Early in 2010, the Web Advisory Committee established a Domain Name Resolution Committee charged with the following goals:

  • Make recommendations on issues related to domain name conflict resolution.
  • Identify and document best practices for use of domain names on Waterloo websites.

The review was intended to cover all University of Waterloo websites and all hosts in the 129.97 domain. More specifically, the committee was asked to make recommendations on the following:

  • Domain Name Conflict Resolution. What process should be used to resolve issues when two organizations on campus want to use the same domain name?  E.g., when the Sociology Department wants to use http://soc.uwaterloo.ca and it is already in use by the Student Orientation Committee.
  • Misleading Domain Names. What process should be used when an organization is using a domain name that does not reflect its mission?  E.g., a student who wants to use http://president.uwaterloo.ca
  • Domain Name versus Folders on a website.  When should a domain name be used and when should a folder structure be used?  E.g., http://www.ahs.uwaterloo.ca/kin or http://kin.uwaterloo.ca
  • The ‘www’ Prefix.  When should the prefix ‘www’ be used on a web site?  E.g., http://www.ist.uwaterloo.ca versus http://ist.uwaterloo.ca
  • Externally Hosted Domain Names. Should Waterloo websites be hosted (or appear to be hosted) on external domains (e.g., iqc.ca)? How can external domain names be handled to avoid problems such as ‘askthewarrior.ca’, whose registration was left to lapse and was subsequently acquired by someone who used it to conduct non-university business?

 The members of the committee were:

  • Terry Stewart, Chair
  • Bruce Campbell
  • Mike Borkowski
  • Jason Gorrie
  • Shawn Winnington-Ball
 

The recommendations were received in June, 2010 and reviewed by the Computer Technology & Services Committee (CTSC) and the University Committee on Information Systems & Technology (UCIST).  Following a few refinements and clarifications, the recommendations below were accepted.

Recommendations

When a domain name is being used by one unit and another unit wants it and feels they have a legitimate right to it, the weight of the argument will be informed by a variety of factors including but not limited to: how long the domain name has been in use by the existing organization; how disruptive the change is likely to be; whether there are viable alternatives; whether the domain name more appropriately lies in one unit or another, etc. If the two units are unable to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, the issue will be referred to the Associate Provost, Information Systems & Technology for resolution. The Associate Provost will seek advice from members of UCIST, Deans’ Council or Executive Council, as appropriate, before making a final decision

  • Misleading domain names or domains that could easily be misconstrued as referring to some other organization or person should not be allowed within the uwaterloo.ca domain.  The same resolution path as described in recommendation #1 above should be used to ensure that misleading domain names are taken down or renamed appropriately.  
  • After broad consultation with the Waterloo community, the committee is not prepared to make a recommendation on this topic at this time.  Further investigation into the Web Content Management System’s requirements and migration process are needed.
  • With respect to the ‘www’ prefix, the committee recognizes that there is a history of the use of ‘www’ in URLs.  The prevailing practice is that when a domain name is registered for the purpose of a web site, a corresponding record with a `www’ prefix is also created.  We believe that this practice will have to continue. However, where possible, the `www’ URL should redirect to the non-`www’ URL using a permanent redirect or similar method.
  • The committee believes that the use of an external domain name leaves the University in a precarious and potentially liable situation. Domain names that are abandoned and not properly dismantled may be picked up by others, who may use them for embarrassing purposes or to masquerade as a Waterloo website for illegitimate purposes.  It is important that the University manage and control any external domain names that represent the institution.  Our general recommendation is that all web sites should use a name within the uwaterloo.ca domain. However, we do recognize that there are currently exceptions to this general rule, and that future exceptions may be inevitable.  To manage these exceptions, the committee recommends various levels of requirement for external sites as outlined below.
    • Official Waterloo websites (i.e., those of the institution itself, a faculty, a department or school) should be hosted on a server in the uwaterloo.ca domain.  In practice, if the site is displaying the Waterloo crest/word-mark then it should be hosted on a uwaterloo.ca site.  Future external domain names should be discouraged and all exceptions should require an approval process as prescribed below.
    • Research groups should use a name within the uwaterloo.ca domain unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise. That said, there may be legitimate reasons to use an external domain name (funding affiliations, joint projects involving several institutions, etc.).  They should, however, follow the prescribed approval process for the external domain name as outlined below.
    • Conferences should, where possible, use a name within the uwaterloo.ca domain. This is not always practical (e.g., canheit.ca), but such domain names are generally well controlled by the organization and are not a problem.  Other “one-off” conferences, if they must use an external domain name, should petition for approval as outlined below.
    • Other uses, such as marketing campaigns, recruitment campaigns or funding efforts that tend to be temporary in nature are inevitable and difficult to predict. Any use of an external domain for these should follow the approval process below.

Approval process for external Domain Names

An individual or unit wishing to use an external domain name should so indicate in a written request to the Secretary of the University and the Vice-President, University Relations, who will seek advice from members of Executive Council and others, as appropriate. The request should include reasons why the use of an external domain name is desirable, compared to using a name within the uwaterloo.ca domain.

If approved, the University, through Technology Integrated Services, Information Systems & Technology (IST), will purchase and control the name (i.e., be listed as the billing and administrative contacts for the domain). In this way, the University will track expiring domain names and take appropriate actions.

Endorsed by Executive Council on January 5, 2011.