Even TechCrunch Doesn’t Know The Difference Between A TLD and a Subdomain

I have talked about this a number of times before but today it was illustrated in a major way. Consumers and the mainstream media still have absolutely no idea what a TLD is.

Today TechCrunch, one of the top tech publications in the world wrote an article about Google.co.uk and yes, they think that .co.uk is a subdomain. Here’s the exact quote:

During the debate Schmidt was also asked a question specifically about whether the public should move to searching Google.com rather than searching sub-domains such as Google.co.uk in order “to remove edited or removed information”, as the questioner put it. (Source – TechCrunch)

I think our terminology in the domain name industry is restricting us from the rest of the world. We all know what TLDs are and we know that the industry is buzzing non-stop about new gTLDs, and for good reason. The problem is consumers don’t know what a gTLD is, they know what .CLUB is, they know what .CLICK is, but they don’t know those are gTLDs.

If TechCrunch can’t figure out the difference between a gTLD and a subdomain what makes you think that the average person can?

So what’s my point? My point is that as an industry we have to get better at communicating with the rest of the world. We should start talking about new domain extensions, talking about things that come to the “right of the dot”. Honestly Michael and Monte got it right (literally!) they have a company that makes sense to people in the industry and outside of it.

Now we all have to do a better job as bloggers and gTLD operators in getting the message out there in a way the public can understand.

Here’s my question to you, because I don’t know the right answer myself. What do we call these new gTLDs? How can we explain them in a way that consumers and tech media alike can understand?

Comment and let your voice be heard!

Note: just to be clear, I’m not faulting TechCrunch here, I love TechCrunch and read it every single day. What I am faulting is the domain industry as a whole describing a major innovation in a way that confuses the heck out of everyone, even the incredibly tech savvy.

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Michael November 26, 2014, 5:14 pm

    Isn’t Google the subdomain in this Google.co.uk? and co is the top level domain and uk is the extension?

    I think they should just call the new gTLD “new extensions”

    Now I am going to complain about Morgan’s blog! I try to leave comments all the time and your site glitches! It has made it so I don’t want to leave comments because I take time in writing them and I am never sure when I hit the Submit button if they are going to go thru or not. I thought I would tell you that because it is frustrating on my side plus you lose a comment. Maybe its happening with other people?

  • Brian Fryer November 26, 2014, 5:28 pm

    @Michael: While technically correct, the term “sub domain” is commonly referenced when discussing labels to the far-left of the domain name (e.g. “www”.example.com, ” blog”.example.com.

    It seems like we need some new names! …sounds like a tremendous amount of marketing effort / consumer education… o_o

  • Kassey November 26, 2014, 5:50 pm

    I find it easier to explain when I use the term domain name and whatever after the dot is called an extension. gTLD is just to hard to understand. Now the problem is, with subdomain, you get two dots. It would be much easier if we can all standardize on domain name + dot + extension. Confusion still rules.

  • Konstantinos Zournas November 26, 2014, 6:39 pm

    Google.co.uk is actually referred as a third level domain name.

  • Martin November 26, 2014, 6:50 pm

    .com is KING

  • Kassey November 26, 2014, 6:56 pm

    @Martin But there will also be queens, princes, princesses, and commoners. We all know who rules the kingdom, though.

  • Lori Anne Wardi November 26, 2014, 7:32 pm

    Morgan, great observation — I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • SpamandScam November 26, 2014, 9:25 pm

    Dot Com is not king is Australia ……..our ccTld of .com.au lets us know the site/business is local and therefore has a trust element. older businesses will have a .com because that’s all there was once, if local cctld does just fine but yes if aiming for the world .com is that standard

  • Joe November 27, 2014, 2:06 am

    In Google.co.uk, Google is technically a third-level domain, and .co is second-level domain. However, when dealing with “official” (issued by national Registries and recognized worldwide) second-level extensions like co.uk and .com.au, we usually call these TLDs as if they were a whole extension. “Unrecognized” third level domains are ones under regular second level domains owned by individuals.

  • Joe November 27, 2014, 2:09 am

    I forgot to add it but I think it’s pretty clear that those “unrecognized” third level domains are what we normally call “subdomains”.

  • Kevin Murphy November 27, 2014, 4:18 am

    .uk is the TLD, not .co.uk.

  • Jeff Sass November 27, 2014, 4:50 am

    We try to avoid the terms TLD and gTLD as much as possible in consumer facing messaging. Instead we use domain extensions and new domain extensions and domain name extensions. After all, we are talking about domain names, and top level, second level, etc. doesn’t really matter to end users. We all have to work hard to raise awareness in general, so there’s no need to confuse things further with obscure industry acronyms.

  • Snoopy November 27, 2014, 8:27 pm

    The article is correct, the sub domain is google.co.uk, the extension is .uk and the domain is co.uk.

    Most people would just call google.co.uk a domain, myself included, but it isn’t really right. Much like the average person would say .com is the country code of the US, true in a practical sense, but if we are getting out the dictionary then technically it is .us.


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