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The second paragraph of section 4 of the Stack Exchange Terms of Service, "Restrictions," reads:

Under no circumstances will Subscriber use the Network or the Service to ... (d) post any false, inaccurate or incomplete material or delete or revise any material that was not posted by You.

The part

delete or revise any material that was not posted by You

technically prohibits editing of other users' posts. I guess the intent was to say "delete or edit other users' stuff in a way that makes this stuff worse," but the current wording fails to say that.

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    Getting ready to sue SO and every user who ever edited a post of mine. ever. And finally, there will be justice for all the "why was my post edited????????" users
    – Pekka
    Mar 22, 2012 at 9:17
  • 5
    @Pekka: Excellent! Sounds like All v All case is on the way.
    – sharptooth
    Mar 22, 2012 at 9:20
  • 40
    And how about [not post any] inaccurate or incomplete material. There goes 90% of the questions... Mar 22, 2012 at 9:30
  • 1
    Uh oh. I'm gonna be so banned! Mar 22, 2012 at 10:53
  • 9
    @slh - see you in court! ;)
    – Lix
    Mar 22, 2012 at 11:45
  • THinking about a nice number to ask in damages. Should I take something flashy (like $88888888) or something geeky (like $2718281828)?
    – Pekka
    Mar 22, 2012 at 12:30
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    @Pekka $628. Obviously.
    – user142852
    Mar 22, 2012 at 12:43
  • @Pekka - $3.1415926535897932x10^???
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 22, 2012 at 13:10
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    How about $6.02e23?
    – user164207
    Mar 22, 2012 at 13:40
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    @JackManey - That's a mole lot of simoleons!
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 22, 2012 at 13:56
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    Simple — just ban anyone with the editor badge :) Mar 22, 2012 at 16:54
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    OMG, I have the Copy Editor badge! Does that mean I'm on some Most Wanted list? Mar 22, 2012 at 17:22
  • 7
    Wait, people actually read that stuff?
    – John
    Mar 22, 2012 at 20:58

4 Answers 4

47

We're taking a look at this. It may be a few days because it'll require going back and forth with the lawyer.

Update

We've amended the line

(d) post any false, inaccurate or incomplete material or delete or revise any material that was not posted by You.

to

(d) knowingly post any false, inaccurate or incomplete material.

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    So, since "incomplete" is still in there, does that mean that anyone who doesn't comply with requests to post more information (either on an answer or a question) is in violation of the ToS? It's better, but it still seems a bit more ambiguous than I would prefer.
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 30, 2012 at 19:23
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    Does the "knowingly" bit also mean that if your answer is shown to be wrong (eg. by another answer or a comment) that you are obligated to remove it?
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 30, 2012 at 19:25
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    @cdeszac It would be at the time you post it. I don't believe there's anything in the ToS that obligates you to keep it correct forever Mar 30, 2012 at 19:30
  • Good to know (for clarification purposes)
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 30, 2012 at 19:32
  • So, previously, you weren't allowed to post material that you didn't post? Mar 30, 2012 at 20:09
  • beware our crack legal team! Mar 31, 2012 at 7:05
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    Seems like the Fastest Gun in the West Problem has been solved too! ;-)
    – Arjan
    Mar 31, 2012 at 12:03
  • I have knowingly posted incomplete material to be stay in line with an NDA. Oh noes. May 4, 2018 at 2:05
46

Whilst we're at it,

post any false, inaccurate or incomplete material

This technically means everyone I've ever downvoted for answering a question wrongly is in breach of the ToS. And I'm probably in violation somewhere along the way as well.

We're also forbidden, technically, from using pseudonames:

(c) create a false identity

Needless to say, my real identity is not, actually, Ninefingers, and is therefore false.

Suggested revisions to these sections:

  1. Misrepresent any information as if authorative in such a way that its use may be detrimental to other subscribers,
  2. Use an identity that wrongly implies expertise, knowledge or ownership of intellectual property belonging to another person, persons or organisation.

I am not a lawyer, I did just make those up, so please find a real lawyer to check those with. I'd say edit in corrections, but unfortunately if you do that, I'm gonna have to sue you.

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    Now that you've admitted that Ninefingers isn't your real name, I have no choice but to ban you. Mar 22, 2012 at 12:17
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    @BilltheLizard I'm gonna have to request you ban yourself, too, Mr Lizard. Unless Lizard is actually your surname and "The" is actually your middle name.
    – user142852
    Mar 22, 2012 at 12:42
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    (c) create a false identity really means your screen name can't be "false"
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 22, 2012 at 13:15
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    But FALSE is okay?
    – fuxia
    Mar 22, 2012 at 15:03
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    Ahem, "identity" and "name" are not equivalent. "Ninefingers" is your identity, inasmuch as we can identify your posts as being posted by you, the user known as "Ninefingers". On the otherhand, I should be prevented from using a well-known identity, such as "Ninefingers". Obviously an identity with a screenname such as "John", "Jim", or "Mary" would not have such a restriction. "Alice" should be banned regardless. Mar 22, 2012 at 15:41
  • I like "psuedonames". Does this mean I'm not allowed to call myself "Bob" but "hello" is fine :-). Mar 22, 2012 at 15:54
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    @Ben Bob, Mary and Alice are known trouble makers ...
    – Stephen
    Mar 22, 2012 at 15:58
  • @cdeszaq Let username = !true ...
    – Stephen
    Mar 22, 2012 at 16:02
  • @Ben - Wouldn't a "pseudoname" be more like "B0b"? I mean, it's almost a name in that it's like a name.
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 22, 2012 at 18:05
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    @AviD Don't forget about that snooping biotch Eve... Mar 30, 2012 at 20:08
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I think the clause about not posting "false, inaccurate or incomplete material" needs to be broken off from the editing portion and have "knowingly" tacked on at the front. And perhaps have the word "incomplete" removed entirely.

And "delete" doesn't matter, since users can't actually delete content (it's all soft-deleted, which means it's still there)

And the "revise" clause just needs "that was not posted by You" removed. And even then, since the edit history is available, it isn't really editing it as much as it is posting a new version (which has its own issues with plagiarism, but that's a whole different topic.)

Note: I am not a lawyer. The points expressed above are my own opinions and are not reflective of the opinions of my employer, state, country, planet, galaxy, universe, or any other body or organization of which I am a part.

Void where prohibited.

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    You forgot "may not be combined with other offers". Mar 22, 2012 at 15:53
  • You'd end up with "Under no circumstances will Subscriber use the Network or the Service to ... (d) knowingly post any false or inaccurate material or revise any material."
    – Arda Xi
    Mar 22, 2012 at 23:39
  • @ArdaXi - No, that's the point of "broken off from the editing portion"... To explicitly keep that from happening.
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 23, 2012 at 12:26
  • @cdeszaq Then maybe you should clarify?
    – Arda Xi
    Mar 24, 2012 at 8:58
7

Thank you for making me read the Terms of Service for the first time...

I've just noticed the following in section 5:

"Much of the Content of the Network is provided by and is the responsibility of the user or subscriber who posted the Content."

Which effectively means that everyone is responsible for any dodgy code they post ( not that anyone does of course ). There's lots of stuff indemnifying Stack Exchange from any responsibility for how the service is used by a "subscriber"; but nothing about the people who actually make the site work.

"8. Indemnity

Subscriber will indemnify and hold Stack Exchange, its directors, officers and employees, harmless, including costs and attorneys' fees, from any claim or demand made by any third party due to or arising out of Subscriber’s access to the Network, use of the Services, the violation of this Agreement by Subscriber, or the infringement by Subscriber, or any third party using the Subscriber's account, of any intellectual property or other right of any person or entity."

I don't know whether it's legally possible under US law but an additional sentence somewhere in the ToS along the lines of the following would be nice.

Subscriber takes full and sole responsibility for use of any content that has been posted by another subscriber. Except where such content breaches another condition of these Terms of Service, Subscriber indemnifies the provider of content in the same manner as Stack Exchange.

Or something like it...

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    While this is related (and interesting!), you should really post it as a separate Meta "question" if you want to see action taken on it.
    – jscs
    Mar 26, 2012 at 21:41
  • @IuliusCæsar, you think; why? This question has had a lot of notice taken :-) and it's, as you say, related... Mar 27, 2012 at 22:01
  • Answers aren't usually considered action items; they're just supposed to discuss what's raised in the question.
    – jscs
    Mar 27, 2012 at 22:18

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