Apparently the Stack Exchange terms changed two weeks ago. According to this the change went live on the second of May, and e-mails should have been sent "in the days ahead".

Well, it's now two weeks later. The only e-mail I received from Stack Exchange recently is the one advertising Stack Overflow for Teams, sent on the 8th of May. There's also been no obvious sign on the home page or in my inbox. The first I heard was a few minutes ago when I spotted this post on Reddit.

WRT the wording "you must notify us in writing within thirty (30) days of the date that you first accept these Public Network Terms (unless a longer period is required by applicable law)", I also point out that even now that I'm aware of your new terms and have read some of them, that doesn't mean I've agreed to anything.

In principle I believe the idea of mandatory arbitration is bad. Wording the opt-out clause to require a snail-mail opt-out where the vast majority of users have NEVER contacted you any way about anything except electronically is bad. I'm aware of the electronic opt-out, but the actual TOS still appears to contradict that - when the legal document you want people to agree to make claims that contradict what you claim elsewhere, that is bad. And so far I've been unable to discover what counts as "agreeing" to the new TOS, especially in the case of people who are completely unaware of them because they haven't been notified, either by e-mail or by an obvious message on the home page. Pretty bad again, plus I searched the TOS for "without notice" - that all-too-common cop-out isn't there unless you've worded it a non-standard way. So the fact that it's not there is good, but I still note that I haven't received notice, though you had more than one way to easily tell me.

I'm not certain I have any practical reason to care about the arbitration clause in this case, but I'd need time to think about that. Time that appears to have been maybe wasted because of the lack of notice, further time that will be wasted tracking down information scattered around various different Meta questions (though ultimately I assume it's the TOS that are binding, not the questions and answers that appear to contradict the TOS).

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    you may also interested in this since you seem to live in the UK. There have been some claims that the current clauses don't even hold in certain jurisdictions - as you see I am trying to get an official comment on that, but so far that issue too has been mostly ignored. -_-' – SPArcheon May 16 '18 at 7:00
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    "I also point out that even now that I'm aware of your new terms and have read some of them, that doesn't mean I've agreed to anything." The terms mention "By accessing or using the Services or the public Network (...), you affirm that you have read, understand, and agree to be bound by these Public Network Terms, as well as the Acceptable Use Policy and Privacy Policy". However, I'm a bit doubtful wrt. the legal status of such phrases. In particular, the lack of explicit consent for the privacy policy doesn't comply with the GDPR. – Discrete lizard May 16 '18 at 11:07
  • @Discrete Lizard - I should have noticed that, and of course it's pretty standard - or at least has been until now - so I'm 99% certain I explicitly agreed to that when I joined. As you say, though, GDPR makes it dubious - especially changes without explicit notice. I just know it's going to end up like those constant "we use cookies" nags, though. – Steve314 May 16 '18 at 22:08

The arbitration clause hasn't actually gone officially live because of the apprehension surrounding it.

I have, as I type this, a draft of our GDPR announcement in my editor, which I plan to publish at some point today or tomorrow. In it, I'll be letting folks know that things take effect on 2018-05-29, and that email notifications will go out near that time.

Folks concerned regarding the opt-out window for the arbitration clause will have 30 days from that date to opt-out electronically, a window we're open to extending if something unforeseen happens.

So the direct answer to your question was, we stopped dead in our tracks once we realized we had a bunch of questions to answer.

Some more information can be found in the newsletter that we send out to moderators, which went out yesterday, and is publicly archived.

Let me know if you have additional questions or concerns.

  • I'm not going to propose the tag change... but given the OP is in the UK and TOS changes must be explicitly agreed to under GDPR (and the terms aren't going live until after GDPR) you might want to consider adding the tag yourself. – Mgetz May 16 '18 at 14:14
  • @Mgetz I added it. The relationship is more circumstantial than technical, but in 5 years, it's important for folks to know both things were happening at once for context, and the addition of it doesn't add any immediate confusion. – Tim Post May 16 '18 at 15:02
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    In that case, why are the new terms listed as the "official" ones at stackexchange.com/legal? – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog May 16 '18 at 15:06
  • @TimPost that's why I personally didn't suggest it. It was very much one of those "It just so happens..." things. – Mgetz May 16 '18 at 15:12
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog Well, it very quickly became a discussion point. While we've made it clear that we're not going to enforce anything surrounding the arbitration clause until an official notice goes out, the rest of the terms are still needed and it would be, frankly, more work than it's worth to change it around temporarily since that document is about to move and change substantially anyway. – Tim Post May 16 '18 at 15:13
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    Also, mailing a physical letter is still listed as the "only" method of opting out. Why hasn't this been modified yet? – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog May 16 '18 at 15:15
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    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog Because we were still discussing it with the community, getting more feedback, bringing a revised idea back to the table, and getting more feedback on top of that. We'll put all of the updates out at once, but lawyers are still re-working based on the several discussions we had. – Tim Post May 16 '18 at 15:45
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    And yet, people had to ask this question to even know that the new ToS implementation was suspended until new notice? Sorry, but this is a little weird. I am waiting for your new blog post / meta post to make this official now, but I must say that IMHO it would have been a lot better if the instant the company decided to delay the implementation of the arbitration clause the site was updated to reflect that. – SPArcheon May 17 '18 at 7:58
  • @SPArchaeologist In all honesty, it would have been better if we had a draft of the new terms up for public view a month ago. It just .. for various reasons .. didn't happen that way. But I'm going to try to pull the best out of how it all shook out anyway. – Tim Post May 17 '18 at 11:45

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