.org as a promotion?

By Burt Alper

August 16, 2007

Did anyone else catch Stuart Elliott’s piece in yesterday’s NYT on TIAA-CREF promoting their .org status as a differentiator? I guess now that saying “.com” is assumed, those people with something else to say might as well try to capture the moment. We naming consultants were not so impressed.

They overlooked the fact that .org is not strictly regulated to include only not-for-profit companies. Unlike the .edu suffix, which is carefully monitored to ensure that only secondary, accredited schools can register domains using the suffix, .org is open to anyone. In fact, many companies register the .com AND the .org (including TIAA-CREF) whether they are for-profit or not, merely as a defense against someone else registering the domain for some other use.

I think it would be a great step forward for the powers that be to consider limiting .org registrations to non-profits (the same way the .edu domain names are regulated). TIAA-CREF’s strategy would be more defensible, and more radical, in that context. And the rest of the non-profit community would find name development much easier.

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