DoIT DNS Name Selection Policy

DoIT DNS Name Selection Policy

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DoIT staff members serve as the agent of the University of Wisconsin-Madison when they make and maintain entries in the institution’s DNS tables. DoIT performs several functions in this role:

  1. Make and maintain entries in the campus DNS tables. This includes the development and implementation of procedures that ensure efficient and timely operations. Some of this work is delegated to individual units who maintain their own DNS tables, and have their own procedures for doing so.

  1. Develop and implement policy and guidelines for IP number assignment. This is largely a technical issue. DoIT directly administers some IP number ranges. A system administrator seeking a “fixed IP number” in that range will request one from DoIT. A system configured to seek a “dynamic IP number” will receive one automatically through a DHCP server or other server administered by DoIT. Some ranges of IP numbers are allocated to departments who can assign them as needed. Much of this has evolved over the last 30 years.

  2. Advise campus decision-makers who evaluate the suitability of DNS names. Advice from DoIT includes: information about the limitations of the technology, common patterns of name and address usage on the internet, and best practices for naming in the IT industry.

  3. Implement naming conventions which have been developed by decision-makers. This includes procedures for escalating questionable cases for decision-makers to review.

Determining the appropriateness of DNS names

DoIT staff can determine the appropriateness of a proposed DNS name if the name is definitely acceptable or unacceptable according to the general naming conventions.

If the name is questionable, DoIT staff may suggest that an alternative name be selected. If the requestor feels that the originally requested name should be accepted, DoIT will escalate the request internally. If the question cannot be resolved internally, DoIT will escalate to the CIO's office. If warranted, the CIO's office may escalate to UW-Madison Legal Services.

General naming conventions

Definitely Acceptable

Third or fourth level names beginning with: “www.”, “ftp.”, “mail.”, or other such names that are in common use on the Internet, provided that they are prefixed to an already approved name over which the requestor has appropriate authority.

Definitely Unacceptable

Any word or phrase, at any level alone or in combination, that is offensive.

Offensive words or phrases include those that are: obscene, sexist, racist, sarcastic or otherwise disrespectful of persons, groups of persons, or the units and activities of the university. This includes not just words or phrases in English, but in other languages as well.


The determination that a name is questionable is a judgment call. It is not a rejection of the name, but a determination that the name should be reviewed by the appropriate decision-makers.

There are three general cases:

  1. Any word or phrase that may be offensive.

  2. Any word or phrase that appears to be non-business-like.

    A non-business-like name is one which is inappropriately humorous or which might confuse the user. A name should accurately represent content or purpose, and should not adversely affect the perception of the unit or the university as a whole.

There is a long tradition of naming individual hosts from various mythologies, popular culture and other sources. Such a name may incidentally (or deliberately) obscure the content or purpose of the host. This practice is acceptable provided that the names are not inappropriately humorous.

  1. Any word or phrase that is out-of-scope for the unit that is requesting it.

A name is out of scope if:

    • the name implies a function which the unit or service does not perform, or 
    • the name implies a function which other units or services also perform.

   For example:

The name would be out-of-scope for any single department, school or college, because all academic units of the university are engaged in “learning”. It would also be out-of-scope for a single learning service, even if that service were campus-wide, because there are many learning services on campus.

  1. Special cases for names of a particular form or pattern.

The conventions regarding "offensive", "non-business-like" and "out-of-scope" also apply in each of these cases.

  • New second level names of the form “*.com”

    All new second level ".com" names must be approved by UW-Madison Legal Services. DoIT staff may suggest a ".org" or other alternative. If the requester feels the original name should be used, DoIT staff will escalate the request to UW-Madison Legal Services.

  • New third level names should represent a division, school, college, department, office, center or other organizational unit of the university, or a function of the university as a whole, or a service offered to the university as a whole.

    Third level names that represent particular projects or localized services are discouraged, even if the project or service involves multiple units of the university.

    DoIT staff may suggest an alternative, usually a fourth level name derived from a previously approved third level name. If the requester feels the original name should be used, DoIT staff will escalate the request.

KeywordsDoIT DNS Name Selection Policy   Doc ID26755
OwnerTim C.GroupNetwork Services
Created2012-10-10 09:13:48Updated2024-04-02 12:37:11
SitesBOREAS, DCTeam, DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Staff, Network Services, Office of Cybersecurity, Systems & Network Control Center, Systems Engineering, VCRGE and Graduate School, Voice Services
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