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If you have a non-standard TDL, such as .cc or .io, used in an email address do those you tell it to act in a confused or surprised manner when you give it out?

The question is specific to .io domains but could be applied to any TLD other than .com and your default country domain.

The less common domains obviously have more choice of premium words which is helpful however I am wondering if the benefit is offset by the confusion of the lesser known domain extensions.

I have seen an example of someone giving out a .co address, where the recipient said ".co what..." as they were clearly expecting .co.uk.

  • I've never had an email address with something other than the usual TLDs, but comments from discussions I've had regarding this is that some people may think that .co was a mistake, and "fix it" by changing it to .com. – Adam K Dean Feb 27 '14 at 10:22
  • Yes, I certainly agree that .co looks like an error. – slaterio Feb 27 '14 at 10:41
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    The people I've seen having problems with TLDs are the ones who think everything must end in .com. Even .org or .net addresses confuse them, let alone country domains like .uk. – Michael Kohne Feb 27 '14 at 13:28
  • My email is the letter M at my full name dot com and some people get confused and think I missed the domain name at the end. Some people will be confused by anything that is not name1234@[gmail|yahoo|hotmail].com. – mcrumley Feb 27 '14 at 15:25
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I have some experience from this with my email address on ‘.priv.no’ which is a TLD for individuals in Norway. No one knows about these domains. What I have found, however, is that people assume that ‘priv’ is an abbreviation for a company name or university and not literally “privat[e]”.

I always have to spell it out when telling someone my address in person. domain-name dot p r i v dot n o. If you don't like the prospect of having to spell it out, you should not go with dot i o.

On the other hand, you would have to spell out the domain itself, like w i z z k i d b a n g dot com, if you get a less common word for a domain. So you are literally just moving the same problem from the TLD to the domain. TLDs are shorter so your problem will thus be smaller.

It comes down to picking a compromise between a good fitting domain and an acceptable TLD or a weird domain and a recognizable TLD. For web sites it can be mitigated by always promoting it in writing as www.domain.tld, and I believe the same hold trues with the at sign in an email address user@domain.tld.

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Anything new confuses people until they're used to it. So yeah, the more common your domain extension in whatever target region you're using it in, the easier it will be for people to communicate and remember.

That last part is important: Know your region/market. ".com" is the most well-known, and is used internationally, so most countries recognize that in addition to their own TLD (e.g. UK citizens have no problem with "co.uk" and "ak.uk", German citizens understand ".de" just fine, US citizens are used to ".org" and fewer will probably be confused by ".us" than in other countries).

That said, if your target audience is non-tecnical, many don't even know the distinction between their country's TLD and ".com", so often it helps to register the most common ones (at least to redirect to the "proper" one). Either they painstakingly copy it down, or they try a few randomly from memory.

Of course, many non-technical people will just type whatever you give them in Google (or whatever search engine their phone/PC is present to search with), so it might be unimportant what domain name you choose for that audience.

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