March 02, 2010
The most annoying and overused social disclaimers

The conversational revolution of the internet during the last decade has brought about a lot of companies trying to engage with us at a different level than just being corporations. Instead of dehumanizing Terms of Service legalese and Acceptable Use Policies we're treated to an onslaught of microcopy as social markers, that this is a place where people deal with people and we don't need a contract. We could call these social disclaimers.
The problem of course is that some times we just want the frictionless and guaranteed behaviour of the market, instead of conversational engagement.

My list of the top three most overdone social disclaimers is here

  • Cuteness. It doesn't work when you cut yourself on something broken after the cute overdose

  • We hate spam too. Unless this means "we will actually never send you any email to this email address" you probably don't mean the same thing I do, and I stopped trusting these messages years ago. It's a polite fiction, at best

  • We're people like you. This kind of signaling used to indicate that we belonged to the same monoculture as the people selling to us, but it's too old and too common to carry that meaning any more - just like bloggers stopped being "people like me" some time around 2005.

Posted by Claus at March 02, 2010 12:37 PM | TrackBack (0)
Comments (post your own)

I think the solution might be along the lines of real standard disclaimers, like Creative Commons licenses. If I didn't have to read all the text, but still knew what it said, I could accept it without doing much thinking.

BTW: I have had "include_once('standard/disclaimer.php');" on my home page for years...

Posted by: Morten Høybye Frederiksen on March 2, 2010 4:00 PM

"Business ethics" codes, could be a good idea, yes.

Posted by: Classy on March 2, 2010 4:03 PM
Help the campaign to stomp out Warnock's Dilemma. Post a comment.

Email Address:


Type the characters you see in the picture above.

(note to spammers: Comments are audited as well. Your spam will never make it onto my weblog, no need to automate against this form)


Remember info?