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Same thing happens…

I was wondering how domain names resolved when you give them insufficient resolution. So, I typed in some top-level domains, and was surprised to discover that they actually lead to websites.

com -> amazon.com
net -> php.net
org -> apache.org
edu -> exploratorium.edu
gov -> whitehouse.gov
mil -> defenselink.mil
jp -> jpmorgan.com
au -> smh.com.au
uk -> guardian.co.uk
de -> amazon.de

What’s interesting here is that none of these resolve into a directory chart or table, or an explanation of the whole concept of how domain names are resolved. Instead, all of them lead to fairly prominent websites. I’m not sure whether this is just an artifact of my browser, which is why I made all of the TLDs into links… The real question, if it does turn out that the TLD resolves reliably to these addresses, is how those addresses were chosen. I doubt they were picked randomly from all possible subdomains; it seems fairly likely that someone in each of these domains paid some money to someone in a DNS provider to make them a top pick. This makes the libertarian in me fairly sad…

[UPDATE] It turns out that these pages are identical to the top result of a Google search for each TLD. That is, if you type in ‘edu’ and are feeling lucky, you will get exploratorium.edu. So I can blame Google for picking a company that is not even vaguely japanese for the .jp domain… More checking got me to the point where I can assert that aparantly, different browsers each resolve top level domains differently. Internet explorer brings up some sort of microsoft search page, and lynx brings up pages, although I couldn’t figure out the scheme by which each page got picked there…

Might it be a good idea to introduce functionality to the DNS servers, such that they do something useful when insufficient information is typed in? As things are, users get inconsistent results, and the results may or may not be useful at all. At any rate, I’d rather that a top-level request get recognized as a TLD, not just a search request, and get some information about how the domain naming system works.

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