Some notes on customizing the default Terms of Service

I wasn’t referencing any attorney-like responsibility or legal advice. Just describing a summary of key points or the process you did for the rewrite isn’t legal advice for anyone.

I was asking more like style summary that might be more pointed than just “rewrite from scratch”. It doesn’t need to be more than that, but it would be ideal.

But anyway, I got my answer that there’s no such summary.

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Hmm, the use of binding arbitration AND class action waiver in the defaults is slightly concerning:

Other than to seek an injunction or for claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, you and the company will resolve any Dispute by binding American Arbitration Association arbitration. Arbitration will follow the AAA’s Commercial Arbitration Rules and Supplementary Procedures for Consumer Related Disputes. Arbitration will happen in San Francisco, California. You will settle any dispute as an individual, and not as part of a class action or other representative proceeding, whether as the plaintiff or a class member. No arbitrator will consolidate any dispute with any other arbitration without the company’s permission.

Aside from the well-known problems with these: Arbitration is really, really expensive for the “company” - sometimes more expensive than the local legal system - and for hobby forums this is not going to be the best terms for them.


CDCK, Inc. can’t make any guarantee that the template terms that ship with Discourse will be the best terms for any particular forum operator. We’re happy to offer a starting point. Forum operators can and should make changes to suit their needs from there, or replace the template entirely.


Anything that we’re expecting every/most forum operator to change should be in the setup wizard, then :slight_smile:

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Sort of, this was in the original Discourse 1.0 design spec but we quickly realized almost nobody actually cares about customizing the terms of service. Whether they should or not is a different discussion, but the reality is… well, the reality.

@kemitchell Nice!

Arbitration is not necessarily more expensive or worse than the local legal system. It really depends. I haven’t reviewed the AAA’s Supplementary Procedures for Consumer Related Disputes, but I suspect it was chosen as it suited to the forum - user context.


I wonder whether it’s worth generating a list of choice of law clauses (i.e. what laws and what dispute resolution procedure applies) which would be automatically inserted based on the locale of the site. Maybe something to add to the legal tools plugin.


A little pity that user content is not automatically CC licensed anymore with the new TOS. I actually did like the old behavior, the alternative now is to include CC-license notes in each (bigger) message?

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Well, you can obviously just add a clause about CC licensing to your forum’s ToS.

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Hi All,

I was wondering if there was a particular reason jurisdiction was set to San Francisco? Are the courts there particularly well-versed in tech related issues? Some other reason to consider? Compared with say Delaware where many companies are incorporated.

If anyone knows I’d be curious to learn why…

San Francisco was picked for its geographic convenience. No one on the team is in Delaware (for example), so we wouldn’t want to need to fly there if we ended up in court.

The city for disputes is intended to be selected by the site admin/owner, you are under no obligation to use San Francisco like we do. You should discuss with your legal counsel as to what location makes sense for you.


Of course. I would normally put NY or somewhere convenient. This is my first “tech” ToS that is not a normal commercial contract. I thought maybe SF had some secret Silicon Valley courts. Guess not :laughing:

@jomaxro @codinghorror or other team members,

I’m trying to find the ToS and Privacy Policy I accepted as a customer of Discourse. I.e. what ToS and PP I accepted vis-a-vis my community members data being process on Discourse servers. I ask only because I’m having an attorney look over ToS on my site and I want to have the ToS on my site more of less “back-to-back” with what I’ve agreed with you and with your tech partners.

If is relying on a third party - like Google or Amazon - which of course you would be - are your terms with Google / Amazon reflected in the terms you’ve signed with your customers?

Apologies if I missed this. I’ve had a look through the forum but didn’t see it.


The terms for hosted sites are linked from the signup form, along with an acknowledgement checkbox. They can be found at Discourse Standard Hosting Terms | Discourse - Civilized Discussion. Our privacy information, which also details 3rd party services is at Privacy policy | Discourse - Civilized Discussion.


Thanks, it was the hosting terms I couldn’t find. This is very helpful!