85

There is a lot of pushback against the new ToS, specifically the arbitration clause. The fact that the vast majority of people will not opt out due to not sending in snail mail within the first 30 days of notification is incredibly problematic. This move is greatly reducing the trust many people have in the company. SE staff have clearly noticed, but the changes they suggest do little to remedy the situation. Is there any chance that this clause will be removed, given all the community feedback?

To quote another user succinctly pointing out why we are all worried:

The practical function of an arbitration clause in a clickwrap terms of service document is to immunize the company (Stack Exchange, in this case) from class-action lawsuits. Given that all community use of the SE website family involves no money changing hands either way, the only reason we should expect anyone to file a class-action lawsuit against Stack Exchange is if you commit some sort of massive privacy violation or copyright infringement.

  • 7
    I agree with the removal request, but not for the quoted reason. Litigation is a business model; companies have to deal with that. It seems that the US judicial system is regarded as unsatisfactory in that aspect, therefore private arbiters have filled the niche. So far so good. What concerns me is (1) the frivolous idea that "by not explicitly asserting basic rights, you lose them", and (2) the loss of essential court-like features such as independence, ability to award damages, and possibility of appeal. – ccorn May 4 '18 at 9:06
  • In spirit I agree, but I disagree that it's something that'll be our choice. Tim said as much himself - this isn't something anyone there is aching to do, seems more like mandate by lawyer. – Magisch May 4 '18 at 11:06
  • 13
    @user5389107 Laywers don't mandate this kind of thing. Most likely, some exec asked their lawyers for general advice to protect the company, and the lawyer advised a common practice, even if it is one that is widely considered unethical. – forest May 5 '18 at 1:06
44
+100

The terms of service existed for many years without an arbitration clause. Even if we end up with an arbitration clause in the end (probably not exactly this one, given Tim's update), Stack Exchange could show a great deal of goodwill by removing this clause pending further review. Since it's only been in place for a few days, dropping it for now doesn't seem to harm SE. Since it's very likely to change, they're going to have to push out an update (with notifications) again anyway, so removing it now doesn't add work.

Removing it at least for now would reset this part of the TOS to its prior state and allow the conversation and investigation to proceed from a more-neutral position. Nothing can repair the upset that has already happened, but we can stop the bleeding. Please put this clause in abeyance until you figure out what you really want it to say.

If the arbitration clause was prompted by the new Teams offering and SE feels they absolutely cannot have Teams out there without an arbitration clause, then at least limit its scope to Teams. This way the vast majority of SE users (who are not on Teams) have unchanged terms while SE makes revisions.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .