Revised: 27-January 2020

Background

In 2010, the Web Advisory Committee (WAC) established a sub-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.

Statement history

June 2010: Recommendations on management of campus domain names established by Domain Name Resolution Committee

January 2011: Recommendations endorsed by Executive Council

January 2020: Updates developed by members of the Web Steering Committee

Purpose of domain name and website address management

Domain names and website addresses are a very important part of the University's identity and are key contributors to overall communications. Their composition and use of should reflect a website's relationship with the University. Appropriate and accurate domain names aid in communications, user experience and help to enhance the overall image and reputation of the University.

The practices for domain name and website address management have three primary intentions:

  1. Define the requirements for requesting, obtaining and managing domain names and website addresses.
  2. Identify and document best practices for use of website addresses in the uwaterloo.ca namespace.
  3. Identify the conflict resolution process.

Scope of domain name management

  1. This document refers specifically to http and https scheme URI registrations
  2. All University of Waterloo publicly accessible websites
  3. All academic and administrative units, University affiliates, and academic faculty and administrative staff wanting to register a domain name in the uwaterloo.ca namespace
  4. All academic and administrative units, University affiliates, and academic faculty and administrative staff wanting to register a website address in a non-uwaterloo.ca domain hosted in the universities IPAM system
  5. All approved external domains owned by the University of Waterloo.

Policy statement

Requesting a new website name or URL

This applies to ‘A’ records, CNAMEs, hostnames of devices that will run webservers.

  1. Official University websites will use names within the uwaterloo.ca namespace unless otherwise identified in 5.3: Use of external domain names.
  2. All requests must be compliant with community standards and avoid questionable or ambiguous language and terminology.
  3. All requests are subject to approval by the Manager, Web Strategy (UR), based on the guidelines contained herein. In the event that the original requestor disagrees with the decision, they may appeal it as outlined in section 5.8: Appeals Process.
  4. The requested domain or sub-domain must accurately describe the department, business unit, program or service to which it refers and be easily recognizable as words or widely understood abbreviations.
    1. If the requested domain or domain is the name of an existing campus entity and it is not already in use, the name will be approved immediately. If the requested domain is already in use, see section 5.5: Website URL conflict resolution.
    2. If the requested domain is the name of an individual it will generally not be approved. Only in exceptional cases will this be considered.
    3. If the requested domain is generic or potentially applicable to many units or functions it may not be approved. Exceptions may be granted by the Manager, Web Strategy (UR) upon consultation with all potentially affected units. For example:
      • uwaterloo.ca/numbers would be too generic
      • uwaterloo.ca/advisors would be applicable to multiple units

Requesting a WCMS website

The requested website name will be in the format of https://uwaterloo.ca/websitename/

  1. Requests must be submitted by the Point-of-Contact (POC) for that faculty/unit's group of websites.
  2. A site URL will be reserved for the website name at time of creation (if available) Example: If a site named “Campus Domain Names” was requested, the URL “https://uwaterloo.ca/campus-domain-names/ would be reserved.
  3. If the requested website name is too long, a shortened URL would be reserved instead. Example: If a site name “Campus Domain Name Management” was requested, a shortened URL may be used, such as https://uwaterloo.ca/campus-domain.
  4. If the new WCMS website is a replacement for a non-WCMS site, the existing CNAME will be updated to point to the WCMS-redirection server.

Use of external domain names

The general recommendation is that all websites should be within the uwaterloo.ca namespace. However, exceptions do exist and may be justified and granted.

Examples of acceptable use of external domain names

  1. Conferences or events with existing and well-established name and history, and/or are typically co-hosted by other institutions.
  2. Campaigns or fundraising efforts that are temporary in nature.
  3. Research groups that have separate funding affiliations or are in collaboration with external partners.

In practice, if a site displays a Waterloo logo of some type, it should be hosted in the uwaterloo.ca namespace. If an individual or unit believes they have a case for an external domain, the following process must be taken.

Process to request an external domain name

  1. Submit your request to the RT system indicating the desired domain name, with accompanying rationale (such as those cases outlined previously).
  2. The Manager, Web Development, (IST) will consult with the Manager, Web Strategy (UR) and collectively assess the suitability of the request. If they deem that the request meets established best practices and community guidelines, the request will be approved.
  3. If there is some question about the suitability of the request, it will be forwarded to the VP, UR and the CIO for approval.
  4. If approved, the University, through Technology Integrated Services (TIS), IST, will purchase and control the name. IST is listed as the contact for the domain.
  5. If denied, the Managers of Web Development (IST) and Web Strategy (UR) will provide reasons which will be forwarded to the original requestor through RT.
  6. An appeal can be initiated by the original requestor (see section 5.8: Appeals Process).
 

Directing to off-campus websites

A University domain name may not point to an externally hosted website. An exception may be granted if the requestor meets the following requirements.

Requirements for directing a University domain to an externally hosted website

  1. A written contract is executed between the University entity and the external vendor.
  2. The contract identifies what University data is transmitted and stored by the vendor.
  3. The contract identifies how University data will be protected and that the vendor asserts with which federal and provincial data security policies it is compliant.
  4. The contract stipulates that the University of Waterloo owns the data and how the University obtains possession of said data after the contract ends.
  5. The contract is reviewed and approved by Procurement Services (under guidelines from University Counsel and the Chief Information Officer).
  6. If University trademarks are included in the domain name(s), upon expiration or termination of the contract, the domain name(s) must be assigned to the University

Website URL conflict resolution

When a website URL is in use by one unit and another unit 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 website URL has been in use by the existing organization.
  • How disruptive the change is likely to be.
  • Whether there are viable alternatives.
  • Whether the website URL more appropriately lies in one unit or another, etc.

If the two units are unable to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, the case will be referred to the Web Steering Committee for resolution.

Inactivity in WCMS websites

WCMS website URLs may return to circulation after twelve months of inactivity. Inactivity is defined as:

  1. No access to the administrative portion of the website (e.g. login to the WCMS); and
  2. No access by users of the website (e.g. zero human pageviews; bots and other spiders may still access and their pageviews may be recorded).

Prior to deactivation, attempts will be made to contact POC, or a reasonable alternate.

Inactivity in external websites

Domain names for external websites are reviewed by Technology Integrated Services (IST) before renewal. These domain names will be renewed under the following conditions:

  1. The external website is still active.
  2. The University of Waterloo contact who requested the external domain, or a reasonable alternate, confirms that it is still required.

Appeals process

In the event the original requestor, or delegate, disagree with a decision made by the Manager, Web Strategy (UR) or the Manager, Web Development (IST), they may appeal the decision as outlined below.

​​​​​​​Initial appeal

  1. The original requestor must initiate the appeal.
  2. The Associate Director, Digital Communications (UR) will review the request and the original decision and consult with parties as appropriate.
  3. The Associate Director, Digital Communications (UR) will issue a decision regarding the appeal.

​​​​​​​Final appeal

  1. The original requestor must initiate the appeal. This can only be done once the initial appeals process has been completed.
  2. The Chief Information Officer (IST) and the Associate Vice-President, Marketing and Strategic Initiatives (UR) will jointly review the request, original decision, and the decision rendered in the initial appeal, and consult with parties as appropriate.
  3. The Chief Information Officer (IST) and the Associate Vice-President, Marketing and Strategic Initiatives (UR) will issue a joint decision regarding the appeal. This decision will be considered final.

Summary of responsibilities

  • WCMS website URL approvals
    • Manager, Web Strategy (UR) or designate.
  • Domain name approvals for external websites
    • Manager, Web Development (IST)
    • Manager, Web Strategy (UR)
  • WCMS website URL conflict resolution
    • Web Steering Committee
  • Appeal resolution
    • Initial appeal
      • Associate Director, Digital Communications
    • Final appeal
      • Chief Information Officer (IST)
      • Associate Vice-President, Marketing and Strategic Initiatives (UR)
  • Ongoing maintenance of this document
    • Web Steering Committee

Definitions

URI

A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) provides a simple and extensible means for identifying a resource. The URI syntax is organized hierarchically, with components listed in order of decreasing significance from left to right.

URI         = scheme ":" hier-part [ "?" query ] [ "#" fragment ] hier-part = “//” = ‘authority’

authority = [ userinfo "@" ] host [ ":" port ] host       = IP-literal / IPv4address / reg-name

Example:

foo://example.com:8042/over/there?name=ferret#nose scheme – foo://

authority – example.com:8042 [host : port] path - /over/there

query - ?name=ferret fragment - #nose

​​​​​​​Host

Host – subcomponent of ‘authority’ section of a URI. It is either an IP address or a registered name. In a globally scoped naming system such as DNS, fully qualified domain names should be used for the URI to have global scope.

​​​​​​​Fully Qualified Domain Name

The complete name for a specific device, it consists of a hostname part and a domain name part.

Example: hostname.domainName.tld

​​​​​​​Domain Name (Parent domain)

A name used to identify internet resources, a ‘Domain’ is a container of records.

​​​​​​​Sub-domain

A container of records within your parent domain.

​​​​​​​Hostname

A label assigned to a device connected to a computer network and is used to distinguish one device from another on a specific network over the internet. Generally, it is a mapping of a string to an IP address.

​​​​​​​URL

Universal resource locator refers to a subset of URIs that in addition to identifying a resource, provide a means of locating the resource.

​​​​​​​Website address

Another name for a URL.

​​​​​​​IPAM

IP address management.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Namespace

Website addresses hosted within a specific parent domain.