server site is provided by the web host. The user goes to the domain registrar site settings and sets the nameservers address to those addresses.

In 1998, Domain Name Counts reported there were 2,154,634 top-level domain name registrations. By 2009, the last record on the web page, there were over 111 million. The majority of domain name extensions are com, today representing commercial and non-commercial web entities, individuals, and businesses.

In 2003, the Truth in Domain Names Act, a part of the PROTECT Act made illegal the act of using fake domain names to lure people or disguise a site by deception. More laws have been developed over the years to prevent phishing and fake domain names and domain name abuse.

According to a story on the history of domain names on Mashable, the most expensive domain names were VacationRentals.com (sold for USD $35 million) and sex.com (sold for $13 million).

Over the years there have been many debates about choosing a domain name and whether or not to also purchase multiple domain names and domain extensions, and how to research the history and ownership of domains. There is also an industry built upon the buying and selling of domains. It is beyond the scope of this article to include all of these conversations and advice, but below please find links to a few that may help you learn more about how domains work, and how influential the domain name may be, or not, as times shift and change with domain naming fads and technology.

For More Information

This article was a multiple student and instructor collaboration.

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