Does your website address end in .org? Don’t panic

Are you panicking? Read the headline again.

Due to news stories like this fairly reasonable one from CNN, there seem to be some rumors afoot, with wild tales of skyrocketing website costs and even targeting of nonprofits by the tech industry. But slow down, and leave the freaking out to the music directors who are scrambling to find talent for Christmas Eve.

Yes, you may have heard about a pending sale of all .org domains to “money people”, namely Ethos Capital. If you have a website with an address that ends in .org, DO be on the lookout for changes in registration rates over the next few years. The recent sale of all registration rights for this domain extension to a private equity firm has the tech world aflutter, for fear of profitmongering in an area that has long been dominated by nonprofit organizations.

However, let’s all take a collective breath (and… out!), and then dispel a few myths:

First, the price thing

The best buzz in cyberspace (i.e. the bloggers who know what they’re talking about) is predicting a potential hike of perhaps a buck or two in your domain’s per-year registration bill. A tempest that size still fits in a teapot — even the short and stout ones.

Now, the nonprofit thing

While the .org extension was initially intended by the creators of the Internet to be limited to nonprofits, that scheme was given up early on, and anyone can now purchase a domain with this extension. But the perception that all websites with that extension are in the nonprofit world persists, and so the tendency for those organizations to lean toward this format has become a sort of longstanding cybertradition.

Your mindset tweak

If this is news to you, just remember that just because a website lives at something like myfavoriteensemble.org, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve gone 501(c)3. Donors beware, and feel free to ask questions if you’re confused about the org’s actual status.

What the buyers are saying

Ethos Capital has set up a series of tidbits here, in response to the controversy that does seem like clickbait more than actual danger. And truly, even the fairly-paranoid-but-not-fearmongering tech pundits seem to be soft-pedaling this issue. Reasonable indicators show there’s no reason for individual domain owners to become immediately alarmed. In truth, it’s the cybersquatters, i.e. the annoying people who buy massive numbers of domains so they can sell them to others are radically marked-up prices, who will be significantly affected. (And we’re kind of OK with that.)

Still worried?

If you’re more concerned with peace of mind than with website consistency, you might want to look into purchasing an alternative domain with another extension, in the unlikely case that prices become prohibitive further down the road. You can also purchase extra years of your existing .org at today’s rates, if you wish — check with your domain registrar (i.e. where you bought the domain, or where you’ve renewed it most recently) to see what options they offer. (Need help? We offer consulting services for this sort of thing. Contact Lauri.)

The bottom line

Marketing anything usually costs money, and that includes maintaining your own little bit of cyberspace. A domain is essentially a little piece of virtual property that you’ve merely leased, and that is not available for true purchase. So we have to be aware of changes like this; it’s just part of the game. But save the freaking out for bigger issues, like California’s looming AB5 legislation, which takes effect as of January 1st. That issue is far more worthy of holding a place at the top of your watchlist, and we’ll try to keep you posted as the battle for the arts wages…

Keep fighting the good fights (and the ones actually worth chasing)!

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