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08 Aug 2006
With all of the recent excitement about *.cm, the Cameroonian wildcard that someone is using to collect vast numbers of mistyped .com addresses, I wondered how many other wildcards there were at the DNS top level. There's a total of 13.
Half of the wildcards are harmless. The *.museum wildcard leads to a registry page that helps guess what you might have been looking for. If you go to history.museum, you'll get a directory page of all of the .museum names that contain the word history. Five of the wildcards, *.mp, *.nu, *.pw, *.st, and *.tk, lead to registry pages that encourage you to register the name you just mistyped. (The .mp page also claims that .mp is for Mobile Phone rather than for the Marianas Islands, but they're hardly the only small poor island to try to cash in on their ccTLD, and they at least run it themselves.)
The *.ws wildcard leads to some sort of get rich quick scheme that I didn't bother to investigate. (If anyone feels like sitting through their seven minute Flash movie, please tell me what it says.)
Three of the wildcards, *.cd, *.ph, and *.vg redirect to qsrch.net, a faux directory from Newnet, a company that tried to make an end run around ICANN a few years ago by persuading ISPs to add a bunch of Newnet-only domains to their DNS resolvers. All of their links appear to lead to Overture, Yahoo's paid search subsidiary
The *.cm wildcard leads, as noted before, to an anonymous directory page in Canada also with links to Overture. In the past day or so it added a FAQ link at the bottom that answers many not very frequently asked questions ("How can I protect my trademark?" "Register your own .cm domain.") but not the most interesting ones, who the heck are you and how did you talk Camnet into doing this?
Finally, Taiwan and China have an odd setup: there are A records for *.cn and *.tw, but they are not wildcards, since random .cn and .tw names don't resolve. There's a web server at *.tw that appears to be TWNIC, the ccTLD registry. (My Chinese is nonexistent.) There's a web server at *.cn as well, but all I can get from it is 404 pages.
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