Archive for campaign for a ToS

obligatory ‘i am declaring victory’ post

ToS is smuggled in by means of a passing comment by Andy in a forum thread. No mention as yet in the news blog, though there’s a link at the bottom of the front page.

Still… terms of service! At last! And is that a privacy policy I see? Better and better. Keep this up and you may be in danger of looking professional.

Will they be doing the Yahoo! thing of deleting everyone’s cookies and making them read and agree to it before their next login? Because otherwise I’m not sure you can enforce this stuff retroactively. (I am still not a lawyer, but I’m starting to think like one. Worrying.)

Of course, what this really means is that paid features are on their way sooner rather than later. Even though I have no intention of paying for anything here, this is excellent news. Paid users act as guardians of the service for freeloaders; they help fund the infrastructure and get noisy if the service falls below standard.

(Not that freeloaders are exactly quiet, but if they’re taking your money you do have that little bit more leverage.)

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wanky wank wank wank

So. Template Contest Guy the Third (who so far does not display the levels of jerkiness and incompetence of his predecessors, for which the gods of theming be thanked) decides it’s time he got the word out about the new competition, so that at least some of those who participated in the last couple of disasters may be tempted to have another go. Obvious thing to do here is ask the devs to mention it. Donncha obliges. Matt says ‘great! more themes! thanks for taking this on’ and rushes to make a post on his blog tells him he needs to change his domain name, so that the competition URL ends up changing for the second time.

Jesus, that’s petty.

I must have missed the dead blog post about that. How did I manage that? I’m pretty good at keeping up with the dead blog, because a) it’s like, dead, so there’s not that much to keep up with and b) it’s in my frickin’ dashboard. So I must be slipping. Because there’s no way you could reproach someone for not reading a page on wordpress.org that’s never been publicised, and for all we know might have been thrown up in thirty seconds as a response to that email. It would be like blaming them for not reading the notorious spam articles.

If you can’t put ‘wordpress’ in the domain name of the wordpress theme competition, where is this lunacy going to end? What about all those people with ‘wordpress’ subdomains? What about me? Am I going to have to rename this site ‘wanky wank wank wank’, or would ‘wordpress™ wank’ be acceptable?

Seriously, though. Does this mean that nobody can register a domain including the letter combination ‘w-o-r-d-p-r-e-s-s’? Not even the developers? And the owners of the trademark can’t approve any applications to use it? Surely, if you own something, it’s yours to dispose of as you see fit?

I’m really struggling to see how a site dedicated to a wordpress theme competition — affiliated with the administrator of themes.wordpress.net, not to mention the almighty Podz — is compromising or diluting the trademark in any way. It links to the official site. It’s not squatting. It’s not making a profit. It’s perfectly clear about its remit.

Talk about lawyers all you like. Talk about the mysterious ‘wordpress foundation’, or ‘wordpress inc’ or whatever pseudo-organisation officially owns the trademark, if you must. It still looks petty. It looks like another case of Matt pulling rank because somebody tried to do something he wasn’t in charge of.

(Anyway, don’t the lawyers have better things to worry about than volunteer projects taking the name of the software in vain? Don’t they have a wordpress.com terms of service to be writing?)

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but mommmy, all the OTHER kids have got one…

Ongoing list. I’ll add to it as I find more. Contributions welcome.

I can’t be bothered to link to all the livejournal clones which use the same text as livejournal, but be assured they’re out there. Also, diary-x used to have one, but their entire site is basically destroyed at the moment after their server went kaput with no recent backups, which goes to show that even non-serious contenders think it worth their while to have some form of contract.

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what do we want? terms of service! when do we want it? last week would have been good

I’m still not a lawyer, but the continuing absence of any kind of contract with users is getting silly:

WP.com lacks a solid set of rules. Period. Therefore everything is arguable. That also means coercion is left to the admins’ free will.

See, if this goes on any longer I’m afraid I’m going to get conspiracy theorist on you and end up suggesting that the reason we don’t have a ToS is so the admins can delete your account without it having to meet a pre-existing list of criteria; though it seems to me that this could easily be got round by having a clause stating that the admins can delete your blog anytime they like, depending on their mood.

Hell, it’s not like anyone reads the thing when they’re signing up and would be put off by that statement. It’s actually for the benefit of the people running the site, because when Splogger or Pornographer sends you a nasty email asking where their blog’s gone (there appears to be no user notification when a site is removed, maybe because the admins feel their keyboards would be soiled by having to communicate with such people) you tell them ‘look, you signed up to these terms agreeing not to do X Y and Z, you broke your contract with us by doing them, now shut up and go away’.

Whereas, at the moment, Splogger or Pornographer has nowhere been told that spam and pornography are unacceptable content (maybe they’re not, and the reason we don’t have ToS is because Matt wants wordpress.com to be a bastion of anarchist hacker freedom; don’t laugh! I will have you know #bantown have at least one blog on here), let alone had to agree not to post any. And yeah, I know ‘spam is bad’ is common sense, but since when has common sense ruled the internet? If the founder of wordpress thought it was ok to put hidden spam on wordpress.org, it is not inconceivable that a random user on wordpress.com may also see spam as a legitimate fundraising enterprise. If you don’t want people to do stuff, you should probably tell them not to do it rather than rely on their mindreading powers or sense of honour.

Also, if they are planning to introduce paid services without any kind of ToS… [shudders] OK, you don’t tell people to give you money without setting out your mutual rights and obligations in some form. Well, ok, you can, but if they are sane they will refuse, and taking money from the mentally incompetent is, like, really wrong.

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i’m not a lawyer but…

Is it really wise to be operating a free hosted blogging system without a visible privacy policy or TOS? You’d not have to do much, just put up a page saying ‘you can’t sue us if the server goes down, we can suspend your blog at any time if we don’t like the content, we won’t give your personal details to anyone unless you’ve actually broken the law, this is the kind of stuff that will get your site taken down yadda yadda’.

(Blogsome has a mother of a page, if anyone wants a cribsheet.)

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