As promised in dw_news, this is a summary of the activities of the TOS team since launch. The TOS team currently consists of the site owners denise and mark, who set the policies, and jennifer and qilin, who co-manage TOS support. I've tried to strike a balance here between transparency and privacy; I hope it gives you a good idea of what's going on without violating anyone's confidence.
Name squatting and account trading
You may remember this news post describing actions we have taken against name squatting. We've probably made mistakes on both sides of this equation--some active communities or accounts ended up renamed (though to my understanding this could be fixed if reported soon enough), and some squatting communities or accounts probably remain. Overall, though, we've tried to be fair and not overzealous. This is also a good time to remind people that account trading is also against the rules.
Adult content and provocative content
Some people have been asking about our adult content policies; our policy is--go for it. Adult content that's not illegal is allowed; additionally, you do not have to mark it as adult content, although those tools are available if you wish to use them.
We've received several reports of understandably upsetting content; some people requesting that we remove it. However, this content to our knowledge is not illegal, so according to our operating principles it can remain. Fortunately, the content in question has decided to self label itself as 18+. You can set your display options to filter 18+ content and thereby avoid running into content labeled 18+ without warning. Keep in mind, though, that we do not require people to use adult content flags, so this is not a bulletproof method of avoidance. Browse carefully!
TOS copyright concerns
Some people are concerned by this clause here:
VI. License to Reproduce Content
By submitting Content to us for inclusion on the Website, you grant us a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content, solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting the contents of your account, including through downloadable clients and external feeds.
If you delete Content, we will use reasonable efforts to remove it from the Website, but you acknowledge that caching or references to the Content may not be made immediately unavailable.
Basically, this clause is designed to give us the permission to display your content on the site and distribute it through things like site APIs and clients. It's world-wide, because we don't block anybody from accessing the site based on their geographical location. It's royalty-free because we're not paying you to display it. It's non-exclusive because we won't keep you from also publishing that content anywhere else.
When you delete content, we don't have any intention on keeping it around unnecessarily, but it might be cached somewhere that doesn't get cleared right away. It might also be cached on places like Google that we don't have any control over. It might be contained in site-wide backups we make until those get rotated. That's why we put in the disclaimer.
TOS change concerns
We have also received concerned comments about this clause:
This clause is designed to give us the flexibility to update our Terms of Service as new, unforeseen situations arise. Given the nature of web sites in general, it is very difficult to get everybody to go through some process to agree to an updated Terms. We have chosen not to require this, and will instead announce changes to the Terms of Service in our dw_news posts and in inbox messages.
In case you'd like to keep a close eye on changes to the TOS, there is an Atom feed of changes to the TOS file in our repository. Any change, even the correction of a typo, will show up there. The feed account for it is dw_tos_feed.
Malicious Impersonation and Harassment
We did deal with some cases of malicious impersonation and harassment. While Dreamwidth doesn't reserve usernames for people on other services (that is, just because you have "userx" on LJ doesn't mean that "userx" will be yours on DW), using a Dreamwidth account to impersonate someone on another service violates the Member Conduct section of our TOS:
You agree that you will not use the Website to: ... 3. Maliciously impersonate any real person or entity, including but not limited to a Dreamwidth staff member or volunteer, or to otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with any person or entity;The offending account was renamed and suspended, and the username given to the person who was being maliciously impersonated to prevent it from happening again.
There was another instance where someone reported content they disliked on a journal with a name like one they had on LiveJournal; however, no real links or claims were made back to the person in question, so it did not count.
Another user was having issues with harassing commenters who were making unflattering posts. In this case, the solution is to ban the culprits or close commenting only to those people you trust. Ban evasion is a violation of ToS, so if someone suspects people are evading a ban by creating new accounts, they should contact us. While defamatory and libelous content is against the ToS, they are terms with specific legal meanings we are unable to make judgement calls on, and thus we require a judgment from a United States court or a Maryland State court saying that the content meets these definitions.
Feeds and the Reproduction of Content
We had a complaint about our feed account system reproducing content from a blog. Our policy as it stands is to not remove feed accounts as long as the feed they use exists. However, some changes are on the todo list for feed accounts in order to help allay complaints such as these:
* Feed accounts will all be set to be nonindexable by bots, such as those used to index by search indexes
* A new feed account style will be created that does not show full posts on the recent entries page
* If the feed supports comment links, the reply to link will go to the page described as the comment page
Note that although the advertising on the feed mentioned wasn't working properly, it wasn't because we were stripping it--many feeds do carry ads and we do not intend to strip them.
Making accounts for underage users
Because of COPPA, we do not allow the creation of accounts by minors under 13, because we cannot store their personal information without much paperwork and safeguards we would rather not worry about. However, if an adult wishes to create an account for their child, they can do so with their information and let the child use it. This does not violate COPPA, because we are not collecting the child's personal information.
Questions or concerns?
This is the place for them! Let us know what you're thinking.
ETA1: The RSS feed was found to not link to changesets correctly; switched the link in this article to the Atom feed. Also clarified wording on the topic stripping ads from feeds.
ETA2: From the suggestions of azurelunatic, there now exists dw_tos_feed!