Currently, we have a little line at the very bottom when asking a new question as an unregistered user:

By posting your question, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

There is a similar line in small text when registering an account, almost hidden away.

These messages are easy to miss, and they are potentially not legally binding. (See also: "By posting this, you agree to our terms and conditions" - maybe other options are not legally binding either, but everything indicates explicit acceptance is always better.)

I propose that they are made more obvious, by moving them above the submit buttons, and in at least the standard font if not larger. Also, perhaps include a checkbox to confirm their acceptance. It is a minor obstruction, but potentially useful where a user wants their content deleted - it makes it harder for them to claim ignorance of the content licensing:

You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license.

(Yes, I am aware of the bit at the bottom of the page about the CC licence. It is still not very obvious to a new user posting a question or registering.)

  • Excellent suggestion. Perhaps questions asked anonymously with no user account should also require the user to tick a check box indicating that they accept the licensing agreement? I certainly don't want to have to check it every time if I'm a registered user, but I agree that (1) registered users should see it more prominently at the time they register their account, and (2) anonymous posters should get hit with it every time, because we have no way of knowing whether they've ever explicitly accepted the ToS before or not. Dec 24, 2013 at 22:31

1 Answer 1


The factors to be balanced when designing or improving something like this are as follows:

  • Making sure that it's not annoying to the user (I think this will rank fairly highly in any decision-making about this issue)
    • Making sure that users who are already well aware of the licensing situation won't have to go through extra mouse clicks, etc. in order to post questions, answers, or comments on the site
    • Don't display modal dialogs or anything else that is too visually jarring
  • Making sure that users who are the least likely to be aware of the licensing situation are more prominently exposed to the licensing details than they are currently
    • Enhance the font size / color of the text that talks about the terms of service, so that it's more obvious than it is now?
    • Instead of providing a link to the ToS and policy, perhaps explain in plain English the implications of licensing the user's work under CC-wiki with attribution? Perhaps do this on the page itself ("the page" being the registration page for registered users, or the posting page for anonymous users)?

We want to grab the user's attention the first time (or every time if we have no way of knowing whether the user is unique or not) and say, "hey, this is important, you really should read this" (and then require them to take some UI action to indicate their consent). After that first time has passed, we can resume "hiding" our licensing statements as unobtrusively as possible, which is the de facto situation right now.

I would agree on the following points:

  • New registered users are not seeing the ToS / licensing agreement as prominently as they should. Something as simple as changing font color/sizes could help a bit, although the community may think of something more clever.
  • Anonymous users are not seeing the ToS / licensing agreement as prominently as they should. Something as simple as changing font color/sizes could help a bit, although the community may think of something more clever.
  • Existing users shouldn't be bothered by this in any way. The UX for existing accounts would ideally not change at all, or if it does change, it will only be to add text at the bottom of the question/answer post form, but not require the user to perform any additional clicks or keypresses to get past it.

I am not a web or UX designer, so, if someone wants to do a mockup of proposed changes, that'd be nice. I'm sure there are a bunch of elegant Web 2.0 ways to make the licensing deal a bit more obvious to first-timers without annoying the existing user base.

  • 3
    Note that our own User Experience site has a related question that seems to agree that you must present the user a choice with the default being "no" for it to be legally binding.
    – Bob
    Dec 24, 2013 at 22:40

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