This domain .sucks

ICANN, the organization that oversees basic Internet infrastructure, has been working to expand the number of top-level domains (TLDs) available. While traditional TLDs such as .com, .net, and .org serve many online users well, they do have a few shortcomings. They don’t serve non-English-speakers who might want a completely non-English URL. Newer domains also increase the chances of getting a more desirable domain name (such as “yourname.whatever”). The organization’s also come up with a way to generate revenue by selling the rights to run some of the new domains to third parties, in exchange for various requirements/a very hefty fee.

Unfortunately, ICANN’s rush to expand domains has included dubious ones. Among the new ones include .porn (for pornographic websites) and .sucks, for…complaining, I guess? The new .sucks domains are priced starting at $10 for consumer advocacy groups, though that domain will only send users to a forum the registrar (“Vox Populi”) runs. Non-registered trademark domains start at $199 (to go up to $249 after June 1), while registered trademark domains start at $2,500. Vox Populi claims the high prices are its way of keeping trolls, squatters, etc. at bay.

Still, the new domain’s come under criticism. Some, such as this CIO article, feel it’s forcing companies and famous individuals to shell out for a .sucks domain just to keep others from buying it, in what amounts to a “shakedown” or cash grab. Case in point: singer Taylor Swift’s bought the .porn and .sucks domains for her name to keep it out of others’ hands. Of course, there’s nothing stopping anyone from having “TaylorSwiftSucks.whatever” as a domain.

I fail to see what positive value a domain like .sucks adds to the online conversation. Again, I can complain all I want on my existing .com domain, while still using it for other, more positive purposes. There’s no real positive usage I can think of that .sucks serves—consumer advocate groups will likely want a less inflammatory URL. There’s also plenty of negativity online as it is; seedy online places like 4chan have survived just fine (unfortunately) without needing a .sucks domain.

Hopefully future domains ICANN approves won’t be as questionable or add to the worthless domains that already exist (such as .wtf).

Flickr Creative Commons photo by Taz (CC BY)

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