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.sucks won’t discount its fee for $10 domains

Kevin Murphy, July 21, 2015, 15:15:23 (UTC), Domain Registries

Vox Populi Registry is looking for a free speech advocate partner willing to absorb hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of dollars in costs.

The .sucks registry has for many months promised that later this year it will introduce a Consumer Advocate Subsidies program that will enable people to get a .sucks for the deeply discounted price of $10 a year.

Currently, the standard recommended retail price of a .sucks is $249, with a registry fee of $199.

Users of the subsidy program would get their names for $10 or under but they’d have to agree to host a free forum on the site, open to anyone that wanted to criticize (or, I guess, praise) the subject of the domain.

It has been broadly assumed that the subsidy would be matched by a discount in the registry fee.

But it’s emerged that Vox Pop has no plans to lower its own fees in order to offer the subsidy.

Essentially, it’s looking for a partner willing to swallow a cost of essentially $189 a year for every subsidized domain name.

CEO John Berard said in a blog post this week, and has subsequently confirmed to DI, that the subsidy is a subsidy and not a discount.

Vox Pop will still demand its full wholesale registry fee for every .sucks domain that is sold. Berard blogged:

Whether a registration is subsidized, the price to the registrar and registry is unaffected. That is the nature of a subsidy. Neither is the program to be offered by the registry. We are talking to a number of free speech advocates and domain name companies to find the right partner.

“The partner has to be one committed to free speech and confident in its ability to rally contributions to underwrite the activity,” Berard told DI.

To me, this proposition suddenly looks hugely unattractive.

There are over 6,000 domains in the .sucks zone today, just a month after general availability began, and that’s with registrants paying $250 to $2,500 a year.

With a $10 free-for-all, the number of registrations would, in my view, spike.

Unless there was some kind of gating process in place, the subsidy partner would likely face hundreds of thousands of dollars in recurring annual fees almost immediately. It could escalate to millions a year over the long run.

I’m trying to imagine how an organization such as Which? (which I’m guessing is the kind of organization Vox Pop is talking to) would benefit from this arrangement.

There is “quite an interest” in signing up to become the subsidy partner, Berard said. He said that in some cases potential partners are looking for marketing opportunities or ways to “enhance their reputation”.

Details of subsidy program are expected to be announced early in the fourth quarter.

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Comments (13)

  1. Andrew says:

    If the partner wants to put advertising on the gripe sites, that would likely throw out your UDRP defense.

  2. Rubens Kuhl says:

    Perhaps they originally planned to have a different registry price for those sites and then ICANN told them that would violate the registry agreement ?

  3. kd says:

    Just adds to the list of extortion they are doing. If this is the case why did they promote “$10 registrations” the way they did making everything think one thing, when in reality they are not really doing this. Just adds to the list of extortionist type of activities this company does to collect money for the issue they are creating for companies worldwide. (the definition of extortion. Without them the problem does not exist.)

    • John Berard says:

      As the song goes, “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” From the day the http://www.nic.sucks site went live, it had this to say about the consumer subsidy program:

      “dotSucks is working with third party consumer advocacy groups on plans to have subsidized dotSucks domains available to individual consumers who wish to host a forum discussion website.”

      And this:

      “dotSucks is hopeful that this will bring the individual consumer price below 10 dollars.”

      You can look it up!

      • Rubens Kuhl says:

        John, what you said actually reinforces the theory that kd presented, which would be by saying that people could register protest sites for $10 in the future, dotSucks would have forced more registrants to the sunrise program.

        I’ll leave the assessment of such theory to the reader, but in order to counter it, pointing that it was said early on doesn’t help.

        • John Berard says:

          Rubens,

          It is a curious notion that Vox Populi Registry has somehow figured out how to get people A) to do something they don’t want or have to do and B) get them to pay for it when our competition is free.

          There are 2 million trademarks in the U.S. alone, another 1.5 million in Canada and who knows how many in just the rest of the English-speaking world. While we have not trafficked in the number of registrations at VPR, others have speculated that there may be as many as 6,000 (Michael Berkens at thedomains.com).

          That seems a pretty bad job of “forcing” companies’ hands, eh?

          At the same time, Facebook offers shelf space for criticism for free (or at least in exchange for your personal information). If we don’t offer value, how can we compete with free?

          As I have said, if we are wrong, we will fail. Can’t get more market-driven than that!

          Cheers,

          Berard

          • Kevin Murphy says:

            Why do you charge $250 for a domain name registration?

            Is what you sell worth $250?

            No. Of course not. You sell a line in a database, the same as every other registry.

            What are you offering that is worth $250?

  4. Scott Pinzon says:

    So does this mean that for $10, I, a private consumer, can host a discussion forum under the domain, dotSucks.sucks?

  5. John Berard says:

    Not at dotsucks.sucks, that is the registry’s front door for comment and criticism. But once we have settled on a partner terms will be set and announced. It is our intention that, yes, at $10 and on a hosted discussion forum.

  6. Gaz says:

    Will they be subsidizing cyber bullies too?

  7. Andrew says:

    It’s a shame that registry.sucks as Internet Archive blocked in its robots.txt file, so you can’t actually go back in time and see what the site contained.

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