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:
- Some common names of policies that may apply include:
- Code of conduct for students
- Technology acceptable use policy
- Some WPMS institutions in the Reclaim Hosting community are coupled with a Domain of One's Own instance, and bring together both projects in their Terms of Service. This approach could help lend some cohesiveness to your WPMS project, even if it's in partnership with a non-DoOO project.
- Georgetown University - references official IT AUP and Reclaim’s Terms of Service
- University of Mary Washington - references Network and Computer Use Policy, Honor Code, and ASPIRE Statement of Community Values
- SUNY Oneonta - references the student code of conduct while providing readable human-focused guidance
Big Picture Questions
- 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?
- 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.
- Set clear limitations on what your team will and won't be able to support
- "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!