Quoted: on the meaning of ‘sucks’ amid an Internet domain land grab

“The word sucks is now a protest word and it’s up to people to give it more meaning.”

Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, in a commercial promoting the .sucks domain.

John Berard of Vox Populi, which owns the .sucks generic top-level domain (gTLD), says: “We think it can have value for companies, especially in terms of being able to deliver customer service, build customer loyalty, and even R&D. When you look at it that way, $2,499 is well priced.” That’s right, starting March 30, companies will have the chance to pay Vox Populia $2,499 a year to register a .sucks domain — lucky them. Quartz points out: “If they don’t, someone else will.”

Can you imagine? Starbucks.sucks. Walmart.sucks. Apple.sucks. At least these companies can actually afford to scoop up those domains. But for smaller companies that don’t have deep pockets, it could get expensive to try to avoid being targeted.

Most Internet users know about the following top-level domains: .com, .net, .org and more. But all that is so five minutes ago. Hundreds of new gTLDs are popping up after ICANN approved a great Internet real estate expansion, as Michelle Quinn wrote last year. Among them are .app (Google bought it for $25 million), .email, .social, .democrat.

But .sucks is among the most attention-getting and controversial gTLDs. I wrote last year that Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va, said .sucks has “little or no socially redeeming value,” and that he was worried it would lead to a “predatory shakedown scheme.”

 

Photo: ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom, left, and Kurt Pritz, senior vice president, talk about expanding the number of domain name suffixes during a press conference in London in June 2012. (Associated Press archives)

 

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