TOS stands for Terms of Service
I know, I know, they are a mile long with teeny-weenie type filled with legal mumbo-jumbo.
That’s why most of us don’t read the TOS before signing up for services or websites. We know we probably should make the effort so we are informed. And to ensure there is nothing in there that will hit us in the back of the head sometime in the future.
But many sites take advantage of that. Just like the tiny teeny type on commercials that you can’t read. They can say they displayed it — that’s all that matters. Same goes with TOS pages.
The fact is that if you did take the time to read most TOS pages you wouldn’t like what you find. From privacy concerns to what they can do with your data, posts and images. You’ll find they pretty much state that if you use their service they own everything you do and can do what they please with your data. It’s true.
Playing by the Rules
That said, you really should try to read the TOS of any site you want to us so you can play by the rules. In particular, the TOSes that you should read are those at search engines, forums and websites that offer functionality and services for your use.
By not doing so you look lazy or at best arrogant that your time is too valuable to take the time to read the rules of participation. Especially when you contact support or post on a forum with questions that if you had taken the time you would have the answers to.
Experience Proves My Point
I’ve run several directories. Because of the non-readability that folks expect I made sure they had a very (very) basic TOS. Still no one read it. Currently I am community founder at a popular online forum where on a daily basis questions are asked that have already been answered. Either on the forum or in the support pages. Easier to post and have folks serve answers to you than to take the time to look first? What does that imply about your work ethic?
Read, Then Ask
Do your best to read everything first. TOS, FAQs and support pages. If you do not find what you are looking for, no worries, post as such.
Howdy! I searched all the provided information and could not find an answer for my specific question. If I missed something, if you can provide a link that would be great and I appreciate your time. My question is…
Of course do not use the above approach if a simple search will prove you made no effort at all!
Technology is a wonder. Every single day I am amazed how I can go to my favorite search engine, DuckDuckGo (who doesn’t track you — read the TOS!) and find the answers to any question I may have.
I also love helpful forum communities where if you hit a wall you can post and folks are willing to help you out. (They are much more helpful if you do your due diligence first and follow the rules.)
If you run across a site whose services or features you would like to use, take a few moments and show the site owner and other members the appropriate respect. Read their Terms of Service to be sure their service is even one you can or will be authorized to utilize. Then complete your signup/submission checking for accuracy and typos before clicking the Submit button. That’s what courteous Netizens do!