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The structure of domain names is intended to follow a specific hierarchy in which the top level domain indicated the type of organization such as commercial or governmental, among others. Addresses would be placed from the third level onwards to indicate complex structures such as branches or departments of a mother organization. Host names were meant to correspond to real physical machines on the network, usually with only one name for every machine.

Its legitimate use has given rise to several abuses as site operators scramble to have memorable addresses without regard if such names properly fit in the over-all structure.