Answered By: Jennifer Harris
Last Updated: Apr 08, 2019     Views: 513

The domain is the end-part of the web site address. Most U.S.-based web sites use the following domains: .com, .org, .edu, and .gov. When evaluating websites, it's important to pay attention to the domain--this can provide valuable information about what the website may be used for, what information is available on the website, and how reliable it may be.

For example: compare with Both happen to be trusted web sites with good information. is from the popular and well-known Weather Channel, while is from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a government agency.

The following is a description of the most popular Internet domains:

Domain Evaluation Information
Domain Extension Example Most Commonly Used For Type of Information Available Reliability
.com CNN:

Commercial entity, business, or anything else

Could be anything (this is a non-restrictive domain); many media outlets end in .com

Low - Needs thorough evaluation

.org American Red Cross:

Organization, non-profit, or anything else

Could be anything (this is a non-restrictive domain); professional and medical organizations often use this domain

Low - Needs thorough evaluation

.edu Southern New Hampshire University:

Educational institutions

Information about the institution, content created by professionals working at the institution (be careful - some institutions allow non-experts to develop content for their websites)

Medium - Needs evaluation

.gov U.S. Census Bureau:

Government agency or department

Local, City, State, & Federal information (information on these domains are regulated and require certification to be used)

High - Needs some evaluation

For more information about domain extensions check out IANA: Root Zone Database and the video below.

Check out the Evaluating Sources guide for more information about evaluating websites and other sources.


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