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Vienna Safety Presentation - Terms of Use Simply Explained
Posted June 27th, 2009 - 3:21 pm by from Montreal, Canada (Permalink)
Dividing my presentation in 3 parts for your convenience, here is the part about the Terms of Use. This post is flagged and you are free to translate or cross-post it (using the permalink).

I added my notes to the speaker's notes so you can view both as you are viewing the presentation. You have to click on "Action", "View speaker notes" and rearrange your screen so that you can see both at the same time.


Otherwise, if you just want to read the contents, here it is:

Terms of Use (for dummies)

As you say here in Austria, this is basically CouchSurfing's Verfassung, ground law, constitutional law.

It's a very boring legal text with many implications, and has a fantastic soporific effect on people... But you still need to know some basic stuff about it, so I'll start the presentation with the boring basic stuff. This way we all know what we are referring to.

Some of you might have opinions on it: it's fine, I have opinions on them too. CouchSurfing tries to apply them fairly, and my purpose here is not so much to discuss why but what. Since we all agreed on them upon joining CS, we gotta live with them at this moment anyway.

Paragraph 1 - User Responsibility

CS website is ... a website, a venue. As in real life, members have a complete responsibility:
* You're responsible for what you do
* You're responsible for what you post
* You're responsible for your experiences
* You're responsible for your interactions

Paragraph 2 - User conduct
* Be legal, use common sense, don't stalk/harass, that means no UNWANTED CONTACT.
* No spam
* Be careful about private info & confidentiality
* No commercial use: This means your hostel can't advertise here, the local bike shop can't create a profile, a local NGO can't fund raise here, you can't offer for freelancing plumber services. It doesn't mean that you can't try to find a flatmate or offer you second hand bike for sale before leaving for your round-the-world trip, but make sure to post about it in an appropriate group (check guidelines).
* One account - real people only: no pet profiles, no stuffed animals

Paragraph 3 - Over 18 only
Pretty straightforward

Paragraph 4 - Privacy
* Think before you post - once it's posted, people can generally see it...
* CouchSurfing will only share private info when required by law.

Paragraph 5 - Your Contents
* CS is getting a license on your published contents. CS keeps some data for safety reasons.
* Don't defame, libel, post porn or genitalia, post racist or discriminatory stuff, post stuff that's illegal in your own country or in the US (broad interpretation), don't use CS to try to make money, don't post private contact info...

--- The following paragraphs are generally less problematic
Paragraph 6 - Third Party Contents
* CS doesn't control/police what people post, and they are responsible for what they post, especially when it links to external websites

Paragraph 7 - Proprietary rights
* There's a copyright on what's on the website, so make sure you double check before using it outside of your normal use of our services

Paragraph 8 - Username and Password
* Protect your password and log out after your session! Your password is private & personnal, don't share it!

Paragraph 9 - Termination
* Gnaahahahaha... :)
* Being a member of CS is a privilege, not a right
* CS doesn't have to warn you prior to removing your profile
* Doesn't mean CS WILL do it, it just means it CAN do it. After all, it's humans that volunteer for CS, behind the scenes! We do care!

Paragraphs 10-20
* More legal stuff, that generally has little impact on your day-to-day use of the website: Warranties, Liabilities, Arbitration

Paragraph 16 - Reporting misconduct
Please report any serious safety issues to us. If you hold police documentation about someone for a crime you reported, please forward it to us.

Having the Terms of Use do not mean people breaching them should be you attacked or reported right away. You could first try to open communication with them, especially as an ambassador, because some people genuinely don't know that CS doesn't allow it. If it fails, then you are invited to report it.

Am I expected to report every breach of the Terms of Use?

NO...You don't have to go around policing the website against phone numbers or inappropriate pics... The question to ask is: "Is it problematic?" Be nice, use common sense, communicate, try to be culturally sensitive.

It is everybody's responsibility to preserve the community's integrity, but you don't have to do anything you're not comfortable with.