Can I Make Up My Own Domain Name?

Submitted question:

it must be possible for one to make a website at http://ell.vis, right? I know is via iceland, but i like .vis better.

Short answer: not possible.

Long answer: it’s technically possible but it requires a huge commitment of resources and is very expensive.

The domain name system (dns) works in tiers.

‘.com’ and ‘.org’ and ‘.is’ are ‘top level domains’. ICANN is the organization in charge of top level domains. When you go to, your computer asks ICANN “who’s in charge of .com?” and they say “Verisign”. A great deal of top level domains have been registered, but none of them are ‘.vis’.

Verisign is called a registry. They’re responsible for maintaining a list of .com domain names. They contract with registrars (like hover or gandi or godaddy or whatever) to sell access to that list. When you buy a domain name, you pay a registrar, but the registrar has to pay Verisign, and Verisign has to pay ICANN.

A few years ago, ICANN started letting companies apply to be the registry for new top level domains. It costs $185,000, plus an extra $25,000 per year, and you have to demonstrate that you have A. enough money to not go out of business and fuck up everybody’s domain name and B. enough technical infrastructure to actually maintain a domain name list and give it out potentially billions of times a day. [reference]

That sounds like a huge amount of money, but a ton of new top level domains have been registered in the new system. There’s a registry called Donuts with 189 of them.