Domain name help
November 21, 2017 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of registering a couple domains for my wife and young child, and hell, maybe even for myself. I've never registered a domain before and could use some guidance on both how to go about it, and what domains to choose.

My wife is starting to accumulate a bunch of projects and could really use someplace online to organize them publicly. She's in a PhD program and most are related to that. My son is young and I could see him one day wanting his own domain. I would also like my own to hopefully get away from several people who think my gmail address is actually theirs.

I'm debating between a few different domains or one domain with subdomains for each (you can do that, right?). Generally speaking, [first name][lastname].com, [first initial][last name].com and [nickname][lastname].com (this would be for my son, think Tommy as a nickname for Thomas) are all available. [first name][last name] is not available for myself. If I go this route, which format would you recommend?

Alternatively, if I go a subdomain route, I'd have to go with [lastname].xyz (or some other TLD) as com/net/org are all taken. I think '.xyz' would be most appealing to me because it is short and generic, but would there be a better TLD to choose? Also, if my wife wants to build a site for her professional portfolio, would having a subdomain of [first name].[last name].xyz be looked down on?

Finally, who should I use to register the domains, and if going the subdomain route, is that usually included or are there extra charges? Also, is there anything about registering a domain that I probably don't know (clearly I don't know much about it), but should?
posted by noneuclidean to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend NameCheap for registering domains.

Subdomains aren't registered. You can have unlimited, assuming your hosting allows for that. Any good hosting will. I recommend WebFaction. Dreamhost is also good and they have a less "techy" control panel.

Pay for the extra personal info hiding. It will save you a lot of unnecessary SPAM.

Format, pattern or whatever for the domain is totally personal preference. For your purposed use you're not concerned with making it keyword rich. I would stick with ".com" just get creative with the domain name. Everyone is much more accustomed to ".com"
posted by humboldt32 at 2:21 PM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

would there be a better TLD to choose?

There are a ridiculous number of TLDs you can register now, so it's more common to see something other than .com, and as a bonus, it can be easier to type. Also, there are a number of "creative" uses for TLDs - some countries realized that their TLDs are useful more widely, like .tv for Tuvalu, and .es (Spain) is another "fun" domain that is open to all (I'm fairly certain). So you might be able to spell your last name with a globally available TLD, like .SH (Saint Helena).

Also, "squatting" on a domain for your kid honestly sounds a bit like late 1990s mentality, internet-wise. Yes, it could be useful if Tommy wants to do something online, or wants a handy email address of, but what if he doesn't like to go by Tommy in 10 years? What will the internet be like then? I don't think anyone foresaw ICANN introducing more than 500 new global TLDs 10 years ago, but that's what they did in 2015.

And you'll be paying for a domain until then, which may not be terribly expensive, but seems like an unnecessary bit of future planning, given my points above.

So my suggestion is to focus on what you want to do now, or in the near future. Talk with your wife about what kind of thing she wants to do online. Does she want a personal space that is tied to her name? Or does she want something that refers to her profession and/or hobbies? Then look at available domains, .com and otherwise. Maybe one of the newer gTLDs reflects what she wants to do or her profession.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:36 PM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

There are some registrars that will throw in privacy for free, some that won't. Most will try to upsell you on something, but don't pay for anything you don't really need.

I don't think there's anything wrong with using one of the wacky new TLDs like .xyz, except perhaps that people aren't used to them (yet). I can't say who might look down on using a subdomain for a professional site, but if they're going to be picky about that…maybe your wife is better off not working with them.

Subdomains are something your web-hosting company will take care of, not your domain registrar, but assuming the hosting company supports them, yes, you can do that. I use Dreamhost and they don't charge anything for all the subdomains you want. Using a single domain with subdomains hanging off it will be cheaper to maintain and let you spawn other subdomains on the fly.

Nearly Free Speech is offering a deal on new .xyz registrations (and they're reasonable anyhow) if you want to host with them, and they've got a good privacy policy that (I think) automatically applies to domains you register with them. offers privacy with their domains for free.
posted by adamrice at 2:40 PM on November 21, 2017

I have a domain for myself which once upon a time was used to host lots of things but now is mostly used for the email address I give out to people when I have to orally give one. The saving grace for that domain is that I signed up for a Google Apps thing ages ago when you could do that and so get Gmail on it.

I also bought a domain for my family name so that I could give my relatives nice email addresses if they wanted it ( No one has touched it although I'm still hoping that one of my nephews or niece will get a passing interest in web development and want to use a subdomain for some projects.

Many hosting providers will give you a free domain so I would look for a hosting provider and then just register a domain with them. As far as your son is concerned I wouldn't bother getting a domain for him yet but if you want to migrate away from the Gmail account and are getting a domain for yourself anyway then you may as well get something that he can use in the future too.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:57 PM on November 21, 2017

I highly recommend iwantmyname as a domain registrar. They're a small, ethical, progressive company, and don't play the upsell game—their listed prices include WHOIS privacy by default. Their interface is superbly clean, painless and beginner-friendly for adding hosting services, changing DNS settings, managing multiple domains, etc.

I think .com has a universal recognition that's difficult to beat—though if I had to use a gTLD, .xyz is perhaps the only one I'd consider, especially for a professional purpose. I don't think anyone would look down on a subdomain, but it's possible that some people would be confused when typing it in.
posted by nagemi at 3:00 PM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sounds like the main point is to have a stable email address not tied to any provider. I've been using as my email address for years, and I have to say, as long as your name is relatively easy to spell, it makes it very easy to communicate your email address accurately. I agree that subdomains and any TLD except .com will add to the possibility of confusion.
posted by mr vino at 3:13 PM on November 21, 2017

Just as an example of one way to go here: I registered as a domain and then set up a WordPress multisite install so that all the subdomains are handled as separate websites with their own themes and structures and administrative powers, with one superuser account that handles all the tippy top level stuff. I have subdomains for me, my husband, my son, and my portfolio. They can all do what they want to their sites, but they can be centrally administered. In the past I had as a portfolio domain, now it's just I don't think it makes much difference, as long as it's easy to communicate to people. Domains are paid for annually, so keeping four domains is, well, four times as expensive as one domain with subdomains.

My host is 1and1 but my original domain registrar was Google Domains. I transferred it over to 1and1.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:21 PM on November 21, 2017

I'll add an nth for nearlyfreespeech for smaller sites. It'll take a bit more effort than the drag and drop isp's but vastly more economical long term and ethical.
posted by sammyo at 5:28 PM on November 21, 2017

If you register through Google they provide free private registration.
posted by COD at 7:44 PM on November 21, 2017

I'd recommend Wordoid as a tool for finding a domain name in the .com TLD - where there is more competition. It allows you to experiment by specifying some word and bit of a word - and then telling you if it is available to register. Easiest to try it out to see what I mean. One bonus is that you can have it generate words which are pronounceable in more than one language. Another bonus is that it can help to generate the kind of unique name which can be used in further business branding.
posted by rongorongo at 11:06 PM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Chiming in to say that I would get at least one for your household and additional ones for the individuals in your household. My father did this for himself and my mother, I did this for my wife and myself, and - in a frenzy of new-fatherhood-related-craziness - every tld and [firstname][lastname].tld combo I could think of for my son. It's a small enough investment to guarantee your family its snug little space in the internet.

I use Dreamhost and have zero complaints.
posted by bluejayway at 7:15 AM on November 22, 2017

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