City cites credibility for switching from .org to .gov.
The Town of West Hartford recently changed its domain name from a .org to a .gov, and I found its rationale for doing so rather interesting.
Here’s a news brief from West Hartford News:
This month, the Town of West Hartford changed its domain name from westhartford.org to westhartfordct.gov. The .gov domain offers a higher level of scrutiny that only federal, state and local governments are allowed to use. Joining the .gov community verifies that our internet address is the official Town of West Hartford, CT and that we have been vetted by the General Services Administration (GSA), an independent agency of the United States government. All visitors to the old website address will automatically be redirected to the new website address.
Town employee email addresses will also change to the new domain name and will end with westhartfordct.gov. Messages will also be automatically forwarded to the new one.
First observation: the city didn’t just change the top level domain name. It also went from “westhartford” to “westhartfordct” as its second level domain. This is a downgrade.
Second observation: the city views .gov as an authenticated space, and believes its residents do, too.
The second observation is obviously the bigger of the two. The news brief explains that .gov is restricted and that it had to apply and be approved in order to use the domain name. It also implies that visitors to the address will know it’s the official city website since it’s on a .gov.
This thinking is exactly what purveyors of restricted top level namespaces argue. If you go to a namespace in which the registrants have to be licensed or authenticated, then you’ll trust the websites ending in that TLD more.
The challenge, of course, is that the TLD and its authentication has to be sufficiently well known for the typical person visiting a site under it, in order to award it greater credibility. In the United States, many people associate .gov web addresses with “official”. It will be difficult for other TLDs to get similar recognition.
It’s also worth noting that many internet users think that .org validates that a site is a non-profit or charity, even though .org doesn’t have registration restrictions.
I do agree with them, just like a .realtor domain, you have to not just be licensed but also a member of the association of realtors. Although the .com is the most valuable domain, for real estate sales a .realtor is much much better than a .com, since anyone can register a .com real estate domain, even scammers.
Why didn’t they try to get westhartford.gov which is unresolved now? They have made it harder for the average consumer to remember its name. As shown in healthcare.com vs healthcare.gov, making it easy for consumers to remember is of top priority when registering a domain name.
Andrew Allemann says
I wondered the same thing. I know .gov has lots of restrictions; it could be that they were required to include the CT.
Yeah, the GSA requires almost all local governments to include the state abbreviation.
You can read their requirements and regulations at http://www.gsa.gov/portal/ext/public/site/FMR/file/Part102-173.html/category/21862/ (§102-173.55)
I’d also like to point out that the GSA apparently doesn’t currently charge registration fees for .gov (§102-173.45)
That is where I think Donuts has gone wrong with .creditcard. Yes, Donuts has made the price prohibitive to scammers and squatters, but I’m sure we’ll eventually find malicious .creditcard websites as long as they continue their open registration policy.
Jean Guillon says
I frequently check the .CITY (almost 10.000 registrations) and .TOWN (2.300). I wonder how long this will take for cities to adopt these.
Andrew Allemann says
I don’t foresee many cities switching to one of these TLDs. They are notoriously slow and scrutinize budget items. Even for this city switching to .gov, it was probably a long and laborious process.
@James .Realtor is for suckers who secretly have an urge to lose traffic to .com. There is no benefit, only detriment. It is my understanding that it will be free only for year #1. Big whoop. What will the pricing be after?
@Sam Donuts has gone wrong in many other aspects. I think their entire business plan is flawed. The gtlds are doomed to fail as they simply have no substantive value to offer.
Andrew Allemann says
.realtor pricing is $40 after the first year.
Doug Mehus says
Interesting…I didn’t even know U.S. municipalities could use “.gov”. I figured it had to be the federal government or, possibly, state governments. Why didn’t they go with .US? Nothing wrong with .US.
Also, what’s the bit about being “vetted” by the GSA? The GSA isn’t anything special, although it is an interesting government agency you don’t hear much about. My understanding is it’s basically a centralized agency that does mundane things like back-office tasks such as government procurement.
I would’ve gone with a .US name and a *.ct.us local name as well (i.e., westhartfordct.us and westhartford.ct.us) if I was City Manager.
State and city governments haven’t been using the .us TLD in more than a decade. I’m not sure why. The GSA wants to make sure only governments use .gov and that’s why people know only US government entities can be in there.
Also, there is http://www.rfc-archive.org/getrfc.php?rfc=1480 (published in 1993) which would mean their address would have to have been ci.westhartford.ct.us, a systematic convention nearly everyone has abandoned.