Frequently Asked Questions


Stanford Domains is a project at Stanford University offered by the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL).

Stanford Domains offers students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to register a free subdomain (mysubdomain.su.domains) and create a digital presence through various mediums such as blogs, portfolios, and wikis. Students can easy install popular open-source applications such as WordPressMediaWikiDrupal, and Omeka on their space giving them an unlimited amount of ways to creatively express and create their digital identity.

Shared web hosting and subdomains are offered for free to all students, faculty, and staff at Stanford University. This free subdomain looks like [freesubdomain].su.domains.

Alternatively, a custom domain (e.g., [customdomain].com)  can be acquired and mapped to a Stanford Domains hosting account for $12/year.

Create a blog, or a personal website, course site, or your very own wiki page for collaboration (see here for more information). These are just a few examples of what is possible with a Stanford Domains account. The most popularly used technologies on Stanford Domains are websites and blogs created with WordPress.

(Please note that all users of Stanford Domains users must abide by the Stanford “Terms of use for sites.”)

Stanford Domains can give instructors more creative and customizable options for developing a course site. This is particularly true for courses where students may be blogging, creating digital multimodal projects, and/or experimenting with web application and technologies. (Here is a handy table of all online platforms available to Stanford instructors.)

Please note that instructors wishing to use Stanford Domains as a course site should keep in mind that it is completely optional for students to display their work and assignments on a public site. Alternate forms of assignments should be offered if students wish not to post their content publicly. There are also many options for restricting public access to any or all site content and we are happy to consult with you on options that best meet your needs (please contact stanforddomains@stanford.edu)    

Stanford Domains does not provide Stanford “vanity” URLs (e.g. example.stanford.edu), but rather a free subdomain on su.domains (e.g. example.su.domains). Stanford IT manages all vanity URLs through Web Virtual Host requests, which are, “available only to departments, research groups, and university-recognized student organizations. Virtual URLs can not be linked to an individual’s personal web page.”

Those looking to develop departmental or similar websites may be better served by Stanford Web Services, which provides a robust suite of web design, development, and hosting services. Stanford Domains is largely a self-help hosting service (i.e., there is no help desk nor do we provide dedicated web design support) targeted mainly at giving individual Stanford users or small groups web space to experiment with tools and establish an online presence.

Technical Questions

Domain names are simply addresses to websites. For example www.stanford.edu is a domain name.

A subdomain is a way to organize and separate content on your website. For instance, sub.mydomain.com is a subdomain of mydomain.com.

If you possess a domain, you are able to create an almost infinite number of subdomains (or directories such as sub.mydomain.com/directory) associated with it. In practice, this allows a user to simultaneously install multiple web applications to each of their subdomains or directories (such as WordPressOmekaMediaWiki, and/or Drupal).

For more information please refer to the support article on subdomains.

A web application is like an app for your phone or software for your computer. Specifically, a web application is a specialized piece of software to be installed on a server and used to manage web content.

WordPressMediaWikiDrupal, and Omeka are all examples of web applications. Each have their own advantages and limitations for developing web content. Therefore, selecting the proper web application to suit your needs is an important step to success.

To see some more examples of web applications, refer to the list that can be easily installed on your Stanford Domains account.

The cPanel is a simplified user interface that allows one to manage content on a server without needing to learn terminal commands. Creating new subdomains, installing web applications, managing server files, etc. can all be accomplished within the cPanel.

For more information about the cPanel, please refer to the cPanel Introduction page.

Installatron is the web application installer that is part of the cPanel. In other words, it is where you can install or uninstall web applications on your domain or subdomain addresses.

To learn how to use Installatron to install a web application, refer to the corresponding Reclaim Hosting site.

“WordPress is the most used blog application powering millions of blogs and being used by tens of millions of people every day.”

WordPress is a powerful open source software that allows individuals to create websites and blogs. Within WordPress, there are options to customize not only the content of a website, but also its appearance and functionality. In fact, between themes and plugins, these components of WordPress offer almost limitless customization of how a website looks and operates.

For instance, some themes offer custom background images, color schemes, menus, and widgets. Plugins can also be used to increase security for your WordPress install, allow visitors to make profiles on your website, or include maps, buttons, and galleries of photographs on your website.

For more information, please see the Stanford Domains Support content on WordPress.

WordPress plugins are like browser extensions or software expansion packs. They allow infinite levels of functionality customization for a WordPress website.

Plugins enable you to:

To enable new features on your WordPress website, install plugins within your WordPress web application.

Yes. We suggest Jetpack by WordPress.com and Akismet to get started.

Please note, Jetpack requires a WordPress.com account and Akismet requires additional setup.

General Questions

If you do not find answers to your questions in this FAQ, the Reclaim Hosting support site, or across the internet, please send your question(s) to stanforddomains@stanford.edu. There is no help desk for for Stanford Domains, but we are happy to consult with users on how best to utilize this space to meet their needs.  

With this overview:

  1. Select your domain name. (More information.)
  2. Sign up on Interest Form.
  3. Install a web application, we suggest installing WordPress first. (Here’s how to install a web application.)
  4. From this point, you can use your web application as your sole means to manager your website. However, to install more or different web applications, you will need to sign in to domains.stanford.edu to manage these settings.

Lynda.com is a video repository like YouTube. However, Lynda.com contains instructional videos intended to teach viewers about specific topics and can be used to learn how to work with web applications such as WordPress.

Lynda.com is normally a paid service. Fortunately, Stanford students, faculty, and staff members have FREE access to this tool at itservices.stanford.edu/lynda. In other words, Stanford Domains users have access to course materials associated with using domains.stanford.edu.

Portions of our FAQ have been adapted with permission from create.ou.edu.