Minimum age for posters?

Having had a somewhat lengthy talk a few days ago (offline) about the fact that most websites require a person to be at least 13 (some 18 or 21) or have parental permission to register, why does the SDMB not do this?

Do you mean from a legal stanpoint, or a moral standpoint, or… ?

There’s quite a difference between chronological age and emotional age, or maturity, so I’ve never been a fan of minimum ages.

Also, how would one enforce a limit so low? (Theoretically, you have to be 18 to have a credit card … at least in the US … so that sort of works, but… 13??)

I looked at this thread expecting it to be referred to the recent appearance of Alloran in GD.

I don’t think it’s such a good idea to be limiting this site to a minimum age, however. When it comes to knowledge, no age group can be said to have a monopoly upon it. A 13 year old may enlighten us lurkers someday. From what I have gathered, there are many posters here who contribute and happen to be under 18.

No rule of a minimum age need be instituted. The current rules serve nicely to outline behavior that can cause one to be banned. If a child chooses to break the current rules, he will be banned. No additions necessary.

Maybe the Mods could ground him. :smiley:

Uh, we do have a minimum age policy. The SDMB does not accept registrations from anyone under 13, period.

From the FAQ:

As you can see, this isn’t really correct, though. It’s my understanding that will not, under any circumstances, accept registrations from anyone under the age of thirteen. This quote from the FAQ is part of the standard boilerplate that is shipped with the vB software. Obviously, it’s in need of an overhaul. There’s a thread right here in this forum soliciting suggestions for the new, improved, six-million dollar, bionic FAQ. Additionally, and I can see why it’s thought we have no age restrictions, the FAQ says that more information on age restrictions is provided in the registration process, although I can’t find any additional information there. So, there’s something else for us to correct, along with the other errors in that quote.

Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention, iampuhna; I’ll pass it up the line to someone with the juice to make some noise about this. Maybe we can update the FAQ and fix the Registration Process at the same time.

The boilerplate in the FAQ was based on COPPA, the federal law designed to “protect” children on the Internet.

COPPA is not in force, so legally sites are free to set their own limits, except when dealing with sexually explicit sites, of course, they have to meet a different burden than we do.

While we are not in the xxx-rated category, neither is this a “family” rated site and we make no claims in that area.

I did get a ruling from Ed Zotti; he says 13 is the minimum age.

Thanks for bringing this situation to our attention, I’ll take care of it.

your humble TubaDiva

Shouldn’t we also specify how we will ascertain the age of a potential registrant? Will it just be another field in the form, or will we require a credit card number (Adult Check springs to my filthy mind)? Will we call into question the accounts of those already registered? I’m over the age of 13, I’m sure Ed Zotti is, but how can we be sure iampunha is? Just a thought.

"Shouldn’t we also specify how we will ascertain the age of a potential registrant?"

One of the ways I’ve seen it done is simply to have a little thingy where you enter your birth date, month and year. Of course people can lie, but really, how can you truly know someone’s age unless you know them?

"Will it just be another field in the form, or will we require a credit card number (Adult Check springs to my filthy mind)?"

If they require a credit card number, I’m going to have to get a credit card:-) Seriously though, all coding questions aside, in the places where I’ve seen age checks done it’s really quite simple. Yes, you can lie, but then ultimately you can steal a credit card number, right?

"Will we call into question the accounts of those already registered? I’m over the age of 13, I’m sure Ed Zotti is, but how can we be sure iampunha is? Just a thought."

We can be sure I am because if anyone asks, I can give them my social security number, which will indeed prove to them that I am (or at least that social security number is) 19. Beyond asking, though, it’s difficult to know for sure. But most anyone expects a website to do is ask. If people lie, so be it. They lose the right to complain, so to speak.

All this is IMO, of course.

I don’t see the need for a minimum age. As long as the young person is mature enough to follow the rules, no one will have any reason to know that he or she IS young. If someone is too immature to follow the rules, what does it matter if (s)he is 12 or 42?

You’re entitled to your opinion, but I just told you what Ed said and he is my boss, so pardon me if I take his opinion over everyone else’s.

The registration agreement does ask your birthdate before you sign up, so if you lie and we catch you we have no option but to throw you out, pretty much. It’s not a perfect system but what is?

your humble TubaDiva

Don’t worry, Miss (Mrs? Ms?) Diva, the next VB upgrade will have a little algorithm that implants a microchip into new users’ brains… if you find out that they’re lying (or anything else that’s naughty), you’ll be able to simply press a button and cause their heads to explode.

THAT’s a perfect system!

Asking for a credit card won’t work unless you can distinguish between check cards and actual credit cards. Anyone with a checking account can get his own Visa number.

Excuse me, but would you folks really be willing to give your Social Security number out to some website? Or your credit card number, unless you were buying something and could be reasonably sure the transaction was secure?

Where are all our resident Libertarians??

Most sites have a simple check box “Are you under 13?”
If you check yes, then they don’t process, or ask for a parent to add a check mark.

But they never ask for any real ID. The idea is to put kids on notice that what they are doing is something their parents may object to, not to make them run to Mummy’s purse to get her credit card.

Well, here’s one of them, and I only have a moment.

Rights are an attribute of property. Therefore, all rights with respect to this site accrue to its owner. We are not expressing any so-called “right to free speech” here; rather, we are guests of the Chicago Reader which is expressing its right to its property.

TubaDiva and Ed Zotti, authorized representatives of the site owner, are ethically entitled to call the shots in whatever way they see fit, so long as they are peaceful and honest in their dealings. They have the right to invite or disinvite anyone they please for any arbitrary reason, or for no reason at all.

Likewise, we do not have to participate here. But, so long as we are allowed to do so, we participate within the context of their rights, not ours.

They are free to require a social security number if they wish, and we are free to participate or not.

Well, I’d kinda like to see a special “under 16” SDMB category. It would have been easier to talk to Alloran if we had all known up front that he was only 12. As it was, I think a number of people unfortunately dismissed him as a troll before the penny dropped.

And I remember a few times in the past when somebody who was obviously a kid came into GQ to ask questions like “Why is the sky blue?” and seemed perfectly serious.

Maybe a “Junior Member” designation? Age between 13 and 16? Just a thought.

Small hijack:

Libertarian, it’s good to see you back. I hope you and your family are doing OK.

Libertarian, good to see you back around these parts. Your voice is always welcome. Good point above, by the way.

I don’t think this is a good idea, and it seems a little condescending. The problem with putting a label under someone’s name is that it will lead to some people automatically dismissing a question or idea made by a “junior” member. Check out some of the posts in this thread for an example of how some people will react to a poster who they know is younger than they are.

I think its better just to make your responses to a post based on the actual content, rather than the age group of the person who posted it.