Transparently Asinine

There are some things that are so obviously demonstrate that companies hate consumers that we take them for granted.

Here’s one all-too-familiar example:NVidia Terms of Service


The Terms of Service, or TOS, are a standard prerequisite for signing up for almost everything on the internet, from Amazon to Neopets to Flickr. This document usually contains all the rules required to join the service. These cover all sorts of policies, from standards of behavior to giving away your phone number to telemarketers [1] to waiving your right to legal action. [2]

Try applying principles of UI design to a TOS. You should notice immediately:

Everything about your average TOS screams out, “Don’t read this, but skim it and check the box that says you did.”

(1) The box is usually packed into an unnecessarily small space (in the nVidia example, it’s actually clipping most of the available room!)

(2) The page looks like it’s from the Web 0.1 era. Ever see links on a TOS?

(3) It’s totally impossible to read. Look at any TOS. It’s called a table of contents, geniuses. Use it.

(4) Doesn’t contain any interpretation. The legalese is required to get through in the courts, obviously. But why shouldn’t they provide a side-by-side translation or basic explanation?

(5) The check box almost never requires you to read the agreement.

This is something that has been around since the pre-Internet days; the fine print is nothing new.

What’s different now is that the Internet has made everything so much easier that, when it comes to Terms of Service, it’s blatantly obvious that they don’t want you to know what you’re agreeing to. We should demand better.

From now on, the Blog of Justice will have its own TOS, available here.

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