You press ‘f’ in your web browser and facebook.com magically appears, you smash ‘enter’ and you immediately see inspirational quotes and other bits of useless information appear before your eyes on the social media website.
The link between knowing that Facebook is at facebook.com and that (almost) everyone can use it is now ubiquitous and also a bit sad; the Internet that was imagined in the 1980ies and 1990ies was a much more global affair.
What is a ccTLD?
A ccTLD is basically the top level domain country code, it is popular in many countries with the exception on the USA who use the gTLD .com. Based on first hand experience, it’s very popular here in Australia; .au is used for most companies that are Australian. It is slightly less popular in the United Kingdom, bigger businesses prefer the gTLD .com over .uk.
Jon Postel and Paul Mockapetris developed DNS (the bit that makes typing in facebook.com go to Facebook actually work) in 1983. Between 1985 and 1993 Postel delegated ccTLDs to basically a ‘responsible person’ in the country that asked for it. To prevent political issues Postel used ISO 3166-1 country codes for these top level domains i.e. .AU for Australia, .IE for Ireland, GB for United Kingdom (whoops actually Postel decided to use .UK instead lol).
1990s Internet Popularity
Fast forward to the mid-1990ies and the Internet is getting popular. Global governments start to get involved (of course they do), scammers and domain squatters start showing up and eventually a company called ICANN is formed. The World Intellectual Property Organization create a framework for dealing with squatters and providing countries with access to their ccTLD. Fast forward a few more years and governments start to break free of ICANN and form their own versions of that body to regulate their ccTLD.
Hypothetical Scenario: Someone notices mastercard.com.sg isn’t registered, so they register it and then try to sell it to MasterCard for $1,000,000, which is 35,087 times more than they paid for it. They have become a domain squatter.
To prevent this MasterCard might consider just registering every ccTLD they can – and that is pretty much exactly what they do.
The Top 3
Probably the only bit you are interested in – these websites have most inbound redirects from two letter ccTLDs that we have found (as of September 2020).
emirates.com – view redirects
The middle-eastern airline has 155 ccTLDs that redirect to emirates.com – our ‘winner’.
bearingpoint.com – view redirects
BearingPoint is a management consulting company that I’d never heard of, it has at least 152 ccTLDs redirecting to it.
redbull.com – view redirects
Red Bull GmbH has at least 152 ccTLDs registered to it matching BearingPoint.
Here’s the top 50 –
What about new gTLDs?
There’s so many of them with so little value I’ve ignored them for tracking website redirects for this blog post. The ccTLDs are generally two letters (with the except of some ccTLDs that became gTLDs like .tv which are also not counted).
Blog Post Coming Soon…
How to get your website into the exclusive list of just over 300 (as of October 2020) sites that have 50 or more ccTLD redirects. I got builtwith.com into this list by registering the ‘cheapest’ ccTLDs I could – it wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped and will document the process soon.
Most of the DNS history in this article comes from this PDF ‘The Neverending ccTLD Story’ by Peter K. Yu.