The .ws domain is an abbreviation for "Western Samoa", which was the nation's official name in the 1970s when two-letter country codes were standardized. While there are no geographic restrictions on registration of most second-level .ws domains, .org.ws, .gov.ws, and .edu.ws registration is restricted.
Prior to March 14, 2008, .ws domains were not allowed to be transferred from one domain registrar to another.
The .ws country code has been marketed as a domain hack, with the .ws purportedly standing for "World Site", Web Site or Web Service, providing a "global" Internet presence to registrants, as it supports all internationalized domain names. Due to its potential popularity, a sliding scale of prices is operated by the registrar, depending on the brevity of the desired domain. Domains with four characters or more are competitively priced while three-, two-, and single-character domains have their own pricing tiers, quickly scaling into thousands of United States dollars.
Some news agencies also use this for a URL shortener, such as eurone.ws and abcn.ws. Some organisations in the U.S. state of Wisconsin also use the domain (e.g. lakeland.ws), despite the state abbreviation being WI.
Google treats the .ws ccTLD as gTLD.