Oops, I entrusted my domain name to a tiny island nation!

Company using .st domain name learns a hard lesson.

The world takes .com’s uptime, along with that of many other TLDs run by large registries, for granted.

Consider the story of registration site Voost!, which uses the “clever” domain name voo.st. In a post titled “Beware cutesy two-letter TLDs for your domain name”, one of the founders details how its site became unavailable thanks to problems with the .st top level domain name.

You mean something can go wrong when you choose a top level domain name from a tiny island nation of 163,000 people?

According to one commenter on the post, there was a hardware failure that caused problems with several of the nameservers for .st.

To be fair, a lot of large companies have also entrusted their whereabouts to even smaller island nations, but at least .tv is backed by Verisign.

And even ccTLDs from bigger countries can cause worry.

My advice: if you’re going to go with a “cutesy two-letter TLD”, make sure it has solid backing. That includes the registry provider.


  1. says

    Can you explain the mechanics behind this? How does the geography of the TLD relate to its reliability? What are the red flags and safety factors in choosing a ‘cutesy TLD’?

    • says

      @ Zack – there are all sort of issues, and not all of them are technical. In the case of a ccTLD you also have political risk. What if Gaddafi had decided Twitter and bit.ly were leading to the revolution? He could have decided to kill the domain. Although it would last for a little while on root servers, it wouldn’t last forever.

  2. says

    Last year, I registered two major keyword .qa domains, only to discover they cannot be resold under normal circumstances. Every ccTLD has its potential traps.

  3. says

    I suppose Godaddys:

    .tk Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand located in the South Pacific

    .nu island state of Niue

    .cc Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an Australian territory

    Are okay?! :))


  4. says

    Good post Andrew.

    In the case of .CO, when the government decided to launch it globally, it made sure that only companies with significant technical expertise and reliability could participate in the bid process. One of the main reasons our JV was awarded the contract, is in fact because Neustar provides the back-end from their data centers in Sterling, VA.


  5. says

    .NU has one glitch already. The insane price of changing domain ownership.

    Though rumor is they gonna make it more domainer friendly at the end of the year.

    Acro mentions a good point.. when it comes to ccTLD’s check the regulations.

  6. jon says

    @Frank Michlick…yes, in theory a country that ceased to exist would be removed from the root zone. But then, .su (assigned to the Soviet Union) still exists, 21 years after it broke up into its constituent parts.

    AFAIK the only active ccTLDs to be removed from the zone have been .tp, which was converted to .tl at the request of the government of Timor Leste (East Timor), and .yu (Yugoslavia), which the Serbians relinquished in a pretty well-organised transition to .rs, some years after the other Yugoslav republics had transitioned to their own ccTLDs (.si, .hr. .bs, .mk and .me).

    But these examples are all of political entities that have been replaced by new ones. There is no actual precedent for a country actually ‘disappearing’, without a replacement, at least since the DNS was created.

    I suspect .tv (as one example) will long outlive Tuvalu’s disappearance below the rising seas, though primarily because Verisign has done a pretty decent job of marketing and running it.

  7. says

    The webmasters are all crazy about 2 letters TLD-s but I think the regular people, the basic internet users don’t trust them yet and would still prefere a classic .com

  8. says

    I sometimes wish we could invent our own TLD extensions and then use whatever names we want. But that would obviously lead to this sort of outage happening a thousand times more often.

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