Commenting – AVC, Disqus, privacy, and WordPress

This is what greeted me when I tried to comment on Fred Wilson’s post today.

Fred Wilson wrote about signing up to Pocket, and requested suggestions for becoming a power user. Naturally, I wanted to comment with a plug for my Chrome extension for Pocket. I also wanted to offer my 2c on why I found Instapaper better than Pocket 1.

I didn’t. Continue reading Commenting – AVC, Disqus, privacy, and WordPress

Stop Hustling

Loved the idea of Clik. As an end-user, and as a developer – a product that takes away a lot of pain for us while developing an app we are starting work on. Thanks!

However, there’s one note of concern. In this post-Path fiasco world, I (and quite a few people I know), have made it a habit of reading the ToS and Privacy Policies of apps and services before we get down to using them. Combined together, those two documents for Clik are over 20 pages of densely packed jargon.

Having read through enough of them, I know which parts of a legal document to read carefully and which to browse through. Most people don’t. And this is what causes them to ignore these at the time of acceptance, and cry foul later when they realise their trust has been broken.

Wouldn’t it be better, for the sake of users’ sanity as well as to prevent the nascent firms falling into trappings offered by legalese, to present a concise, truthful summary of those documents (ToS, Privacy Policy and like) in a language that every day people can understand?

Let the lawyer’s version be there, it can be helpful in certain, usually unfortunate, circumstances. But let there also be a concise, non-legal lingo version of it as well. Something that normal people, the end users, will read and understand. Something that defines the spirit of the legal words. Something that says, that though the legalese leaves space for doubt, we promise we’ll do just this & this, and never that, with your data.

Who writes it is secondary. The entrepreneurs could write it, or they could hire someone (non-legal) to write it. What’s important is that it be short and clear enough for everyone to read, and that everyone signing up be encouraged to read it.

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The current trend of hiding behind the legal version can be problematic not just for the end users, but also for the companies involved. It can make the entrepreneurs feel assured that the legal document gives them enough cover to do everything within its limit. Which is true in a court of law. Not so true in the court of public opinion. For Instance, the address book uploading that Path and many other developers did may be legal and covered in their ToS/PP but still created a furore in the media. Had they been required to write what they were doing in a couple of clear, concise sentences and tried that everyone who signed up read them, I doubt they’d have suffered the same fate.

P.S.: Your post above is less than 300 words and you do a good job of introducing the company, explaining the product and making a pitch. I’m sure start-ups can explain the core of their privacy policy and terms of service in under 500 words with equally simple language.

Posted a version of this post as a comment here.