This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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27 March 2012

Tumblr's terms of service: shorter than Shakespeare

The TIME magazine website has a nice article about plain English making its way into terms of service agreements.

The terms of service for computer software and web services are famously wordy. iTunes? around 20,000 words longer than Macbeth. Paypal? a staggering 36,000 words. Longer than Hamlet.

To read, or not to read: that is the question. All too often, faced with 36,000 words, the answer is 'not'. And with terms of service, not reading can have serious consequences.

Tumblr's terms of service are still quite lengthy at 5,000 words. But they are relatively clear and they include lovely, witty explanations in plain English. For example:

You have to be at least 13 years old to use Tumblr. We're serious: it's a hard rule, based on U.S. federal and state legislation, even if you're 12.9 years old. If you're younger than 13, don't use Tumblr. Ask your parents for an Xbox or try books.

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