Have i mentioned how much i hate lawyers?
Why is social contract changing to guiding principles?
Lawyers didn’t like “contract” in the name “social contract” because it does not have the structure of a contract. The principles are the same, though. Six Apart doesn’t want to kill LiveJournal. Don’t worry — I thoroughly screened them to make sure they weren’t evil.
The term ‘social contract’ does not come from legalese – it’s an ancient political theory with a rich history. In short, a social contract is a set of culturally agreed upon norms that help maintain social solidarity. In most cases, the elements of the social contract are never explicated or concretely agreed upon – they just become norms. In almost all cases, people give up freedoms because it is good for the society as a whole. Thus, elements of the social contract are usually articulated as “that’s just wrong” or “you just don’t do that.” Lying, stealing, cheating, killing… these are all things that fit into the social contract. Of course, many elements of a society’s social contract are written into stone through law but the social contract came first.
Guiding principles are not the same as a social contract. A guiding principle is what those in power, those building the system, those who are actually doing the structural guiding are seeking to achieve. A social contract is something that is culturally accepted by all parties. For example, as a guiding principle, spam avoidance means that the creators will do everything in their power to make LJ a spam-free service. As a social contract, everyone involved will do their damnedest to rid the service of spam.
I know that the intentions are the same and that the goal is to just be careful of legalese, but one of the things that makes LJ so special is that there is a social contract between the participants. This needs to be maintained for LJ’s culture to survive, even if the term is being removed from its legal cannon.