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Do you ever just click without reading the fine print?
October 11, 2012 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Do you ever just click without reading the fine print? I am wondering a few things about the old "Click here to signify that you have read and understood the blah blah blah" directive, particularly the type found in software downloads/updates.

  • What percent of people actually read these documents (with or without understanding them)?
  • When people are forced to make this type of choice - a lot of work or a little lie for the same payout - does it effect other behaviors? Is this just an example of ego depletion?
  • Assuming there is a relatively low percentage, do we know if this type of widespread entrapment is affecting the way we generally value the "fine print"?
Anecdata welcome. [By answering below, you affirm that you have read and fully-understood my questions.]
posted by klausman to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
PC Pitstop ran an experiment by posting a reward in their ELUA. Took 4 months before someone claimed it.
posted by anon4now at 2:48 PM on October 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


I used to read them all. I gave up when some businesses adopted the tactic of changing their terms every couple of months without any notice of which parts of the terms had changed. I just don't have time to re-read these terms every time the business decides to change our contract on a whim.

Reading these was a lot more fruitful in the UK, where the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 meant I could complain to the Office of Fair Trading so that the term would be removed. Before doing this I would write the business in question and sometimes they would change the terms to remove unfair elements on their own.

I still read fine print for things that I am expected to sign.
posted by grouse at 2:53 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read changes and updates of "important stuff", i.e. PayPal or bank related things. "Non-important stuff" i.e. installing games - I assume it says the same as all the other games and I already know what's in it. "Semi-important" would be signing up for forums, here I skip through the FAQ for things that vary from forum to forum i.e. what is considered "bad language".
The only thing I always look for are additional check boxes about "automated updates", spam newsletters, toolbars and such. And deactive them.
posted by MinusCelsius at 3:29 PM on October 11, 2012


I usually do not, unless it's an unknown site that feels dodgy that I'm only marginally interested in, dodgy here means there's a chance they want to use my content / image / home address / email for revenue that are not obviously part of my use of the site.
posted by zippy at 3:44 PM on October 11, 2012


I actually have somewhat of an obsessive hobby of trying not to sign them.

It all started when Dell put their hardware EULA in a windows boot screen. I was going to install Linux anyway, so after I powered on the machine and saw the EULA, I powered it right back off and installed Linux.

So then I had this fantasy that it would some day come up in court and I would be able to testify that I never signed the EULA.


Web applications are pretty easy -- especially if they have verbiage about "Check this box to agree". Just submitted it unchecked, and use TamperData firefox extension to modify the form such that it's set to true on the fly.

Desktop and CLI applications are a little more questionable, but doable in a number of ways.


Of course EULAs are complete BS anyway but it's one of my little obsessive habits.
posted by robokevin at 5:12 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Web applications are pretty easy -- especially if they have verbiage about "Check this box to agree". Just submitted it unchecked, and use TamperData firefox extension to modify the form such that it's set to true on the fly.

This is just a convoluted way of checking the box. It's a little bit like saying you didn't sign a contract because you held the pen with a pair of pliers instead of your hand when you signed it.

I never read EULAs or click-through licenses. On the day that one of them is actually enforced, which afaik it's still an open question whether they even can be enforced, I'll probably start paying more attention.
posted by ook at 6:16 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm pretty sure I've signed my soul away to the iTunes store several times over...
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:03 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Assuming there is a relatively low percentage, do we know if this type of widespread entrapment is affecting the way we generally value the "fine print"?

Yes, certainly. I've noticed a trend in other industries of adding something to the fine print that would specifically let the seller know the user has read the T&Cs. The funniest example I can think of is a shooting range in TX that required you to tell the guy behind the counter that Dukes of Hazard was awesome before they'd let you into the range.
posted by youngergirl44 at 6:45 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I never, ever read any of it. This is a big change for me -- back in the days when business was done on paper, I used to read ALL the fine print in credit card agreements, to make sure I understood what I was getting into. But it doesn't matter anymore.

Reading these "agreements" is a pure waste of time, because most of them include a clause that says the equivalent of: "We can change any term of this "agreement" at any time for any or no reason with or without giving you notice, and if there is a dispute your only recourse will be arbitration in Delaware with a panel of arbitrators chosen by Us. We are BIG and you are small; we can do what we want and you can't so just Shut Up nyah nyah nyah pfffft." Really, what would be the point of spending one moment of my lifetime reading that stuff?

Reading these things is a lot like trying to read something in a dream -- you think you're seeing actual words that have a meaning, but when you look at them closely, they change right under your gaze.
posted by Corvid at 9:05 PM on October 12, 2012


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