Terms of Service

I can’t even guess how many times I’ve either explicitly agreed to the terms of an End User License Agreement (EULA) or offered tacit approval of a website’s Terms of Service (TOS) by using the site.  It has to be in the thousands.  But I can count the number of times I’ve read a TOS start to finish – one.

Last weekend I was wondering if my web host (Dreamhost) allows users to install WordPressMU. The answer is yes, so long as you have a Virtual Private Server account.  But what really surprised me was the only other bit of software singled out in the Dreamhost TOS – All In One SEO Pack.

Customer agrees to not engage in activities pertaining to Black Hat SEO, Spamdexing, and so-called “Scraper sites.” These can all have a severely detrimental effect on server performance and are not permitted. Pursuant to this policy, the poorly-written WordPress plugin “All in One SEO Pack” is expressly prohibited on DreamHost shared hosting servers and may only be installed on DreamHost Private Servers (VPS).

I have no idea if AIO-SEO-P is in fact poorly written, and it doesn’t really matter to me – it’s Dreamhost’s sandbox and they make the rules.  I found it a bit unfortunate because that plug-in seemed to be doing the job of several other plug-ins, and was quite easy to install and configure.  Regardless, I uninstalled it from the 9 WordPress installations I have.

I read the Yoast.com article on WordPress SEO and I’ve since installed a few other plug-ins to make up for it.   I lost a little bit of time, but it was worth is because of what I learned along away. And now I’m practically 100% in compliance with the Terms of Service.

But the real lesson here is about these agreements we’re making all the time.  They’re typically written in a way that makes them almost impossible to read (not true of the Dreamhost TOS), and we’ve been conditioned to blast past them.  A while back everyone was up in arms about the Facebook TOS, but how many people actually read the whole thing?

Maybe I’ll start reading them.

Published by Brian

Grappling sometimes, but mostly just trying to get others to grapple.

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