Dot What?

Most URLs include the name and type of organization sponsoring the page. The type of organization is identified by a three-letter code called a "top level domain name." Here are some of the most common domains you will find.

.edu

educational institution
Even though a page comes from an educational institution, it does not mean the institution endorses the views expressed there. Students or faculty members may publish personal pages in their account on the school's computer.

.com

commercial entity
Many companies advertise and sell products, as well as publish annual reports and other company information for their customers, stockholders and potential investors on the Web. Much of the quality information you can purchase such as online newspapers or journals have .com names.

.gov

federal government
Government agencies use the Web to publish legislation, census information, weather data, tax forms and many other documents.

.org

non-profit organization
Non-profit organizations use the Web to promote their causes. These are good sources to use when comparing different sides of an issue.

.net

network provider
This group is an odd mix of companies, associations and Internet Service Providers. Information on these sites can look similar to sites from .com, .org, or even personal pages.

Recently the division between these top-level domains became blurred. Sometimes non-profit organizations and educational institutions are now found under .com or .net. This makes it more difficult to determine the organization that is publishing the page.

The number of top-level domain names will soon be increasing. New domain names include .museum, .info, and .biz. The origin of some international sites can be determined by country codes found in the URL.

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