Talk:Fine print

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This article is full of opinionated language like the following paragraph:

Credit card issuers are among the largest of those who have won the fine print battle against the consumer. Consumer advocates have widely criticized the credit card industry for its increasing ruthlessness in its practices, which allow the banks seemingly unlimited rights to charge whatever fees they wish, to rewrite the terms and conditions faced by the consumer at will, and to not be challenged by the consumer in their practices. The consumer who initially obtained the card was inevitably drawn by the large print, which was accompanied by pages of fine print few are likely to read in full or to understand.

2007-02-1 Automated pywikipediabot message[edit]

--CopyToWiktionaryBot 06:51, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Reconstruction of page[edit]

I am starting to reconstruct this page, but I am going out of town tomorrow for about 2 weeks, so I do not know how much access I will have to the internet where I am, or if I do, how much time I will get for that purpose. I encourage anyone else who can help improve this article to do so. Hellno2 16:48, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

Merge into or from Small Print[edit]

See the discussion pages at small print regarding the merging of the similar article on fine print AndrewRH 18:04, 4 December 2007

Weaselly, wordy things[edit]

I've just tagged more than a couple of weasel words and added {{fact}} to just about every sentence that didn't already have it. This article, as it stands, sounds more like a persuasive essay that an encyclopaedic article.—Dah31 (talk) 02:44, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Fairness of images[edit]

The images that were added recently are from real companies, and are not generic-looking samples that would be better when used for illustrative purposes. It is true - so many of us, including myself, oppose corporate practices in the use of fine print. But Wikipedia is not a consumer advocacy group, and these images (copyrighted by the companies too) would be better off being replaced if not completely removed. Does anyone not agree with me? Hellno2 (talk) 23:15, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Hmm. Just added one; haven't looked to see what you're referring to. How does a fake ad have "the same effect"? A real ad can't be replaced by a free version that has anywhere near the same effect (e.g. 'OMG!'; I claim there are no free real ads would have "the same effect" as real ones such as those that were removed. The 10 requirements of the NFCC policy are met, in my view.--Elvey (talk) 19:11, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Censorship tag dispute[edit]

Let's see if there's consensus against it. There needs to be quite strong consensus against a censorship tag to justify its removal from an article. For more information, please refer to this censored image discussion.}}

For starters, censorship tags like that one belong on the talk page, not the article. Second, as far as I can tell there is nothing in the article or about the subject which may be objectionable. Thirdly, links from the mainspace to the userspace are not allowed. Finally, that section you keep refering to gives no information at all its simply an automated image warning and your rambling response to it, if anything it seems as though you are insisting on the presence of this tag to make a point--Jac16888 Talk 01:22, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Getting very sick of you restoring this meaningless tag so you can make a point, please do not restore it again--Jac16888 Talk 17:12, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
Regarding what you said in your summary here, well for starters I'm not even sure what you're talking about, could you maybe consider actually talking to me instead of spouting gibberish? This is how I see it: You uploaded a file File:BofA small print ad gaffe (in Safari).png which was nominated and then speedy deleted due to it apparently not meeting fair-use criteria. Rather than actually discussing this properly with the tagger or the deleter, you instead replied to an automated messages, hardly likely to get a reply. A while later you added the tag to the article (A tag which is primarily used on talk pages to explain why an article may contain objectionable material and the Wikipedia is not censored), apparently (based on your edit summary linked above) because you believe your image was deleted not because it wasn't fair use, but because somebody was trying to censor the article. This is, IMO, being disruptive to prove a point. If you believe the image should be restored, then take it to the deleting admin, or DRV, adding a passive-aggressive tag to an article which contains no objectionable material, or content that could be considered offensive achieves nothing--Jac16888 Talk 11:49, 8 February 2012 (UTC)
Your comments indicate you assume that what censorship is and what the censorship tag is described as being for are the same thing. Perhaps this is not obvious to you: If the image was deleted as an act of censorship, which I think it was, then the article was censored. If that's the case, there's no requirement that I engage the censors or take it to DRV or that I not tag the article's talk page to make note of the censorship. If given that, one can conclude that it's not disruptive, period. If it's not disruption at all, it can't be disruption to prove a point. In fact, challenging the censors is likely to result in disruption. It's not passive aggressive not to engage the censors; I've no reason to think they're even aware of this discussion or that I added the censorship tag. (They could be lurking or using a sock!) If you didn't have a dubious determination to make me wrong for pointing out the censorship or criminality of fine print there would be no disruption. The BofA 1.01 image was deleted even though its past use meets Wikipedia's fair-use criteria, IMNSHO. Of course you're free to claim you disagree with me on that point. But it doesn't make the censorship tag here pointless or inappropriate. Despite your denials, the truth is I WAS attempting to use the tag for exactly what the tag's purpose appears to be if you simply look at the tag itself, as I said. And as I noted, the tag's dox do indicate a more limited use, but those dox can't change the reality of whether or not the article was censored. IMO, the BofA 1.01 image, etc. was deleted because it was objectionable, not because of criterion #F7 of the fair-use policy.) Corporate censorship of the self-censorship veriety is what in my view caused the image I uploaded to be deleted. --Elvey (talk) 17:35, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
Your comments are utterly ridiculous. This entire argument is based around the concept that your image being deleted is censorship, despite no evidence suggesting this is the case and despite the fact that you have not asked the deleting admin or anybody else if they could verify whether or not it was deleted properly, for all you know it could have been a mistake. To automatically jump to the conclusion that it's down to censorship is just idiotic. And you still fail to grasp the fact that even if you are being censored, the tag you attempted to add is not used for that purpose, nor is there any tag that is used for that purpose. If you believe censorship is occurring then, since wikipedia is not censored, you address the issue, not incorrectly add a tag--Jac16888 Talk 17:49, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

Edit war over "Fine print is illegal in some cases."[edit]

According to the FTC source I cited to support the statement, "Fine print is illegal in some cases," the FTC believes the laws it administers require disclosure at the outset of the terms of an offer, stating that: "For example, disclosure of the terms of the offer set forth in a footnote of an advertisement to which reference is made by an asterisk or other symbol placed next to the offer, is not regarded as making disclosure at the outset ... clearly and conspicuously" Cited: (38 Stat. 717, as amended; 15 U.S.C. 41 - 58) [36 FR 21517, Nov. 10, 1971]. I'd been engaging Jac at length in discussion over this, but now he's resorting to edit warring. I think he's misreading this; I understand that he believes that when the FTC is talking about something "to which reference is made by an asterisk", the something is not a footnote, but some other legal document disclosing terms in even more details. This is, in my view, definitely a misinterpretation. It's clear to me that the source does serve to verify the statement. The FTC is definitely saying in the cited source that clear and conspicuous disclosure at the outset is required by law, and that an ad with a referenced footnote (a very common form of small print in print media advertising) which offers terms that differ greatly from the terms outlined in the copy that references the footnote, is therefore unlawful. I believe that "Fine print is illegal in some cases." is a concise way of saying more or less the same thing, in layman's terms. --Elvey (talk) 08:47, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

No, that's a complete misunderstanding of the source. Yes the source says clear disclosure is required, however it does not anywhere in anyway say that fine print itself may not be allowed, nor does it says anything about the case where the fine print disagrees with the source. If it is true that in some cases fine print is illegal, then you should have no trouble finding another source which does support that fact, because I can't--Jac16888 Talk 11:51, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
Reply below.

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Hey, guys, I'm here from the 3O board. I'm tending to agree with Jac on this; the source doesn't support the statement that fine print is illegal in some cases. I don't think that the sentence "Fine print is illegal in some cases" means what you're intending it to mean, Elvey. It implies that fine print is prohibited from use in certain cases, but that's not what the source says. The source says that fine print is not sufficient as legal disclosure, but it doesn't actually say that it is not allowed to be used. I suggest we reword it to say something like the following: "Fine print is not sufficient legal disclosure in some cases.(src)" Thanks! Writ Keeper 14:58, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

PS- It's really not necessary to create an alternate account to make a 3O request; in fact, it's really better if you didn't. If you just try to word the dispute neutrally, and don't sign your username to it, that's enough. No big deal, though. 15:01, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

Glad you joined in, with a 3O, Writ. This reply is in response to both of you:
I think we all agree that the source says that clear disclosure is required and therefore does indicate that deceptive small print is unacceptable, but it doesn't say that it's illegal. Is that correct? (It doesn't say that it's not sufficient either.) Perhaps this is a better copy of the guide to link to, as it provides more context, at the cost of requiring an extra click. Although it (both in the copy I originally linked to and this one) cites the Code of Federal Regulations (and Federal Register) in which it appears and the U.S. Code statute it interprets, you are not convinced that the offers it indicates are unacceptable are therefore illegal. Is that correct?
That step doesn't seem like a leap of logic to me, but let me break that down to see where I'm losing you two.
I think that if you know
  1. what the source IS - namely an FTC Guide, and
  2. that FTC Guides are administrative interpretations of laws (in particular, statutes and case law) describing unlawful practices that the FTC publishes with the goal of highlighting unlawful practices and thereby causing bad actors to cease such violations without having to resort to actually taking them to court - and you know that
  3. under US law, unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce are unlawful,
then its clear that advertising that uses small print to be deceptive is illegal. Which of these numbered facts do you feel is or are sufficiently non-obvious or not well-known as to require a source - or not true? Keep in mind, wikipedia's verifiability policy does not require reliable sources for common well-known facts (e.g., "The Moon orbits the Earth")! --Elvey (talk) 21:17, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
That train of logic is fine, but it's not what the sentence says. You need to specify that it's when fine print is used deceptively that it's illegal. If you wanted to say "When used deceptively, fine print is illegal in some cases," or some derivative of that, that's okay (although I'd still prefer to avoid the word "illegal"), but you have to specify in-sentence that it's only when fine print is used deceptively.
It'd be one thing if this were just a paragraph in a section about misleading fine print; if that were so, the "fine print can be used deceptively" concept would carry over to the "fine print is sometimes illegal" without too much difficulty, and it would be fine. But in a lede, the connection between sentences is frequently looser that it is otherwise, since a lede is only supposed to give the broadest summary. So, the deception angle doesn't carry over between sentences, and it needs to be explicitly claimed.
Think of it this way: saying "Fine print is illegal in some cases" would mean that, hypothetically, in those cases, some government official would call the publisher angrily and say "you put in that fine print, it's illegal, take it out." But what the source, and your reasoning, say is that the government official would angrily call them and say "you put in that fine print, but it's deceptive, you have to add that information in the normal text." It's not the addition of the fine print, its the exclusion of information outside the fine print that's illegal. Do you see the difference? Writ Keeper 21:25, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
Absolutely! I'd be happy to have the "When used deceptively" qualifier used.

I'd like to include the essence of this source statement:

When making ``Free or similar offers all the terms, conditions and obligations upon which receipt and retention of the ``Free item are contingent should be set forth clearly and conspicuously at the outset of the offer so as to leave no reasonable probability that the terms of the offer might be misunderstood. Stated differently, all of the terms, conditions and obligations should appear in close conjunction with the offer of ``Free merchandise or service. For example, disclosure of the terms of the offer set forth in a footnote of an advertisement to which reference is made by an asterisk or other symbol placed next to the offer, is not regarded as making disclosure at the outset.
So I'd like to make clear that per the FTC, an offer that would otherwise be lawful is unlawful if the terms of the offer are disclosed in a footnote's fine print but not clearly and conspicuously at the outset of the offer. In other words, it's the putting of the information only in the fine print that's illegal. Here's what I propose:
I crunched the above-quoted statement down and prefaced it with your version (with 'some' changed to 'most' as only a small fraction of US commerce is exempt from FTC regulation) and a US Code reference to get this:
When used deceptively, fine print is illegal in most cases. For example, FTC regulations state that unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce are unlawful. (15 USC § 45 (a))[1] In relevant part, they state that contingent conditions and obligations of an offer must be set forth clearly and conspicuously at the outset of the offer, and that disclosure of the terms of the offer set forth in a footnote of an advertisement to which reference is made by an asterisk or other symbol placed next to the offer, is not regarded as making disclosure at the outset. (16 CFR 251.1) [ original source or [2] ]
It's a helluva lot longer, than the 7 word sentence I'd added. How would you improve it?--Elvey (talk) 00:51, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
Well, at that level of detail we're reaching the point where it should be moved out of the lede. How about something like "In such cases, adding a disclaimer solely in the fine print may be considered (criminally false advertising)" (replace the parenthesis with whatever legal term is appropriate) and then, if you like, move the rest of it to the "controversy" section. Writ Keeper 01:57, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
It's far from just disclaimers that need to be clear and conspicuous; It's not clear to me how to reword your short suggestion to address that; I'd be happy if you tried.

Alternately, tried to start afresh; how's this:

FTC regulations state that an inconspicuous footnote (which exemplifies 'fine print') is the wrong place to describe the terms of an advertised offer. They state that if an advertised offer is to be lawful, the terms of the offer must be clear and conspicuous.[3]
Thanks! --Elvey (talk) 08:35, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Well, I was originally going to put "undesirable information" or "disclosure" or some such word, but I changed it to disclaimer at the last minute because I liked the brevity. I like your version, but how about merging the two sentences as such:

"FTC regulations state that, for an advertised offer to be lawful, the terms of the offer must be clear and conspicuous, not relegated to the fine print."

If you don't like that, though, I could get behind your version. Writ Keeper 14:13, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

That's very good; I put it in (less the final "the"). Hopefully Jac's silence indicates he's on board with the consensus understanding we've reached. Thanks so much!--Elvey (talk) 22:13, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, except for the fact that you've still included "When used deceptively, fine print is illegal in some jurisdictions.", which is still a misinterpretation of the source--Jac16888 Talk 22:27, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
Honestly, at this point, we can probably take out that entire subheader, which will address that concern. It's not serving much purpose any more with the wording as it is in the lede. Writ Keeper 23:59, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
You have a point.--Elvey (talk) 01:58, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
Oh, Jac! If you want to get into all that again, do answer my question above, eh? - "Which of these numbered facts do you feel is or are sufficiently non-obvious or not well-known as to require a source - or not true?"/respond to that reply of mine. The article paragraph that ends 16 CFR 251.1 consists of close paraphrasing from cited US edicts. And from it follows that, "When used deceptively, fine print is illegal in some jurisdictions," which, by the way, is Writ Keeper's sentence.--Elvey (talk) 01:55, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
Ugh, let's just leave that hobbyhorse alone. We've all agreed to remove the relevant sentence from the article, so it's really no use expending energy over that debate. Anyway, it looks to me like that was the last issue we had with the article, so I'm going to bow out at this point. Please feel free to drop me a line at my talk page if there's anything else I can do to help, or if there's anything else you want to talk about. Thanks, both of you! Writ Keeper 02:59, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

Material -e.g. Senator Rockefeller's quote[edit]

Great quote for the article from CNET:Feds: Top e-tailers profit from billion-dollar Web scam:
"When people shop online, they have the right to expect that the stores they entrust with their credit card and other personal information will not share it," said Sen. John Rockefeller, (D-W.V.), the committee's chairman. "What's happening is many online merchants have decided to betray their customers' trust...fine print is the (biggest) scam of all time."

--Sen. John Rockefeller --Elvey (talk) 08:54, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

The Law of Fine Print[edit]

We should undo this edit. I don't think that is spam advertising Truth in Advertising (, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization's The Law of Fine Print page because it is totally relevant to the topic at hand, from start to end, not to mention it's from a not-for-profit. WTF? Apart from User:Shortride's contribution (and noting User:Jac16888's valid spamvertising reverts) I can't see a single net edit to the article since my last edit last year that's worth keeping. User:Ronz' edit makes no sense, and misapplies policy, though Ronz' comment at User:TINA4truth is good. --{{U|Elvey}} (tc) 21:03, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

I removed multiple external links after reviewing them all, hence the edit summary of " quick cleanup per WP:EL & WP:NOTLINK".
I didn't see anything in those external links that couldn't be incorporated into the article. --Ronz (talk) 21:11, 18 August 2014 (UTC)