One of the most essential parts of a dating site TOS is the Adult Members clause. Once a network picks up steam in gaining popularity it is bound to see more people join in. At this point screening each new member individually will not be an option, so the portal must have a strict set of rules, allowing only visitors of certain age to sign up for the service. Unless, of course, a site owner is fully prepared to tackle million-dollar lawsuits charging them with abuse of minors.
It is general understanding and simple common sense that an online dating site should be off limits for people under 18 years old. However, until you document it in TOS, the idea will be regarded only as an assumption. The restriction can be reduced a little if you run a social network, but even then it still must comply with the legislation of the area.
As much as any site owner wants to be in control of everything that is going on over at his network, quite often it is simply impossible. It is also a very tedious task to go through every upload and post made by every single member. Thus it is much better to have a No Responsibility policy in place to ensure that users are aware that they will be fully accountable for bringing something illegal to the playground.
Admins can go even further and emphasize that in case they do find said illegal content, they reserve the right to remove it, or even suspend the user without any prior notice. Which leads us to…
Code of Conduct
This is where a site owner can go all out, explaining members what type of behavior is appreciated in the community. It will go a long way in eliminating abusive content, preventing the infringement of others’ rights and privacy, substantially reducing the amount of spam or malicious software, etc. Think of this as a set of house rules, which are more ethical and moral in nature; however, this is what’s going to shape the site’s feel for the visitors, so the Code of Conduct should never be ignored.
A more practical provision that shields site owners of possible future headaches. The name says it all – a network gives no warranties to its members about the service running perfectly at all times. Because let’s face it, such services don’t exist even in Hollywood movies. There is simply not a lot you can do when hurricanes, riots, or Justin Bieber fans are heading your way, disrupting all communication around. That’s a tad extreme, of course, but that’s the idea.
It might not be immediately apparent to the network population, but downtime, reliability issues, or even questionable accuracy of content, all give more reasons to loose sleep to site owners rather than members. So it’s advisable to tell the mob that the service is used at their own risk, before anyone starts reaching for pitchforks and torches. The service is provided as is. End of story.
Here is an approximate list of stuff to include in an online dating site TOS:
- No Responsibility
- Code of Conduct
- No Warranties
- Right to Use
- Content ownership
- Fees and Payment
- Privacy and Use of Infromation
Generally speaking, TOS represent a legally abiding agreement between a service (your website) and clients (members of your website). So, even though it might be tempting to put something like a ‘no trolls allowed‘ sign in your TOS and be done with it, it’s best to approach the issue more seriously.
After all, your site will be collecting other people’s personal information, will likely charge them for membership or additional services, and display content generated by others. Mutual trust inside the community is nice and all, but business is business, and as such it must abide by the rules of the game to succeed in the end.