/Edit: Sorry for beating a dead horse. I know TLDs are not used the way I think they should be used. But I think it was important to point out once again that this is a dirty hack. It works, but when working outside of the spec you should be aware of it a accept shortcomings. Not saying you should not ask google to route around it. But it has it limits. ".at" are meant for Austria and not for email providers, that's something they just should deal with.
People _are_ using TLDs in this way, and the relevant countries, registrars, and ICANN seem happy to let them. It has no impact on the internet, other than freeing up a whole bunch of domain names, thereby lowering the price for everybody.
...If you think things shouldn't be hacked, then maybe "Hacker News" is not the site for you?
Everything is a "hack" on something else. When we invented the wheel, we noticed that round things were easier to move than square things. When we invented fire, we noticed that rubbing two sticks together produced something that kept you warm.
It's evolution. The alternative is to stay with what we've got today, just because.
They have figured out a limitation, think it's unnecessary, and are suggesting a way of making the system better. They're using the blog post to encourage others to support the suggestion.
Hacks are great. Hacks are evolutionary. Something like "hire and fire". If a hack does not work, try a something different! And this just seems not work very well.
i.e. the whole thing turned into a complete and utter farce long ago.
In the end it's not a perfect world and it's a hack because the very tld domain system itself was woefully broken even in conception.
Eh? The UK (not "England") use .uk. This is then subdivided into .co.uk, .ac.uk, .org.uk, .gov.uk and many more depending on the type of organisation, as ccTLDs were initially envisioned, i.e. type.country
What actually happened is a massive waste of money paying for stupid extra domain names to stop someone else impersonating you. It's just historical.
And now they claim their increasingly worrying and opaque laws apply to any website that uses it, which is even worse for us all.
That the UK decided to then follow the naming convention (or any other country that did) is a waste of letters.
(I did actually mean UK, I'm English and it was a slip)
.uk was created before the standard was agreed, and the UK was allowed to keep using it.
Because the Americans owned ICANN, they got away with first-level domains for everything, .com, .gov, ...
Other countries had to either put everything under one domain, or split it up like the brits.
.com, .net, .gov etc. were the first TLDs created in the early 1980s (when the DNS was invented, before ICANN existed). Only later in the mid 1980s were country codes added to the repertoire, and each country was given one based on the ISO 3166 standard — including the US (.us).
The only domains with geographic prohibitions were .gov and .mil, being run by the US Government. People of all countries have always been able to register domains in .com, .net etc., not just Americans.
Edit: Corrected domain. Thanks @jonemo.
If you are wondering if show.hn and ask.hn are valid: No, Hondorus uses the *.[com|net|org|edu|...].hn format 
Edit: Ignore that second part. It's wrong. You can register .hn and someone did that for show.hn and ask.hn. You can have ask.hn for $10k . Didn't do thorough enough research earlier because I was on my phone and my fingers are fat and the touchscreen buttons small.
$ whois csiro.au
No Data Found
| This is a hack, and I don't like it.
A legitimate use-case (that doesn't run under 'only for use in association with said country') is for allowing user-defined webpages on sub-domains, while not enabling access to cookies for the master domain (e.g. Github moving Pages to github.io vs github.com).
IMO this means more hacking is necessary. The hierarchy with dots becomes unpleasant.
edit: not to mention that the countries/territories in question very often market their domains that way themselves.
But I'm not sure it hugely matters. It's like naming your company a made up word - Pepsi, Google, Nike, Jeep - people remember it anyway if it gains some significance to them.
I expect eventually the same thing will happen with internet domains to some extent, whether it's goodyear.com or mydistributedsocialnetwork.bit, as new generations get used .com as just another TLD, rather than the TLD.
Search users shouldn't "just deal with" substandard search results because of geographic hacks chosen by webmasters, and we certainly shouldn't accept search providers' shortcomings on something as palpably obvious and relatively easy to fix as genericizing an obviously-generic TLD for ranking purposes.
This is people starting businesses within a reasonable budget. I assume you've tried to purchase a reasonable domain name in the gTLD space. If so, you already know that a name like "filepicker.com" or "forecast.com" is going to cost you in the tens of thousands USD.
I have personally worked for companies where we paid upwards of $200K for a nice, short gTLD domain name. Unless you've got money to burn from the A-list of SV VCs, your startup simply can't afford it.
"Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) don’t target specific countries. If your site has a generic top-level domain, such as .com, .org, or any of the domains listed below"
I actually consider .com etc to be largely US based, particular as it appears they can be seized by the US government and are under US jurisdiction.
It's only misusing or abusing if the entity in charge of the ccTLD deems it so. It does not appear that the owner of .io has any such restrictions.
There is no over-arching requirement that you must live in or target the nation that a ccTLD is assigned to.
You are on Hacker News. :)
Meant or not meant, my best domains are with .me.
Google can probably give webmasters the option of using any domain for that country or globally.
(as a note, nic.io actively want the domain used as people are indeed using it)
Edit: Checking the NIC rules, actual IO residents with servers in the territory can use the reserved third level domains like foo.com.io. I still can't find any that actually exist.
Was one of the reasons I didn't buy Fatou.cat as a domain for my cat's blog (left it at tumblr), or thefancypuffin.cat for our handmade shoemaking business (in addition to the larger exposure of .com domains, of course)
.io is clearly a gccTLD. The TLD administration and commissioner in charge of 'the government' reside in the UK.
> “If no information is entered in Webmaster Tools, we’ll rely largely on the site’s country domain”
"If no information is entered in Webmaster Tools" -> "It's possible to enter information into Webmaster Tools"
He later says:
> Even if ccTLDs and gccTLDs were treated exactly the same in terms of ranking, Google does not take into account the Geographic target set in Webmaster Tools. Own a “.io” domain and want to target towards US searchers? It doesn’t work.
With the evidence being that socket.io is only a 19th in a search for WebSockets, which I think so sorta shaky, but there you go.
I have a better proposal:
STOP DOMAIN ABUSE!
Remember, back in the day, when .net meant you were a network services provider, or when .org was only used by non-profit organizations. Wasn't that confusing as hell?
What the hell happened?
The network had a beautiful, well planned design, and PEOPLE LIKE YOU threw it away.
YOU ARE THE PROBLEM, NOT GOOGLE.
I recently had a conversation, with someone I respect greatly, about creating a series of informational sites very specific to US audiences, and he had a fit when I insisted on using the .us TLD. (Blasphemy, right?) He demanded I use .io, for a site that contained exclusively United States related information... Seriously?
I will not participate in this madness, and the HN audience should know better.
It's really simple, you see: your new project has lots of video content? Considering .TV? Is your company based in Tuvalu? THEN DON'T USE IT.
.AM? That's Armenia
.FM? Federated States of Micronesia
The list goes on and on. Wikipedia has a complete list of them, along with their intended uses and common abuses. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_top-level_doma...
What makes this whole thing even more insane is that there are still tons of quality .us domain names, completely open for registration, and people insist on using TLDs of other random places! The Indian Ocean? Really?
I want some of whatever everyone is smoking.
"Only you can prevent domain abuse."
ccTLDs stopped being used exclusively for their original purpose a long time ago. People are already used to them. The market has already adapted, and it opens up a lot of good branding opportunities. If you want to stay pure to the ideal of the spec, you're just holding yourself back.
It's kind of like a language - the original meaning of a word may be different than how it's used now, but the only meaning that matters is what people intend it to mean.
Some in the US non profit industry wanted to make it so retroactively when .org came up for renewal - but they got shot down in flames ( the red cross and Oxfam did not fit their narrow definition of a non profit for example)
BTW I used to work for a registrar and this is direct from the guy who lead our bid to run .org
The only time consumers encounter a .us domain is in a spam email. In all my time on the internet, I can only think of a single .us site that I visited that was real, and that site eventually moved to .com when it became available.
It's the equivalent to opening up a store in the red light district.
But we do need some country-targeting and while we do have the Webmaster Tools thing (but that is only Google-specific, you'd end up having to do this for any and all search engines, if they offered it) I'd like to see control put back into the hands of the sites themselves, and have some way of tagging available in the HTML of the page.
It'd also get rid of the ridiculous assumption that search engines make that if your site is hosted at an IP in a country, then that's the country that should be targeted in their results (if there are no other signals, ie ccTLD). Here in the UK there are many web hosts which are based in Ireland or Europe, and at the moment I worry that using them would hurt the site's reach into a UK search result.
I'd like to think that, as a web dev/master/admin/whatever, I wouldn't have to tag each one of my thousands and thousands of pages with the exact same tag. This is just a tough approach - it would work for super small sites only IMO.
An alternative then might be something akin to robots.txt - place a geo.txt (or whatever) file in the root of a site to indicate its relevance to particular country or countries?
No one is saying not to use it - but if you misuse it, then you should understand the consequences. If you buy a domain in the .ly TLD and it gets removed for whatever reason, it's your fault. If you brick your iPhone while jailbreaking it, it is your fault. Go ahead and hack away, as is the spirit of everyone on this site - but don't think that it means everything will behave the way you expect it to.
It's a shame and I would have prefered Google had chosen to look at the language of the content instead of merely the TLD. Anyway, I like my domain name and wouldn't change it for a gold bullion.
.io also allows us to use a short descriptive domain name. If we went with a .com, we'd be stuck with either something like forecastweatherapp.com, or a made up nonsense domain -- in which case we'd be basing the name of our app on the specific domain we were able to acquire.
Any idea why? Do they fear that this setting will be abused? Hope to hold the floodgate and have people use geographically "appropriate" TLDs?
Although, doesn't .de domains appear on Google.com given the right search (e.g. 'Der Spiegel')?
Thanks for bringing this up.
There are plenty available. Google treats it as a GTLD and co is meaningful if you are using it for a company. It's also only around $15 for a registration. Some of those country codes have ridiculous prices.
And now you want to drop the downside. Maybe you'll even be successful, at least a little... good luck.
Seems like it would only be used for prejudice against certain countries.
> [Google] appear to have coined the gccTLD acronym, and that list of domains above is only reference by Google, so it would appear so.