Managing Platform Terms of Service In A Site Policy Repository

Github is releasing an update to their platform Terms of Service and Corporate Terms of Service. Guess what platform their are using to manage the evolution, and release of their terms of service? Github of course! They are soliciting feedback, along with clarifications and improvements to their terms of service, with an emphasis on helping making things more readable! #nice

Github has provided a deadline for everyone to submit comments by the end of the month, then they’ll spend about a week going through the comments before making any changes. It provides a pretty useful way for any platform to manage their terms of service in a way that gives the community a voice, and provides some observability into the process for everyone else who might not feel confident enough to chime in on the process. This can go a long way towards building trust with the community, even if they don’t directly participate in the process.

Managing terms of service using Github makes sense for all providers, not just Github. It provides an open, transparent, and participatory way to move forward one of the most important documents that is governing API consumption. It is logical that the drafting, publishing, and evolution of platform terms be done out in the open, where the community can watch and participate. Pushing forward the design of the legal document in sync with the design, deployment, management, SDKs and other aspects of API operations. Bringing the legal side of things out of the shadows, and making it part of the conversation within the community.

Eventually, I’d like to see the terms of service, privacy policies, service level agreements, and other legal documents that govern API operations managed and available on Github like this. It gives the wider API community the chance to play a more significant role in hammering out the legal side of API operations, ensuring this are easier to follow and understand, and maybe even standardized across APIs. Who knows, maybe some day terms of service, privacy policies, and service level agreements will all be available in plain language, as well as machine readable YAML, shifting how the API contract will scale.