Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic Senator from West Virginia, came out strongly this week against the ‘.sucks’ top-level domain, which he described as “little more than a predatory shakedown scheme.”
Some background: generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are the endings of URLs, such as .com, .edu, .gov, and of course, .biz. ICANN, the international group that administers the domain name system, is currently in the process of considering and distributing hundreds of new top-level domains. These include .lol, .meme, .book, and .pizza. Hypothetically, a company like Amazon might want to own the .book gTLD.
But one of the gTLDs up for debate is '.sucks,' which Rockefeller believes is, uh, well—he thinks it sucks. In a letter to ICANN’s chairman, he expressed worry that the .sucks domain would “be used to unfairly defame individuals, non-profit organizations and businesses,” and that people and companies would be all but forced to have to buy another domain name in order to protect themselves. They would have to “pay ongoing fees to prevent seeing the phrase ‘sucks’ appended to their names on the Internet.”
A handful of companies have applied to control the now-sorta-controversial domain. One registry, Vox Populi, is already charging $2,500 to reserve domain names even though they do not currently and may never control the gTLD. In fact, it seems like Vox Populi only exists in its current state to dole out this specific gTLD. According to their FAQ, the web addresses are “meant for individuals, communities, special interest groups and companies who want to participate in a debate for change about any issue.”
Another gTLD applicant, Donuts, used a similar explanation for why they applied for the domain, jumping through some linguistic hoops. Their response was basically that “sucks” has a negative connotation, and applying that to a negative topic results in a double negative (also known as, a positive). For instance, cancer is bad, but the sentiment of the URL “cancer.sucks” is something most people would agree on.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.