Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Why does every domain have to end with .(something), like .tk, .com, .gov?

What are the technical reasons that prevent creating a domain without such suffixes?

share|improve this question
Un-deleted by popular demand – Mark Henderson Apr 27 '12 at 6:34
@MarkHenderson I love you man. – Wesley Apr 27 '12 at 6:35
To Dukevin, Sorry for my initial terse response. I hope my fuller explanation gives you a good jumping-off point. – Wesley Apr 27 '12 at 7:01
Thanks for answering this fully, I finally understand it now. And I know it was a dumb question but I googled my brains out and I couldn't find anything. Thanks again guys – Kevin Duke Apr 27 '12 at 7:07
@dukevin It wasn't a dumb question. I think the initial downvotes (of which I was not one) may have been in thinking that this was a question that could be answered by self-research or perhaps because it was too broad. Anything approaching a discussion-oriented question (or one that could have a book written in response) is usually frowned upon. The question wasn't dumb - it shows that you're thinking about why things work the way they do, not just how things work. You're in the top 2% =) – Wesley Apr 27 '12 at 17:32
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Because that's the way it is.

Oh, and this is also the way it is.

And this.

There comes a point when, if you ask "why" enough times, you will be met with, not technical facts, but history and the one word answer: "because."

The history involved is longer and more detailed than an answer here can do justice to. Also, better writers than me have already delved into the topic. The ultimate short story is truly: "Because ARPA wanted it that way." In fact, the very first tld was .arpa. There had to be a logical way of tiering human resources into a human readable system. Thus, ARPA decided that the three broadest means of categorizing those human readable resource designators would be: Countries, Categories, and Multiorganizations.

As the internet grew in use and usefulness, it was deemed that more top level domains would be useful. ICANN was created to take over for the government on several management topics, including the formation of IANA (a department of ICANN) which handles DNS TLDs. More and more TLDs have been formed to make the internet a, supposedly, easier place to navigate. And thus we have .xxx. As well as the originals com, edu, gov, mil, and net that go back to '85. Why were they made? Because people thought they should be made.

That's it in a nutshell. The reason is more about history and how humans prefer to see information visually represented. If you dive into the RFCs, wikis, and old technical papers, you'll get to see the human side of how technology is formed.

share|improve this answer
Not that it's vastly important, but the formation of the excellent and honoured IANA (which was basically Jon Postel, with his hat on) preceded ICANN (which hasn't been free from trenchant criticism) by ten years, though you are absolutely right that IANA is now a subordinate part of ICANN. – MadHatter Apr 27 '12 at 7:36
@MadHatter I thought about mentioning that, but didn't want to then feel obligated to explain how a pre-existing organization became a department within a new organization. =) – Wesley Apr 27 '12 at 17:29
That is a pretty sane and sensible thing to have done, I must admit! – MadHatter Apr 28 '12 at 6:54

I think WesleyDavid summed it up nicely, but the answer's perhaps a bit short on actual content, containing as it does only excellent links.

To answer your question, there is no technical bar to arbitrary top-level domains (TLDs). If you were to get up one morning and declare that .dukevin was a new TLD, and that you had built the DNS infrastructure to deal with it overnight, then if and only if you could convince all the operators of the root servers (the distributed set of DNS servers that respond to queries for .) that they should delegate this new TLD to your DNS infrastructure, then voila, there'd be a new TLD.

New TLDs happen occasionally, mostly because new country codes are created (.ps for the Palestinian Territories in 2000, .ss for South Sudan last year (though it's not yet operational)), which should show that it's far from impossible. But the operators of the root servers also generally respect ICANN's authority in this matter, so new TLDs are generally only created when they say so.

share|improve this answer
Yeah, I was a bit terse. You answered as I was filling out my fuller exposition. =) – Wesley Apr 27 '12 at 6:48
Sorry, man. Yours is funnier, anyway. – MadHatter Apr 27 '12 at 6:48

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.