Edward Elliot explains the importance of domain names and why you should make an extra effort to protect yours.

Some of the readers may remember back years ago in the public school system, when name calling by the children was the school yard game. To counterattack the name calling, small lyrics were used to defend oneself. Always sung to the humming of the child's voice, one of the most common ones went like this, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me."

That was years ago, not today, where names may hurt you. Times are changing; names are now the number one news item. Everybody is aware of the wealth that has changed hands, because of some dot-com name. One of the latest one, was a dot com registered for $70 and the last bid for the name was for $3 million.

Why are these names so important? Domain names can represent an address or location on the Internet. A domain name is a unique address that identifies a computer or network, which is connected to the Internet. A direct connection is not required to take advantage of having your own domain name.

There are two types of top-level domains, generic and country code. Generic domains were created for use by the Internet public, while country code domains were created to be used by each individual country, as they deemed necessary.

Domain names ending with .com, .net or .org can be registered through many companies (known as "registrars") that compete with one another. Names ending in .gov reserved exclusively for the US Government. And .edu reserved for educational institutions in the US granting four-year degrees and registered only through Network Solutions. And .mil is reserved exclusively for the United States military.

Names ending in .com are for commercial Web addresses. Names ending in .net are for networks on the Internet and .org for a "non-profit" organizations. The dot-com names are the ones that are rolling the money over. There was a gold rush on names. Domains are being registered one every six seconds. If you decide to register your family name, good luck because it is taken unless it is an extraordinarily uncommon name. The Internet public saw an advantage to registering top company names and names of other objects in use in this world. Registering a dot-com name was like buying a lottery ticket in hope of big cash jackpot. Some did win, others are still waiting. One winner was money.com with the latest price bid of $3 million.

What will people do with the names they are holding as a future investment? It doesn't take long before a spin off of any gold rush takes place. On the Web, there are sites for selling domain names, such as auction sites and sites who are name brokers same as a real estate office sells properties.

How important are domain names? Domain names are the familiar, easy to remember names for computers on the Internet (such as internic.net). They correspond to a series of IP numbers (Internet Protocol numbers) that serve as routing addresses on the Internet. Domain names are used generally as a convenient way of locating information and reaching others on the Internet.

The Internet domain name system (DNS) consists of a directory, organized hierarchically, of all domain names and their corresponding computers registered to particular companies and persons using the Internet. When you register a domain name, it will be associated with the computer you designate on the Internet during the period the registration is in effect.

To register a domain name, you will be asked to provide the registrar you select various contacts and technical information that makes up the registration. The registrar will then keep records of the contact information and submit the technical information to a central directory known as the "registry." This registry provides other computers on the Internet the information necessary to send you e-mail or to find your Web site. You will also be required to enter a registration contract with the registrar, which sets forth the terms under which your registration is accepted and will be maintained.

Some of the rules in registering a domain name. The name cannot have period (.) enclosed in the name. Example; my.site.com is not allowed but my-site.com is allowed.

Because a domain name can have more characters than before, slogans can be registered. Example; eat-ice-cream-every-day.com could be registered. How safe is your domain name? A new change to the rules has prompted a turnover of names already registered. If for example; the name my-site.com was registered. The name can be registered again by adding WS to it. So the name my-site.WS.com could be registered. The WS stands for Web site.

By registering a popular domain name by adding WS, the new domain can then ride on the back of the original domain name and make their way much easier into the Internet world. What's going to happen once all the WS get used up? Before that happens, more rules will get changed and maybe my-site.web.com will be the next one.

Unless domain owners start protecting their domains, by buying their own WS.com, the domain owner will be faced with carrying the load for the add-on WS.com. The original domain owners will have established a strong foothold in the Web, just to have others travel on their knowledge.

The opinion on add-ons, it will make names hurt.