Registering a .nt domain?
August 19, 2005 10:44 PM   Subscribe

How can I register a domain name with an unusual top level?

I'd like to register a domain name that ends with "nt." (The actual domain should be fairly evident, what can I say?) The obvious is taken, so rather than hyphenate (eww!), I was considering doing the "" thing and putting the site up at electriccounterpoi.nt. The ".nt" top level domain indicates neutral territory, which is made doubly cool by my interest in these sorts of things. Unfortunately, I can't find anyplace that will let me register such a site.

This site says that the .nt domain is not recognized by ICANN. As I understand it, though, ICANN doesn't really control the Internet, though, so what's the deal? Can I register my domain with some service? If so, am I at risk of it being snatched away by ICANN? Should I be afraid of registering with some fly-by-night service in case that's my only choice? I've never registered a domain name before, so I've got all the usual concerns on top of the .nt thing.

Anyway, is this worth pursuing?
posted by electric_counterpoint to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
What ICANN (loosely) controls is the Internet's domain name system. ISPs make use of domain name servers to look up domains and translate them into the IP addresses that computers use. These servers are indirectly controlled by ICANN. If those servers don't recognize .nt domains (which is the case), then nobody will be able to look up domains ending in .nt.

So, while you might be able to find some registrar somewhere that would take your money and sell you a domain, it would be useless because nobody would be able to access it.

So, no, it's not worth pursuing.
posted by bac at 11:48 PM on August 19, 2005

According to this the nt tld was retired in 1993. It stood for the neutral zone between Saudia Arabia and Iraq. Google doesn't tell me if such a thing (the neutral zone) still exists but I think it's unlikely.
posted by rdr at 11:56 PM on August 19, 2005

(The neutral zone was dissolved in 1991, as the Saudis made up with Saddam after that little invasion thing. There was a second one between Iraq and Kuwait, but that was dissolved by Iraq's signature of the surrender treaty. And thus did stateless wastes become merely trackless.)

electric, the short answer is that no -- you can't really do that, because the TLD doesn't exist, thus there is no registrar, thus there is no accepted authority for adding any .nt domains to the root DNS servers -- and ICANN, whatever else they may do, ultimately control the root DNS servers.

For a time in the 90s there were some alternative DNS providers, but you had to install special software to use their TLDs (like .biz -- which is now an official TLD). Conceivably you could go with one of these if any of them are really still able to take people's money without giggling uncontrollably. But you'd face the problem that nobody could reach it, thus it's useless for any commercial purpose, or even a non-commercial purpose that involves public exposure.
posted by dhartung at 12:13 AM on August 20, 2005

rdr, the page you linked to is a clone of a wikipedia page. It's probably best to just link to the corresponding wikipedia page (ISO 3166-3).
posted by RichardP at 12:30 AM on August 20, 2005

At least one of the companies selling alternative TLDs,, is still around. They'll sell you .church, .family, .mp3, all kinds of things (even .xxx, which makes me wonder what happened to these fake TLDs when .biz became official). For users to be able to visit domains, they must install something that, depending on who you ask, might well be ad/spy/malware.

Just to make sure it's perfectly clear, I am not endorsing these people in any way, shape or form.
posted by box at 5:53 AM on August 20, 2005

You seem to be slightly confused about the way registering a domain works. You can't register (eg) "" as a single entity, you register "metafilter" with the people who control "com".

So to register "electriccounterpoi.nt", you'd need to find the people who control "nt". As others have pointed out, these people no longer exist.
posted by cillit bang at 6:37 AM on August 20, 2005

This might give you some other ideas though. This is the complete list of al ccTLDs (country code top level domains) currently recognized by ICANN.

Keep in mind that some of these ccTLDs may have restrictions on who can register them and almost all of them are significantly more expensive than your run of the mill .com.

Good luck.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:44 AM on August 20, 2005

I was considering doing the "" thing and putting the site up at electriccounterpoi.nt.

I'd suggest you register a .com, but just register part of the word "counterpoint" so you would still have a similar domain, i.e., or Those ones won't work since and are already taken, but you get the idea.
posted by bachelor#3 at 10:40 AM on August 20, 2005

or Of course, you'd have to convince someone that you're party to an international treaty. :-/
posted by chota at 10:06 PM on August 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

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