A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Web Terms

Even the most basic web terms can be exceedingly confusing to the novice internet user. And not understanding these terms can hamper your ability to get things done on the internet. The following is a list of the most basic terms you will need to know to reduce stress and increase joy in your internet use.

I will try to start with the most basic and move on from there.

  • INTERNET: A worldwide network of smaller computer networks. The Internet allows for sharing of information not just between computers within one network, but across all the networks.
  • WORLD WIDE WEB/THE WEB/THE WWW: One of the networks within the internet. More specifically, it is the network that we access using our browsers. The URL of a website within the Web begins with “www.”
  • URL (Uniform Resource Locator): An “address” specifying the location of a document on the internet. The URL for the Technology section on a website is “www. website.com/technology/”.
  • SITE/WEBSITE: a group of related web pages associated with a particular domain name. For example, each page on a site may have its own unique URL. They each start with www.website.com, but then go on to have extensions to further identify the correct page. The whole collection of pages containing all articles, content producer bios, etc. is the website.
  • DOMAIN NAME: This is the unique name used to identify a website within a given domain. A domain name has at least two parts separated by dots. It includes the top level domain and at least one sub-domain. The domain name for Google is www.google.com (the top level domain and two sub-domains).
  • DOMAIN/TOP LEVEL DOMAIN: This is the two or three letter designation at the end of the domain name. The .com (business), .gov (government), and .edu (educational) domains are some of the most common domains you will find. Countries also have their own domains, for example, .ca for Canada or .au for Australia. It is important to note that the same sub-domain name within a different top level domain is a DIFFERENT site. For example, www.eastern.com belongs to Eastern Propane of Rochester, NH while www.eastern.edu is the website of Eastern University in St. Davids, PA.
  • BROWSE/SURF: To move around the internet, visiting different web pages or sites, usually by clicking on links in the pages you find.
  • BROWSER: Software that allows you to browse. The browser translates the unique web language on the site into readable pages.
  • BACK/FORWARD: These are buttons at the top left of your browser. They allow you to move back and forth between pages you have just viewed. This history only stays in the browser memory while the window is open. If you close your browser window, you will not be able to revisit pages without re-entering the URL (or selecting the appropriate bookmark).
  • BOOKMARKS/FAVORITES: This is a way to store the URL of sites you’d like to revisit. At the top of your browser window is a link called either “Bookmarks” (Firefox, Netscape) or Favorites (Internet Explorer). To save a page, click the link and select “Add.” To visit a page you have bookmarked, select it from the Bookmarks or Favorites list.
  • CACHE: A folder on your computer’s hard drive where your browser stores copies of pages you have visited. This allows the pages to load faster the next time you visit the same page.
  • CASE SENSITIVE: This refers to the ability to tell the difference between upper and lower case letters. It is often associated with passwords. The log-in program won’t recognize the password if any letter is in the wrong case.
  • COOKIE: A small file sent by a website and stored on your computers hard drive. This allows the site to recognize you. For example, checking the “remember me” box that appears on some log-in pages allows the website to set a cookie so that you do not have to log in each time you visit the site.
  • SEARCH: To use a “search engine” in order to find websites containing information you want on the internet.
  • KEYWORD: A word or series of words related to the topic you want to find. You type keywords into a search engine in order to find web pages relevant to your subject.
  • PHRASE: A series of keywords that you want to find together in a specific order. To search for a phrase, put it in quotes. For example if you were looking for pages that mention the World Wide Web, you would type “world wide web”. Without the quotes, the search engine interprets it as three separate words and you would get pages with all three words SOMEWHERE on the page, but not necessarily together.
  • SEARCH ENGINE: Software that searches documents on the web looking for keywords that you type in. It then returns a list of pages containing those keywords.
  • META-SEARCH: Using a special search engine called a meta-search engine. These engines send your keyword(s) to several different search engines at the same time. Then they show you the top results from each engine.
  • SPIDER: Also called a “crawler” or “bot”, this is a program that a search engine uses to roam the internet looking for new and updated pages to add to its index.
  • BLOG: Short for “web log”, this is an online journal. Blogs are generally updated daily and can be dedicated to a specific subject or encompass the author’s thoughts on anything or everything.
  • WIKI: A website whose content is written by users, or members of the site, rather than by the owner of the site. Wikis are often focused on a particular theme. Some wiki sites are open to all and others are password protected. Wikipedia is the most well-known wiki.

There are, of course, MANY more internet terms to know. But these terms should give you a strong enough foundation to begin your exploration of the internet. I want to share with you a great resource that I think will help you as you come across unfamiliar terms. It is www.webopedia.com. On this site you can find the definition of just about any computer or internet related term. So visit soon and bookmark it so that you can continue to learn about this vast new world.

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