A dot org website doesn’t mean it’s a charity

In today’s LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik raises the alarm over the sale of the .org (or dot org) domain registry to a private equity firm. A big concern here is that the private equity firm has a captive audience (charities using the dot org domain) and can easily raise prices for use of the dot org domain extension. Read the LA Times article . . . 

The dot org domain extension started raising a different issue for me as early as 2012, when I wrote at SeriousGivers.org about the fact that a dot org didn’t mean you were dealing with a charity. It’s a way for a charity faker or scammer to draw you in. See my 2012 article and related podcast.

Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote back in 2012:

Charity BaloneyBaloney

  • It’s time for “Charity Baloney” — where I do my best to slice up myths related to charities.
  • Today’s Charity Baloney is the belief that a dot org website means you’re dealing with a charity.
    • The three most common domains are .com, .org and .net (aka dot com, dot org and dot net)
    • We’ve all gotten used to dot com — which we think of as a business or commercial site.
    • And charities that I know of that have websites typically use dot org.
    • I wonder if fishermen use dot net.
  • I took a look at the site DomainRegister.com and it told us

“Originally, it was suggested that .COM be used primarily for commercial businesses, .NET for network related organizations and .ORG for nonprofit groups. This quickly became unworkable and consequently, in the case of .COM, .NET and .ORG, a decision was made to rely on registrants to choose the TLD (Top Level Domain) they wish. In fact, many registrants (domain owners) order their domain name as .COM, .NET and .ORG.

.COM, .NET and .ORG are unrestricted open domains.”

  • The truth is any group or even individual can have a dot org website.
    • Did you know that there’s a google.org — google is clearly a business, not a charity —  google.org is a separate website
  • Let’s have some fun with this, what would be some interesting dot org domain names that would make it clear that org domain doesn’t mean it’s a charity? How about
    • These are available
      • totallycommercial.org
      • notacharity.org
      • and my favorite, cyborgmorgue.org — say that three times fast.
  • Love to hear from you — what dot org name would make this totally clear to everyone?
  • In the meantime, don’t be fooled into thinking a dot org website means you’re dealing with a charity.