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  The Non-Grabby Terms of ‘Gaia Online’  
Posted 2007-06-11 by Tony Walsh
I have a special hate-on for unfriendly Terms of Service--those legal agreements which govern the use of a web site or virtual world. The worst Terms of Service (ToS) are set up for wholesale exploitation of user submissions while giving the contributors nothing or very little value in return. These ToS agreements are known as "grabby." I wrote an article on grabby ToS agreements six years ago--it's remarkable how little things have changed since then.

While signing up for a Gaia Online account the other day, I was pleasantly surprised to find a very user-friendly ToS agreement behind the scenes. Like many online communities, Gaia demands a license to exploit user-created content, but unlike most online services, Gaia promises to exploit the content "solely as necessary to provide the features and functionality of the part(s) of Gaia Online within which you choose to make your Member Submissions available..." Also unlike many online services, Gaia's license to your content expires when you remove the content. I'm no lawyer, but I do read a lot of ToS agreements (most users don't), and this is one of the fairest I've seen. Even Second Life's ToS, which is commonly believed to be user-friendly (and was recently found unenforceable), isn't as good as Gaia's.

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Comment posted by Ace Albion
June 14, 2007 @ 4:22 am
This looked cute, in a bit of a childish seeming way. I thought it might be fun to sign up, so I did.

Then I read the forums. Good gravy.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
June 14, 2007 @ 9:43 am
Heheh... well, for me, it was worth a tour to see all the features, including the Flash games, marketplace, arena etc.

I don't quite understand what's going on in Gaia, but I do know it's brimming with users... I might have to be in the right age-range to fully appreciate why :)
Comment posted by Ace Albion
June 15, 2007 @ 6:33 am
Well, as an adult, I found it impossible to engage in the discussions.

Not actually because I wouldn't have much to say to angsty teens about life issues, but because the topics were almost so universally the wrong side of the appropriate line I could only imagine I'd be violating some kind of internet grooming laws just by saying hello.

It's troubling, that in the process of creating a forum where anyone can talk together, you actually silence the adults, because they just cannot engage in the kind of discussions these teens with their blasť opinions about being hassled for "cyber by 11 yr old girlz lulz" or self proclaimed "dope smoking, pansexual" 15 year old's opinions and alleged experiences with sadomasochism. I mean really. You just have to sigh, and click some vote button for the gold and move on. It's like they can form a tribe that excludes you because you just cannot engage with them- because you'd be innapropriate to do so.

That's probably interesting in it's own right, but it's not going to bring everyone together any time soon.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
June 15, 2007 @ 6:49 pm
Ace, that was a sweet piece of analysis, my face hurts from giggling.

I don't mind adult-toxic spaces, they are some of the only places kids thrive. Gaia was a weird place to visit--I wouldn't wanna live there, but apparently a zillion dope-smoking pansexuals do :)
Comment posted by FWViper
June 16, 2007 @ 8:26 pm
Oh wow, from reading that comment I just had to creat an account just to comment myself.

Where gaia is filled, to a point of being completly naseating, with "dope smoking pansexuals" and there ilk. There are a vast aray of 'adults' who do freqint the site and covers quitly with one another.

Becuse the site is so large with as many users as there are, the children normaly frolic where everyone can see them and becuse the adults just can't relate or half the time understand them they religate themselfs to there own little 'click'.

I might sugest you search the guilds a little. Thow I can hardly beleave I'm defending the community as a whole you can't hardly say it's completly a wash. Thow even the adult crowd can be scary at times.

It seems the moment you get on the internet all bets are off and you'er welcome to be as . . . depraved? as you pretend you are not in reality. Sometimes I just do NOT care what gets you off.

I read somepleace that people are more themselfs online then they are in person. No fear of what others actuly think of feel about you becuse you don't actuly have to meet them. And if you don't like there opinion on something your welcome to no read it.
Comment posted by Hamburger Of Sorrow
June 18, 2007 @ 12:42 am
Yes, the General Discussion forum IS messed up quite a bit, so is the Spam Forum.. But the Mods aren't so quick due to the fact of all the scamming messages going around. (Scamming you, saying they're mods, and they need your password to verify some dumb things... And then they hack you, and take all your stuff.)
That's the down-side of having equip-able "Items." I've been on there for over a Year, and Reported so many things overly violating their ToS, I've lost count. Over 1,000. But the options to have things filtered, is nice. (Images aren't filtered, only words.)
Comment posted by Ace Albion
June 18, 2007 @ 8:04 am
FWViper, it's not even about not being able to relate or understand- it's about being prohibited by law from doing so!

Seriously, I'm fairly sure it's a criminal offence for an adult to instigate a conversation of a sexual nature with a minor in a whole bunch of countries. That's why you're "muted" by default. Even if you'd just want to post "hon, you really, really need to talk to your mother about that."

Hopefully they'll grow out of it, but what do you do when there's a whole world-wide peer-group effectively egging some kid on that it's ok to get handcuffed in underage sex or to take weed? If the only people in the world who understand your pain, and your love of My Chemical Romance, are into risky lifestyles, I have to wonder how that affects you as an adolescent.

I think it's a phenomenon worth looking into by someone who knows what they're doing. We all had peer pressure as kids, but now they have the whole world for their peers, in ways we (I'm over 30) didn't. I will look around further for the "safer" topics of conversation in Gaia, or just get a cute lamp for my little house or something :D

I've been sheltered by SL all this time!
Comment posted by Le Kae
July 14, 2007 @ 10:42 am
I'm not sure what the fuss is about. I'm over 30, and a member of Gaia Online. I was actually surprised to find it being discussed here, but it's not as bad as people make it out to be, as long as you avoid the angsty General Discussion forum. :D

Back on topic, I have to agree, I love that Gaia has such terms for their licensing of user-created art. I've made a few things myself there for other users, and I like knowing that the works are still mine. Naturally, there are likely to be some users who take advantage of that, but that's possible anywhere.
Comment posted by Akyue
November 22, 2007 @ 1:10 am
Haha, well unfortunately Gaia has gone down hill.

Been on it for four years, and it's no where near the fabulous days of yore.

However it really all depends upon where you go. While you're bound to find angsty pansexual dopeheads just about everywhere, there are some areas where their numbers are few. Try the Friends Chat subforum, for instance.

While there is a great amount of pissy assholes there, they're not too hard to ignore, and there is a goodly amount of interesting, intelligent people who don't blabber on about sex and drugs and whatnot.

I should know, as I am a regular there. ;3

Do feel free to drop by sometime.
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