The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the folks who are responsible for approving and regulating Internet domains such as .com, .biz and .net, are considering whether or not to add .sucks to the list of approved domains. Over the past year, in response to the explosive growth around the world in Internet users and domain registrations, ICANN has added over 100 generic top-level domain names or gTLD. Some of the new domains which are now available for sale include .pics, . works, and .community.
While industry analysts and Internet watchdog groups seem, by and large, to agree that the increase in domain names is a good thing, there is one person who is not happy with at least one potential addition. On Wednesday, Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) wrote to ICANN, requesting that they drop consideration of .sucks as a gTLD.
In his letter to ICANN, Rockefeller asks the board to drop consideration of .sucks for two reasons. First, he believes that such a domain name has little or no public interest or socially redeeming value. Secondly, Rockefeller believes that .sucks goes against the primary reason for expanding the number of gTLDs in the first place: to foster new commercial and community-building opportunities. In fact, he believes that the effect of approving .sucks will lead to the exact opposite. A .sucks domain could lead companies, and others who want to protect their online reputations, to buy domain names “defensively”, as a way to keep someone else from buying it and damaging their reputation.
Rockefeller supports his argument by noting that Internet registrar Vox Populi is taking defensive pre-registration orders on the domain for $2,500. After that, the annual price will rise to $25,000. For that reason, Rockefeller sees the sale of .sucks as little more than a “shakedown scheme.”
As many people have already pointed out, Rockefeller’s argument is a weak one. There is nothing stopping someone from creating a web address that includes the word sucks. And there are many websites today that use the word sucks, without having an actual gTLD. In other words, simply adding a .sucks to a website is not going to make it any more damaging or derogatory. And simply having a .sucks, will not lend it any more credibility than a .com or .net.
In their application for the .sucks domain, Top Level Spectrum uses the “keep-your-friends-close” argument, claiming that .sucks will actually benefit businesses and Internet communities. For example, a .sucks website will provide a company with a “great way to find consumers that have negative feedback and also win them back and influence them.”
Another applicant for .sucks, Dog Bloom LLC, claims that approval will be of service to the Internet because it will further the tradition of “online free expressions of criticism.”
According to their website, ICANN plans to release over 1,300 new names or “strings” in the coming several years. Some of these new gTLDs include .faith and .camera. Many of them are simply common terms written in native languages such as Chinese, Russian and Hindi. As it now stands, .sucks has passed the first hurdle in being considered for approval by ICANN. So, sometime in the near future, if you really do not like something, and have $25,000 to spend, you can set up your own .sucks website.
By Dan Reyes