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Abuse of .org

By cheeseburger in Op-Ed
Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:36:11 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

I wonder what any of you people think about the [ab]use of the .org TLD for commercial sites.

I'm posting this because I was just reading a diary entry on banner ads where it was mentioned that kuro5hin will (sometime) be running ads.

It annoyed me quite a lot actually, because the sustained abuse of .org for commercial sites is IMNSHO, a *bad* thing. For one thing it's misleading to readers of websites, who are given the misguided impression that the site is a not-for-profit venture [this is true: I remember one poster to Slashdot saying quite recently that 'although Slashdot isn't a commercial site']. There seems to be no place for truly altruistic sites [incidental aside: in reality no site is truly done for others - it's done for the creator's personal satisfaction] on the net - particularly in respect of Linux and open source sites, many of which make are solely cynical moneymaking ventures.

I'm not sure whether part of this isn't my own intense dislike for banner ads in general (curiously I don't object, and in fact quite appreciate, offline ads), but I do believe that .orgs should be not-for-profit; otherwise they really should use .net or .com.

Of course much of this is academic as most of these 'content' sites lack any viability, and only survive through the stupid valuations that state a site can be worth millions of dollars based on a loss-making business model - one that can justify, for example, placing banners to advertise a product whose own sole source of revenue is those self-same banners, but which, in addition to writing off the earnings from the banners in its own ads, has to pay real people to do real work.


Voxel dot net
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Should .orgs be not-for-profit
o Yes 68%
o No 31%

Votes: 105
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o Slashdot
o a diary entry
o Also by cheeseburger

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Abuse of .org | 29 comments (21 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
banner ads (4.50 / 8) (#3)
by enterfornone on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:41:23 AM EST

Many web sites, including those run by registered non-profit orgs, accept banner ads in order to subsidise the cost of web hosting but are still non-profit. Outside of the web, many non-profits accept corporate sponsership.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
That's fine (3.00 / 2) (#4)
by cheeseburger on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:50:24 AM EST

As I said below, a genuine charity could accept ads - it might provide a valuable supplement to its income, and there would be no difficulty deciding the difference between it, a registered charity, and a commercial venture.

[ Parent ]
More about non-profits (4.85 / 7) (#6)
by rusty on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:07:10 AM EST

Furthermore, all it takes to qualify as a non-profit is that the company doesn't make a corporate profit. There are many, many non-profits that are most decidedly not altruistic ventures or charities. I used to work for a company in Virginia called Waste Policy Institute, which was a non-profit solely because they do not produce any product. It was basically a consulting house, and any excess income they made each year would be paid to the execs in bonuses (salaries paid are expenses), thus ensuring that the company as a whole made no profit. This is much more common than most people think.

So, already the public conception of what "non-profit" means is flawed. Originally, .org was chartered to be for official non-profits only (like .net was chartered for net infrastructure). After a while, NSI decided more money was to be made ignoring the charters and selling to anyone. At this point, .com, .org, and .net are all basically the same namespace: public, and unregulated. Should NSI have changed the original rules? Undoubtedly not. But they did, and there's no going back now.

The best hope for TLD's in the future that actually respect their charters would be a system like OpenNIC, where TLD maintainers can be voted out for violating their own charter.

As for what ".org" means today, I would argue that the pragmatic way to look at it is that it means "organization". For the most part, .org's tend to be community-oriented sites, when they aren't actually non-profits. The charter is broken, and there isn't really any going back.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I have a real problem with this. (4.12 / 8) (#5)
by Sylvestre on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:02:01 AM EST

I usually get the .comnetorg for any domain that I want to get because, let's face it, I don't want to end up like slashdot with a .com taking up space. The whole comnetorg thing was really ill-defined from the start, and what's funny is if you use inww.com or nsi.com to register your domains, they show you the .cno extensions that are open and ask if you want to protect your domain by buying them. So not only do they make it possibly to eat up 3x domain space, they push it on you.
-- Firearms are the difference between free people and subjects.
True (2.83 / 6) (#8)
by cheeseburger on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:10:42 AM EST

That's true - I don't think anyone's deceived by the fact that Microsoft own microsoft.org - they don't use it as their company address - it's redirected to microsoft.com. Similarly, pepsi.org redirecting is not really a problem - it's sites that flaunt .org that I have a problem with.

For example, if you go to slashdot.com it redirects to slashdot.org - it's the companies that are 'dot orgs' rather than 'dot coms' that I object to.

[ Parent ]
This occurs everywhere (3.60 / 5) (#17)
by 0xdeadbeef on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:59:10 AM EST

It's like the damn phone company. "Would you like caller ID, sir? *cha-ching* And would you like to block caller ID when you call those people who have caller ID? *cha-ching* Now would you like to override those people who have caller ID blocked when they call you? *cha-ching* ,,,

That's the great thing about artificial scarcity, you can just make up new products that lessen the value of the old, or cheaper, products. People have to buy everything or keep upgrading the receive the maximum "value".

--- Rocket launchers are the difference between free people and people with firearms.

[ Parent ]
Just get the .com (3.00 / 2) (#25)
by squigly on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:17:42 PM EST

If you have a .com name, people are going to use it even if someone else tries to nab custom by grabbing the .org and .net. .com is totally associated with the internet in most people's minds.

A logical extension would be to also get the .id.us domain as well. And also all the ccTLD's.

People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
Altruism (2.75 / 4) (#12)
by Spinoza on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:17:27 AM EST

"[incidental aside: in reality no site is truly done for others - it's done for the creator's personal satisfaction]"

This is so far beside the point it is verging on ridiculous. ".org" exists for non-profit organisatioons. Those organisations can comprise of more than their website. Are you suggesting amnesty international (for example) runs a website purely for their own gratification?

Confused, slightly (2.66 / 3) (#13)
by cheeseburger on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:28:29 AM EST

Yes, I was confusing the issues somewhat. That was a reference to the homepage type of site - the personal site - sites in the linux.org and slashdot.org vein.

Sites of charities are obviously a different thing.

[ Parent ]
Granted (2.66 / 3) (#14)
by Spinoza on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:39:08 AM EST

Yeah, It's hard to come up with website-only .orgs that don't contain an element of personal gratification. There was one a while back that would donate 50c to some charity or other (food relief?) for every click on a button on their main page. That might count.

[ Parent ]

About "Non-Profit" Status... (4.00 / 4) (#15)
by lucas on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:46:40 AM EST

I think this is a good start of an article, but you don't suggest a solution. What should we be persuaded to believe? AFAIK, you indirectly state that ICANN-style regulation would purify the .org TLD.

The other thing is that "non-profit" company status does not mean that people don't make money on it. It is a status with the U.S. Government that will allow them to not have to pay taxes. It has nothing to do with what people are paid or how corrupt the organization is. As has been stated, people are making hefty sums of money on "non-profit" organizations like Hospitals, Universities, Political Action Groups, etc.

It is also used as a marketing technique to gain support for an entity... and not always for corrupt purposes. Debian uses it as part of its philosophy, and you can see how well it has worked by the way we rattle on about how Debian is the 'most free'. Most people don't know much about the internals of the company (Software in the Public Interest, Inc.) or even care, but the "non-profit" message sticks.

I don't think that "non-profit" is a great criteria for .org because it seems that if Hospitals, Universities, and other entities can jump through hoops for the government, they're going to just as easily be able to acquire a .org by any regulatory committee.

Regulation would only hurt the smaller people who want to start clubs or groups that are organizations, but don't want to screw around with the federal government (and, inevitably, lawyers).

In terms of Slashdot and their .org status, if it will mean giving up the above freedoms, let them have their .org.

Who says .org is non-profit? (3.25 / 4) (#16)
by Tisniq on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:53:37 AM EST

This little bit has been floating around and everyone bitches about it.
I thought .com was commercial, .net is for net providers, and .org was for misc orgs that don't fit under any of the other categories. (.mil, .gov .edu .countrycode )

Anyone actually have a link to where it is stated that .org is non profit ONLY?

Definition of .ORG from NSI (3.50 / 2) (#26)
by Latrell Sprewell on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:01:17 PM EST

Here's the definition of ".ORG" from the Network Solutions webpage. While this isn't exactly the same as a RFC or anything, I'd regard it as somewhat "official".

.ORG: The top-level domain originally designated for miscellaneous entities such as non-profit organizations that do not fit under any of the other top-level domains. Any person or organization may now register a domain name in .org, a worldwide top-level domain.

[ Parent ]
Personal domains? (4.60 / 10) (#18)
by wesmills on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:28:50 AM EST

As a matter of pure nitpicky-ness, what would you say we do with personal domains (obLink)? My site isn't a (defined by the US IRS as 501(c)(3)) non-profit organization, nor is it a business, so should it be booted?

The main issue I have with lots of these so-called domain rants is that they leave out what to actually *do* with people who already own domains. Slashdot is an example you mention. Why should they be required to give up and change e-mail addresses, contact info, web site code and more, just to meet an arbitrary definition of what three letters after a period mean? While we're at it, Freshmeat isn't an ISP, should they lose their .net?

Besides, .ORG was originally intended as a catch-all, anyway. See also RFC 1591, and I quote:

ORG - This domain is intended as the miscellaneous TLD for organizations that didn't fit anywhere else. Some non-government organizations may fit here.

----- Signature campaign to support K5, become a member!

*Didn't fit anywhere else* (3.00 / 5) (#19)
by cheeseburger on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:37:40 AM EST

> ORG - This domain is intended as the miscellaneous TLD for organizations that didn't fit anywhere else.

Quite. And commercial sites fit somewhere else, as it also says in that document.

[ Parent ]
Do you comprehend? (3.25 / 4) (#24)
by omegadave on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:03:25 PM EST

Can you comprehend that kuro5hin is not a commericial entity? Does rusty or inoshiro make money off kuro5hin? No, however, they do have to pay for hardware and bandwidth, which does cost money. Normally, an organization could get said money by private donations and things such as that. However, i don't see anyone jumping to donate money to rusty or inoshiro, so therefore they might need banner ads to cover costs. It's quite simple really

[ Parent ]
Has .org evolved (3.40 / 5) (#20)
by ObeseWhale on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:18:36 AM EST

At the outset, it was specified that .org meant organization, non for profit, in particular. However, it seems that the meaning of .org has changed from that of it's founders, indeed it's evolved. It seems that .org seems to be the domain for every Linux user's brother's website. Perhaps it is because people have started to see .org as .organization. And isn't Linux a large, communal sort of organization? Yes, there are for-profit Linux companies, but that does not detract from the communal nature of Linux. .org has become a home for free software, for-profit or not. Nobody forced this to happen, it has been a natural evolution.


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
non-profix != "can't display banners" (3.25 / 4) (#23)
by hany on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:13:44 PM EST

IMO if I'm non-profit organisation running SOME.org site it does not mean I can't sell advertisment on this site.

As a non-profit organisation I can do things like commercial organisations except that incomes is going to support my less "corporate attractive" things which "eat" money (as opposed to earch money).


Get to the point (2.00 / 3) (#27)
by jreilly on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:00:47 PM EST

It seems to me that this story and most of the ensuing discussion is just a roundabout way to discussing Why We Hate Slashdot(TM). Slashdot didn't begin as a business, though, just a few guys and a crappy server, so why should we expect them to go through the hassle of changing their domain name?

Oooh, shiny...
useless whinging to me... (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by tzanger on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:32:13 PM EST

I own mixdown.org. I bought it because it was originally intended as mine and my family's personal web site. Now I do some contract engineering on the side and may have some of that information on my .org. Is that wrong? I'm certainly not a non-profit organization but then again, the .org/.net/.com TLDs are so fucked up that they don't stand for anything. Is it my fault that there isn't a suitable TLD for me? (up until recently the .ca domain registrar was unbelievably anal about people getting .ca domains. This has since been relaxed)

In a day and age where any asshole with some time can buy up domain names en masse and hope to strike it lucky on one of them it's not always possible to be all nice and purty and academic about things such as choosing a TLD. Yeah it stinks that it's this way but what are you going to do about it? ICANN seems to have their collective heads up their arses when it comes to choosing new TLDs. I have no power of my own to make it happen and the grassroots means to cause radical changes to the face of DNS are spotty and unfocussed at best, and totally ignored by the bulk of the population at worst.

I didn't take your story as a personal attack but jeez, there are dozens of things thousands of times more important that whinging on about how poor old little .org is misrepresented.

The problem is larger (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by job on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 05:34:51 AM EST

I agree, in a more generic sense. InterNIC's TLDs are totally out of control. They depend on the registrants good taste (which, given the Internet, has a high probability of being non-existent) to choose their TLD. Other TLDs enforce much better control over the domains.

Personally, I think both types are required. Just like on USEnet where we have comp. and sci. for the "serious" groups, we have alt. where anyone and everyone can exercise their good taste.

So, my suggestion is to migrate com/net/org into being "alternative" TLDs and move the serious registrants to other TLDs. Perhaps the new ones are a step in the right direction, although I do not really believe it. InterNIC should do more thinking and less money-earning.

Abuse of .org | 29 comments (21 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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