Like all alternative root DNS systems, OpenNIC-hosted domains are unreachable to the vast majority of the Internet. Only specific configuration in one's DNS resolver makes these reachable, and very few Internet service providers have this configuration.
On June 1, 2000, an article was posted on kuro5hin.org advocating a democratically governed domain name system. By the end of July, OpenNIC root servers were operating and several top-level domains had been introduced as well as peering of the AlterNIC namespace. In March 2001 peering began of Pacific Root and in September a search engine was announced which was dedicated to the OpenNIC namespace.
OpenNIC restructured its architecture to improve scalability and avoid single-point-of-failure issues. Each TLD has its own policies regarding acceptable use. New TLDs may be created subject to OpenNIC stated policies.
Top level domains
As of May 2014, OpenNIC supports the following TLDs:
- aimed toward (Telnet-style) bulletin board systems and related Web sites.
- dynamic IP addresses.On 30 May 2014, a new Dynamic DNS system was announced after the TLD was transferred to another operator. The new system allows registrants to update their domain's A record through accessing a URL, which is supplied when the domain is registered. 
- the .free TLD provides namespace, certificate authority, and other services to encourage the non-commercial use of the internet.
- furry fandom-related sites. From March 2009, .fur has been operated by FurNIC instead of OpenNIC
- chartered for use by geek-oriented sites, including anything of a personal or hobbyist nature. This description is deliberately vague to reflect the huge range of interests that might qualify. 
- internal architectural, as in root server administration and peering purposes. The only domain names that exist for this TLD are those that are used for each system on the peer.
- sites using the Gopher protocol.
- independent news, media, and entertainment.
- fun TLD. Further details to be confirmed.
- micronations and their entities. Recent and not widely used yet.
- emo subculture with influences of technology, music, and other forms of multimedia. As of May 2014, the .neo domain registration system remains offline, meaning manual email registration is necessary.
- miscellaneous non-commercial individual sites.
- open-source software.
- Australian-related content, without the residency requirements of .au.
- venue for non-commercial parody work. Having a TLD designated to works of parody attempts to remove claims that a website could be mistaken for a business site, and thus reduces the possibility of claims of trademark infringement.
- created as a reaction against internet censorship. As of May 2014, .pirate is once again active with a functional registration interface. 
OpenNIC provides resolution of select other alternative DNS roots. Currently OpenNIC peers with New Nations, providing .ko, .ku, .rm, .te, .ti, and .uu, and FurNIC, providing .fur. OpenNIC also resolves .bit domains using a server which bridges DNS and Namecoin.
Public access information
To fully access the OpenNIC network, users need to use (at least one of) its name servers.
Notes and references
- As described in the .bbs charter OpenNIC .bbs TLD Charter
- As described in the .dyn charter OpenNIC .dyn TLD Charter
- Taylor, Jeff (30 May 2014). "The .dyn zone is now available for testing". opennic-discuss mailing list. http://lists.opennicproject.org/arc/discuss/2014-05/msg00077.html.
- As described in the .free charter OpenNIC .free TLD Charter
- As described on the .fur description page OpenNIC .fur Description
- Schafft, Philipp (March 2009). "FurNIC, .fur". opennic-discuss mailing list. http://comments.gmane.org/gmane.network.opennic.general/2925.
- As described in the .geek charter OpenNIC .geek Charter
- As described in the .gopher charter OpenNIC .gopher Charter
- As described in the .indy Charter OpenNIC .indy Charter
- As described in the .ing Charter OpenNIC .ing Charter
- As described in the .micro Charter OpenNIC .micro Charter
- As described in the .neo Charter OpenNIC .neo Charter
- As described in the .null Charter OpenNIC .null Charter
- As described in the .oss Charter OpenNIC .oss Charter
- As described in the .oz Charter OpenNIC .oz Charter
- As described on the .parody Description page OpenNIC .parody Description
- McCrea, Travis (8 April 2014). "Soft Launch: dotPirate". opennic-discuss mailing list. https://lists.opennicproject.org/arc/discuss/2014-04/msg00118.html.
- Shown on the main wiki page () OpenNIC's Proxy Service, OpenNIC Domain access only