IFAS Internal Management Memoranda

UF/IFAS; Domain Name Policy for ifas.ufl.edu Subdomains

EFFECTIVE DATE: November 24, 2008


SUBJECT: UF/IFAS; Domain Name Policy for ifas.ufl.edu Subdomains

  1. Purpose

    To create a policy delineating how domain names shall be assigned at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). This policy is intended to:
    1. provide consistency in naming the network domains for services and organizations at IFAS,
    2. provide clarity and consistency to users of the IFAS network,
    3. provide for the transitioning of existing IFAS domain names into alignment with this policy, and
    4. promote efficient use of Web server resources and support.
  2. Scope

     This domain name policy applies to all servers residing on the IFAS network.

  3. Rationale

    The Web site names ending in “ifas.ufl.edu” are a critical part of the IFAS mission. They also require significant resources for management. Therefore, this policy has been established to provide a “domain name” environment where IFAS and its constituents are portrayed in a way that most effectively promotes its mission with the most efficient use of management resources.
  4. Background

    Policies for ensuring that logos and other trademarks are used appropriately in printed materials have been in effect for several years; however, a similar policy for managing domain names has never been established. This policy is intended to address this issue by providing a process for overseeing the registration, use, and support of IFAS domain names. In the past, IFAS-level domain names have been granted without review.  As the number of requests, confusion about names, security issues, and search engine relevance issues have increased, it has become obvious that a policy is needed to guide the granting of these names. It was determined that a domain name policy was the first and necessary step in moving toward a consolidated Web presence amenable to effective content management.
  5. Benefits of Restructuring

    Unplanned domain name expansion weakens the potential impact of IFAS’ Web presence. This pertains both to search engine Web crawlers that use complicated and constantly evolving proprietary algorithms to make decisions about the value of our sites, as well as to human visitors using navigational cues to find information. Search engines today assess a site based on measures such as its structure, the amount of meaningful content, and the amount of linking within and external to the site. Overall, content delivered from a large Web site with a hierarchical structure (i.e., with subfolders) has more relevance than the same content has if distributed among several unique domain names with no internal structure.  If a unit has a single Web site with an abundance of well-organized content, it is deemed to be more relevant, visible, and credible to search engines and visitors.  It is in IFAS’ best interest to manage the naming and architecture of its web presence rather than allowing it to evolve without constraint. The granting of a new IFAS level name should be a rare occurrence limited to Web resources of broad scope and long duration.  Several generic IFAS-level domains will be available for easier use by institutes, meetings, labs, programs, and projects (e.g., conferences.ifas.ufl.edu).  Each domain puts certain demands on IFAS’ IT resources, including Web server configuration, permission management, and analysis software with per-site licensing costs.
  6. Domain Name Standards

    The IFAS domain is “ifas.ufl.edu.”  All official IFAS Web sites, including those of schools, departments, offices, or other operating units, as well as faculty or staff performing IFAS functions, should use appropriate names within the ifas.ufl.edu namespace for Web sites or other use of the Internet. Generally, this means that all IFAS Web sites will end with ifas.ufl.edu. The IFAS domain is part of the UF domain and must adhere to the UF Domain Name Policy (http://www.webadmin.ufl.edu/policies/domain_name/).
  7. IFAS Domains

    Domains are an important means of communication and marketing for UF/IFAS. As such, approval of any domain involves consideration of technical, marketing, and Web related issues. The IFAS Web Team is designated to make decisions on domain requests that clearly fit this policy. When needed, requests that are not clearly within the standard approval pattern will be brought to the IFAS Web Advisory Committee. Generally, IFAS-level domain requests that are approved and registered meet the following criteria:
    1. The requesting unit is an IFAS school, department, center, or administrative office,
      or The unit provides services to all of the IFAS community,
      or The requested name represents a service or application used by the full IFAS community and the unit expects to provide these services on an ongoing basis.
    2. The requested name is unique within the IFAS namespace.
    3. The requested name is generally
      1. Recognized as a word (e.g., news) or an abbreviation (e.g., FYCS)
      2. Reasonably unique to the services offered or otherwise not likely to represent services offered by other IFAS units (e.g., newsletter.ifas.ufl.edu would not be appropriate for a particular department’s newsletter)
      3. Unlikely to conflict with other current or future domain name requests, services, programs or systems.  (e.g., lychee.ifas.ufl.edu would not be allowed for a software system).

    A domain name request will usually be denied if:

    1. The requesting unit is a center or program associated with a unit that already has an IFAS-level domain (e.g., impact.ifas.ufl.edu would be denied in favor of emr.ifas.ufl.edu/impact)
    2. The requesting unit provides services or information that is likely of interest to only a subset of the IFAS community (e.g., edisadmin.ifas.ufl.edu for EDIS administrators)
    3. The services are expected to be provided for a limited time (e.g., roundtable.ifas.ufl.edu for a Web site for the 2003 Sustainability Roundtable Conference)
    4. The requested name is
      1. Not unique within current or reasonably expected future services (e.g., testing.ifas.ufl.edu describes a service offered by a number of different IFAS units)
      2. Conflicts with other current or future uses for that name (e.g., international.ifas.ufl.edu is appropriate for all IFAS international programs, while extadmin.ifas.ufl.edu/international would be specific to the extension administration office)
      3. Has a substantial potential for confusion with existing IFAS-level names(e.g., insect.ifas.ufl.edu might be confused with the Department of Entomology and Nematology)

    Please note that by UF Domain Name Policy, the word “gator” in a domain name will not be approved. Sites using this term will need specific approval for that from the Associate Vice President of University Relations or his/her designee
  8. Transition of Existing IFAS Domains to Subdomains
    1. A transition process for existing IFAS-level domains will take place to ensure that all domain names are in compliance with the new domain name policy.
    2. Pre-existing Web sites that do not meet the domain name criteria will be migrated to an appropriately named ifas.ufl.edu subdomain. For example, itsa.ifas.ufl.edu would become it.ifas.ufl.edu/itsa.
    3. Sites with an established IFAS-level Web presence prior to migration will be given a "Period of Redirection" for one year. During this period the old domain name can continue to exist for the sole purpose of redirecting web browsers to a new location within the ifas.ufl.edu domain. No other material may be maintained on the former URL, and the Web site’s domain name may not be advertised or promoted in any fashion.
    4. After a year, the redirection from the old domain name will be removed.
  9. Special Considerations
    1. Non-ufl.edu Domain Names

      For a variety of reasons, site owners might wish to establish domain names outside the UF/IFAS domain (e.g., IFASbooks.com, SolutionsForYourLife.com).  This practice is generally discouraged, and requires approval from UF Web Administration.  The UF policy and procedures are covered in the UF Domain Name Policy, under “Domain Namespace other than ufl.edu.”
    2. Personal Pages

      Personal Web space is provided for GatorLink account holders at http://help.gatorlink.ufl.edu/webserv.html.
    3. Student Organization Pages

      Student organizations should be hosted under specific UF domain names, such as grove.ufl.edu, that have been reserved for student use. Student organizational Web pages and student individual pages are subject to the policies in the UF Student Handbook. 
    4. Faculty and Staff Pages

      Employee pages represent the individual in his or her primary role as a UF/IFAS employee, and should be located within their primary unit’s Web site. Faculty and staff who wish to publish personal information not related to their University functions should use an Internet service provider rather than using university Web resources.  Individual Web pages authored by faculty are subject to the provisions of the Faculty Handbook, and to the provisions of the individual's employment contract. Individual Web pages authored by staff (TEAMS, USPS, OPS) are subject to the provisions of the individual's employment contract. 
    5. Assistance

      Please consult the IFAS Web team (webteam@ifas.ufl.edu) for assistance with site organization, navigational techniques, usability, and accessibility issues.