Humanities Commons Privacy Statement

Last Updated: 21 December 2016

The Modern Language Association (also referred to herein as “we”, “us” and “the MLA”) and the collective of participating societies (“Participating Societies” or “Societies”; individually, “Society”) that sponsor Humanities Commons (“Humanities Commons,” the “Commons,” or the “Network”) appreciate the importance of your privacy. We are committed to transparency and disclosure of the ways in which we gather and use personal and nonpersonal information on Humanities Commons. This privacy statement (“Privacy Statement”), along with the Humanities Commons Terms of Service and Guidelines for Participation, constitutes the agreement (“Agreement”) between us and you regarding your use of Humanities Commons and its connected services, including but not limited to the Commons Open Repository Exchange (“CORE”). This Privacy Statement describes how we collect and use your information in connection with Humanities Commons and the choices you can make regarding your information. Our goal at Humanities Commons is to be minimally intrusive while providing a robust environment for open professional exchange. As a result, much of the information you share and your activity on Humanities Commons may be seen by any visitor to the Network, whether or not the visitor is a registered user of the Network or a member of a Participating Society. Our goal is to be clear about how we use the personal and nonpersonal information you provide through the Network. We may modify this Privacy Statement, along with the rest of the Agreement, in our sole discretion. We will take reasonable steps to notify you of any changes to this Privacy Statement in a manner commensurate with the nature of the changes; however, we urge you to review this Privacy Statement periodically.

1. Information We Collect

In this Privacy Statement, the personal information you provide to Humanities Commons and your activity on the Network that we record is referred to as “User Information.”

Your Account Profile. Your account at Humanities Commons may be connected to a social identity provider, if you use Google or Twitter to authenticate your account, or to your institutional identity provider. Institutional identity providers federate with Humanities Commons through its membership in InCommon and eduGAIN. When you use Google to authenticate, the login process takes place on Google’s servers. Humanities Commons receives the following information:

  • Your unique Google identifier, a string of digits that identifies your account;
  • Your e-mail address or addresses known by Google;
  • Whether your e-mail address or addresses have been verified by Google.

That information is recorded in our user database, but only your Google identifier is used to connect to your account. Google may send additional information, including your Google profile URL, your profile picture, and your name; this information is not recorded and is not used by Humanities Commons. When you use Twitter to authenticate, the login process takes place on Twitter’s servers. Humanities Commons receives the following information:

  • Your unique Twitter identifier, a string of digits that identifies your account.
  • Your Twitter screen name.

Your Twitter identifier is recorded in our user database and is used to connect to your account. Your screen name is not recorded and is not used. When you use your institutional identity provider to authenticate, the login process takes place on your institution’s servers. Humanities Commons, as a registrant in the REFEDs Research and Scholarship Entity Category, receives the following information:

  • Your shared user identifier;
  • Your name;
  • Your e-mail address.

Your institution may additionally send your affiliation (i.e., staff, student, faculty member). Your shared user identifier is recorded in our user database and is used to connect to your account. Your name and e-mail address are not recorded and are not used by Humanities Commons. No other user information sent by an identity provider will be consumed during the authentication process. If you have an active membership in a Participating Society, Humanities Commons may retrieve the following information from your Society membership record:

  • Your full name;
  • Your member number or ID;
  • Your position and institutional affiliation, if any;
  • Your e-mail address;
  • Your membership in any official Society groups.

If this information is retrieved, we will use your full name associated with your Society membership to create your account, and your full name, position, and institutional affiliation, if any, will be made publicly visible on your Humanities Commons account profile (“Profile”). Information about your membership in any official Society groups will be used to automatically place you into the associated groups on Humanities Commons. Except as provided in this Privacy Statement, the rest of the information taken from your Society membership record is used only for our authentication, debugging, and other internal purposes and will not be shared with any third parties. You may choose to complete additional fields in your Profile with User Information that you provide. Any such User Information you volunteer for your Profile, such as your photo, your professional history, your Twitter username, your interests, status updates, and your Web site URL, will also be visible to any visitor to the Network. Please do not post any personal identification numbers or other private information not required for registering for or using the Network.

  1. Your Activity. We also collect information about your use of Humanities Commons. For example, we collect information about your activity on Humanities Commons, including the posts you have created, public and private groups of which you are a member, contacts you have made (but not any messages you have exchanged), discussion topics you have started or participated in, and deposits you have contributed to CORE. This activity information is included in the definition of your User Information and is connected to your account.
  2. Nonpersonal Data. Like most web sites, Humanities Commons uses cookies and may use other technology to obtain nonpersonal data (“Nonpersonal Data”) from visitors. This Nonpersonal Data may include browser type, IP address, language preference, referring site, and the date and time of each visitor request. You can remove or block cookies using the settings in your browser, though doing so may affect your ability to use the Network.

2. Uses of Your Information in Your Profile; Sharing User Information with Third Parties

Humanities Commons is a professional scholarly network designed to promote collaboration and discussion among scholars, students, and practitioners in humanities fields, as well as dissemination of members’ work to the broader intellectual community online, and as such, it counts openness among its primary values. The purpose of the MLA and the Participating Societies in collecting User Information is to operate Humanities Commons and allow our members to connect and interact with one another. As a result, much of your activity and communication that takes place within Humanities Commons is openly visible to any visitor to Humanities Commons, whether or not the visitor is a Commonsmember or is logged in, and is likewise visible to search engines. This section describes how certain User Information will be made available on Humanities Commons.

  1. Profile and Activity Information. All of the User Information you supply for your Profile (such as your publications, educational background, etc.) will be viewable by any visitor to Humanities Commons, whether or not the visitor is a Network member or is logged in. If you do not wish to share this User Information, do not add it to your Profile. Similarly, except as specifically described below, all of your activity on Humanities Commons will be viewable by any visitor to Humanities Commons, including through your Profile, whether or not the visitor is a Network member or is logged in.
  2. Private Activities. Limited portions of your activities on Humanities Commons are private—for example, restricted only to members of a Society committee. Your activity in these sections will not appear in your Profile, and only certain other Humanities Commons users as described below will be able to see this activity.
    1. Private and Hidden Groups. Humanities Commons allows Commons members to create private and hidden groups, in addition to public groups. The existence of private groups is visible to all Networks visitors, and membership in those groups is visible in their members’ profiles, but only Commons members who have been permitted to join a private group by the administrator of the group will be able to see other Commons members’ activity in the group. Hidden groups are similar, except that only Commons members who have been invited to join the group can see that the hidden group exists, and membership in hidden groups is not included in their members’ profiles.
    2. Restricted Sites. Humanities Commons allows Commons members to restrict access to sites they have created and will administer; only those Commons members identified by the site administrator will be able to see the content posted on the sites, though the administration of the site will be visible in the administrator’s profile.
    3. Private Messages. The Network allows Commons members to send private messages to other Commons members; these messages and the fact that Commons members have sent or received them will not be viewable by anyone except the sender and the recipient.

If you are the administrator of a group or site on Humanities Commons, you may adjust settings to restrict the availability of those areas of the Network to other Commons members, or to members of a Participating Society. Please see our FAQ for more information.

  1. Network Communications. We may use your User Information to send you important messages about the Network through e-mail or through other means available through Humanities Commons. For example, we may send you important messages about the operation of Humanities Commons (e.g., if we add or change Network functionality or change our Terms of Service or this Privacy Statement).
  2. Nonpersonal Data. We may use Nonpersonal Data to help diagnose and repair issues with your use of the Network, administer the Network, monitor Network usage, provide customization options, understand how our visitors use Humanities Commons, make decisions about how to change and adapt the Network, and create anonymous Network statistics. From time to time, we may release Nonpersonal Data in aggregate form (for instance, by publishing trends in Network usage). We will not release individual information, only aggregate information.
  3. Sharing Information with Third Parties. The MLA and the Participating Societies take the privacy of our users very seriously, and we do not sell, rent, or otherwise provide your User Information to third parties, except as described in this Privacy Statement, unless disclosure is reasonably necessary in our opinion to (1) comply with legal process, including, but not limited to, civil and criminal subpoenas, court orders, or other compulsory disclosures; (2) enforce this Agreement; (3) respond to claims of a violation of the rights of third parties; (4) respond to customer service inquiries; or (5) protect the rights, property, or personal safety of the MLA or the Participating Societies, our users, or the public.

The MLA uses third-party service providers (“Service Providers”) to provide certain services, such as hosting, which are necessary for the MLA’s operations, including the operation of the Network. We also use Service Providers to enhance member experience of the Commons, by, for example, providing integrations with services for discovering and disseminating scholarly work. We will take reasonable measures to ensure that these Service Providers will access and use User Information only for the purpose of providing services to the MLA or on our behalf. (See Section 5, “Security,” below.)

3. Your Choices

By using the Network and providing User Information to us, you expressly and voluntarily accept the terms and conditions of this Privacy Statement and the Agreement of which it is a part. Providing your information to the MLA is entirely voluntary. If you no longer wish to share your User Information, you can revise your Profile or close your account, as described in this section. However, you cannot change how your non-private activity on Humanities Commons is shared, except by closing your account.

  1. Accessing and Changing Your Profile Information. You can review the information you provided for your Profile and make changes to that information at any time by clicking on the Edit My Profile link on your Profile or in the navigation bar drop-down menu below your name in the top right corner of every page of the Network. After your change is processed, the MLA may retain residual copies of the old information in its backup and archival copies of its database for a limited period of time.
  2. Closing Your Account. If you wish to close your account, please contact us at We will delete all information associated with your account, and if you ever wish to use the social-networking features of the Network again, you will need to resubmit all information associated with your account and reestablish all connections with other Commons members. Please note that, in order to maintain the continuity and integrity of the discussions, groups, and other interactive features on Humanities Commons, your submissions to those sections will not be removed in connection with the closing of your account.

4. Links to Third-Party Web Sites

The Network may contain links to Web sites controlled by third parties (“Third-Party Web Sites”), whether provided by us or by other users. If you follow any link to a Third-Party Web Site, you should review that site’s terms of use and privacy policy to find out how it treats the information you provide to it. We are not responsible for Third-Party Web Sites or their privacy practices.

5. Security

We will take reasonable measures to protect the integrity of private communications on the Network and to protect against loss, corruption, and alteration of the information on the Network. However, even protected sites can be subject to hacking, technological glitches, user misconduct, and administrative errors, and we assume no liability for any of these actions or occurrences or results from them.

6. Location of Servers and Transfer of Information: Special Alert to Non-United States Users

Our servers are located in the United States. If you are located outside of the United States, be aware that the information you provide us will be transferred to the United States. By using the Network or providing us with information through it, you consent to this transfer and to the collection, storage, processing, and use of your information in the United States as described in this Privacy Statement and the Terms of Service.

7. Children Under Age Thirteen

Humanities Commons is not intended for use by children under the age of thirteen. By using the Network, you represent to us that you are at least thirteen years old. If you are not at least thirteen years old, you may not use the Network. We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under the age of thirteen. If we learn that we have inadvertently collected any personally identifiable information from a child under the age of thirteen, we will delete that information. If you are a parent or guardian and you believe that your child under age thirteen may have provided personally identifiable information through the Network, please contact us at

8. Contact Us

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of Humanities Commons, or your dealings with Humanities Commons, you can contact us by e-mail at, or by mail at the following address:

Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication

Modern Language Association

85 Broad Street, suite 500

New York, NY 10004