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I want to convey to my users that they can use as a string whatever pattern that looks like this: *.com

is this understood by the general public to mean a domain ending with .com? Can I count on regular users to understand that * matches everything?

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If it's understood by the general public? No.

Programmers might understand it, but as far as I know, the asterisk is mostly used as a multiplication sign. Me personally, have only the asterisk in CSS and mySQL meaning 'everything'.

So even if your audience consist of programmers, it's possible it's not understood by everyone.

I can't really recommend a good substitute that's understandable for everybody, because I know too little of the context it will be used in.
If it's used in a search query you could remove the asterisk. The query '.com' will result in everything that ends with '.com'.

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Not really. This notion is built on the premise of regular expressions (http://www.regular-expressions.info/) which are one of the most hardest things to get.

Even though '*' is as simple it can get, it still needs to be learned what it means in this context. It's general use in typography is to censor out some characters, or to correct spelling, or to denote a footnote, or for multiplication (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asterisk)

Seasoned computer users will most likely get that it's meant as a wildcard here, but general public can't be counted on to understand it the first time they see it. It needs to be learned.

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