Domain names are the names that are used to identify individual web sites, as well as for groups of email address. Thus, for example, the domain name in http://www.yahoo.com/ is “yahoo.com”, and the domain name in firstname.lastname@example.org is “hotmail.com”. As you may be aware there are a variety of different types of domains available with different endings:
* The most common ending for commercial sites is “.com”. Additionally, “.net” and “.org” are also often used. Originally “.net” was intended for Internet-based businesses such as ISPs, and “.org” for non-profit organizations, but neither of these rules are enforced, and you can find these names used for any purpose.
* The “.gov”, “.mil” and “.edu” endings are reserved for government, military and educational use.
* There are also country specific names, for example “.co.uk” is typically used by UK-based companies, and “.com.au” is generally used by Australian companies. Because some countries have been memorable abbreviations, domain’s with these countries are also sometimes used more generally, for example, “.tv” was assigned to the Pacific nation of Tuvalo, but many TV stations have chosen to buy .tv names so as to get the “.tv” ending on their domain.
* Over time, more domain extensions have been added, for example, “.biz”, “.info”, “.name”, and “.mobi”. Additionally, ICANN (the origanization responsible for the domain name system) has recently taken a decision which potentially allows a large number of new endings to be used in future.
There are a wide variety of software tools for working with names, including tools for finding good quality unregistered domains (“Domain Name Suggestion” tools), and tools for looking for valuable expired names (if a domain owner fails to pay their renewal fee, the domain eventually eventually expires and becomes available for anybody to register).