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I am not asking for shopping recommendations, however! I was planning on getting a .com domain, but unfortuately the domain that I wanted is not available in a .com. However, it is available in a .org... and .info, .net, .us, .ca, etc. From what I remember hearing in the past (It's hard to tell how or when I heard this information) is that certain domains can only be used for certain things. So basically, if I were to buy a .org domain instead of a .com, (or a .somethingelse), would any restrictions be placed upon the domain, or would it still function the same as a .com except have a different ending?

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closed as off topic by jtbandes, iglvzx, Journeyman Geek, slhck, RedGrittyBrick May 18 '12 at 10:30

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Most generic TLD registries do not enforce any kind of requirements for their domains. Yes, initially .org was only supposed to be for non-commercial sites, but this has never been enforced, so abuse of gTLDs has become so widespread that you can't really trust them anymore. ccTLD policies vary from registry to registry. Some countries require you to actually have a permanent residence in the country (and/or other requirements) to register a domain using their ccTLD, and others have similar requirements but have certified registrars which provide ways to easily get around them.

As far as gTLDs, the main ones that have strictly enforced registrant requirements are:

  • .edu - for accredited academic institutions only
  • .coop - for legally recognized worker cooperatives only
  • .pro - for professionals in regulated industries which have an official licensing entity that is recognized by the government
  • .mil and .gov - for U.S. military and government agencies, respectively
  • .int - for intergovernmental organizations that have a U.N. treaty registration number

.travel, .aero also seem to have registrant screening processes, but I'm not sure how strict/effective they are.

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Technically, the .org is only supposed to be used by non-profit organizations, but that restriction is unlikely to be enforced.

The domain will work the same as any other domain. When you buy a .com, your registrar tries to sell you the same domain on most of the other TLDs (some actually do require certification and are enforced, but not .org). My employer has .com, .net, and .org for its primary domain and the .org has always just forwarded to the .com. Wikipedia, on the other hand, does the exact opposite.

Still, you might want to avoid using the .org for a business just to avoid confusion. All your customers will try to go to the .com, and in the worst-case scenario, whoever owns the .com could pursue legal action against you for trademark infringement. This happened to my small business when our shortened .com domain (we owned long and short versions of the domain) coincidentally differed from another company's domain by only one character. Even though the other company only owned a trademark on the graphic design of their logo, our lawyer said we only had at best a 50/50 chance of winning if we chose to fight. To me it sounded like they were abusing a loophole in the system, but our lawyer said the court's determination would be based primarily on "likelihood of confusion" and not on the distinction between word marks vs. design marks. If you are in a completely different industry and sell different products from the .com site, you might be able to get away with using the .org, but that also is no guarantee.

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See Wikipedia's article on .orgs. There are no restrictions for using a .org Top Level Domain (TLD) name. It was originally intended for non profit organizations, but commercial entities use .orgs these days as well. I personally still think non-profit when I see a .org so would only use it for non-profit sites myself.

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I actually own a .org domain name for my own personal use (I run Google Apps off of it). I registered it with Hover.com, but any of the common domain registrars will give you a .org, provided it's available. Once you've bought a domain, it behaves exactly the same as any other domain name would--you can do (nearly) anything you want with it.

I agree with the rest of the group, though. If you're going to use it for a business, go with a .com if you can.

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