Should you care about the controversial new .Sucks Domain name?
Having the right domain name for your business website is a must in the days of online everything. This used to be a relatively straightforward issue, but a rash of new web domain suffixes have popped up in recent years to supplement .com and .net. Innocuous names such as .bargains or .dating didn’t get much attention, but several that invite negative feedback might be cause for concern for your small business online. Domain names such as .gripe, .fail, .wtf. and even .sucks hit the market on March 30th, and general availability will begin on June 1st.
.sucks – a platform for free speech?
A company called Momentous won ICANN’s auction last November via its subsidiary, Vox Populi, giving it the right to operate the .sucks gTLD. Vox Populi is positioning the new gTLD as a platform for conversation. Its website declares that the domain “is designed to help consumers find their voices and allow companies to find the value in criticism.”
Just last week, the company released a video that includes an endorsement from consumer advocate Ralph Nader and (in all seriousness) includes scenes from civil rights and other citizen protests with the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Inflated registration prices and sticker shock
Companies that want to protect their names in this new gTLD may suffer severe sticker shock when they see the suggested pricing.
This controversial new domain is highly over-priced, with a price tag of around $2,500 per year for the trademark holders. (Most traditional domain names run about $15/year or less.) Different companies say that they never plan to use this domain name ever for any commercial purposes.
Later this year, consumers will be able to buy a .sucks domain for $10 per year via a “consumer advocate subsidy.” Any consumers that get a domain at that price will have to redirect it to a discussion forum that will live on the everything.sucks domain. Consumers that want to run their own website using .sucks will pay $249 per year for a standard registration, unless Vox Populi has labeled the domain “premium” — those may cost more.
How are big companies responding to .sucks?
Some of the biggest brands in the world like Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft have been buying the new and controversial .sucks domain. The newly created “.sucks” domains are open to the trademark owners currently and will be available to the general public on June 1st.
Here are some of the recent registrations added to the .sucks domain name:
How does it affect small businesses?
Although large companies will pay the money without even giving it a second thought, it’s the small to medium sized businesses that could be hit hardest by the threat of a parody of their website appearing online with the .sucks domain that has been created by a disgruntled customer, competitor or mischievous internet troll.
Many business owners will see this as a potential cyberbullying of brands, but the truth is there are already a wealth of methods for the disgruntled to get their revenge on companies via posting negative reviews on blog posts, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Social Media or by registering on YourBrandSucks.com for $10 if you are feeling particularly vindictive.
However, the real value in protecting your online brand is not about throwing money at domain names, but by simply engaging and looking after your customers, monitoring and listening to online conversations via Social Media channels and joining those conversations.
Any complaint is an opportunity to improve what you offer, so I think we would all be better off avoiding shakedown protection rackets and concentrate on delivering a first-class service so that everything else falls into place.
What do you think? Will you purchase the new domain names for your business? Let us know in the comments.