I am proposing a modification regarding the interpretation of the term “should” in Kleros policies, specifying that “should” statements are to be treated as mandatory unless explicitly specified otherwise. Currently, the usage of “should” has led to issues and uncertainties, particularly when its mandatory or optional nature is not explicitly defined.
Many court policies, such as the Token Curated List Policies and the Proof of Humanity Registry Policy, extensively employ the term “should.” For instance, in the one-page Token Curated List Policies, “should” appears 14 times, and in the Proof of Humanity Registry Policy, it appears 9 times. Importantly, in most of these documents, “should” signifies a requirement rather than a mere recommendation. To illustrate, consider a section in the Proof of Humanity Registry Policy that previously stated, “The picture should include the face of the submitter facing the camera, and the facial features must be visible.” The use of “should” here led to a misconception among jurors in the popular #Case 554, where some believed that facing the camera was merely an optional requirement.
In light of these instances, it is evident that there is a clear misconception regarding the use of the word “should” in the policy documents. To rectify this, it is essential to augment the general policy with explicit language stipulating that “should” conveys a mandatory requirement unless expressly stated otherwise. This modification will provide clarity, prevent misunderstandings, and ensure consistent interpretation of “should” across all Kleros policies.
I propose the addition of the following clause to the general policy to explicitly convey the interpretation of “should”:
“Should” statements within Kleros documents are to be interpreted as mandatory requirements unless explicitly stated otherwise. Parties and jurors are required to adhere to the guidelines outlined in “should” statements. Non-compliance with “should” statements will be considered a violation of policies and may result in consequences as outlined in the respective policy documents."
The main rationale behind this proposed change is to address the inherent ambiguity associated with the term “should” within Kleros policies. Currently, the interpretation of “should” as a recommendation has led to misunderstandings, given its multiple definitions. According to Bryan A. Garner’s Modern American Usage, “should” can express a sense of duty, outline a condition, or convey an expectation. This diversity in definitions contributes to confusion and misinterpretation. By explicitly stating that “should” conveys a mandatory requirement, we aim to eliminate this ambiguity and provide users with a clear understanding of their obligations.
Also, it is important to ensure the consistent interpretation of “should” across all Kleros policies is paramount for the fair and equitable application of guidelines. The current variation in how “should” statements are perceived introduces the risk of disparate enforcement, leading to inconsistencies in dispute resolution outcomes. With this, there will not only be the promotion of more consistency in policy enforcement, but there will also be promotion of a culture of adherence to policies, reducing the likelihood of non-compliance.
This modification carries several benefits aimed at enhancing the overall effectiveness of Kleros policies, including:
Clarity: By explicitly defining the term “should” within our policies, users gain a clear and unambiguous understanding of their obligations. This clarity eliminates potential confusion arising from the multiple definitions of “should,” fostering a transparent and user-friendly dispute resolution experience.
Reduced Disputes and Misinterpretations: The clarity introduced by the modification significantly reduces the likelihood of disputes and misinterpretations related to the term “should.” Parties and jurors, armed with a standardized understanding, are less prone to misunderstand the nature of guidelines, resulting in more straightforward and fair dispute resolution outcomes.
Consistent Policy Enforcement: Establishing a uniform interpretation of “should” promotes consistent policy enforcement across all Kleros documents. This consistency contributes to a more predictable dispute resolution process, ensuring that similar cases are treated uniformly.
Improved Compliance: Encouraging adherence to the intended mandatory nature of “should” statements aligns with the broader goal of ensuring compliance with established guidelines. Users are more likely to comply with policies when the mandatory nature of “should” is clearly outlined.
Potential Concerns and Response
A key concern surrounding the proposed modification might be the perception that interpreting “should” as mandatory might introduce a rigid and inflexible approach, potentially limiting the adaptability of Kleros policies in various scenarios.
While this concern is valid, the proposed modification seeks to strike a balance between providing a default understanding of “should” for clarity and allowing for necessary flexibility when explicitly stated otherwise. The intention is not to impose unwarranted stringency but to establish a baseline interpretation that can be adapted to specific contexts. By clearly defining default expectations, the modification aims to reduce ambiguity and ensure a more standardized application of guidelines.
Also, the proposed modification explicitly includes the clause “unless explicitly stated otherwise,” acknowledging the importance of flexibility. This clause provides room for nuanced interpretations when necessary, allowing for exceptions and adaptations based on specific contexts. In instances where a more flexible approach is required, the policy can explicitly define alternative interpretations of “should,” ensuring that the guidelines remain adaptable to the diverse scenarios encountered in decentralized dispute resolution.
Your feedback is crucial to the success of this proposal. Please share your thoughts, suggestions, and concerns in the comments section. To bolster meaningful discussion about this proposal, here are some discussion points:
- Do you believe this modification will enhance the clarity of Kleros policies?
- Are there specific concerns or considerations you would like me to address in the proposal?
- How do you foresee this change impacting the overall user experience on the Kleros platform?
 Token Curated List Policies. Retrieved from https://ipfs.kleros.io/ipfs/QmTL1SCKpRcr7NRbVpXW6z9QoQXRHJT5cQr6PEge5qoLwU/t2cr-primary-document.pdf
 Proof of Humanity Registry Policy. Retrieved from https://ipfs.kleros.io/ipfs/QmXDiiBAizCPoLqHvcfTzuMT7uvFEe1j3s4TgoWWd4k5np/proof-of-humanity-registry-policy-v1.3.pdf
 Kleros Case 554. Retrieved from Klerosboard 3.0
 Oates, L. C., Enquist, A., & Francis, J. (2021). Legal writing handbook: Analysis, research, and writing (8th ed.). Aspen Publishing p. 723.2