Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

3.7. What's the .com, .net, or .edu part of the domain name mean?

You'll always find suffixes like .com, .net, .edu, and .mil at the end of Internet domain names. These "top-level" domains were created when the domain system was created. Here's a list of the traditional domain name suffixes:

This naming scheme was a less-than-perfect attempt to divide Net addresses into broad categories to help users know something about the organization to which they were connecting or sending mail. This made a lot of sense when the Internet was primarily used in the United States, but the scheme began to show its flaws when an influx of new types of organizations and hundreds of additional countries joined the Internet. For instance, the .gov extension means government site, but this doesn't mean much if you don't know what country's government owns that computer.

Note: A newer style of domain name addressing is now in use, in which the final letters indicate the computer's geographical location, rather than organizational domain. For example, the site is in San Francisco, which is in California, which is in the United States. Unfortunately, this scheme is largely ignored in the United States. (I suppose Americans are creatures of habit who don't want to become accustomed to things like country codes in domain names, or the metric system.) Anyway, for now, there is no definitive scheme for reading domain names.

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