Crafting a WPMS Terms of Service

WordPress Multisites are communities, and communities require some fundamental principles to guide members and create a productive, harmonious environment in which to work and collaborate. One of the most straightforward ways of setting these standards and guidelines upfront is to create a Terms of Service (TOS).

While it can be intimidating to create a TOS from scratch, there are many well-established TOS to model yours after, as well as various tips and tricks to speed up your crafting process. The biggest tip here is: do not reinvent wheels. There are sure to be existing, yet distinct, resources at your very own institution that you can draw from. You may be able to find some specific language about acceptable use for web projects from IT, but want to bolster that with guidance around community values and the honor code established at your institution.

Here are some key things to consider when crafting your WPMS Terms of Service policy:

Take stock of existing rules and regulations
  • Some common names of policies that may apply include:
    • Code of conduct for students
    • Technology acceptable use policy
Explore other WPMS institutions' TOS

Big Picture Questions

Consider how you will approach for-profit projects on your WPMS
  • Will you allow users to collect money within the platform?
  • Will you set limitations on which kinds of users can collect profits, such as entrepreneurial students or faculty textbooks?
How will you present your TOS to users?
  • Where will you link your TOS? Will you require users to accept these terms first, or rely on a "By using this you agree to..." style approach?
  • There are plugins that allow you to require users to accept TOS before registering or continuing to use the site, like WP Terms Popup.
  • Gravity Forms can also be configured to require users to accept terms when signing up.
Use your TOS to set expectations around support and project limitations
  • Set clear limitations on what your team will and won't be able to support
    • Examples:
      • "WiscWeb is a platform for creating and maintaining a UW-Madison branded website. Build out your site in private mode, then schedule an official launch when the site is ready to be public. Our team is here to help you if you get stuck along the way." — WiscWeb WordPress Service
      • "While CTE staff cannot author or maintain your Web sites, the department provides resources to help you develop and maintain your site." — Lee University Faculty Webpages

Hopefully this guide has put this process into perspective for you, and that you feel less intimidated to dive right in!


This guide is based on part of Tom Woodward's WordPress Multisite 201 workshop with Reclaim Hosting in February 2023.
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