Questions about domain names

In my earlier post titled Town website addresses, I wrote about three top-level Internet domains: .com, .org, and .gov. That corresponds to the three sectors of public life that I think about: for-profit, not-for-profit, and government.

There is another paradigm that one can use to classify the world, including website addresses: by geography instead of by sector. There is an Internet top-level domain scheme that corresponds to countries instead of sectors. Websites in the United States can use a .us top-level domain. Canada is .ca and Mexico is .mx.

Government entities in the United States sometimes use .us website addresses. Over on George’s Other Blog, I recently put up a blog post about a hike that Nancy and I did that went through parts of the Green Mountain National Forest, and I included a link to the United States Forest Service. Their website is http://www.fs.fed.us.

Some towns in Vermont use .us as the top-level domain for their municipal website. My earlier blog post on town website addresses noted that Westford was one such town. Their website is http://westfordvt.us. About 20 towns or villages in  Vermont use a .us top-level domain for their municipal website.

The Wikipedia article on .us provides helpful information. It says that the .us top-level domain “has primarily been used by state and local governments.” But it also says that the popularity of the .us domain has been decreasing. In one place it says “many local governments have transitioned to .org and other TLDs” (TLD = top-level domain). In another place it says “Use: U.S. state and local governments (declining in favor of .gov).”

How do .us top-level domains work? How does one get started with that style of website address? I know that to register a .com or .org website address, one typically uses a commercial service such as GoDaddy or Tucows (their retail arm is Hover) or WordPress, and that to register a .gov top-level domain in the United States one must use the DotGov service run by the General Services Administration. What are best practices for using a .us top-level domain? Especially for a municipal website like, say, a future version of the website for the town of Cambridge, Vermont?

Someone somewhere must have written a blog post, a white paper, a standard or, heaven forbid, a government regulation that deals with these questions. If you have any information beyond what is in the Wikipedia article referenced above, please share in the comments or contact me directly.

Which top-level domain do you think the Cambridge municipal website should use? If you have an opinion, please feel free to share in the comments or contact me directly.

UPDATE 9/03/17: See the third and fourth comments under my earlier post Town website addresses for yet another option for a future version of the municipal website for the town of Cambridge, Vermont: cambridge.vt.gov.

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