De facto is a Latin expression that means "in fact" or "in practice". It is commonly used in contrast to de jure (which means "by law") when referring to matters of law, governance, or technique (such as standards), that are found in the common experience as created or developed without or against a regulation.
When discussing a legal situation, de jure designates what the law says, while de facto designates what happens in practice.
The term de facto may also be used when there is no relevant law or standard, but a common practice is well established, although perhaps not quite universal.
A de facto standard is a technical or other standard that is so dominant that everybody seems to follow it like an authorized standard. The de jure standard may be different: one example is the act of speeding found on highways. Although the de jure standard is to drive at the speed limit or slower, in many places the de facto standard is to drive at the speed limit or slightly faster.
A de facto standard is sometimes not formalized and may simply rely on the fact that someone has come up with a good idea that is liked so much that it is copied. Typical creators of de facto standards are individual companies, corporations, and consortia.
Application in Gaia OnlineEdit
De jure and de facto standards can differ greatly in certain parts of Gaia Online. For instance in General Discussion, a general rule of General Discussion is that is optional to tack the "Discuss" summary at the end of posts, but it is done anyway, especially with prominent users of General Discussion. Likewise, the discussion of "subjects" that tend to need to be placed in one's Gaia Journals are de jure not permitted, but de facto seem to be a common occurence for many topics in General Discussion.
Other de facto standards in Gaia Online include:
- The addition of a poll whore option for most Gaia Online polls for users who visit a thread just to answer the poll.
- Peer requirement that subjects in Extended Discussion be of a weighty or "intellectual" subject, though officially and legally not required.