The WELL Member Agreement

This document is an Agreement between The WELL and its members. It explains what The WELL’s rights and responsibilities are to you as a user and what your rights and responsibilities are as a WELL member.


The WELL’s Rights and Responsibilities

The WELL is not the publisher or author of any works posted by its members. It is a passive service for storage and dissemination of the works that WELL members may choose to post and distribute via The WELL. WELL management does not review or moderate content before it is posted, and no prior approval is required for posting. The WELL disclaims all copyright and ownership in such works and all responsibility for them.

Although it cannot make an absolute guarantee of system security, The WELL takes reasonable steps to maintain security. If you have reason to believe system security has been breached, you must contact WELL staff as soon as you are aware of it.

The WELL is not responsible for recovering posts, files, email or other material which has been deleted by the authorized account holder. The WELL is also not responsible for the loss of posts, files, email or other material due to software or system failures. While all reasonable efforts to restore lost information from backups will be made, you should still maintain your own local backups of important data.

If WELL technical staff finds that files or processes belonging to a member pose a threat to the proper technical operation of the system or to the security of other members, The WELL reserves the right to delete those files or to stop those processes. If WELL technical staff suspects an account is being used by someone who is not the authorized account holder, The WELL may temporarily (or permanently if necessary) disable that account in order to preserve system security. In all such cases, The WELL will contact the member as soon as feasible.

Hosts of Featured Conferences are volunteers who are appointed by The WELL to oversee the day-to-day smooth running of that Conference, not subcontractors or employees of The WELL. Within certain overarching guidelines, hosts have a great deal of autonomy in setting policies for and running their conferences. While they may confer with WELL management, they are not acting as agents of WELL management in making such decisions, unless otherwise explicitly stated. For more information about the relationship between hosts and The WELL, see the WELL Hosts Agreement, available as Section 1.3 in the Hosts Manual.

Hosts of Independent Conferences (those confs whose names end in .ind, such as chow.ind) are also volunteers who have created a discussion area of personal interest.  These hosts are NOT appointed by The WELL and have the autonomy to set whatever rules and conditions they wish on participation in their conferences, including: restricting the userlist; accepting, rejecting or banning members; agreeing to or rejecting Topic links to other conferences, allowing creation of new Topics, and so on.

While they may confer with WELL management, they are not acting as agents of WELL management in making such decisions. You may view a haphazard listing of Independent Conferences here.

The WELL reserves the right to refuse service to anyone and to cancel an account at any time.

The WELL is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind. The WELL will not be liable for incidental or consequential damages at all or for other damages beyond the normal base membership fee for one calendar quarter.


Your Rights and Responsibilities as a WELL Member and Poster

You are legally and ethically responsible for any works – writings, files, images, pictures, or any other work – that you post or transmit using any of The WELL’s services: email, conferencing, your personal web site, web directory, or any other service that allows interaction with or dissemination of information to other WELL members or to wider audiences on the Internet.

One of the founding principles of the WELL is You Own Your Own Words, commonly referred to as YOYOW. This means that you are responsible for the words that you post on the WELL’s conferencing system and that reproduction of those words without your permission in any medium may be challenged by you, the author.

For a more expansive discourse on YOYOW, see <>.

In posting works on The WELL, you are responsible for honoring the rights of others, including intellectual property rights (copyright, patent, and trademark), the right to privacy, and the right not to be libeled or slandered. For example, if you wish to post a copyrighted work on The WELL, you are responsible for obtaining the copyright holder’s permission first. The WELL is not responsible for monitoring, protecting or enforcing any intellectual property rights of any member.

Under US law, you retain copyright on all works you create and post to The WELL, unless you choose specifically to renounce it. In posting a work on a service offered by The WELL, you authorize other members who have access to that service to make personal and customary use of the work, including creating links to or reposting among WELL-only conference areas to which you have access, but not otherwise to reproduce or disseminate it unless you give permission for such dissemination. You also give permission to The WELL to copy your works as part of the normal backup process, and to conference hosts to archive topics containing your works. You have the right to remove any of your works from The WELL at any time and to formally request the removal of your material that has been used in other locations and contexts on The WELL to which you do not have direct editing capabilities; provided that The WELL shall be permitted to maintain copies as part of its normal backup process.

Using your WELL account for any activity that is illegal under the laws of any local, state or federal jurisdiction, including California and the United States (including sending, facilitating, or allowing spam) is a violation of this Agreement. You should also consider wider applicable national and international legislation relevant to your residence or business location. The WELL is open to members worldwide and it is your responsibility to ensure that your contributions comply with the laws of other jurisdictions. The WELL makes no assurances or guarantees in this regard, and accepts no legal liability for content contributed by members.


Your Responsibilities as a WELL Member and Reader

You agree to provide your real name when signing up as a WELL member. The WELL does not permit anonymous or pseudonymous accounts. You agree to provide current contact information including a phone number and off-WELL email address. Only WELL staff will use it in case of problems with your account.

The WELL does not take responsibility for your behavior, or similarly that of other members and users of the system. This means that WELL staff do not normally take a role in mediating conflicts between you and other members. However, WELL members have the right to expect not to be harassed or otherwise contacted against their will. If you have a complaint about the behavior or posts of another member that you are unable to resolve by contacting that person directly, then:

  •   If your complaint is about interactions or material in a specific conference, contact that conference’s host for help and advice for how to proceed.
  •   Utilities exist on The WELL to deny access via private communication from individuals or the public at large, and you can install these protections at any time or ask WELL staff to help you install them.
  •   All members agree not to attempt to bypass these protections where they have been installed by another member, for example by creating another account with the intention of using it for that purpose.

Your access to the works that members have posted on The WELL is for your personal use only. If you want to redistribute works you find on The WELL, it is your responsibility to obtain permission from the poster (and any other person with rights in the material)

You agree to pay all charges that accrue to your account. You take responsibility for all authorized use of your WELL account, and for all your contributions to any service offered by The WELL made from your WELL account.

You agree to help protect your account and the security of other members by guarding your password. If you have reason to believe your password has been compromised or there has been any unauthorized use of your account, you agree to contact WELL staff as soon as possible.

You agree not to use the system for illegal activity or for to violate the privacy or security of other members.

Violating elements of the Agreement may lead to sanctions depending on the details and severity of the violation. In most cases, a warning will be given. Further violations or more serious breaches may result in temporary suspension from one or more conferences. If there is no satisfactory resolution, or in the event of the most serious violations, The WELL reserves the right to completely and permanently withdraw membership and access to WELL services, and bar re-entry.

You may cancel your account at any time by contacting The WELL Billing Department ( You are responsible for paying the monthly membership fees through the last day of your current billing cycle as well as any surcharges for system use through the date of cancellation. Disputed charges must be reported to The WELL within 60 days.

The WELL reserves the right to change the terms of this Agreement at any time and without notice. Any such changes will be made to this document and be available at this location. Issues about changes to this Agreement may be discussed in the Policy conference, and you can provide input through discussion with WELL members in that conference. To ensure business and service continuity, The WELL may assign and delegate its rights and obligations to any successor to all or part of its business or assets.

This Agreement supersedes all other Agreements or understandings regarding this subject matter, and is governed by the internal laws of the United States and California.

Published at

Current Agreement posted 2023-01-31, revisions added clarifying the role of Hosts of Independent Conferences.