A terribly misleading use of the .GOV top-level domain
April 11, 2000 9:36 AM   Subscribe

A terribly misleading use of the .GOV top-level domain has surfaced. The House Republican Committee, by all means an organization that deserves a .gov designation, has decided to use that designation for purely partisan means... the site is chock-full of "aren't Republicans great?" feel-good stories and digs at Democrats.

What a terrible precedent to set; I can hardly wait for all of the interest group caucuses to start grabbing their own .gov domain names and throwing up pages that, by virtue of their URL, pretend to be the official word of the U.S. Government.

How does one go about registering displeasure with the person in charge of granting .GOV addresses?
posted by delfuego (8 comments total)

That's odd, I couldn't find any contact info on the site. Here's the domain record (why didn't they get gop.org?):

USHouseofRepresentativesRepublicanConference (GOP-DOM)
1010 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Domain Name: GOP.GOV
Status: Active

Administrative Contact:
Mullen, Edward G. (EGM)
(202) 226-3546 (FAX)(202) 225-0809

Domain servers in listed order:


Record last updated on 15-Oct-99.

Please be advised that this whois server only contains information
pertaining to the .GOV domain. For information for other domains please
use the whois server at RS.INTERNIC.NET.
posted by mathowie at 9:58 AM on April 11, 2000

I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention. I'm gonna try and talk to someone there and get some feedback.
posted by bvanveen at 10:06 AM on April 11, 2000

I threw this up on my site today, with a few other pointers: If anyone figures out a good person to email about this, please pass the name and address along....
posted by delfuego at 10:57 AM on April 11, 2000

This was the subject of an article on slashdot last year. Pretty much the same arguments all around.

I tend to agree that since this is a group of HOUSE members, it should be part of the house.gov domain. gop.house.gov makes it more clear that we're talking about the elected Republicans in one house of Congress. The Democratic Conference, the exact equivalent of the Republican Conference, uses www.house.gov/democrats/ (which forwards to democraticleader.house.gov, Dick Gephardt's page) or dcaucusweb.house.gov (not resolving).

Protest? Well, www.nic.gov (which handles registrations in .gov and .fed.us) might be one place to start -- it's an office of the GSA, an independent agency under the executive branch, so writing the administrator could be one route. Writing JC Watts, the leader of the GOP conference, could be another. Writing Gephardt, or David Bonior, might bring this to their attention as an issue of equal treatment, but might just make things worse leading to www.dems.gov! Assuming they want to expend any political capital on this whatsoever.

I don't think CAIS is going to care one way or another. They'll ask nic.gov, is this a valid registration? and nic.gov says, "yes, according to our vague rules", end of story. Those policies are RFC 2146 and explicitly allow "cross-agency organizations".

The problem here is that Congress is split between house.gov and senate.gov -- there is no congress.gov (except as a pointer to thomas.loc.gov). Maybe it slipped in via that rule.

The main drawback I see is that a new Congress -- say, with a Democratic majority -- could come in and wash away all such domains in favor of their own. It shouldn't be politicized. But it's in their hands, really.
posted by dhartung at 2:15 PM on April 11, 2000

Actually, the Diamond response -- which I've now read more carefully after incorporating my research above -- goes into terrific detail. The FNC (Federal Networking Council) Executive Committee granted an exception under the rules. So, if anybody wants to challenge this, the FNC is the place to start.
posted by dhartung at 2:23 PM on April 11, 2000

Whoops, one more:

My first question to ask the FNC would be "if the House majority party changes, what happens to the domain name?" If it's truly -- as Diamond claims -- representative of the majority conference, and an entity that can trade places, why does it have a party name at all? Why not majority.house.gov?
posted by dhartung at 2:25 PM on April 11, 2000

I had a conversation with James Smith, press secretary for J.C. Watts, Jr. and the supervisor for the gop.gov web site. We had quite an in depth discussion on the issue (and others, heh) and he basically echoed what Richard Diamond said earlier. He suggests that the only reason for the short domain is just to provide an easily marketable place where they can share whats going on within their party with the public. He also said as a government agency, not a political party, they would not be allowed to use a .org address. And that he welcomes the democrats, who have the same type of site on a longer domain to shorten theirs.

So I guess I was "spun" by him becuase by the time we were done speaking I was pretty satisfied with his justification. I don't think I had enough good questions to ask him but I think this will be a continuing dialog. If anyone wants his email address just mail me.
posted by bvanveen at 2:55 PM on April 11, 2000

Looks like I got beat to the punch on this link to the Democratic propaganda, but anyone who's ever viewed any official communication of any elected official must surely be able to detect the subtle or not-so-subtle agenda in each. This goes for every government website, even from supposedly impartial govenrment agencies.
posted by mikewas at 5:17 PM on April 13, 2000

« Older Cell phone spammers   |   NPR doesn't like low-power FM radio? Great. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments