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October 26, 2009

Pittsburgh needs a PGH Top Level Domain (TLD)

This post conveys a serious suggestion for the City of Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh needs a TLD, and only city government can accomplish this.

TLD is a TLA (three letter acronym) for Top Level Domain. A Top Level Domain is the segment of a web address furthest to the right. Examples of TLDs that you've seen are .COM , .GOV, and .NET - maybe you've seen .MIL for the military, or .EDU for schools. These are all assumed to be US domains, which the rest of the world finds somewhat arrogant.

Internationally, you'll see country names ( .DE , .FR , .UK, .CN, .IN, .JN). Here's a world map with country-based TLDs represented by spatial orientation and by the relative size of the domain:

The tiny island sovereignty called Tuvalu happens to be assigned the .tv TLD, which they have subleased to people interested in URLs that relate to television. This is quite profitable for them.

There are moves afoot to establish many more TLDs, and there are benefits and fortunes to be found in running a new TLD. For instance, when .biz became available, there was a bit of a geek land rush to secure URLs.

What brought this to mind was a NYTimes article about how two groups are competing to establish and operate a new TLD, .GAY. They'd be able to sell names within that domain (such as, or for instance) to the highest bidder. That would be a lucrative TLD to operate.

TLDs have previously been distributed nationally, but cities are just beginning to get into the game. If you subscribe to the Richard Florida worldview of city-based economies, it makes sense to extend TLDs down to the city level.

New York City has convinced ICANN, the people who approve or deny requests for TLDs, that it's appropriate for cities to develop their own TLDs, and they're on the verge of getting approval for .NYC. link1 link2

Pittsburgh should establish .PGH as a Top Level Domain. In this case, we're not interested in profits from administering the domain as much as we're interested in extending the regional brand into the web. We want advertisements and logos to say Steelers.PGH, DollarBank.PGH, etc. We want out-landers to see those URLs and think, "that's a city that gets it".

They'll still keep their .COM URLs, and they'll still resolve to the same websites, but it'll be a very low cost web marketing initiative for the region.

Here we go DOT P-G-H, here we go!


Mark Arsenal said...

Agreed, it's kick-ass cool, but in the end it's like Hallmark Holidays, and just an excuse to inflate the price of a domain.

Especially with "brand name" sites and businesses, if you don't run the .com you don't run anything. There are exceptions, but they are usually ephemeral (Chris Briem's recent example comes to mind: )

Personally, I would buy it for the domains I own, but I probably won't get in a bidding war with anyone over it since I already own the .com

Too many people push that new TLDs will generate additional naming capacity, but I don't buy it. I know that isn't what you're saying - I agree with your pitch on the "coolness" factor, but the capacity factor is the most common argument for more TLDs. Personally, I just see all the new .biz, .travel, .etc TLDs as a way to beat the commoditization of URLs, and an implicit admission of that commoditization.

toml said...

Take a look at our Advantages of the .nyc TLD wiki page for the breadth of areas where a city-TLD may have an impact. Size of city might make different features more or less applicable, for example, Pittsburgh might have the local networking capacity we lack here in NYC.

Good luck.

Tom Lowenhaupt, Founder and Director Inc.

P.S. And we surely recommend the Community Model for its development. (Not the standard - sell as many names as possible - model.)

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