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Updates Opt-in Disclosure

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One ethical issue that arises in launching or maintaining a vitality service is that users need to be fully informed and affirmatively opted-in to having their activities tracked and published in various locations on the web. At the same time, especially when launching such a service, one wants to avoid “scaring off” the customers with overtly legalistic boilerplate warnings. You must walk a fine line in trying to encourage participation without deceiving or antagonizing your users.

When users contribute content to sites that produce updates, an opt-in disclosure informs them in context that their content will be shared with other users. The disclosure interface can be presented in-line or as a modal overlay.


Notify your users that their actions are being recorded and sent to an update stream and give them a way of opting out or risk potential backlash.

When Facebook first launched its Beacon service, which started reporting on the user’s Feed about activities taking place elsewhere, without first disclosing this functionality or obtaining opt-ins, users revolted and accused the service of, among other things, “ruining Christmas” by inadvertently showing the purchase of gifts at online stores like Amazon to the gifts’ intended recipients.



Users who contribute content need to be informed that summary posts of their content (known as "updates") will be shared beyond the site they are creating it on. Additionally, users need to be given the opportunity to control the sharing settings (who the content will be shared with) in the system prior to publishing their content.

Use When

Use this pattern when users are contributing content on your site that will be distributed as updates via a vitality system. For example, when users review a TV show on Yahoo TV, they are presented with a textual in-line disclosure to inform users of distribution via Vitality because Yahoo TV reviews are distributed as Updates in Vitality. The in-line disclosure is used for in-depth contributions such as writing reviews, comments, etc. and this disclosure appears every time a user contributes content. The modal overlay (pop-up) disclosure is used for quick contributions (ratings, buzzing, etc.) and appears every time unless users check the provided box saying "Don't show this message again on "


For user-generated content that prompts users for an in-depth contribution such as writing reviews, comments, blog posts, etc., provide an in-line disclosure and a link to manage sharing settings.

For user-generated content that prompts users for quick contributions such as rating, voting up, and so on, a modal overlay (pop-up) may display a confirmation message (for the content they just created), a disclosure message about sharing, a link to manage sharing, a "Don't show this message again" message to prevent the overlay in this context in the future, and an OK button to dismiss the overlay.


It is important that we have full disclosure with users about where their content will appear and who it will be shared with. Yahoo! users are not used to Yahoo! as an open social system that distributes content beyond its point of origin and this functionality provides them with a brief and effective explanation of the Yahoo! Updates service. It also provides users with links that enable them full control over what they share and with whom.


This pattern is derived from the work of Barry Crane and the Yahoo! Social platform team.

Next: Manage Incoming Updates