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University Web Developers

Some faculty and staff at our college want to set up .com domain names to promote certain projects and events. Our domain is www.bucks.edu. They propose things like www.artsatbucks.com, rather than using bucks.edu/artsatbucks. Prior to my tenure here, domains promoting a division within our Continuing Education area, the IT Academy, as well as a couple of others, set up .com domains that point to their pages on bucks.edu.

My feeling is that these dilute branding and diminish our .edu status.

I'm looking for comments on pros and cons of allowing .com domains, and links to any policies or regulations you may have posted. Thanks.

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Hey Steve,

Such a thing would be unthinkable here at MU, except that it happens anyway (http://www.mizzourec.com/). I would always suggest that a group use the existing .edu domain simply for SEO purposes alone.

Your domain name is already known/trusted by Google, and will make it easier for the group to dominate search in their area.

For example, one of the sites I developed was http://smilesforkids.missouri.edu/ - a pediatric cranio-facial surgery clinic. Because it's on the Missouri.edu domain, any condition + missouri brings that site very high in search results. The vast majority of traffic the site receives is from search.

You might be able to prove something similar in your case.

Also, simple conversations that remind folks that the internet is not a "push" technology, but a "pull" technology will remind them that it's ultimately up to them to let their audience know that they exist online. Having their own kingdom isn't going to help them at all.
Charlie, Thank you so much. Your reasoning and examples will be a great help in making the case.
Yeah, your .edu domain is going to have so much authority, trust, and history in Google making it so much easier to rank for anything compared to a stand-alone new domain with no history and no or very few links pointing to it.
Nice points made against having a .com domain. But let's say a department/program would like to snag a .com domain to use as a marketing url. Maybe to put on printables and schwag. And what if the .com domain was simply pointed or served as a redirect? As in, their .edu url is www.somereallylongcollegename.edu/reallylongdepartmentname. And the pointed / redirect url was niceshortname.com.

Just saying.
I think it would be much easier to create sub domain, keeping the .edu, but allowing them for a promotion/marketing to have a http://2009artevent.bucks.edu/ and give them a splash page for their event promotion, but can link to an internal page for more information. You can give them a timeline too when it can be removed later.. or just redirect to a general events page after the event is over. Like @Bradley said, the authority of the .edu will be the dominant one.. though grabbing a .com and redirecting "can" be easier too.. but how well will the search engines index the redirecting domain versus an initial page on the site? More likely the later.
Here's an interesting article I found on the subject. It might help your position.

http://searchenginewatch.com/3627909

I agree with pretty much everybody else that's posted. I wouldn't register a new domain name just to promote certain events, unless those events are really big and independently organized, such as the Contemporary American Theater Festival (http://www.catf.org/) at Shepherd University (http://www.shepherd.edu/).
Good discussion here. As a student organization at Temple University, we decided to register tu-iba.org but more for content management purposes. It was a pain to go through Temple's infrastructure to update our site, but the old www.temple.edu/iba page now redirects to our tu-iba.org page, so even if someone goes to that link first, we don't lose any traffic. Search engine rankings are definitely an issue though when you are starting a fresh project.

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