[WikiEN-l] Mywikipediaspace

Steve Summit scs at eskimo.com
Mon Oct 2 12:45:20 UTC 2006

David Gerard wrote:
>> Yes. What is the point of such a rule in a TOS? It won't stop
>> deliberate violation. So how is it planned to enforce it?
> What it appears Danny would like is a rule that people would have to
> agree to such that they would behave. But you can't legislate against
> misunderstanding or malice. What effective penalty can we apply?

Well, realistically, there is another potential beneficial side
effect of "terms of service" agreements like that, even if no one
has read them, which is that they can -- maybe -- make it easier
to deal with idiots after they've been discovered.

If you're merely "the free encyclopedia anyone can edit", and
you ban or severely sanction someone, he may then engage you in
a 3-month-long harangue and argument about how he had every right
to do what he did and you had no right to ban him for it.  But
if you can whip out the densely-cribbed TOS agreement and point
at subparagraph VII.6.b.iv which specifically prohibits (say)
adding commercial external links, then even if the miscreant had
never read this, he will (so the theory goes) realize that he
could/should have, and will stalk off, duly chastised.  It might
or might not make a difference if there's also a top-level
paragraph II.3 which specifically states that we can ban you
for violating any of the rules in section VII.

(My point is not that densely-cribbed TOS agreements are
wonderful or that we should have one, but merely that, depending
on your enforcement model, they can have value in making your
enforcements stick.)

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