personal-domain

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A personal domain is a domain name that you personally own, control, and use to represent yourself on the internet. Getting a personal domain is the first step towards getting on the indieweb, and is therefore a requirement for IndieMark Level 1.

How

  • Get your own personal domain name - Ask a friend or colleague for a domain name registrar that they use and like/trust/respect etc.
  • Domain Privacy - Note that most domain name registrars will make your personal information (name, mailing address, phone number and email address) publicly available via whois lookups. Some registrars offer domain privacy options, so that instead of your personal details the registrar's details will be in the whois directory. Only use domain privacy if you fully trust the provider of the service -- disputes about domain name administration or transfers may get tricky if you are not listed as the legal owner of the domain.

Choosing a personal domain

The domain you choose will be your “name” on the web, and will ideally stay available forever, so it’s worth thinking carefully about it.

Main article: TLD

There are many TLDs to choose from (e.g. .com, .net, .org, etc.). Most of them cost different amounts of money, and some come with additional restrictions or conditions. If the domain name you want is taken under one TLD, it may be available at another.

Domain Registrars

A domain name registrar is an organization that will register domain names for you typically for an annual fee.

Considerations

  • Configurability - You should be able to set up all record types (A, CNAME, MX, TXT) for as many subdomains as you'd like/need.
  • Email forwarding - does the registrar offer free email forwarding? This is useful if you want an @yourdomain.com email address that forwards to an existing account.
  • Auto-renew - it's easy to accidentally let a domain name registration expire; some registrars let you set up email reminders or an automatic renewal to prevent this from happening.
  • Domain Privacy - Note that most domain name registrars will make your personal information (name, mailing address, phone number and email address) publicly available via whois lookups. Some registrars offer domain privacy options, so that instead of your personal details the registrar's details will be in the whois directory. Only use domain privacy if you fully trust the provider of the service -- disputes about domain name administration or transfers may get tricky if you are not listed as the legal owner of the domain.
  • Bundled hosting? Shop around for the best registrar and best host for your needs. They do not need to be the same.

Opinions/Recommendations

Why

Why? All the reasons listed in why. This is the key first step to joining the indieweb.

Examples of domains being used IRL for disambiguation

Two employees at http://corp.oz.com/ were both called Sveinbjörn — one held sveinbjorn.is, the other sveinbjörn.org. A common company practise was to reply to “where’s Sveinbjörn?” with “dot is or dot org?”
Brian Suda

Barriers to entry

Buying and configuring a domain name can be a challenge, especially if you have no prior experience with setting up a website. This is something domain providers and hosting providers who support registering custom domains should think about when designing products.

Some of the barriers for entry to buying and configuring a domain are:

  • Understanding why having a domain is beneficial
  • Configuring a domain with your website / hosting provider
  • Understanding www
    • Does your domain have www set up?
    • Do you need to use www at the start of your domain when you tell someone about your site?
  • Understanding HTTPS (reference the padlock in browsers) and why it might appear at the beginning of your domain
  • Knowing how to modify your domain settings
    • This is platform specific. Registration services / CMS services with domain registration options should give clear guidance on how to change domain settings.
  • Probably more reasons...

jamesg.blog proposed registration services / CMS services with custom domains offer a really simple onboarding process for those who want to register a domain:

"Domain names let you choose how people access and refer to your site on the web. You can choose any domain name you want for your site. When someone visits your site, they will see a little padlock and https:// before your domain name. This tells the person looking at your connection to a website is encrypted and secure. You can configure your domain to meet your needs manually if you want to by visiting our settings page."

The language could be refined but aims to illustrate the sort of language that should be used when services introduce people to their own personal domains.

Registering a personal domain is confusing even for people who have domains. For instance, navigating through GoDaddy can be difficult if you need to configure custom DNS settings. To encourage people to have their own domain -- which they can associate with all of the content they publish on the web -- the process of getting started must be as simple as possible.

Opportunities for domain education

It could be interesting if schools taught domain names in web class. Such a class would cover:

  • What is a domain name?
  • What are the main parts of a domain name?
  • Why were they invented?
  • What is a URL? What are the parts of a URL?
  • What is www? Is it always necessary to add www. to a domain.
  • Why might one need a domain name?

High schools in Scotland teach web development as part of the National 5 / Higher computing course so this sort of thing could fit in well there. Perhaps there are analogous courses / classes in different education systems where such education about domains would be relevant / useful.

See Also