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Domain Names Forum

Two letter domains
Remind me again why they're not allowed?

 6:58 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

I was so excited when I can across a two letter .com deleted and (seemingly) ready for registration.

I went to GoDaddy, typed it in, and got "Invalid domain name syntax". A google search revealed that two letter domains are no longer allowed to be registered, and all existing ones will not be renewed.

Why? I read about some technical problem, but it seems that's no longer an issue.

Talk about sending me sky-high and dropping me like a rock.



 4:57 pm on Oct 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is news to me. And I have found active two-letter domains with recent registrations. Even my registrar looks as if it would allow me to register one (I don't use GoDaddy). AFAIK, two-letter domains are legitimate.

But, on the flip-side, the whole domain name syntax discussion can get confusing. For example, RFC1035 [ftp.rfc-editor.org] states...

The labels must follow the rules for ARPANET host names. They must
start with a letter, end with a letter or digit, and have as interior
characters only letters, digits, and hyphen. There are also some
restrictions on the length. Labels must be 63 characters or less.

However, we all know that 3com is a domain name and according to RFC1035, a domain must start with a letter -- go figure :o

Q.What are the valid characters for a domain name and how long can a domain name be?

A.A domain name can be up to 63 characters (letters, numbers or combination) long plus the 4 characters used to identify the domain extension (.com, .net, .org). The only symbol character domain names can include is a hyphen (-) although the domain name cannot start or end with a hyphen.

I hate to add confusion to your post, but maybe with this little boost somebody else can offer resources on
domain name syntax


 6:36 pm on Oct 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Funny, I found this link
where the fella is actually discussing the 3com issue I mentioned earlier. Then I found in RFC1123 [ietf.org] that

2.1 Host Names and Numbers

The syntax of a legal Internet host name was specified in RFC-952
[DNS:4]. One aspect of host name syntax is hereby changed: the
restriction on the first character is relaxed to allow either a
letter or a digit. Host software MUST support this more liberal

Quite often I am finding that practice came before standards and that is why some things are the way they are (Duh, obviously! Brilliant deduction, coopster :) )

Also, it seems that Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) [ietf.org] comes up quite often when searching for DOMAIN NAME SYNTAX issues. The closest thing I could find to the minimum 3 character-naming convention is in a [idn] naming syntax rules discussion [ops.ietf.org] at IETF.

This stuff is pretty in depth. I'm done for now. Hopefully somebody else can shed some light. It's been fun!


 7:29 pm on Oct 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

I remember reading that they disallowed registering two letter domains because of possible risk confusing them with country specific extensions.


 9:15 pm on Oct 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just curious:

Are underscores allowed in domain names (second level) like: kw1_kw2.tld?

Sure they are found in URLs like domainname.tld/kw_kw.htm.

[edit typo]


 9:56 pm on Oct 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

so no more av.com?

well it does make sense, or they could have www.somedomain.av.com which certainly could look confusing.



 10:33 pm on Oct 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

This baffled me a while back when British Telecom (BT) split and formed 02. I looked into two letter domains back then and coudn't figure out how they managed to use not only the two figure o2.co.uk but also the two number 02.co.uk

I checked a few registrars and all of them said 'no way' to two letter domains (.com and .co.uk).

Something to do with BT all but owning the UK network me thinks...

Albert, no, AFAIK underscores are not allowed in second level domains.



 10:38 pm on Oct 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Perhaps the removl of the two letter domain is to prevent people being stung by companies offering domain registration xx.com etc


Possible I supose.


 10:54 pm on Oct 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Two letter .com .net and .org domains were allowed with the Verisign registry. However, upon the transition of the management of .org to PIR (Public Interest Registry) the ICANN agreement placed all two letters domains in a reserved status. Under this agreement no two letters domains can be registered. All two letter domain names that are current and have not been deleted or expired will continue to operate.

All two-character labels shall be initially reserved. The reservation of a two-character label string shall be released to the extent that the Registry Operator reaches agreement with the government and country-code manager, or the ISO 3166 maintenance agency, whichever appropriate.The Registry Operator may also propose release of these reservations based on its implementation of measures to avoid confusion with the corresponding country codes.

PIR [pir.org]


 4:38 pm on Oct 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

So in theory I could negotiate with them and the country with the matching TLD? Fat chance...


 4:43 pm on Oct 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

what extension is it you are looking at? If it is a .org domain name, the service has been dis-continued.


 4:45 pm on Oct 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

nevermind, I need to read twice before posting..


 8:55 pm on Oct 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Forget about 2 letter domains. Look at Qw**t Communications with the single character domain. How did they slip that through.



 10:33 pm on Oct 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Apparently if you registered it before the change, you can keep it. But no renewing.

I sent a couple of emails to registrars and such. No response. Oh well, guess I better stop dreaming. Now if I could just get my friends to understand what the big deal was! :)


 6:36 pm on Oct 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

So according to the post above --

anynone with a 2 letter url, once it expires, will be gone?

QW-- Isn't that billionaire Anchute's (sp?) company?

How about Commission Junction? (cj.com) could be why they sold to BeFree? No longer going to have the url soon?


 10:26 am on Oct 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Two letter domain names MAY be renewed. If you have one, you are fine. Just don't let it expire.


 10:58 am on Oct 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Doing a search on the domain company I use to register domains I get some information on this subject.

It appears I could register a 2 letter domain for .tv, .com, .net, .org and .org.uk. However the domains .co.uk, .me.uk, .info and .biz can only be less than 62 characters or more than 3 characters.


 8:56 pm on Nov 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I remember reading that they disallowed registering two letter domains because of possible risk confusing them with country specific extensions.
au.com ;-)

 10:05 am on Nov 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I am not sure which RFC the 2-letter rule (apparently to stop confusion with ISO 3166 2-letter country codes) if any. However, many of the second level domains in the UK are in violation (co.uk, ac.uk, me.uk). Not only this but the UK NIC, Nominet, in its rules on the introduction of new SLD's actively encourages them to keep them short (preferably be 2 letters long).



 5:25 pm on Nov 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Actually, you can still renew them.


That has been around for 6 years, and is renewed.

[edited by: engine at 8:46 pm (utc) on Nov. 11, 2003]
[edit reason] de-linked [/edit]


 3:35 pm on Nov 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

Two-letter domains are all very well.. but how about one-letter domains? The only one I know is http*//www.x.org/ - are they the only one?

[edited by: engine at 8:47 pm (utc) on Nov. 11, 2003]
[edit reason] de-linked [/edit]


 5:48 pm on Nov 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

q.com, z.com, and x.com come to mind.

These were registered in the early 90's when there were fewer restrictions.


 5:53 pm on Nov 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

well, there's also - Domain: 3.dk; Registered: 1997-02-12

The definitive list of reserved domain names is here: [icann.org...]


 6:01 pm on Nov 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Pay Pal has owned x.com for some time.


 2:11 am on Nov 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

i own two letter domain that isn't in current use, it is not a county code, i renewed it recently without any problems....

James in Vancouver

 6:40 am on Nov 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

I was curious about the one letter domains, so I did a little looking around and thought others might like to know as well. In 1993 IANA registered all unregistered 1 letter domains that were available to reserve them for the public interest. They all but six out of 144 possible in .com, .edu, .net, and .org. It seems that now there are only 4 that are left. (I could only find the 3 q, x, z, but I didn't have the patients to go through .org, .net and .edu)

It is also interesting to note that apparantly transfers from one party to another is conisdered acceptable for these domains. However, if they ever expire...



 6:56 am on Nov 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

"Confinity" became "PayPal" and later merged with its archrival, X.com which is how PayPal owns x.com today.

I just wish Google owned g.com (I work on other people's pc alot and have to type out the whole "google" part ;) )

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