Section 5 Web Myths > URLs > Search Engines > Special Directories > Exercise > Precision Searching Strategies > Exercise

Top-level Domains

The top-level domain indicates the type of institution sponsoring a site, so it can give searchers valuable information about the kind of site they are visiting. Some of the most common are as follows:

.edu - educational institution
Sites with this domain are generally among the best for finding high quality material for academic papers. But keep in mind that many faculty members put syllabi on the Web, and students create Web pages to meet course requirements, so not all sites with an .edu domain will be useful for academic research.

.gov - federal government
Many government agencies have Web sites that publish highly reliable information about legislation; statistics of all sorts, such as census data; tax forms; medical information, etc. Be aware that information on the sites of foreign governments may not be so reliable. For example, a Chinese government site might publish questionable information about human rights in China.

.org - non profit organization
These include, but are not limited to, organizations that espouse causes and that use the Web to promote them. They range from highly reliable to utterly untrustworthy, so users must check "About us" and other such links on their pages for information about their philosophy, goals, work, funding, etc.

.com - commercial entity
Sites with this domain are created by companies to advertise and sell their products and to publish company information for customers, stockholders, and potential investors. Much of the quality information that users can purchase, such as access to online publications, have the .com domain.

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