I guess that nothing should surprise me these days, but it seems like almost every day something new pops up that I would never have thought up by myself in a million years.
Take the Internet, for example. The original generic top-level domains (gTLDs) were something I could wrap my brain around — things like .com (commercial), .org (organization), .net (network), .edu (US higher education), .gov (US national and state government agencies), and so forth.
Then we have the top-level domain names that were assigned to different countries, like .uk (United Kingdom), .au (Australia), and .hk (Hong Kong). Of course, people being what they are, it didn’t take long before they started messing around with things. Take the .li (Liechtenstein) name, for example, which the folks who live on Long Island decided to use also. And then there's the classic case of .tv , which was assigned to a Polynesian island nation called Tuvalu located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. This is now commonly used as an abbreviation for “television.” In 2000, Tuvalu negotiated a contract leasing its Internet domain name, which is currently operated by dotTV, a Verisign company (the Tuvalu government owns twenty percent of this company).
More recently, the nonprofit organization that is sort-of in charge of this sort of thing — ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) — decided to open things up. As a result, you can expect to see names like .bike , .clothing , and .guru popping up all over the place.
Not surprisingly, various companies are eager to get in on the act. For example, take the little scamps at Donuts Inc., who have submitted hundreds of gTLD applications such as .city , .help , and .hot .
But the gTLD that is currently getting the most attention is .sucks , which is administered by those little rascals at Vox Populi. I'm not quite sure how this works (i.e., how they acquired the rights to do this), but the folks at Vox Populi have ended up in charge of selling .sucks domain names. As part of this, they are allowing companies to purchase their .sucks domain name ahead of opening it up to the hoi polloi . The theory is that companies like Best Buy, Burger King, and Google would prefer to own BestBuy.sucks , BurgerKing.sucks , and Google.sucks themselves rather than have these domains fall into other people's hands.
Now, the folks at Vox Populi almost make it sound like they are performing a public service. On their website we find the following:
[…] dotSucks is designed to help consumers find their voices and allow companies to find the value in criticism. Each dotSucks domain has the potential to become an essential part of every organization’s customer relationship management program.
Noble-sounding indeed, until you discover that companies will have to pay around $2,500 for each of these .sucks domain names. Furthermore, these companies will have keep on paying an additional $2,500 each year to keep these names.
Once the initial grace period has passed, any unclaimed .sucks domain names can be had by anyone for around $10, but in this case they will be forced to redirect to a central Everything.sucks forum site. Alternatively, if someone really has an axe to grind, they can fork up around $250 for a .sucks name like FoxNews.sucks , and then create an associated website that really lets the world know what they think.
Speaking of which, I don’t know what to think. On the one hand, I totally believe in freedom of speech. On the other hand, it appears to me that the folks at Vox Populi have other companies firmly grasped by their “short and curlies,” as it were
Personally, I hope that everyone simply shrugs their metaphorical shoulders and leaves Vox Populi out in the cold. Even if a company like Yahoo decides to splash the cash for the Yahoo.sucks domain name, for example, there's nothing to stop someone else snagging YahooReally.sucks or even YahooReallyReally.sucks . Furthermore, even today, there's nothing to stop someone registering YahooSucks.com for only $10.
On the bright side, I really like the fact that .rocks domain names can be had for only $10. Hmm, Embedded.rocks — I have to admit that I do like the sound of that!
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