Below you will find a glossary of terms to help you get to grips with the jargon you'll sometimes come across when reading about the internet and domain names.
A domain name is a very important element of how the Internet works. In short, the Internet is a network of computers and via the Internet Protocol (IP) these machines can simply locate each other. But, while machines use IP addresses - long numbers- to identify other machines in the network it is much easier for humans to remember names. Hence domains were created to match unique IP addresses (numbers) to much more memorable names which we can use to visit websites online.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit multi-stakeholder corporation formed by a broad coalition of the Internet's business, technical, academic, governmental and user communities. ICANN serves as the global coordinator of the technical management of the Internet's domain name system and also creates and safeguards policies concerning the Internet. For more information about ICANN visit www.icann.org.
Internet Service Provider (ISP)
A company that primarily provides its customers with an Internet connection, but many ISPs also provide web and email hosting.
Name or DNS Servers
These are servers, i.e. computers with special software, containing information records, or 'resource records'- about your domain name and linking it to your website and email account. In order for a domain name to become active and associated with email and web hosting services, at least two Domain Name Servers (i.e., name servers) need to be associated with a domain. Registrars should provide you with a process to provide the Name Server information to them. These typically have names like ns1.example.coop.
A registrar is a business providing you the ability to register and manage your domain names. Most registrars also offer their customers the necessary tools for using their domain names on the Internet (i.e. web and email hosting).
Top Level Domain (TLD)
A Top Level Domain (TLD) is the right-most extension at the end of a web or email address. Initially there were only a handful of Top Level Domains (like .com, .org and .net). Currently there is a wide range of TLDs in the market, which can be generic -i.e. can be registered by anyone like .com, .net, .biz, .org -or country specific -like .co.uk, .ca, .de - or even more special and 'sponsored' such as .coop, .aero, .museum, and .travel.
Sponsored domains can only be registered and used by a specific community. Hence .coop was created for the cooperative movement and only organizations that meet a set of eligibility criteria can register and use .coop names. To check if you are eligible for a .coop web extension you can visit the www.coop site and review the information on Eligibility.
Whois is a public Internet database that contains information about all domain names and includes such as the owner, the registrar and the expiry date of the domain. It is an important tool for checking the availability of domain names, and it is a requirement by ICANN -the Internet authority- that all domains are included in the Whois database. .Coop is a "thick" registry and the Whois contains detailed contact information on each registration. Some of the original TLDs such as .com, only contain limited information about the domain registrant.