By on October 21, 2004

If you need to come up with a URL for some reason, but don’t care what it does (as in testing form input, making an example in a paper, etc), what’s likely to be one of your first choices? “test.com”

The whiz kids at the IANA thought of this up front, and set a number of domain names aside for documentation purposes in RFC2606.

Unfortunately, when they did this, they didn’t really take into account how people use the net. They mostly set aside top-level domains (.test, .example, and .invalid) for use in this way. The thing is, noone in the real world will think that www.abc.test looks like a domain name, so noone really uses these.

Fortunately, the IANA realized this (perhaps too late) and set aside the example.com domain name for use as a documentation example. By the time they did this, though, (in 1999), Test Central, Inc., had already registered test.com (in 1997). Whoops.

As a result, test.com must have one of the most interesting server logs in the history of the Internet. Their unfortunate choice of domain names must cause them to receive no end of complaints of abuse from spam victims and random traffic from developers using their domain as a placeholder.

This is apparently a major problem for them, because they have an abuse web page with a form to report abuse so that they can track it down and defend their name.

Many of the individuals who contact Test Central concerning the abuse of test.com are obviously concerned, but Test Central is in the business of providing online and enterprise assessment and survey technology, Test Central is not in the business or a party of misusing the capability of the internet including SPAMing the general public.

As a service to the public, we do attempt to track down those organizations and individuals responsible for such abuse. Any help one can provide Test Central and test.com would be greatly appreciated.

This really seems like a losing battle to me. The same site also responds to testcentral.com. If I were them, I’d phase out the test.com domain name, with the goal of handing it over to the IANA. After all, I’d guess that email sent from that domain is assumed to be spam outright by most web servers, and the nuisance level of the domain has to outweigh any caché they might gain from using it. It’s a little like building your store in a bad part of town. Why put up with the grief when it’s so easy to move?



  1. The company I work for (Vero Test P/L) uses test.com.au as its primary domain… We get a range of spurious hits (mainly to our email server) from testers all over the world. At one stage we set up test@test.com.au with an autoresponder advising that it is a live site owned by a software testing company, but we were sending and receiving so much email through it that we ended up just shutting down the address. We regularly get cease and desist emails from outraged web admins and users too stupid to realise that a spam they have received has a spoofed address. However even with the grief it is a unique enough address to warrant us keeping it. I’m sure that test.com probably believe (as we do) that the positives of the domain name far outweigh the negatives!


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