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gTLD: everything you need to know about generic domains

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Geographic endings and generic top-level domains
Sponsored and Non-sponsored gTLDs
General information about traditional gTLDs
gTLD: domain extensions with a history and a future
Non-sponsored generic top-level domains
Generic sponsored top-level domains


gTLD: everything you need to know about generic domains

An Internet address (domain) is made up of several parts, one of which is the domain extension. This is also known as a top-level domain (TLD). There are different types of TLDs, such as .es or .mx , the well-known ccTLDs. However, gTLDs (from English? Generic Top Level Domain?) Are transnational extensions, of which the best known is .com (from? Commercial?). These are part of the Domain Name System, that is, the directory of names on the Internet. Now, what distinguishes gTLDs from other generic top-level domains and how can they be classified?

Geographic endings and generic top-level domains

The domain extensions are divided into so-called gTLDs and ccTLDs. The best-known examples of generic top-level domains are, in addition to .com, .net, .org, and .info. For their part, ccTLDs (cc =? Contry code?) Are used as top-level geographic domains, (for example, .es for Spain or .mx for Mexico). Unlike the latter, generic domains must always be composed of at least three letters and, furthermore, a generic top-level domain does not define a geographic location, but rather a subject. Thus, .org denotes an organization and generally refers to non-profit organizations. The gTLD .info emphasizes the informational nature of the web..

During the early years of the Internet, only a few Top Level Domains existed. The first extensions, introduced in January 1985, were. com ,. org ,. net ,. edu ,. gov ,. thousand ,. int and. harp . The first ccTLDs would also be introduced in the same year. There are now hundreds of generic top-level domains as a result of the progressive launch of new gTLDs .

Sponsored and Non-sponsored gTLDs

Generic top-level domains are mainly classified into two groups: sponsored and unsponsored. To obtain an Internet address with a sponsored domain , certain requirements must be met. These conditions are determined by the sponsors (companies or organizations), who are in turn responsible for overseeing the guidelines and general management of their top-level domain. Sponsored TLDs are, for example,. gov (for US government institutions) ,. int (for international organizations) or. jobs (for job offers from some companies)..

In contrast, unsponsored TLDs are centrally controlled and managed . The body responsible for this task is ICANN, which, in turn, operates in conjunction with other partners. The original plan when the first unsponsored TLDs were introduced was that they could only be purchased under certain conditions. Similar to sponsored gTLDs, these were to serve as a clear frame of reference for web pages: thus,. com would only be available to companies,. net only for the ISP or ISP and. pro for professional use in various professional fields. However, these plans did not quite work, as now almost all unsponsored gTLDs can be registered by any interested person, company, organization or entity, as long as they are available .

General information about traditional gTLDs

Due to the massive introduction of new top-level domains, there are now an almost uncountable number of generic domain extensions. For additional information about the new top-level domains that have recently been released, visit our article on the new gTLDs. Here is a small summary of the traditional Top Level Domains , classified as sponsored and unsponsored..

The .arpa domain extension is not included, as it is a special case . This was introduced in 1985 as the first TLD in the Domain Name System. Initially, it served to pass the hostname conventions of the ARPANET (the predecessor of the Internet) into the Domain Name System. Today, .arpa is used exclusively for the Internet infrastructure, therefore the use or registration of this generic domain is not public.

Non-sponsored generic top-level domains

Top Level Domain Year of introduction (Originally) intended for
.com (commercial) 1985 American companies
.org (organization) 1985 Non-profit organizations
.net (network) 1985 ISP (Internet access providers)
.info 2001 Information services (free to use from the beginning)
.biz (business) 2001 Business
.yam 2001 Private persons
.pro (professional) 2004 Professionals and experts

Generic sponsored top-level domains

Top Level Domain Year of introduction Authorized / intended users for
.gov (government) 1985 United States Government Offices
.edu (educational) 1985 Organizations of the educational system (since 2001 its use is exclusive for educational institutions in the US)
.mil (military) 1985 United States Army
.int (international) 1988 International organizations
.aero (aeronautics) 2001 Aviation industry
.coop (cooperatives) 2001 Cooperatives
.museum 2001 Museums
.cat (Catalan) 2005 Promoters / users of the Catalan language and culture
.jobs 2005 Company job offers
.mobi (mobile) 2005 Websites optimized for mobile devices
.tel (telecommunication) 2005 Presentation of the contact details of the owner of a domain
.travel 2005 People, companies and organizations in the travel and tourism sector
.Asia 2007 People, companies and organizations in the Asia-Pacific region
.xxx 2011 Erotic / pornographic content
.post 2012 Members of the Universal Postal Union

gTLD: domain extensions with a history and a future

Generic top-level domains are technically a cornerstone of the Internet and have been around since the inception of the Word Wide Web. Domain mapping will surely play an important role in the future as well. In particular, it can be assumed that the Top Level Domains that were introduced in the last few decades will remain relevant in a few years .

For its part, the offer of traditional extensions such as. com ,. org or. net will be less and less. The same applies to country-specific TLDs, as illustrated by the following graphic, published as a domain history. com . Due to the great popularity of top-level domains like. com ,. info or. is , integrating new alternatives is more than necessary. 


Click here to download the infographic on the history of the .com domain.

Thanks to the new gTLDs, it is possible to register domain names already assigned with different endings. Thus, website owners can get closer and closer to their ideal domain.