Every Web site needs a Terms of Service (TOS)-a legal document, accessible by a text link at the bottom of your homepage-that states the purpose of your site, your obligation to the visitor, and the implicit agreement they make with you by using or registering at your site.
A TOS helps limit your legal liability when, for example, someone comes to your site, reads something, misuses the information, then tries to sue you for having provided the information. Or maybe they go to your Web site's posting board and takes advice from another visitor and something goes wrong. A TOS helps place the burden of responsibility on the visitor, not on you. Check out other Web sites for their TOS. And since I'm not a lawyer, make sure you get a savvy cyber-lawyer to draft one for your site.
Aliza Sherman is an entrepreneur and author of Cybergrrl: A Woman's Guide to the World Wide Web (Ballantine Books). She is currently working on her next book and new company.