Updating GOSH forum terms of service

Hi All

@solstag spotted that we are still using the default discourse terms of service with placeholders and probably have been since the forum was set up :slightly_smiling_face:.

@solstag has also already offered to help update them (thank you!), would anyone else be willing to take a look with him? I would propose posting a new version on this thread for comments before updating the site.


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Actually I went to look for it and… it’s not. The forum is under a CC-BY-NC-SA license. So if you want to copy/paste info from here into some freely licensed documentation, you do need to ask for permission. :man_facepalming::man_facepalming::man_facepalming: #fail

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Looks like those are the default terms of service from Discourse and they were not updated, hence the company_domain placeholders everywhere! I updated the forum privacy policy when GDPR came in during 2018 but looks like the terms of service have not been read by anyone since it was set up…


Ni! Thanks for the explanation, Jenny! Indeed, even I hadn’t noticed it before my jest with marina (and I have “license OCD” eheh). I’d be glad to help with that. Perhaps write me directly since this topic is already off-off-topic. : )


Bah Sorry everyone. I tried to be helpful and split the the thread community call thread into a new thread on this topic before I saw Jenny had already set it up. I have merged it into here now, but I made a bit of a mess.

The above 3 posts were originally from the GOSH Community Call - Thursday February 25th 14:00-15:30 UTC. Sorry for any confusion :frowning_face:

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Haha - thanks Julian!
I thought about splitting the thread but I really messed that up last time I tried!
The main thing is, we are here and so is all the relevant info so far :smile:


Hahaha this is great I had no idea one could do that, thanks @julianstirling!! Now, about the topic:

Here’s a link to our Terms of Service (TOS). There’s a lot of generic lawspeak, and then there are points that deserve attention, where I’ve ticked the ones that we require:

paid services

We could either ignore or remove the later. Or write a new TOS entirely (good luck with that).

There’s also three placeholders, here they are with possible values:

  • company_full_name:
    • Gathering for Open Science Hardware
  • company_short_name:
    • GOSH
  • company_domain:
    • forum.openhardware.science

Moreover, it seems that “Code of conduct” type info is found in the FAQ (/guidelines), not in the TOS (/tos). The generic TOS already mentions the FAQ, so that should be fine.

Then there’s the question of whether there’s anything we’d like to add. I can’t think of anything right now.


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Thanks @solstag and everyone.

Question: The license is still CC BY-NC-SA. Can we remove the NC and update the version number to 4.0?

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I think that removing certain irrelevant sections is a good idea.

I would also recommend removing the NonCommercial clause from the license. It makes far less difference for forum content, but non-commercial clauses in licenses that severely limit user freedom. They are not something I think that GOSH should be implicitly supporting by using as a forum license. However, it would be good to know if anyone has arguments in favour of NC licenses for the forum. I think of them being far more appropriate for other communities like photography.


+1 on removing irrelevant sections.

We should for sure be using a fully open license, CC-BY-NC-SA wasn’t actively chosen, it came with the template in the Discourse installation.

I would favour CC-BY 4.0 for simplicity and interoperability with other licenses.


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Ni! Hy everyone and thank you for your response! :smiley:

I agree with Jenny (@jcm80): CC-BY-4.0 is very likely the best option. NC is non-free, so it’s a no-brainer, but we also don’t benefit from SA in this context - it may actually hinder some uses (like the one I mentioned where some forum content might be useful in the documentation of a project, or even blogs that would like to republish a post.)

So for now we have:

  • Change license to CC-BY-4.0
  • Remove paragraphs about paid services, advertisement, service upgrades.
  • Replace placeholders with the given values.

However, upon a closer look, It seems we’re using an old TOS tamplate that has since been replaced by Discourse. The new template is very different and can be seen in the Discourse repo or on their own forum.

It seems the new TOS is longer, more generic and more specific on points about “liability and dispute resolution”. For one, the way it is written, in my view, requires us to explicitly name the company running the forum. It also does not have any of the points we don’t require. And it doesn’t mention a license, so we’d have to add that section.

Its placeholders are:

  • base_url
  • company_name
    • [I don’t know]
  • contact_email
    • info@openhardware.science
  • governing_law
    • [I don’t know, probably country where company is seated?]
  • city_for_disputes
    • [I don’t know, probably city where company is seated?]

I’m fine with migrating to this new TOS, but I’m also fine if the overall opinion is to base our TOS on the current TOS.


Perhaps use the current “old” one as the basis and just copy over any new sections that seem necessary?

The approach Raphael and I took for the privacy statement in lieu of a company was to write:

What is Gathering for Open Science Hardware?

Gathering for Open Science, or GOSH for short, is a meeting and community run by volunteers. We host in-person meetings, this forum (http://forum.openhardware.science) and a website (http://openhardware.science). We are not an organisation.

We then proceeded to use GOSH as the “company” name.

The forum and its moderation is managed by the community so I think this is the right approach also for the TOS. The server and files are currently in a Digitalocean VPS based in their London data centre that is accessible to Rafael, Kaspar and I but Kaspar is looking for different managed hosting.

I think the current risk profile for legal action against the forum is low but the arrangements may merit further conversation in the future about liability, governing law etc. In the meantime, I think we can just pick a place whose laws are favourable to us in the event of a dispute. I thought the main purpose was to avoid a lawsuit in a place that is not very favourable.



Hmm… I hadn’t considered that, but I’m afraid they’re so different that it’s going to be more work than simply moving to the new.

Ok, good one. I think I can manage that by replacing the term company with “community” and doing away with the “governing law” and “city_for_disputes” mumbo jumbo - though that would leave the community on less certain legal grounds if it ever has to “defend” itself. Other communities often put these in a country that has a more stable, fair and balanced justice system. See what happens for example with Wikimedia, where the fact that its based in the USA shields to some extent individual contributors living in places where speech is less constitutionally protected.


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