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More Top-Level Domain Wildcards

John Levine

With all of the recent excitement about *.cm, the Cameroonian wildcard that someone is using to collect vast numbers of mistyped .com addresses, I wondered how many other wildcards there were at the DNS top level. There's a total of 13.

Half of the wildcards are harmless. The *.museum wildcard leads to a registry page that helps guess what you might have been looking for. If you go to history.museum, you'll get a directory page of all of the .museum names that contain the word history. Five of the wildcards, *.mp, *.nu, *.pw, *.st, and *.tk, lead to registry pages that encourage you to register the name you just mistyped. (The .mp page also claims that .mp is for Mobile Phone rather than for the Marianas Islands, but they're hardly the only small poor island to try to cash in on their ccTLD, and they at least run it themselves.)

The *.ws wildcard leads to some sort of get rich quick scheme that I didn't bother to investigate. (If anyone feels like sitting through their seven minute Flash movie, please tell me what it says.)

Three of the wildcards, *.cd, *.ph, and *.vg redirect to qsrch.net, a faux directory from Newnet, a company that tried to make an end run around ICANN a few years ago by persuading ISPs to add a bunch of Newnet-only domains to their DNS resolvers. All of their links appear to lead to Overture, Yahoo's paid search subsidiary

The *.cm wildcard leads, as noted before, to an anonymous directory page in Canada also with links to Overture. In the past day or so it added a FAQ link at the bottom that answers many not very frequently asked questions ("How can I protect my trademark?" "Register your own .cm domain.") but not the most interesting ones, who the heck are you and how did you talk Camnet into doing this?

Finally, Taiwan and China have an odd setup: there are A records for *.cn and *.tw, but they are not wildcards, since random .cn and .tw names don't resolve. There's a web server at *.tw that appears to be TWNIC, the ccTLD registry. (My Chinese is nonexistent.) There's a web server at *.cn as well, but all I can get from it is 404 pages.

By John Levine, Author, Consultant & Speaker
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Related topics: DNS, ICANN, Registry Services, New TLDs
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Re: More Top-Level Domain Wildcards John Levine  –  Aug 09, 2006 9:18 AM PDT

For the *.cn and *.tw wildcards, someone noted on my blog that they resolve for IDN (non-ASCII) names, which I verified.  Each leads to the respective registry.

Re: More Top-Level Domain Wildcards john brumage  –  Aug 18, 2006 11:07 AM PDT

Wait till the Native Americans discover that as Nations, they each get a TLD.

I keep wondering why it has taken them so long.

Re: More Top-Level Domain Wildcards Bill Manning  –  Aug 21, 2006 7:33 AM PDT

NAN ... the native american nations already are aware, at least some are.  Over a decade ago, (when I had a formal relationship with the IANA) there was some dicussion on how to accomodate requests for non-geopolitical DNS delegations ... (think the US domain and the whole ccTLD thing)

Two groups came to mind, the NAN and religious orders.  Rough outlines of how to accomodate such requests where put together… then the IANA died.

I expect that the ICANN version of IANA may eventually reconsider these types of legitimate requests.

Re: More Top-Level Domain Wildcards Mark Foster  –  Aug 31, 2006 10:44 AM PDT

I was surprised to NOT see .cc and .tv listed. Those ccTLDs (and also .bz I think) had wildcards but they must have gone away with the consolidated TLD (ctld) program. As Verisign managed domains one might wonder whether the sitefinder demise had any influence over their abandoned wildcards, but I don't think so.

Re: More Top-Level Domain Wildcards David Dory  –  Feb 19, 2007 3:37 AM PDT

Another wildcard I found was .hp and guess where it goes. Thats right (www.shopping.hp.com)
when I saw this I went on a search to find out how I could get the TLD .art it took several hours of searching to find out that I'm going to have to do more searching. I can only imagine the extra patrons it would bring to my site daviddory.com . I also have one of the
.ws domains (surreal.ws) I use it for the Omnistic Art Guild. Its money making ability does have merit, but I'm not in the business of selling websites, so I can't say that I've made enough to pay for the hosting. But it was nice to get a name that represented art more than my own name.
With that said I believe there is a need for less generic TLD"s
thanks David Dory

Re: More Top-Level Domain Wildcards John Levine  –  Feb 24, 2007 4:05 PM PDT

You're confusing browser hacks with TLDs.  There is no .hp domain, nor is there a .art domain. (I'm not guessing, I just FTP'ed a copy of the root zone file to be sure nobody's playing games with it.)

Many browsers try to do you a favor by adding .com to the name you typed if the initial lookup fails. That's almost certainly what you're seeing.

Re: More Top-Level Domain Wildcards David Dory  –  Feb 24, 2007 5:58 PM PDT

I'm guessing that your right. All I know is that I typed in http://www.hp and their site came up. Wouldn't it be nice if they treated all of us the same way. My wish list someone types in
http://art and david dory art comes up.

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