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Forming .museum names

In addition to the general standards that apply to domain names, there are two basic rules for forming a .museum name:

The following are examples of generic terms:

The name art.museum is not available for any individual museum to register, although it may be used in three-part names such as particular.art.museum. Similarly, stockholm.museum cannot be registered in itself, but could be included in names such as specific.stockholm.museum.

The further application of these rules is described in detail below. If you are uncertain about this but would prefer not to read the text, MuseDoma will gladly suggest appropriate names or otherwise assist you if you have questions about the naming conventions. Readers who do proceed with the following material may also wish to read the formal statement of the .museum Naming Conventions.

Beginning with a review of basic principles of domain naming —

A domain name is a sequence of what are termed "labels", separated by "dots". The label to the far-right of a name is the "top-level" label, which obviously will be "museum" for all names in .museum. The label to the left of that is the "second-level" label, and to the left of that, the "third-level" label, and so on. A three-label name in .museum would therefore appear as:


There are limits to the range of characters that can appear in a label. The basic standard permits the use of the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, "a-z", the ten digits, "0-9", and a hyphen, "-". The hyphen may not appear at the beginning or end of a label. A further limitation was subsequently imposed in preparation for the introduction of "Internationalized Domain Names" (IDN). This prohibits the appearance of hyphens as the third and fourth characters in any label. Names containing IDN characters in .museum can be registered in .museum. The IDN policies and procedures are documented separately at http://about.museum/idn.

Name holders should note that these rules need to be applied to any subdomain names that they may create under their registered .museum names. Failure to do so may result in unexpected response from applications software, including failure to recognize the name as valid.

A name in .museum immediately identifies its holder as a member of the museum community. There are no other means for doing this within the Domain Name System and .museum was created for the specific purpose of enabling Internet users to recognize genuine museums in this manner. This utility may be extended into the second-level of the .museum name space, helping users to distinguish between, say, art museums and science museums, or by providing an indication of a museum's location:



This three-label structure may be used where the name holder feels it to be appropriate. There are, however, a few situations where it is obligatory. These are detailed in the Naming Conventions referenced above.

If a name containing only two labels is preferred, care must be taken in the selection of the second-level label to ensure that it designates its holder with a reasonable degree of specificity. One of the goals with .museum has been to structure the names it contains in a manner that provides the user community with as much information as may be possible in a domain name. The TLD .museum indicates a resource maintained by a museum. Internet users may benefit further if the remainder of the domain name provides at least a useful hint about the nature of the museum it designates. This is one of the grounds for the first rule listed above, although there are other reasons why it might be inappropriate for the Littleton Bicycle Museum to have the name national.art.museum or apple.museum.

The situation underlying the second of the rules may be illustrated by the City Art Museum, which might want city.art.museum or simply art.museum. There are, however, a large number of museums that would be equally well associated with the first of these names and a far larger number with the second. One means for providing a useful degree of differentiation in such cases is to control the use of generic terms as second-level labels. The City Art Museum in Ourtown could use ourtown.art.museum, with the City Art Museum in Bigville using bigville.art.museum. Other art museums would be free to share the same second-level label, as would multidisciplinary museums to which it is applicable. There is, therefore, a general restriction on the use of generic second-level labels in .museum names that contain only two labels.

If the museums mentioned in the previous paragraph were nonetheless to prefer names with two labels, one obvious alternative would be to dispense with the leftmost dot, giving ourtownart.museum and bigvilleart.museum. Another alternative would be to use an acronym or abbreviation as the second-level label, although this might tend to obscure the identity of the museum, rather than highlight it. Please note that service designations such as www are normally regarded as prefixes to domain names. A two-label name generic.museum that would not be available in that form would not be available either using three-labels as www.generic.museum.

The policies described here are intended to provide an equitable basis for the subdivison of the .museum name space. They ensure a reasonably large supply of attractive names for prospective name holders but – as should be carefully noted – do not eliminate first-come, first-served competition for them. (A good example of this may be provided by museums using acronyms and abbreviations as second-level labels.)

A further result of the structure underlying the .museum name space can be seen in an index of the sharable second-level labels in .museum, maintained at http://index.museum. The headings in this index may also be directly entered in the address line of a Web browser. For example, a listing of all entities registered under art.museum will be returned by visiting http://art.museum. Please note that the index is in no way a prescriptive listing. Name holders are both free and encouraged to submit further labels for inclusion in it simply by requesting names using the new labels.

The index facility is currently being modified to accommodate Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) and its configuration may be substantially changed in the process. This involves the consideration of numerous issues and the best way to proceed is not yet clear. Alternate presentations of the index are already available, as is a link to a broader search facility. The current status of the resource location services that are directly linked to the .museum registry will be seen when they are accessed via http://about.museum/find. One of the purposes that this is intended to serve is enabling new applicants for names in .museum to examine the way other museums have decided to name themselves.

This document entered into effect on 1 March 2004, replacing a previous version that was substantively unchanged from 1 November 2001. The earlier text was based on naming conventions that placed greater restrictions on the use of the second-level name space and made no reference to Internationalized Domain Names (IDN).

Latest update: 2004-04-29