Is there a membership contract? December 28, 2004 11:04 PM   Subscribe

Does the $5 membership fee come with an implied "contract?" (more inside)
posted by ludwig_van to MetaFilter-Related at 11:04 PM (87 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

This is a bit of a greenish question, but MeFi related, so I decided to drop it on this side of the line.

Someone in some thread or another was referring to the fact that MeFi is mathowie's site; while I understand what they meant, I got to thinking about whether or not the users who have paid for membership could lay claim to "owning" part of the site; a bit like stockholders. They are supposedly helping to pay for the servers, after all. I took a look at the new user signup page, and read this text:

Due to the bursting size of the community, its use of resources, and the cost of running the servers, all new users have a one-time $5 charge, to help defray these costs. Keep in mind this is a donation towards the server, and not a purchase. If you sign up an account to pimp your product, act like an ass, or generally just do things that break the guidelines you will be booted and there will be no refunded donations.Due to the bursting size of the community, its use of resources, and the cost of running the servers, all new users have a one-time $5 charge, to help defray these costs. Keep in mind this is a donation towards the server, and not a purchase. If you sign up an account to pimp your product, act like an ass, or generally just do things that break the guidelines you will be booted and there will be no refunded donations.

I know that it states explicitly that this is a donation rather than a purchase, but what about the following scenario: Matt spends a few hundred bucks on some kind of ad campaign which results in say, 5,000 new users in a 3 day span or so. That's $25,000 in his pocket. Then he immediately shuts down the servers and sells them, gaining the cash from those as well. All of the new users (and users who had signed up earlier, in varying degrees) got nothing for their money and are out five bucks. Not an amount large enough for most to get up-in-arms about, but this hypothetical evil-Matt has just ripped off an unsuspecting group of strangers for some 50,000 hypothetical dollars. Would he be easy to prosecute in that case? Would the users have a right to a refund, despite the text on the signup page?
posted by ludwig_van at 11:06 PM on December 28, 2004


Why yes, that's just what we need around here. MORE of a sense of entitlement.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:16 PM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]


Matt spends a few hundred bucks on some kind of ad campaign which results in say, 5,000 new users in a 3 day span or so. That's $25,000 in his pocket. Then he immediately shuts down the servers and sells them, gaining the cash from those as well.

*calls contact at IRS*
posted by quonsar at 11:25 PM on December 28, 2004


....or what if he signs up ~3000 users, buys a new tv, and doesn't lift a finger around the site?

Lessee... 3000 x 5 = 15,000 - 2200 = $12,800... That's a lot of fucking monocle polish. I keed, I keed...

I don't really have a right to bitch, since 1) I didn't pay for my membership, 2) it's not my site, and 3) I'm a lazy SOB myself, but I am curious: What happened to all the grand plans that were discussed earlier? Is that stuff still gonna happen? Or does everyone have all the new features and sections except me because I'm a grade A asshole?
posted by keswick at 11:26 PM on December 28, 2004


Why yes, that's just what we need around here. MORE of a sense of entitlement.

Oh gosh, I thought I made it clear enough that that isn't what I meant.

I thought of this question as more along the lines of
Suppose you killed somebody... But I thought if I put it in the green I'd get slapped with "It's MeFi related!"
posted by ludwig_van at 11:34 PM on December 28, 2004


• It's a donation, you don't own anything, you aren't owed anyhting but a membership for as long as the site lasts or until you make an ass out of yourself.
• You're acting like an ass. Difficulty in dealing with too many people acting like asses is what has caused Matt to consider shutting down the site in the past.
• He doesn't have to advertise to get more members.
• He's been offered more than that to sell the site, he wouldn't have to pull a scam to make $25,000.
• Matt has demonstrated a good faith effort to provide us with a functional website.

On preview, you're acting like a hypothetical ass.
posted by planetkyoto at 11:35 PM on December 28, 2004


You guys sure are quick to pounce. I don't think I was acting like an ass at all. Were the people in the hypothetical murder threads asses? And no, I don't really need an answer to that.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:36 PM on December 28, 2004


Think of Metafilter as a nightclub. You paid $5 to get in the door. If the place gets raided, and you go home early, you don't get your five bucks back.

How's that?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:37 PM on December 28, 2004


Re-reading the original post, maybe the nature of my question wasn't clear enough for some. To be explicit, I just thought it was an interesting thing to consider, and I don't mean to imply this as a real possibility or that I think Matt would do something like that. I think this question could be applied to any webmaster/website with a similar signup procedure.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:39 PM on December 28, 2004


You pays your money and you takes your chances. Just as valid on the cyberwebnet as it is in the real world.
posted by darukaru at 12:10 AM on December 29, 2004


So are we basically agreeing that if some anonymous conman (to remove the MeFi reference altogether) were to pull this sort of scheme, he'd simply get away with it? That's the question I meant to pose.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:14 AM on December 29, 2004


Yes, he would. Your five bucks is spent and you have no claim to any entitlement. You agreed to such when you "bought" a membership.
posted by rocket88 at 12:25 AM on December 29, 2004


There's no contract. You gave Matt $5, and in an unrelated incident he gave you the ability to post on Metafilter.
If he shut the site down tomorrow, then that's tough, but it's the way it is.
posted by seanyboy at 12:34 AM on December 29, 2004


I can see that. I just think it's interesting that the consensus seems to be that this would be a way for a person in Matt's position to come away with a bundle of money for little immediate effort and seemingly no legal implications.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:40 AM on December 29, 2004


never signup for an account at ludwig_vanfilter, you might get scammed.
posted by airguitar at 12:42 AM on December 29, 2004


Consider yourselves warned!
posted by ludwig_van at 12:43 AM on December 29, 2004


you can't draw any conclusions between how we'd feel about some nefarious conman and Matt. Matt's been running Metafilter for years. He wouldn't just close shop and run off and buy a flat screen tv or something. Besides, we know where he lives.
posted by crunchland at 12:43 AM on December 29, 2004


Well, sure, we know Matt in a sense, but would even longtime users of the site who have never met him claim to truly know him? Maybe there is no Matt, only an Evil Demon?
posted by ludwig_van at 12:46 AM on December 29, 2004


Matt, stop playing with your ludwig_van account. Now you're starting to scare us.
posted by vacapinta at 1:23 AM on December 29, 2004


stavrosthewonderchicken 'gotitdowm. Whatchagonado-bout it?
posted by dabitch at 1:37 AM on December 29, 2004


I think, yes, it would probably be prosecutable - mainly because of the advertising drive. If 5,000 new users just happened along and decided to donate $5, though, I don't think there would be much recourse.
posted by taz at 2:10 AM on December 29, 2004


I just looked this up in 'Legal Questions For Dummies' and it seems I own a share of the remote for the flat screen tv.
posted by apocalypse miaow at 2:57 AM on December 29, 2004


Yes.

I would say more, but it would run the risk of violating my side of the implied contract. That would reduce the strength of any future claim I could make, which would be stupid.
posted by Chuckles at 3:35 AM on December 29, 2004


um, perhaps the tv had not a damn thing to do with metafilter?
posted by moonbird at 3:52 AM on December 29, 2004


You're wrong there, moonbird. My team of lawyers insist that I have a legal right to the buttons marked '1' and '8'. There is some doubt about whether I have joint ownership of the volume up button.
posted by apocalypse miaow at 4:08 AM on December 29, 2004


you're normally only considered a stockholder in something if you buy stock. but - lucky you - i've a special deal at the moment where i can give you 50% of ibm for just 10,000 dollars. you don't get any paperwork, but i'll give you a password to the developers section of their site.

and i believe you'd have a strong claim against matt if he shuts down the site. just don't delete the video of him holding a gun to your head forcing you to pay.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:29 AM on December 29, 2004


Over the years, many of the non-noobs have also donated money to the server, and I'm betting that in most cases it was a lot more than 5 bucks. Maybe Matt should add a comment to the new reg. page explaining what the 5.00 is for in a little more detail, along with a request not to start a metatalk thread about it.
posted by iconomy at 4:42 AM on December 29, 2004


MetaFilter is Haughey's magical bling; it's his snazz; it's his fizz; it glosses his aw-shucks shuffling self with a daily glitterfix of diamond shiny; it swirls through his eyes like sparks off a sharpening wheel; it flares from between his teeth like white stars bursting; it coats his voice with golden honey.

It clings to his fluttering eyelashes like prom glitter.

Without his magical MeFi bling, he's a high-pitched webbish nebbish with buttery thick calves and lifeless eyelashes. No way that savvy boy gonna 4fuckit his magical bling. Nope. No way. Fret thee not.
posted by Opus Dark at 4:53 AM on December 29, 2004 [1 favorite]


*swoons*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:55 AM on December 29, 2004


How about the implied contract that members will abide by the posting guidelines? How many breaches here?
posted by caddis at 4:59 AM on December 29, 2004


Oh caddis, how you bring us back to earth with a kerrrassssh after the magic soliloquy of Opus Dark.
posted by apocalypse miaow at 5:09 AM on December 29, 2004


'tis true, I sat in preview too long, for Opus Dark put down some cosmic sass which might lift this sorry thread if you just forget my 2 cents.
posted by caddis at 5:17 AM on December 29, 2004


I am willing to give up my share of the TV remote if i can gaze on them buttery thick calves.

Thank you, Opus Dark; that image will get me through the day.
posted by reflecked at 5:47 AM on December 29, 2004


caveat emptor

you have already received something for your $5 - access
there is no SLA or other guarantees that go with your MeFi account

your hypothetical was posed using a poor analogy - the fact is you made an educated decision to part with $5 based on your perception of the return value. you understand with any purchase you make that the expectations of the return are fairly undeterminable.

what if you decided you didn't like MeFi? would you expect your money back?

c'mon...
posted by angry jonny at 6:08 AM on December 29, 2004


In all fairness, this discussion should only be open to those who have actually made a $5 contribution. To all others it should be a matter of complete indifference how Matthowie deals with freely given money.
posted by Cancergiggles at 6:15 AM on December 29, 2004


I gave $5 at church the other day (ok, it was 10 years ago). Do I own part of the church? A basket with consecrated wine and chips, maybe? Can I demand the organist plays my requests? Do I get my money back if there is no Heaven?
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:26 AM on December 29, 2004


mcguillicuddy: slam dunk. i'm sure that all the bells and whistles promised will eventually show up. right now matt and his wife has another -filter on the way that obviously is/will going to take up some time. life happens.
posted by moonbird at 6:46 AM on December 29, 2004


Due to the bursting size of the community, its use of resources, and the cost of running the servers, all new users have a one-time $5 charge, to help defray these costs. Keep in mind this is a donation towards the server, and not a purchase.

From the new registration page. I'm getting my money's worth out of the bold tag today.
posted by iconomy at 6:52 AM on December 29, 2004


Cancergiggles, if you look at the donation thanks page, you'd see most of the old timers here are listed there.
posted by riffola at 6:53 AM on December 29, 2004


this would be a way for a person in Matt's position to come away with a bundle of money for little immediate effort and seemingly no legal implications.

And to completely trash his reputation.

Any old schmoe can set up a website and charge $5 entry. The only reason Matt is succeeding at it is that he's got a hard-earned reputation and history as someone who is very much not a con man, and who more to the point would never be dumb enough to blow all that goodwill and potential future profit for a one-time score.
posted by ook at 7:07 AM on December 29, 2004


This is the stupidest thread ever. I can't believe I just wasted 5 minutes reading it. Why would anyone ask such an inane question?
posted by evoo at 7:10 AM on December 29, 2004


In all fairness, this discussion should only be open to those who have actually made a $5 contribution.

In all fairness, when a noob says something like that, the goats that donated when they didn't even get a membership for it should be able to hit you with a bag of cats.
posted by FunkyHelix at 7:21 AM on December 29, 2004 [1 favorite]


In all fairness, this discussion should only be open to those who have actually made a $5 contribution. To all others it should be a matter of complete indifference how Matthowie deals with freely given money.

In all fairness, the question was not what was Matt going to do with the money (I don't care if he buys a diamond-encrusted pacifier for Jr. with it), but what effect it has on a community when some pay and some don't. It's a donation.
posted by adampsyche at 7:27 AM on December 29, 2004


Or a bag of cats.
posted by adampsyche at 7:27 AM on December 29, 2004


Not a bucket of cocks? Wouldn't that be more effective?
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:30 AM on December 29, 2004


I really don't get the impression that ludwig_van is implying anything at all, but is really just totally posing a hypothetical question out of curiosity. It actually would have been better, probably, as an AskMe, but termed in phrases like "A site similar to MetaFilter", etc.
posted by taz at 7:32 AM on December 29, 2004


In all fairness, I'm going to hit you with a bucket of cat cocks, because I'm one of the people who tosses Matt some cash every few months for a variety of things, including memberships for people who can't afford the $5. And I know I'm not the only one.

And, yes, Matt could conceivably have stolen everyone's $5 and decamped with $25K. But, you know, every financial transaction between strangers has to have a certain element of trust in it. It's the way of the world, snowflake.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:00 AM on December 29, 2004


Cancergiggles, if you look at the donation thanks page, you'd see most of the old timers here are listed there.

and that list is not at all complete. as Sidhedevil mentions, long term members regularly donate towards the running of this place.
posted by t r a c y at 8:09 AM on December 29, 2004


Matt spends a few hundred bucks on some kind of ad campaign which results in say, 5,000 new users in a 3 day span or so. That's $25,000 in his pocket. Then he immediately shuts down the servers and sells them, gaining the cash from those as well. All of the new users (and users who had signed up earlier, in varying degrees) got nothing for their money and are out five bucks.

Heh. Someone's been through law school. Am I right, ludwig_van?
posted by gd779 at 8:11 AM on December 29, 2004


If I give $1 to the guy on the street for 'bus fare' and he goes out and spends it on a bottle of Ripple, do I have grounds to sue?
posted by darukaru at 8:16 AM on December 29, 2004


He wouldn't just close shop and run off and buy a flat screen tv or something.

That is a ridiculous claim to make. We all take it on faith that he won't do that, and hope that he won't, but he's often spoken of his disillusionment with the site and of the time demands of his various jobs and other interests, and it's quite possible that at some point he might do just that. Life is risk.
posted by rushmc at 8:22 AM on December 29, 2004


You know, I missed the ad campaign. Matt bought ads?

Or is something going to be running during the Super Bowl?
Open:

Swelteringly hot day. quonsar, sweating like a salty fireboat, pulling a wagon, walks past a bar. Pan back to show the blue marquee: Metafilter Bar & Grill: $5 Cover. He smiles, rivulets of happy sweat gathering in his crow's feet. His smile turns to sadness as he reads a smaller sign on the door: NO FISH ALLOWED. Camera pans over to the wagon, which holds a glass bowl with a goodly sized goldfish.

"You're killing me here, Opus," he sighs.

Cut to inside the club. Everywhere, goateed intellectuals and pointy-headed academics are arguing about inane topics that don't matter. Every so often a phrase rises above the din: "exposed to anus," "the criminally underappreciated Marshall Tucker Band," "I paid five bucks for THIS?," that sort of thing.

quonsar walks into the shot, smiling, giving the thumbs up, squirming to hide the very active flopping bulge in his pants.

And the tagline: Metafilter: 20,000 People Who Think They're So Damn Smart.
posted by chicobangs at 8:47 AM on December 29, 2004 [2 favorites]


If Newsweek goes bankrupt and folds, I lose my subscription money. Matt specifically did not even promise anything at all. So, no, you have no recourse if he decides we're all a bunch of lunkheads and closes the site.

If you've been reading Metafilter and Metatalk for a while, you can decide for yourself if Matt is trustworthy. He could easily farkify the site, add lots more ads, banner ads, popup ads, etc., and make lots of money. Or sell the site and make lots of money.

Matt's been steadily adding features, some for niftiness, like AskMe, and some for money, like googleads. The site was moved to a hosting company for better uptime, he's invested in a new server, etc. , all of which is using cash. Of things I might complain or worry about, Matt selling a zillion $5 donations, selling the site to a google adfarm and running off to Tahiti with the ill-gotten gains is fairly low on the list.

It's only five bucks. You can "own" part of Metafilter by posting really great, well-researched front page posts, insightful Metatalk issues, thoughtful comments, and useful AskMe questions and answers. Or by doing a side project, like Metafilter Stats, or a spiffy java applet , or performance art.
posted by theora55 at 9:11 AM on December 29, 2004


this would be a way for a person in Matt's position to come away with a bundle of money for little immediate effort

Little immediate effort?

If it's so easy, you do it, ludwig.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:13 AM on December 29, 2004


Interior: a gentlemen's club. Overstuffed armchairs, snifters of brandy, decanters of port, deferential waiters. Closeup on a genial, plummy-voiced Miguel Cardoso:

"Have you ever thought about the virtues of conversation for its own sake, regardless of how petty practicality might view it? The sheer pleasure of an exchange of ideas, the play of language..."

Cut to an earnest Etherial Bligh, leaning forward:

"I used to feel that conversation was overrated, that it distracted from true insight, which derives primarily from the kind of close reading and careful thought that is generally incompatible with the distracting presence of others who expect a reaction to their own ideas -- an expectation, by the way, that is entirely justified. But then I came to realize..."

The camera pulls back (the voices fade to a background murmur) to show waiters beginning to look towards the padded entrance door, which is vibrating as though some kind of struggle is taking place on the other side, and exchanging worried glances. Suddenly the door bursts open and quonsar runs in, waving a fish and cackling wildly. As the nearest waiters make a futile attempt to intercept him, a growing roar makes them look towards the door again, and...

a mob of people pour through, most geeky-looking, some teenaged and others past the first blush of middle age, a few of supernal beauty and some showing signs of not having been in the company of other humans for months, perhaps years; they are shouting, singing, throwing things, and arguing over whether the waiters are hard-working people deserving our sympathy, lackeys of the establishment who should be strung up along with their employers, or a figment of our imaginations. Some try to manhandle Miguel and Bligh, while others rush to their defense.

And the tagline: Metafilter: join the debate!
posted by languagehat at 9:15 AM on December 29, 2004 [22 favorites]


I bet if matt did run off the next day, and you did take him to court, you could probably convince the judge he owes you maybe $4 of the $5 (since you did get a day's service).

Of course, it will cost $100+ to sue matt in small claims.

Good luck.

(That's why small claims costs that much. IRL, if someone scams $5 from you, you suck it up and take it as a life lesson. It's no different than giving $5 to the bum on the street as "food money" and finding him with a sixpack of beer tomorrow).
posted by shepd at 9:57 AM on December 29, 2004


A bunch of asshats gave fifty grand to some twit of a girl who didn't know how a credit card works, and you're all complaining that this might be a waste of money?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:32 AM on December 29, 2004


No way is it a waste of money if it's true about the bag of cats.
On the other hand, you are an admitted leftist who stands against current agricultural policies.
posted by apocalypse miaow at 10:39 AM on December 29, 2004


Opus Dark, my sweet -- chicobangs, my exciting compound -- languagehat, my crush eternal: allow me to slap $5 on the bar rail in your honor, because it will be the best $5 I ever spent on metafiction.
posted by melissa may at 10:56 AM on December 29, 2004


' Does the $5 membership fee come with an implied "contract?"'

No. Your donation is appreciated, however it, being a donation, creates no obligation.
posted by majick at 10:59 AM on December 29, 2004


I really don't get the impression that ludwig_van is implying anything at all, but is really just totally posing a hypothetical question out of curiosity. It actually would have been better, probably, as an AskMe, but termed in phrases like "A site similar to MetaFilter", etc.

taz is right on the money, and in hindsight, I should've removed the MeFi reference and posted this in the green. Like I said earlier, I conceived this as a "MeFi-related" question and was trying to avoid snark by putting it here. Obviously that backfired.

Again, sorry to those who were offended. But after my clarifying posts, I think the point was clear enough. I didn't mean to imply anything about Matt or this site in particular, just to raise a question to which I didn't know the specific answer and which I thought was interesting food for thought. I don't think it's necessary to immediately launch into snark mode without considering the merit of the question, dubious initial delivery or not. However, the point is taken.

If I give $1 to the guy on the street for 'bus fare' and he goes out and spends it on a bottle of Ripple, do I have grounds to sue?

No, but I think that's a very poor analogy, like some of the others in this thread.

Little immediate effort?

If it's so easy, you do it, ludwig.


I included the word "immediate" to indicate that at the point of opening up paying membership, Matt had already done all the work. He already had thousands of users waiting to get in and pay the fee. At that juncture, it would have been little effort to take their money and shut everything down.

I know of several sites with loyal communities; the internets tend to create these things. Many of these are free communities, but the members often express that they would gladly pay a membership fee in order to communicate their perceived kinship with the site owner and fellow community members. I understand where they're coming from and think it's a nice thing, but I think the implications of this kind of situation are interesting. Hence this thread.

languagehat, good show.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:10 AM on December 29, 2004


i think it's cool the way you can make some slanderous insinuation of a thread and then, by posting repeatedly in the resulting noise, proceed to hone and shape your motives after the fact such that ultimately you appear to yourself to be a brilliant student of human nature engaging in stimulating and mutually enlightening hypothetical social experimentation, rather than a petulant ingrate looking for a feces fight. i do it all the time.
posted by quonsar at 12:06 PM on December 29, 2004


MetaFilter: a daily glitterfix of diamond shiny.

Languagehat, that was brilliant. Yours was pretty good, too, chicobangs.
posted by me3dia at 12:07 PM on December 29, 2004


quonsar, I won't dignify your willful misunderstanding with a serious response. So:

i think it's cool the way you can make ... a thread and then ... proceed to hone and shape [it] ... [Y]ou appear to ... be a brilliant student of human nature engaging in stimulating and mutually enlightening hypothetical social experimentation.

Thanks, buddy!
posted by ludwig_van at 12:55 PM on December 29, 2004


Just because the sign-up page says, in various places, that you a making a donation does not make the transaction a donation. Generally, as long as the statement could be reasonably construed as an offer, and the payment of $5 can be reasonably construed as acceptance, there can be a contract.

But what would the contract for, exactly? The text emphasises that all new members are charged $5 for signing-up. Old members are not charged any money, nor are new members after they pay the one-time fee. Therefore, a strong argument could be made that the contract is not for "access to metafilter" (in which case older users should pay, or everyone should be charged on a rolling basis) but for "creation of a metafilter account", in which case once the money has been paid and the account created, the contract is complete. Matt could revoke the account seconds later without breaching that contract.

However the verbiage about Matt being able to cancel the account at any time for violating unspecified rules may render the contract illusory and void (or at least voidable, I can't remember at the moment).

I am not a lawyer, only a law student, this is only my unprofessional opinion and not legal advice, you should get your own lawyer to discuss your contracts, blah blah blah
posted by falconred at 12:57 PM on December 29, 2004


falconred, those are the lines along which I was thinking. If someone were to charge for membership and then shut down a site after an influx of new users, would a class-action suit be feasible? What kind of penalties would the conman face, and under what jurisidiction?

Furthermore, I think it's interesting how much we all trust our host here and jump to his defense. Again, I agree and can understand where everyone is coming from, but really, for all some users here know, Matt could just be a script running on someone's computer (and yes, I've seen his personal blog and the photographs he's taken, and am confident that he actually exists).

Do we trust people we interact with on the internet more easily than those we meet in reality? Is this because of the (sometimes) rational discourse which takes place on a place like MeFi, and seems to take place so infrequently in physical conversation? I probably feel more kinship and trust towards a "person" represented by paragraphs of text which I think are thoughtful and well-considered than I do a physical person who doesn't seem to have much to say.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:09 PM on December 29, 2004


Some of the best writing I've seen on Mefi, has been in this thread.

Chico, LH & Opus: you are responsible for my next £5 free gift to Mefi (run by a guy who works full-time elsewhere, and can buy as many shiny audio-visual widgets as he pleases, for all this impoverished Mefite cares).
posted by dash_slot- at 1:11 PM on December 29, 2004


chicobangs and languagehat also make me all swoony, I do declare.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:07 PM on December 29, 2004


"Just because the sign-up page says, in various places, that you a making a donation does not make the transaction a donation."

I'd like to point out that this is the kind of shit that makes many people dislike lawyers so severely. The jar says "donation." If you put your five bucks in the slot, it's a fucking donation.
posted by majick at 4:19 PM on December 29, 2004


(Why, oh why can't we have a lawhat to come and bust up the lawyerly equivalent of the prescriptivism party?)
posted by majick at 4:23 PM on December 29, 2004


falconred, I encourage you not to show that post to any of your teachers. You are committing a very basic error regarding US contract law, and I will let you figure out what it is.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:29 PM on December 29, 2004


And I should say that by "US contract law" I mean "contract laws that exist in various jurisdictions within the US" not only Federal statutes regarding contracts.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:30 PM on December 29, 2004


The jar says "donation." If you put your five bucks in the slot, it's a fucking donation.

Why is it so hard to offer a response without being so indignant about it?

There's a definite difference between a jar that says "donation," and a jar that says "donations, of which a specific amount is required in order to create an account." The latter may as well read "admission fee" rather than "donation," no?
posted by ludwig_van at 5:04 PM on December 29, 2004


no?

No. It seems like you have this one answer in your head that you keep looking for others to validate, and yet the overwhelming response to your original question is "You are entitled to nothing from a donation; anything which you have inferred is in your own mind."
posted by 23skidoo at 5:17 PM on December 29, 2004


There's a definite difference between a jar that says "donation," and a jar that says "donations, of which a specific amount is required in order to create an account." The latter may as well read "admission fee" rather than "donation," no?

How about contributing money to the bi-weekly NPR fund drive, wherein listeners are encouraged to donate as much or as little as they see fit, but must pledge at least $25 before they will receive the complimentary CD, Carl Kasell's Finest Expectorations? Are NPR donors (who can listen to NPR as much as they want, but must contribute before receiving special privileges) contractually guaranteed entertainment as a result of their generosity?
posted by Danelope at 5:21 PM on December 29, 2004


i think falconred is right--you're paying to create an account/username alone. Whether you use it or not doesn't matter. Whether the site dies or not doesn't matter i don't think, unless you never got to use the account, in which case it would matter, i think.
posted by amberglow at 5:42 PM on December 29, 2004


languagehat - that was MetaFilter distilled. I drink to you.
posted by caddis at 6:08 PM on December 29, 2004


No. It seems like you have this one answer in your head that you keep looking for others to validate

No, not really.

I don't care about this question anymore, but some people seem to get far too big a kick out of their own needless snark.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:41 PM on December 29, 2004


Sidhedevil - I'm a 1L, what do you want? :) I didn't go into the consideration issues, and my version of the objective theory was half-assed there, if that's what you mean. I'm supposed to be on vacation, you know.
posted by falconred at 12:48 AM on December 30, 2004


goateed intellectuals [...] arguing about inane topics
posted by chicobangs at 8:47 AM PST on December 29


I assume you mean goatsed intellectuals, but I'll forgive you that, for I love you and the Hat.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:46 AM on December 30, 2004


goodnewsfortheinsane, it's the Super Bowl we're talking about. Billions watch it every year, and some of them just don't want to be exposed to anus. Capisce?

We'll just accidentally link to it a few times after they, uh, buy the product. That way everyone wins.
posted by chicobangs at 6:09 AM on December 30, 2004


"Billions watch it every year..."

I sincerely doubt it. Much discussed. Possibly, but extremely unlikely, a billion people might see a portion of an annual huge worldwide television event (like the World Cup or Oscars). The Superbowl? No way in hell. And Billions? Impossible.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:03 AM on December 30, 2004


Bligh, you're just bitter because I misspelled your name. I don't think it's the first time I've done it, either.
*flagellates self with quonsar's fish*
posted by languagehat at 8:00 AM on December 30, 2004


Yah, that's exactly it. :)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:27 AM on December 30, 2004


falconred, I shouldn't have teased you! I was thinking about the element of "mutual assent", though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:55 AM on December 30, 2004


I love the pile-on here. How dare that bastard pose a hypothetical that might help Matt iron out the wrinkles in his new membership policy!

If Matt collected 1,000 new donations and immediately terminated service, I would be shocked if a lawyer couldn't win the argument that there's an implied contract offered here in exchange for $5.

A donation can still be a contract between two parties -- look at all the donations to schools that come with strings attached.

On the new user page and donation page, Matt states that he takes donations because the site "takes adequate effort and resources to keep running" and new users must contribute to "help defray these costs."

If you collect donations for a future purpose, such as keeping a server running, you have entered a contract with donors to put it to that purpose. Fraudulent charities are busted all the time for collecting money under false pretense.

Also, on the New User signup page, he calls it a "one-time charge" at one point, language that suggests it is not a donation at all.

Further complicating the issue of Web site donations is whether Matt runs this as a business, claiming income and busines expenses. The IRS would regard all of these funds as income, not gifts.
posted by rcade at 11:32 AM on December 31, 2004


When all is said and done: It is 5 freaking dollars. Like . Big deal. Man.
posted by Kilovolt at 8:51 PM on December 31, 2004


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