top of page
  • ben

The Saga of the .Sucks TLD

A new TLD is born

Ah, the internet — a magical place where you can find anything, from cute dog videos to detailed conspiracy theories about how the moon landing was filmed in a Hollywood basement. And, in 2015, right when you thought the net had maxed out its credit on “getting weirder,” along came another TLD (top-level-domain) for domain nerds and internet trolls to rally around – the ol’ .sucks extension. Yup, you heard it right. .sucks. Because sometimes, a .com doesn’t really express how much something sucks.


The launch of .sucks in 2015 put a few companies (and even celebrities) into a bit of a tizzy as they tried to secure and protect their brands from potential defamation. Who wants to suck? Not me!


Despite the steep price tag to initially register the domains, paired with the unwarranted anxiety that the new TLD induced for some, the .sucks domain kinda came and went. A few years after the TLD launched, no one really cared (or remembered) that .sucks was “a thing”.


So, to tell the full tale, let’s get into some history and get .sucked down the rabbit hole.


Securing the rights to sell .sucks

The .sucks extension was originally introduced by Vox Populi Registry – specifically, a guy named John Berard. As CEO of Vox Populi, and Berard was also an active member of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Berard’s early involvement in the net, paired with his belief in free speech, led him to secure the rights to sell the .sucks TLD in November of 2014.

Berard’s perspective was that .sucks could be used creatively by companies as a domain hack to redirect complaints or criticisms to their “official” websites. So, .sucks domain was born out of the idea that everyone deserves a platform to air their grievances, voice their opinions, and engage in spirited debates. Berard believed that .sucks was an avenue for people to exercise free speech – but that wasn’t everyone’s perspective. CUE THE CONTROVERSY.


Although Berard’s intent was somewhat rational, many companies (and even government organizations) felt differently. For the most part, people felt like .sucks domains were an avenue for creating a negative sentiment towards individuals or brands. Even high-profile individuals felt like they needed to be proactive in protecting themselves against anyone who could secure a .sucks domain and start trashing their reputation. The challenge was balancing the line between free speech and inviting defamation.


Bad faith actors and anxiety-induced domain purchases

As you might expect, the launch of .sucks wasn’t exactly greeted with open arms and confetti. Businesses were worried about their brand reputation. After all, who wants to wake up to find out that <YourBrandName>.sucks is now a thing? Cue the horror music.

When .sucks launched, the price tag was steep. Vox Populi charged $2,499 apiece for each domain – per year. Not only were companies and celebrities wondering if they should secure their .sucks domain, but they felt like they were on the clock to purchase the digital assets before bad faith actors picked up the assets to either resell or use the domains with defamatory intent.


Soon after .sucks launched, blue-chip companies, including Apple, Facebook and Microsoft scrambled to buy their .sucks domains to avoid potential PR disasters. Even the Chicago Blackhawks got on the bandwagon. A few celebrities hopped on board the .sucks train too – Taylor Swift, and Kevin Spacey reported that they purchased <TheirNames>.sucks.

Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for ICANN to get involved given all the attention that .sucks domains were getting. Big corporations, like Apple and Microsoft, argued that Vox Populi was essentially holding brands ransom, forcing them to purchase domains to protect their image. ICANN even questioned if .sucks domains were being used to exploit companies.


In 2015, ICANN sent a letter to the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate Vox Populi Registry for potentially illegal and predatory actions. The FTC concluded that Vox Populi did not break any rules, and in the end it was decided that .sucks could continue its journey across the internet.


A handful of .sucks domains are still active

In 2021, .sucks domains peaked at just over 13,000 registrations. Since then, the numbers have decreased steadily and significantly – as of June 2024, there are 7,862 .sucks domains registered. The TLD seems to have lost its luster. Larger companies, like Apple and Google who were the first to secure the TLDs back in 2015, no longer have the domains active as redirects (even if they own the digital assets). But, there are still a handful of companies and people holding on to these domains to keep them active.


  • 🤳 Facebook.sucks – Meta has redirects setup to the main sites for both facebook.sucks and instagram.sucks, but, interestingly, they never setup a redirect for WhatsApp or Meta. This is a clear signal that the “brand threat” of .sucks is actually pretty limited for most companies


  • 🏔️ Seattle.sucks – the domain redirects to a podcast based out of Seattle, called Mechanical Freak. As a tribute to the city that the podcast loves and celebrates so much, they secured the .sucks domain in 2018


Almost all brands that we came across have their .sucks domains redirect to main sites – (Microsoft, Nike, AllState, and eBay to name a few). In fact, we couldn’t find a brand that had a classic “tongue and cheek” site setup, or an individual person who was paying homage (or grievances) towards their favorite brand. It doesn’t mean that great .sucks domains aren’t out there in the wild…they are just hard to come across!


If you know of any, help a friend out and give us a nudge ;)


How does one buy a .sucks domain?

In 2015, Berard registered the domain get.sucks – a site that specializes in only selling .sucks domains. He wanted to make it easy for people to search for (and secure) any .sucks domain that they could think of. The site is still active to this day as the de facto place to get your own piece of .sucks real estate.

For anyone interested, there are lots of domains available if you want to share a sentiment (or two) about people in your inner circle – myteacher, mybrother, myfriend .sucks – all available! If you really dislike this article and have $2,499 to spare, you can register snagged.sucks. The availability of so many short and common keywords shows the limited interest and traction of .sucks domains today, as compared with 2015, when everyone had their proverbial panties in a bunch.


Do .sucks domains still matter?

So, at the end of the day, the question still exists – does .sucks even matter anymore? Well, it depends who you ask. Our take – not really.


To this day, Berard seems anchored in his boots about the value of .sucks domains, and he’s still quite vocal about their value through the blog posts that he writes. He truly believes in free speech on the net and will continue to fight hard at keeping that right.


Despite there being a media frenzy in 2015 to “act quickly” and “secure .sucks assets,” the media hype wasn’t met with actual consumer behavior. In the end, (based on the current .sucks domains that are active that we could find, and the lack of “playful” .sucks domains out there), it doesn’t really seem like .sucks took off in the way that Berard had hoped or speculated. Given how much content is created every second on the internet today, it’s not really a huge burn to say something like “starbucks.sucks”….there’s way too much out there for people to consume.

So, what’s the takeaway?


Well, next time you’re frustrated with a service, or just want to share a laugh, remember that .sucks domains are out there, making the internet a slightly more entertaining place. And if you’re into that sort of thing, grab <YourName>.sucks, just in case. 😀


 

References

16 views0 comments

Comentarios


bottom of page