HillaryClinton.sucks is taken.
So is Google.sucks, Yelp.sucks, MarkZuckerberg.sucks and AmherstCollege.sucks.
In the case of that last one, there's already a Web site tied to that address — one that asks visitors: "What do you think sucks about Amherst College?"
The site doesn't pretend to be the liberal arts school's effort at soliciting constructive feedback. Instead, a contact page tells you to reach out if you're "interested in purchasing this domain and site" — suggesting, perhaps, that the real Amherst College could take over for the right price.
AmherstCollege.sucks illustrates the potential headache facing many big-name brands and celebrities, or even just ordinary people like you and me. You have a choice: Pay up to deny others the use of your .sucks site, or risk letting someone else grab it first. In the same way many people spent years snapping up vanity domains like brianfung.com in hopes of promoting their positive brands, there will now be a veritable land rush for .sucks domains with an eye toward preventing brand damage. (For the record, I don't own brianfung.com. That domain belongs to somebody else.)
The company that runs .sucks, Vox Populi, recently ended a "sunrise" period in which it let the owners of big names snap up their .sucks sites before anyone else could. Thousands of companies, institutions and people have registered, according to lists by MarketingLand and an industry blog known as The Domains. Among them? Miley Cyrus, the U.S. Postal Service, Uber, Skype and the San Francisco 49ers. Also the comics company Marvel, the Sheraton hotel brand and Mark Zuckerberg. In fact, as many as 10 variations on MarkZuckerberg.sucks have been registered, ranging from Zuck.sucks to MZuckerbergTotally.sucks.
The global nonprofit that oversees Internet names and addresses, known as ICANN, recently asked the Federal Trade Commission if Vox Populi was breaking any laws by offering VIPs an exclusive chance to claim their .sucks domains for a steep fee of up to $2,499 a year. You could also buy .sucks domains wholesale for $2,000 a year. Now that we're out of the sunrise period — which ended last week — prices for .sucks domains will likely be more affordable for the rest of us.
But critics of Vox Populi have essentially accused the company of extortion. If all 3,400 domains that were registered during the sunrise period sold for a wholesale price of $2,000, according to the Domain, "then Vox Populi just pulled in $6.8 million."
The FTC responded to ICANN simply by repeating its previous concerns. While the agency stopped short of saying Vox Populi was doing anything wrong, it told ICANN that consumers risk being confused by .sucks domains because they aren't clear about who owns them.
".SUCKS holders [should] prominently identify themselves to the public on their individual websites so that people do not confuse an 'activist' site with a company-owned site," wrote FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in the letter.
At least one .sucks owner is already following that advice: DotSucks.sucks, which is maintained by Vox Populi itself.
"Here (right here) is a chance to tell us to our face," the Web site says.