New domain extensions: the basics

In 2008, the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has been creating new domain extensions to provide website owners with a broader range of options.

In 2013, in an effort to create more interest in acquiring these new types of domain extensions, new TLDs have been launched to represent geographical locations, artistic themes, commercial endeavors, and specific communities. The Afnic (which is the organization managing the .fr extension) is responsible for the distribution of these new extensions in France.

Why were these new domain extensions created?

Throughout the years, the most popular extensions such as “.com”, “.net”, “.org”, and even country TLDs like “.fr” have been purchased without much thought whenever a new website is deployed. Because everyone seems to opt for a small set of extensions, simple, short, relevant, and easy to remember domain names have been more and more difficult to acquire.

The creation of new domain extensions has opened up many new interesting domain name options. These new extensions, or TLDs (Top Level Domains), are separated in three different categories: open extensions, semi-open extensions (available only under specific conditions), and closed extensions.

Open extensions

Available for anyone to acquire, new “open” domain name extensions may be used to fulfill a great variety of purposes. For example, many of them feature non-Latin alphabet characters such as Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Thai. These new extensions help rendering the web more accessible to non-English speaking communities.

New geographic domain name extensions, referring to precise areas of the world instead of just countries, have also been added. Those who wish to include a location, a city or a region to their domain name can now acquire extensions such as “.paris”, “.corsica”, “.alsace”, or “.nyc”, among many others.

Generic extensions are meant to be used by those who wish for their domain name to portray their website’s contents more accurately. This will help users identify your website’s purpose at a glance. As an example, a website focusing on viral news could greatly benefit from the domain extension “.buzz”.

Some new domain name extensions such as “.bio”, “.sport”, or “.art” which cater to very specific fields and activities are also available.

Semi-open extensions

These domain name extensions exist for very specific purposes, and can only be acquired by the relevant entities. TLDs such as “.museum”, “.coop”, “.bank”, or “.finance” are among these semi-open extensions, and can greatly help in defining a website’s identity.

Closed extentions

These new domain name extensions are dedicated to large corporations, organizations and brands that may want their own trademarked name as their TLD. For example, companies such as L’Oréal or SNCF may use their dedicated extensions for all their websites, ensuring that they’re instantly recognized as their official communication outlets.

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