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Does this fun video prove that the .sucks message isn’t total BS?

At least one big brand seems to have the same idea about “sucking” as the .sucks gTLD registry, even if it does not appear to own any .sucks domain names.

Three, which is currently the smallest of the UK’s four major mobile phone networks, is advertising its services using very similar messaging.

The fun 90-second commercial embedded below, featuring a Muppet, an old East 17 track, and quite a lot of dancing, ends with the slogan “When Stuff Sucks #makeitright” and the call-to-action “The mobile industry sucks. See how we’re making it right.”

Clicking through to the Three website, visitors see messages including “People think our network sucks. Guess what? We’re voted most reliable” and “Charging extra for 4G sucks. We don’t.”

The campaign was reportedly conceived by ad agency Wieden & Kennedy London. It’s been getting a fair bit of TV airtime over the last month.

This seems to substantiate something Vox Populi has been saying for the last 18 months: that “sucks” is not necessarily a hugely derogatory term any more, and in fact can be embraced by companies to engage with customers, challenge criticism and promote their brands.

That said, Three isn’t using any .sucks domains — three.sucks, makeitright.sucks and whenstuff.sucks do not appear to be registered.

Three, part of Hutchison Whampoa, is currently undergoing a merger with Telefonica-owned rival O2 which would create the largest UK mobile operator.

First example of .sucks cybersquatting?

The .sucks domain has been generally available for a little over a week now, and I’ve found what may be the first example of somebody attempting to sell one to a brand owner.

amherstcollege.sucks is one of only a handful on non-registry-owned .sucks domains to have a web site already indexed by Google.

The site solicits commentary about Amherst College — a liberal arts university in Massachusetts that owns a US trademark on “Amherst” — but does not yet publish any such criticism.

However, the phrases “AMHERSTCOLLEGE.SUCKS DOMAIN NAME + WEBSITE IS FOR SALE” and “IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING THIS DOMAIN AND WEBSITE CONTACT US” appear prominently on the bare-bones WordPress blog currently running at the site.

The Whois record shows “THIS DOMAIN IS FOR SALE” as the registrant organization.

Under the UDRP, offering a domain for sale is usually considered enough to meet the “bad faith” part of the three-prong cybersquatting test.

I doubt it’s the only example of a .sucks domain matching a brand currently listed for sale by a third-party registrant, but it is the first one showing up in Google.

It’s still early days; the other .sucks domains with sites and a Google presence are a mix of redirects, mirroring and placeholders.

Microsoft-owned microsoft.sucks is one of them. It redirects to a Bing search results page.

The $250-a-year .sucks gTLD, managed by Vox Populi registry, currently has fewer than 5,700 domains in its zone file. Growth has ground almost to a halt over the last few days.

Want to slam .sucks? You can at dotsucks.sucks

Vox Populi Registry is eating its own dog food and has launched a .sucks gripe site targeting itself.

DotSucks.sucks has gone live, allowing critics to take a pop at the company and its gTLD.

The registry-owned site says: “if we intend to build it, then we need to live here.”

The domain hosts a simple forum. Anyone can sign up using their social media accounts and start posting in moments.

The site says:

WHO SUCKS? US?
Here (right here) is a chance to tell us to our face.

If you are right, we’ll own up to the shortcoming, but if you’re wrong, we get to tell you so!

Criticism can be constructive. Good for the bottom line. It can also be therapeutic. Good for the soul. It ultimately clears the air. Good for making progress.

We are the Vox Populi Registry, a small company with a big mission to create a new and vibrant Internet community. And if we intend to build it, then we need to live here. So tell us what you think. We think you should consider getting a place of your own.

So far, only one idiot has posted a topic. For testing purposes, you understand.

The site does not appear to be moderated.

Earlier this year, Vox Pop CEO John Berard said in an interview he was unsure whether the company would launch a .sucks site for itself.

First .sucks gripe site goes live

Just half a day after the new gTLD became available, the first .sucks sites have started going live.

So far, only one .sucks domain that does not belong to Vox Populi Registry is showing up in Google.

It’s dealman.sucks, and it does not appear to belong to the brand owner.

The domain, which was registered in the first minute of general availability this morning, leads to a “Coming Soon” page that merely says:

CONSUMER FORUM AND ARTICLES

A place for Dealman customers to have a voice and get clarification on issues important to them.

We’ll invite Dealman to contribute and engage with customers too.

Deal Man is a New Zealand web site selling clothes. It does not seem to be a particularly famous brand, but it has attracted criticism.

It has been the subject of recent negative media coverage in the Kiwi press and already has a gripe page on Facebook.

.sucks made millions from sunrise

Vox Populi could have made over $6 million from defensive registrations during its sunrise period.

The company’s first post-sunrise zone file was published today, and according to DI PRO it contains 3,394 domains, the vast majority of which were newly added today.

If all of these names were sunrise registrations, that would add up to an almost $6.8 million windfall for the registry.

However, I don’t think that’s a completely reliable figure. I believe that not all of the names are from sunrise.

The zone file seems to have been generated after .sucks general availability kicked off at a minute after midnight UTC this morning. ICANN publishes zone files around 5am UTC but the time it collects them from registries can vary between TLDs.

Poring over Whois records, I’ve found many examples of domains in the .sucks zone that have creation dates in the early minutes and hours of GA.

Many domains that are not obvious trademarks show creation times in the first 60 seconds of GA, suggesting they were pre-orders and sold for GA prices.

It’s also probable that some sunrise names are not showing up in the zone file yet due to a lack of name servers.

According to a source talking to DI last November, Vox Pop paid “over $3 million” for the right to run .sucks at auction.

It seems to have made its money back — and then some — purely from sunrise fees.

Sunrise names are charged at $1,999 a year by the registry. In GA, most names have a recommended retail price of $250. Strings considered valuable, many of them trademarks, carry a $2,500 “Market Premium” recommended price.