A domain name hack (sometimes known as simply domain hack) is an unconventional domain name that combines domain labels (especially the top level domain) to spell out the full "name" or title of the domain, making a kind of geeky pun.
For example, the domains del.icio.us, blo.gs, and cr.yp.to make use of the top-level domains .us (United States), .gs (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands), and .to (Tonga) to spell "delicious", "blogs", and "crypto", respectively.
In this context, the "hack" represents a clever trick (as in programming), not an exploit or break-in (as in computer security).
Typical domain names follow the structure of example.com, where example is the second level domain (SLD) and com is the top level domain). A domain hack might take the form examp.le (using 2nd- and top-level domains examp and le), but that particular one is impossible, since there is no top-level domain le.
A domain hack can be composed of more than just a domain name, and also make use of the server's file structure. Various structures such as "examp.le", "exam.ple", "ex.am.ple", "ex.am/ple", are all possible structures used to create domain hacks.
The most popular and most sought after domain hacks are those that use only the SLD and TLD to construct the full title, as shown by the "examp.le" example structure, above. However, a domain hack may use third level domains, fourth level domains, etc., and even directories/folders after the domain name to construct the title. A non-working, extreme example of this would be http://do.ma.in/ha/ck/. More domain hacks are possible than one might assume due to the approximately 300 gTLDs and ccTLDs that exist all around the world.
Some TLDs only permit registrations at the third or higher level, beneath names that represent some grouping of sites; however, in some cases, these names spell words themselves, such as co.in (coin) or co.il (coil).
Shorter domain namesEdit
Domain hacks offer the ability to produce extremely short domain names. A popular real world example is blo.gs with five letters total, versus the comparable blogs.com with eight letters or the often preferred www.blogs.com with eleven letters. Domain hacks default to the omission of the "www." prefix, with the side effect of shortening the domain name, as every letter is taken into account as the site's title.
In 1992, inter.net was registered and is thought to be the first domain hack ever. goatse.cx (goat sex) was another early domain hack, although with an extra "c". In 2002, icio.us was registered to create del.icio.us, the most visited domain hack, with the prepending of the "del" third level domain.
One common domain hack in Spain is the domain pagina.de, translating roughly as "page.of", using the .de (Germany) TLD.
Yahoo! acquired blo.gs and del.icio.us in 2005.
By the end of 2005, the registration of Spanish second level .es domains became widely unrestricted.
During the month of January 2006, Belgian domain names ending in .be were available for free for users in the USA, UK, and Europe; due to the common use of the word "be" in English, and the number of words ending in "be" (such as "tube"), this was a prime opportunity to easily register domain hacks.
British satirist Chris Morris (or somebody working for him) used the Cook Islands co.ck domain to produce the website http://www.trashbat.co.ck as promotion for his television series Nathan Barley. However the cook islands charge $250 USD per year for non residents to acquire domains.
Domain hacks are by no means restricted to the English language.
Some years ago, a passing fad amongst French-speakers was to register their names in the Niue TLD (NU), which led to so-and-so.NU, which in French, means "naked". Likewise, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish speakers often use .nu, as it means 'now' in these languages.
Code as expressionEdit
Domain hacks extend the reach of code allowing pace and emotion to be described within a syntax. For example del.icio.us uses the period as punctuation to engage the audience in diction of a brand name, but many domain hacks use the country code TLDs to fit in with recognized nouns, verbs or short phrases (See domain hack lists below). Many online services resort to non-standard nouns and/or verbs such as flickr, yet the abstracted word explains the fleeting community behaviour and denotes the subject of photography. data.ma uses the .ma suffix which belongs to the Morroco TLD, and the relevency of the .ma TLD is zero. As the internet does not rely upon geographical territories to operate, the relevency of identifying a website by its country of origin becomes less relevant, leaving expression to flourish in unusal spaces within programming and code.
Using domain hacks weakens the usefulness of country code TLDs. With domain hacks, it becomes harder to judge the country of origin of a website by just looking at the TLD. Breaking up a domain name to subdomains and/or the URL pathname most often renders the actual domain name meaningless and breaks against good naming conventions.
Some domain hacks are difficult to remember until you become familiar with them, such as del.icio.us. A common typo is to type the periods in the incorrect location. (To counteract this, del.icio.us has also registered the www.delicious.com and delicio.us domain names which forwards to their site.)
- List of domain hacks
- Email hacks
- CCTLDs that allow registration of 2nd level domains to foreign entities on Wikipedia
- Domain Hacks - domain hack search utility
- Domain Hacks Suggest - 300,000+ domain hack suggestions (filtered by first letter, word length, and TLD)
- Domain Brain - 63,324 domain hacks suggestions by country code using English language words.
- Domain hunting: 220,000+ domain ideas (requires executing a Perl script to generate domain hack suggestions)
- tld fun - list of potential domain hacks
- Domain Hacks & Email Hacks - domain hacks (and "email hacks") explained
- Non Dot Com Cool Domain Names
- Coolest Hostnames on the Net (1997) list of classic domain hacks & strange hostnames & email addresses
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