Here's a cleanup project to help improve the information on the site. Posts on this site often reference a fictitious example domain. The preferred domains for this purpose are the reserved example domain or the .example TLD.

  • example.com
  • example.net
  • example.org
  • example.edu
  • siteA.example
  • siteB.example

Other domain names should generally not be used as example domain names because they might be real sites. Many of the questions and answers on this site do not use example domains properly. Users commonly use the following in example domain names:

  • domain
  • site
  • my
  • your
  • some
  • our
  • sample
  • fake

Those questions should be edited to use an example domain name when appropriate. Some important caveats:

  • It is fine if a post is actually trying to refer to a real domain name from this list.
  • When two different example domains are needed, don't change both to example.com

The auto editor user script that I wrote can automate much of work here, as long as you supervise it and ensure that all the changes its suggest actually look appropriate.

Here is a list of domain names that are likely to be misused as example domain names on this site. This list was pulled from a data dump of all the posts on this site.

As with all clean-up projects, don't just fix this one issue. More than likely there are other issues with the post that should be addressed. Edits should be rejected in the edit queue unless they attempt to fix all the major problems in a given post. That may include:

  • Non-descriptive titles
  • Capitalization
  • Formatting
    • Paragraph breaks
    • Lists
    • Code blocks
  • Other misspellings
  • Grammar
  • Tags (either inappropriate or missing)
  • Remove "hi", "thanks", "please help", "here is my question", and signatures

Be aware of front-page flooding. Only fix a few posts at a time. It usually takes a while to edit each post properly, so you won't want to do to many of them at once anyway.

It is also common that posts that have spelling errors should be closed. If the post is:

  • unclear
  • duplicate
  • a site review or other problem that no other webmaster will encounter
  • asks for third party tools (or other off-site resources)

flag the post to be closed.

Please feel free to suggest new domains that have been used as examples, or edit this post to indicate that an item has been completely taken care of.

  • Do you have a source for example.edu? Neither RFC 2606 nor RFC 6761 reserve it. It’s also not registered on Special-Use Domain Names. -- Wikipedia doesn’t cite anything, and when visiting example.edu, the page only links to the mentioned resources.
    – unor
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 0:34
  • The whois information indicates that it is registered by ICANN. It resolves to the same IP address as example.com. Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 0:41
  • What is the best practise when two (or more) example domains are required? Varying just the TLD makes it confusing and less readable.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 12:33
  • I tend to you subdomains like sitea.example.com and siteb.example.com You could also use example.com and example.net or make an exception and allow more descriptive fake domains if using example.com detracts from the clarity of the question. Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 12:37
  • 1
    @MrWhite I do not know if it is the best or not, but you have also the whole .example TLD to play with so an "infinite" amount of domain names below it... Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 23:35

3 Answers 3


A couple of problems I see here:

  1. Answers typically correlate with what the OP used, so changing domains in the question would affect users' answers and their comments, which are not editable, and thus would break their references. (I can point to an example of where that occurred recently)

  2. The choice of the domain by the OP might confer a different emphasis or meaning, such as using mysite.com when referring to the OP's site versus mydomain.com when referring to the OP's domain. Changing both to "example.com" could break that as well.

  3. The domain extension could be an important part of the question: A ccTLD can have very different implications than a gTLD (e.g., domain.fr versus example.com). Likewise, even the difference in the gTLD extension might impact the question, and there are dozens of new gTLDs available and on the way. Editing these to a select list could invite all sorts of issues.

  4. This kind of mass editing on the site makes it more difficult for users to track Active questions, including updates and edits to them, potentially resulting in less attention for recent questions and votes for new answers.

  5. IMHO, over-editing questions could make the site appear overly-pedantic and scare off new users. (I can point to examples of that as well)

  • Is there a way to agree with both sides here? I can see where the OP is coming from. Is there a way to add a "sticky post" to this Exchange and the others saying that all new posts should use some set of rules, in this case example.*
    – eyoung100
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 20:01
  • @ECarterYoung There is a How to Format highlight box on the right-side of the question form (when you click on the Ask Question tab). That could possibly be edited to use example.com whenever possible. A form entry alert that checks for specific URLs might also be possible, but we'd need to defer to @TimPost about these.
    – dan Mod
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 1:42

I'd agree with Dan as far as being careful not to break context by cleaning these up, and it's okay if some don't match the rest. We had this problem on Stack Overflow, which prompted us to reject quite a few 'fake' domains through the blacklist.

I'm setting a reminder to revisit this in a month, after folks have had a chance to do a little cleanup, and then I'll get the 'worst offenders' into the blacklist here. I don't want to do it now as it would get in the way of other edits with an annoying (but helpful) message telling them 'xyz.com can't be used, please use example.com instead'.

After that's done, folks should stop using them as often, and as posts are normally edited and such, a bunch more should be fixed.

  • I'd be in-favor of adding URL suggestions to the formatting help documentation (see my comment above). I've been seeing the flow of answers and comments however become broken due to corresponding URLs in them not successively being edited to match the question - the later of which can only be done by moderators, so confusion could result. I think this site perhaps more than others needs greater latitude to reference domains and URLs based on its subject area, so adding to a blacklist might be too restrictive.
    – dan Mod
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 2:09
  • That doesn't mean we can't be on the lookout however when reviewing and editing new questions for any unnecessary usage.
    – dan Mod
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 2:13
  • @dan IMHO, I don't think it's too restrictive. It's a matter of a poster's opinion. I'm probably most active on this SE, and Unix&Linux. I say poster's opinion because the writers here come in two groups: 1. Those that keep their sites private, and 2. Those that like providing a live example because they believe their problem only exists in their world that affects them. Being restrictive as you say, forces those in group two to generalize their issue, meaning that the answer will apply to a broader audience.
    – eyoung100
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 13:39
  • @ECarterYoung Assuming you're referring to the blacklist, as Tim indicated, that would contain a list of the worst offenders from the above list. It wouldn't preclude them from adding their own unique domain or URL, which is sometimes necessary in order to answer the question, though we typically edit them out when not.
    – dan Mod
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 0:22

To generate the list of domains, I download the data dump from Stack Exchange from the torrent. That takes about 5 hours. Then I can run a search against the entire webmasters archive:

7zcat webmasters.stackexchange.com.7z | grep -oP '(?<!-)\b((1st|2nd|3rd|4th|an|abcd?|abcdef?|address|another|any|apps?|back|bad|banks?|bar|blah?|cdns?|clients?|company|companies|child|children|custom|dev|development|domains?|emails?|end|ever|evil|examples?|fake|fallback|first|foo|fourth|front|good|guys?|hacks?|hackers?|harm|harmless|hello|hi|home|hosts?|hosters?|info|information|last|local|mail|main|malicious|mine|my|names?|new|of|old|other|our|package|pages?|parents?|places?|private|production|protected|proxy|public|safe|samples?|second|servers?|services?|sites?|shops?|some|ssl|stores?|stuff|tests?|their|things?|third|this|tls|unsafe|urls?|web|what|where|x{3,}|xyz|your|(?:(?<=[a-zA-Z\-])co)|(?:a(?=[a-zA-Z\-]{3,})))-?)+([0-9]*|[A-Za-z]?)((\.com?)?\.(tld|com|net|ru|org|info|in|ir|uk|au|de|ua|ca|tr|co|jp|vn|cn|gr|fr|tk|tw|id|br|io|xyz|it|nl|pl|za|us|eu|mx|ch|biz|me|il|es|online|by|nz|kr|cz|ro|cf|ar|club|my|tv|kz|cl|pk|pro|site|th|se|sg|cc|be|rs|top|ga|ma|hu|ae|su|dk|hk|at|ml|shop|store|ng|np|no|app|live|pe|ph|ie|lk|gq|edu|fi|ai|sa|pw|tech|bd|sk|ke|pt|az|space|mk|ge|tn|lt|dev|to|gov))\b' | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]' |grep -v '\\' | grep -vE '\b(example)\.' | grep -vE '^webpagetest\.org$' | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr | head -n 100 | sed -E 's|^ *([0-9]+) *([^ ]+$)| - \1 - [\2](https://webmasters.stackexchange.com/search?tab=votes\&q=\2)|g'

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