2 minute read

Let’s talk a bit about .net. No, not Microsoft’s .NET, but the other .net - one of the original top-level internet domains. Given how popular .com has become, I find it really strange that .net failed to reach such prominence. Even .org is more popular than .net!

Statistic: Most popular top-level domains worldwide as of April 2021 | Statista

That’s quite disappointing, as I think that historically .net was the best domain for personal sites, for various reasons:

  • .com used to stand for “commerce”, so it’s a bit weird to be using such a domain for a personal site
  • .org used to stand for a (non-profit) organization, so it’s extra weird to use such a domain for a personal site
  • .net stands for “network”, which for personal sites I always interpreted as “my place on the (Inter)net”
  • a lot of good names are still available for .net (compared to .com at least), as the domain is not super popular

Of course, today we have a lot more top-level domain options to choose from:

  • .info, the first additional domain, that never took off
  • a ton of country domains that can result is some cool looking domain names (e.g. sever.us)
  • all the recent additions like .blog, .site, .name, etc

Still, I like the appeal of the original domains as they are all:

  • cheap (usually around $10/year, while some “modern” domains go as high as $35/year)
  • short (I prefer typing .net or .com compared to .engineer)
  • widely known and recognized. I don’t know about you, but I’m still a bit surprised when I see sites using the newer “more exotic” domain names.

And of the originals, .net has the most appeal for me, at least when it comes to personal sites/blogs/etc.

Obviously, this wasn’t always the case - after all this site uses the domain batsov.com, and I own domains like metaredux.com and emacsredux.com. Let’s just say that back then I didn’t really think about the semantics of domain names that much. By the way, I do own batsov.net as well, and I actually use it for my personal email address.1 I would have changed the domain for this site as well, if it was easier to setup redirects on GitHub Pages. Anyways, that’s not a big deal for me.

I guess the original domains have long lost their original semantics. I guess search engines tilted the scales in favor of .com (and .org to some extent). Still, there’s always some meaning behind a name and the best names tend to have a strong bond to that meaning. Naming is hard, but it’s also extremely rewarding once you get it right. I hope I’ve managed to spark your interest in .net and that over time you’ll grow to love and cherish it as I do. .net forever!

  1. Now the shorthand for my email address is BBN, rather than BBC. That’s a big win!