Published July 31, 2010
A U.S study has found a .org domain name can infer trust in Internet users - even if it's not necessarily justified.
Researchers from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, performed the study among first-year students at an urban public research university.
Many participants expressed trust in the top-level domain name extension .org, even though the domain space is freely available for registration by anyone and not just for nonprofit organisations as was originally intended.
The study quotes an example of a response where a nursing student who expressed trust in .edu sites stated that to look for information on particular subject : "I would definitely look for Web sites that end with org to be [...] safe."
The "instant credibility" factor viewed by some of .org has commercial benefits as it can help in pre-sales processes; making users more receptive to marketing messages.
The Australian .org domain name extension equivalent is .org.au. Unlike .org, to be eligible for .org.au domain registration, registrants must be a charity operating in Australia, as defined in the registrant's constitution or other documents of incorporation. However, non-qualifying Australian non-profits and commercial entities are able to register a .org domain name without restriction.
The full study, Trust Online: Young Adults' Evaluation of Web Content can be downloaded here (PDF).
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