Think about the experience that you go through when you’re buying a house. While you care about the structure itself, the condition of the roof, foundation, etc. without a doubt one of the most important factors in the neighborhood the house is in. A beautiful house in a terrible neighborhood can easily nullify all the benefits of the home itself.
The same is true for domain name extensions. With close to 2,000 domain extensions out there it can be almost impossible to keep track of how each one has scaled, what they’re used for, and in the end, what kind of domain neighborhood you’ll be in if you buy a particular extension.
Some domain extensions have become overrun with spammers which means that even if you’re the first person to register the domain name you picked, your emails will still likely end up getting labeled as SPAM. More importantly, some domain extensions end up being used for illegal activities, and IMO none are worse than those that end up promoting child pornography or sexual abuse.
At the end of the day, I’m all for free speech, but child pornography and sexual abuse have absolutely no home online or anywhere. I’ve always been a fan of domain extensions that have strong leadership and a focus on building an ecosystem for entrepreneurs – that’s why I was very happy to read this article on Neustar’s blog about “How a zero-tolerance approach” resulted in 0% of .CO domains with child sexual abuse content. The great results relate to a partnership between Neustar and The Internet Watch Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that works to eliminate child sexual abuse imagery online.
You can read the full story about the Neustar/IWF partnership, and a variety of other steps Neustar is taking to keep its TLDs safe from scammers, spammers, phishers, child pornographers and others in a new report (appropriately) called “SAFER DOMAINS,” which you can download right here.
So how can you figure out if you’re picking a domain extension in a good neighborhood?
There are a few different sites that track spam use of TLDs. My go-to has always been SpamHaus which keeps a top ten list of the most abused top level domains. You can also reach out to the registry directly if you want to know more about a particular TLD, if they are working hard to make sure their extension isn’t abused, they will be happy to tell you more about it. I applaud Neustar for everything they are doing to be a true leader when it comes to making sure the neighborhoods they operate meet the same standards we’d all have for a neighborhood we live in.