These three sectors align nicely with Internet top-level domains:
- Government = .gov
- For-profit = .com
- Not-for-profit = .org
I live in the town of Cambridge, Vermont. The websites for my town and the eight surrounding towns are:
- Cambridge – townofcambridgevt.org
- Fletcher – www.fletchervt.net
- Waterville – www.watervillevt.org
- Johnson – townofjohnson.com
- Morristown – www.morristownvt.org
- Stowe – www.townofstowevt.org
- Underhill – www.underhillvt.gov
- Westford – westfordvt.us
- Fairfax – www.fairfax-vt.gov
That is quite a variety of website address formats!
Municipalities are part of government, and I believe they should use the .gov domain. It is misleading for a governmental entity to use a .com or .org domain. I hope that my town can change to the .gov domain in the future.
I think it is nice when the website address includes the state (“vt”), since there are many municipalities of the same name in multiple states. For example, one should not confuse my town of Cambridge, Vermont, population 3,659 in the 2010 census, with the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, population 105,162 in the 2010 census (website www.cambridgema.gov), and the home of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
I also think it is nice when the website address indicates what kind of municipality it is, such as “townof”, “villageof”, “cityof” or “countyof”. In the case of my town, that leaves room for “villageofcambridgevt.gov” should the village of Cambridge (which is distinct from the town of Cambridge) decide to create its own website in the future. In Vermont, there are many instances of a town and a village, or a town and a city, or a town and a county, with the same name. This convention would reduce confusion.
The conventions in the preceding paragraphs are consistent with guidance in federal regulations at 41 CFR § 102–173.55 “What is the naming convention for Cities and Townships?” (CFR = Code of Federal Regulations) issued in March 2003 and further clarified in this news release issued in September 2003 by the General Services Administration, part of the executive branch of the federal government. Quotes from the news release:
In order for Gov domains and URLs to be of value to citizens dealing with the various units of Government, we would like to evolve to predictable URLs that conform to the regulations…
In some cases, the non-conforming names may create confusion or wasted browsing for citizens seeking information.
The .gov domain only applies in the United States. Internet addresses in this domain are governed by www.dotgov.gov, a service operated by the General Services Administration. This link lets you test if a domain name is available.
The Internet address townofcambridgevt.gov is available.