Section 3. Subscriber Content of the SE Terms of Service states:

Subscriber represents, warrants and agrees that it will not contribute any Subscriber Content that [...] (e) contains a virus, trojan horse, worm, time bomb or other computer programming routine or engine that is intended to damage, detrimentally interfere with, surreptitiously intercept or expropriate any system, data or information

This part doesn't make a lot of sense if it is only applicable to the actual content (i.e. Markdown text) posted to the network, and didn't apply to hyperlinked resources. Otherwise, I were allowed to link to malware, which would be kind of stupid.

Now, the term time bomb sounds pretty bad. I didn't associate it with computer malware though, so I looked it up:

In computer software, a time bomb refers to a computer program that has been written so that it will stop functioning after a predetermined date or time is reached.

Which is kind of how a lot of shareware works: Stop working once the user relies on it so he coughs up a few dollars and gets a license. The article goes on to mention a rather popular well-known piece of software as an example for a time bomb:

Microsoft's Windows Vista Beta 2, which was programmed to expire on May 31, 2007

Does this mean we're not allowed to e.g. link to time-limited shareware in answers? If not, what does it mean?

  • 1
    Thank you for reading my comment! If you would like to read it again, click the "Buy Now" button!
    – iglvzx
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 18:51
  • I think its polite to make sure that the user knows its trialware
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 0:26

1 Answer 1


Time Bomb in this context (and in most cases where I have ever seen it used) implies some sort of malicious intent. Now while it may be frustrating when a trial period comes to an end it is not generally malicious in intent.

  • Could you provide a definition of that term which that section of the TOS is based on? Is it actually referring to logic bombs?
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 18:42
  • My suspicion is that yes Logic Bombs would be closer to what the TOS intends, but that is simply from my impressions based on the spirit of the rest of that section.
    – EBGreen
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 18:44
  • By the way, your explanation is exactly the reason I asked. Because it just doesn't make a lot of sense with the Wikipedia definition...
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 18:46
  • I should probably have been more clear. I simply put this answer out in the Meta spirit for people to vote agreement or disagreement. I don't have any first hand personal knowledge of the exact intent of the SE team on this topic.
    – EBGreen
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 18:48
  • I know, I checked your user profile for any diamonds. Your answers gives the logical explanation what is likely intended, but that doesn't make the terminology any better. I'm pretty sure we're allowed to link e.g. to the Windows 8 Preview, even if it's time limited.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 18:51
  • @DanielBeck IANAL so unless the team responds, we're all just guessing. But I agree that beta's expiring is probably something different from software that tries to blackmail users into buying by stopping to work
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 19:26
  • @IvoFlipse Which is the shareware model (since nobody paid to get rid of that WinZip dialog) and totally legitimate. "You get 30 days to try this stuff" or "This program can be launched 10 times" is quite common and I don't think this should be treated the same as malware.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 19:33
  • 2
    @DanielBeck At least with shareware they notify you that its for limited use, I think we both mean something more malicious, which is why I agree with EBGreen's answer. I'd say this should be judged on a case by case notice
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 19:38

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