Posted: Question about, er, posting.
June 26, 2005 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Why do signs to deter trespassers use the convention "Posted: No Trespassing" when the very fact that such a sign is physically posted makes the use of the word "Posted" redundant?

I do realize that in some locations, the verbiage of the signs are mandated by law -- but that doesn't explain why the use of the term posted *would* be law, when it's self-evident that a posted sign is... posted.
posted by eschatfische to Law & Government (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:47 PM on June 26, 2005

I think it's just one of those little redundancies that English slips into every now and then. I was just thinking about this last night when I was listening to the shout-outs on a rap show on a local radio station. The convention is "I wanna send a shout-out to [whoever]," but, of course, the very act of saying [whoever]'s name is itself the shout-out.
Anyway, I don't know if you'll uncover the deep reason behind this usage, other than that convention, without regard for redundancy, has made it so.
posted by Dr. Wu at 7:52 PM on June 26, 2005

Why do signs to deter trespassers use the convention "Posted: No Trespassing"

I've never seen this. It's always just "No Trespassing." Can you be more specific as to where you've seen it?
posted by kindall at 8:40 PM on June 26, 2005

"No Tresspassing" = "Don't come in here."

"Posted: No Tresspassing" = "Ok, I've warned you, so if you come in here and I blast you with my shotgun, don't think you can try and sue me."
posted by 4easypayments at 8:54 PM on June 26, 2005

When I was a kid in the 60's, in Michigan, it was always this "posted" language. I too always wondered about it. Seems likely that, at least at one time, the fact it was posted had legal implications (like, if its posted, we can shoot you). So 'posted' means, "We warned you!"
posted by Goofyy at 8:57 PM on June 26, 2005

LOL. Didn't see your post 4easy :-)
posted by Goofyy at 8:58 PM on June 26, 2005

I think the posting has legal implications not (only?) for self defense, but for squatting. I believe in some places if you occupy land long enough that's not marked "no trespassing", the owner's legal right to that land is threatened. But, anyone who relies on me for legal information deserves to be shot.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:06 PM on June 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

Like kindall, I have also NEVER seen the "posted" prefix. I see "No trespassing" signs on an almost daily basis. I'm in Canada, btw.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 9:21 PM on June 26, 2005

Slightly OT, but what kills me are the signs in Texas that say (I think I have this verbatim) "Obey Warning Signs- State Law".
posted by carterk at 10:38 PM on June 26, 2005

You can also be sued or arrested for trespass only if you are informed that you are trespassing.
posted by grouse at 12:24 AM on June 27, 2005

I've always assumed this was an overly literal reading of law. Somewhere the law says the notice must be "posted", so people started putting "posted" on the signs, to make really really sure they're legally square. It's like ending a letter with "Signed," before you sign your name -- it says "I really mean this."
posted by jjg at 12:55 AM on June 27, 2005

It may vary by state. I've seen the Posted wording too. I suspect that state or local laws specify that the land be "posted" and somewhere along the line that was interpreted to mean the word "posted" had to appear on the posted sign. Perhaps it was a reaction by an unlawyerly type (a farmer or rancher) to advice given by a lawyer, essentially a misnterpretation of what the lawyer said, that caught on in a local area and spread from there. Or maybe someone argued a case in court along the lines of 4easypayments post above- that legally, there is a difference between suggestion of a No Trespassing sign and a legal imperitive of a Posted sign.
posted by Doohickie at 6:05 AM on June 27, 2005

Response by poster: kindall & sonic: they're not at all uncommon, primarily found in rural areas. I've seen them all over the country, and I don't think it's a regional thing. Flickr examples here, here, here, here, here and here.

realcountrymusic: huh? I know what a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy is, but this ain't it. Perhaps you meant "Posted: hoc ergo propter hoc"?
posted by eschatfische at 6:34 AM on June 27, 2005

The reason for the "posting" language is to put people on notice that you are invoking the specific rights and remedies of the posting laws applicable to unfenced privately owned land in the jurisdiction, most importantly being that the cops can actually come and arrest you if you cross over the posted line.

While it may not be legally necessary to do so, it certainly can be helpful, particularly given that many kinds of warning signs that people post on their property are simply designed to intimidate -- they have no enforceable legal affect whatever. (A great example of such empty-threat signs are "no solicitor" signs that people post on their doors.)

Posting laws (which often give landowners the option to forbid all entry, or just to forbid hunting or certain other uses) are necessary given the prohibitive expense of fencing in large amounts of land, and the fact that certain kinds of wildlife husbandry and legal rights of way dictate that landowners NOT be allowed to fence in land even if they're willing to do so.

By the way, the rights and remedies would never include the right to shoot without warning or further evidence of the tresspasser's intent to cause injury (not even in Texas,unless it's your house, not just your land).
posted by MattD at 6:38 AM on June 27, 2005

Sometimes, "No trespassing" means "If you fall and hurt yourself on my property, I have no liability, because I told you not to come here."
posted by crunchland at 7:08 AM on June 27, 2005

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