Stop calling .org non-profit!

Yes, it sucks that the registry behind the .org gTLD has been sold to a for-profit corporation. But this article, and many others like it, keep on propagating a really messy misconception which I feel has done active harm:

The decision shocked the internet industry, not least because the .org registry has always been operated on a non-profit basis and has actively marketed itself as such. The suffix β€œorg” on an internet address – and there are over 10 million of them – has become synonymous with non-profit organizations.

The Register is at least being careful to be technically correct2 here, in that the registrar is non-profit and has “become synonymous” with non-profit organizations. But the .org gTLD was never intended to be for non-profit organizations. In the original RFC, the intention was that the gTLDs were:

  • .gov: for government institutions
  • .edu: for educational institutions
  • .com: for commercial enterprises
  • .mil: for military use
  • .org: for everything else; the “org” was short for “organizational” as in “we don’t know where else to put it for now”

This was also when .net was created (despite not being in the RFC), referring to network services and infrastructure providers.

Read more…