It’s become fairly rare for us to actually type a URL out in full. There are probably sites you use regularly but can’t remember offhand whether they end with .com or .co.uk.
The final segment of a URL indicates the top-level domain, and often shows us what country the site is based in. For example, if we’re visiting a site that ends in .uk, we will assume that the site is based in the United Kingdom.
However, it’s not always the case that we can simply look at the top-level domain, check which country it relates to and deduce that the site is based in that country. Often, sites have no connection at all to the country for which their top-level domain code has been reserved.
Domain hacking is the technique of using a convenient top-level domain code to create a URL that looks like a complete word or phrase, such as www.examp.le (although .le is not a code in use). Website owners can have a world of fun by latching onto another country’s code and coming up with a URL that breaks the mould from the usual .com or .co.uk.
Here are five countries or territories with codes that have been given new uses beyond the confines of their own geopolitical borders:
1. Guernsey (.gg)
The Channel Island of Guernsey’s code has become popular among sports and gaming sites, because ‘gg’ is often used online as an abbreviation for ‘good game’. An example of this is Champion.gg, a site devoted to online battle game League of Legends.
Search engine DuckDuckGo.com, as part of its branding, also owns www.ddg.gg.
2. British Indian Ocean Territory (.io)
If you thought it was odd that so many internet games were coming out of a tiny set of islands with a population of 2,500, they’re actually not. The reason .io is used is because it’s an abbreviation for input/output, which is the process by which all computer games work.
3. Libya (.ly)
The code for the North African nation of Libya is a useful one simply because a lot of English words end with -ly. Blogging and link building site Name.ly and URL shortening tool Ow.ly are examples of this.
4. São Tomé and Príncipe (.st)
Similarly, a lot of words end with -st, which is why networking website Bur.st used to use the top-level domain of these small African islands.
Sci-fi obsessives have cottoned on to it too, recognising that .st could be short for Star Trek.
5. Tuvalu (.tv)
Rising sea levels could see the Pacific nation of Tuvalu disappear in as little as 20 years, but its top-level domain looks likely to stay afloat because we all recognise the letters ‘TV’. Video-based sites like Be-at.tv and ClassicYacht.tv like to use the code to drive the point home.
None of these places are well known for their internet contributions, but innovative use of their top-level domain codes has helped establish them on the cyber map.