Cycle Hire

I could probably re-phrase that as simply "Read any EULAs?".  In a previous post (Moderating on the MO:UL forums) I mentioned that I didn't believe that many people ever read the MO:UL forum rules, but it's really a much bigger issue than that.  I don't believe most people ever read the license agreements that accompany almost every item of software they install on their PCs (and if I'm honest I'd say that includes me a lot of the time too but I'm reserving the right to be hypocritical).  The dialog box pops up and you think "Yeah, yeah, where's the "Accept" button?".  Now, I knew I wasn't alone in feeling that these things went unread by the majority, but the subject was highlighted in a comedy show I watched on TV last night.

One of the shows in Dave Gorman's series "Modern Life is Goodish" (spoken with a brief pause before the "ish") featured a piece where he commented on "Boris Bikes" (the nickname for a public cycle hire scheme in London): What he found was that when you went to check out a bike from one of the docking stations you were asked to agree to the terms and conditions of hire - which were displayed on an LCD screen and amounted to 39 pages.  Dave Gorman did in fact read them all and found an error on page 7 - and this is where his assertion that no-one else had ever bothered to read them actually gains some credibility, because he reported the error and Transport For London corrected the terms almost immediately.  So in the three years that the scheme had previously been operating it was likely that no-one ever read the terms or at the very least couldn't be bothered to point out that a leap year doesn't have 364 days.

He further illustrated this by posting his own set of terms and conditions for everyone entering the theatre where the show wasbeing  recorded, next to the doorway that the audience all had to pass through: "By entering this theatre you agree to the following terms...".  The first items were all fairly standard stuff that you might expect: "You agree to keep your mobile phone switched off", "You acknowledge that you may be filmed and that you may be shown in the broadcast", etc.  But further down, the terms become more bizarre: "You agree to allow Dave Gorman to have sex with you.  This will be at Dave Gorman's discretion".  OK, this was all in jest, but his point was that no-one entering the theatre had bothered to read the terms posted right beside the entrance.

The truth is the we just don't like reading the small print, until we have to.  For the most part we just assume that the people we do business with won't try to abuse us, which is odd because it's also true that many of us profess to distrust many of the big corporations - Microsoft, Google, Facebook, to name only a few.  But still we click on the "Accept" or "Agree" button just so we get to the "good stuff" quicker.

So when pepole don't (or won't) read documents with a legal implication, can it be any surprise that people don't read forum rules?