Really @NHL? Is It Necessary To Fill The Whole Background With Legalese?

from the read-the-fine-print dept

So, with the NHL season now under way this week, the NHL is running a twitter promotion where you have to guess the winner of each of the games this Saturday. Tweet the correct winners to @NHL and you could win yourself a trip for two to a regular season game of your choosing. The promotion is fine and all, but what I was surprised at was the ridiculous background image that is on the NHL twitter page: an image of the entire legal "Official Rules" in both English and French.

NHL Twitter Page

Seriously? Whose idea was it to fill the entire background with legalese? It is barely even legible. A simple link would have sufficed, but it almost seems like a childish response to a lawyer's request to put these rules up on their twitter page. Then again, in reading through the extensive rules, I was reminded of my favorite part of any sweepstakes in which Canadians take part, the math question.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Misanthropist (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:25am


    Why are lawyers allowed to interfere with marketing?

    The results can be catastrophic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:25am

    Hey there! NHL is using Twitter.

    Is that even legally binding since it can't possibly be read and it took me two clicks to find the legible rules (when you click on the rules link you just get their news page and have to go to the bottom to get the real rules)?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:34am

    Sorry, but

    Squinting at the screen and attempting to decipher the rules is a violation of the TOS and you are now guilty of computer hacking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Saragon, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:43am

    Actually this seems OK

    This is actually relatively legible for me but I'm using a pretty good monitor and graphics card. I'm wondering if the legibility problem isn't just a "whoops, we didn't think about people with lower-quality equipment than our graphics department." Or just people using laptops. As for the use of the legalese itself -- by the very nature of one's Twitter page there's simply not any place to put a permanent link to the contest rules. This seems like a pretty clever way around that problem, although it isn't the best. Personally I'd set up a simple script to make sure that every 8-10 tweets was a link to the contest rules (well-labeled) and use the custom background for branding. But I don't have a huge problem with it as-is. (And hey, maybe it is a shot at lawyers.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Greg, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:46am

    Error in link

    the link to the NHL twitter feed has a typo: Sends you to some presumably nasty site that I quickly closed...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 8:00am

    Re: Actually this seems OK

    How big is your monitor and how high do you have your resolution that you don't have the twitters covering a large portion of the text? Mines 17" and 1280x1024. I can read the text that can be seen but I can't see enough to understand (if I spoke legalese). Any lower resolution would see even less text (1024x768 is considered standard and good web developers design for 800x600 as well).

    If people are bitching that Google has it's privacy policy on their about page and not the main page, how douse it look that the NHL has their rules behind two clicks? That, and there's no indication that one has to scroll down to see the link to the rules after the first click. I got confused for a second clicking on the rules link and getting the news page.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    notjustthefontsize, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 8:20am


    Half of fine print is obscured by the content anyway making the background not only ugly, but totally useless even legally.

    "The rules were, well the rules were POSTED behind our tweets."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Saragon, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 8:25am

    Re: Re: Actually this seems OK

    19" and 1600x1200. Which puts all the legalese at the "edges" of the actual Twitter section - i.e. what they wanted. But you're absolutely right that lower resolutions would make it much worse. Anyone on a laptop that isn't a widescreen would have real problems, and let's not even think about the poor netbook users. I think there's two problems here. The poor web design is one (again, I suspect a simple oversight), but the decision to put the legalese out to the side is another one. The former is worse than the latter IMHO (though neither is GOOD.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    pat, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 8:25am

    not quite

    this looks like they used the legal text as a background "gray" pattern, its a typography thing. I don't think it is meant as a actual legal document and more of a texture effect for the background

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Jimmy, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 8:44am

    Certainly cleans up the page a lot if you adblock the background image.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Dennis Yang (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 8:50am

    Re: Error in link


    Good catch, Greg.. The link has been fixed now. Sorry about that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Michael DiLorenzo, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:02am

    NHL Twitter Background

    Hi - Grateful to get your feedback concerning our temporary Twitter background. We continue to learn and evolve on social networks as we listen to fans and others talk about the NHL. We do intend to return to our normal background on Saturday.

    Just as FYI, the purpose of temporarily changing our background was to: A) let everyone know that as easy as this is to play, there are a handful of rules and guidelines that need to be followed; and B) comply with US and Canadian regulations around contests of this sort (they require that rules be posted in the environment in which the contest is taking place).

    So at the end of the day, we simply wanted to include as many fans that want to participate as possible. Hopefully, the 5 days of our temporary Twitter background won't overshadow the NHL giving away a trip for two.

    Always feel free to reach out to me @umassdilo.

    Thanks again,

    Mike D.
    Director of Social Media Marketing

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    brent (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:11am

    I appreciate the info on the math question that canadians have to perform in their sweepstakes. That is a hilarious thing they do up there! Will make good lunch table talk this afternoon

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    PRMan, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:16am

    You should see it...

    You should see it on my netbook...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Danny (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Even Archimedes had principles!

    I am giving away $1,000,000 to a random reply to this comment. Oh, and you have to solve my math question correctly.

    Question: trisect an angle using only a compass and straight edge, and prove your answer correct.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:21am

    Re: NHL Twitter Background

    Mike D., thanks for the response, though I do have a couple of questions:

    1. If you wanted to let people know there were a handful of rules for the contest, did you really think that the best way to do so was to place barely legible text on the background, part of which was obscured by the tweets? Wouldn't it be better (assuming it complies with US/Canadian law) to just say so with a link to the rules page?

    2. If the other purpose WAS to comply with US/Canadian law, and you indicate that my suggestion above doesn't do so, how does barely legible text that might be partially obscured accomplish compliance?

    In any case, thanks for the direct response, I don't see enough of it on TechDirt, unfortunately (you there yet, Lily?). I'm looking forward to this season and will make a point to follow the NHL twitter accounts.

    Go Hawks!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Michael DiLorenzo, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: NHL Twitter Background

    You are welcome for the response.

    You know, they say an airplane never crashes for just one reason. It's a sequence of events.

    Here's how this came to pass.

    First, the contest went live when the story and rules were posted to, yesterday morning.

    Next, I took the link and pasted it into our Twitter bio - which is, as you suggest, seemingly sufficient in terms of directing people to the contest rules. However, Twitter kept refusing the updates to our page settings, so the link would not appear. No big deal, right? We'll just keep Tweeting out the link to the rules ...

    Except, we discovered a technical issue with the link to the rules. The formatting of the rules in French somehow got garbled on, and they needed to be reformatted and reposted.

    So while our team was fixing the link, the rules needed to be posted somewhere for fans to access. And as a "fix" I converted our Twitter background into a copy of the rules.

    The link was restored in short order, but I since decided that, just to be safe, I would leave the rules on our Twitter background through Saturday so we would be in complete compliance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Comboman (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:57am


    If Americans had to answer a math question to win a prize, half of them wouldn't get it (even fewer if it was a geography question).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Dennis Yang (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    Re: Re: Re: NHL Twitter Background


    Thanks so much for the response. Your explanation makes complete sense, and I was wondering why you keep on tweeting out the link to the rules. That said, the underlying absurdity still remains -- the legal tail is wagging the proverbial dog, much to the detriment of everyone.

    Case in point, hidden in that huge bunch of unreadable legal text is perhaps the one rule that people should pay attention to:
    Once you are a registered user of Twitter®, you must become a follower of the NHL by visiting and clicking "Follow."

    I completely missed that one. That said, kudos to you for individually replying to people who have entered to inform them of this rule.

    Best of luck with the promotion. I hope my entry wins.. ;-)


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    mertz, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 10:40am

    this is one of the worst background's i have ever seen. makes my eyes hurt. i bet they figured that people won't read the rules. there must have been other ways they could have done this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    Re: NHL Twitter Background

    there are a handful of rules and guidelines that need to be followed;

    handful - you keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Johnny Wrath, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    Really botched

    It is hard to interest casual sports fans in, for instance, the now 45-year-old current version of the Stanley Cup or the unrivaled athleticism and toughness of the NHL's players when there are almost comical stories breaking regarding the NHL's television woes and now bad publicity which, in both cases, are completely self inflicted. Add the Commissioner almost losing control of one of the League's teams over the summer and you have a very Mickey Mouse looking operation. Then again, I would rather bad twitter pub than, say, triple-gun-motorcycle or steroid-era bad pub. Just shows the respect the players have for their game. Go Pens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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