So, the age limit I've set has gone down like a lead baloon among those most vocal in the news comments. I'm not totally against opening it up to over 13s but it would open a whole can or worms if I did so. So I'd like to have a discussion here where we can discuss the pros and cons.
So, I'll go first...Against:
One definite thing we need to guard against is inappropriate use of the forum and the member-to-member conversation feature, and the potential to use it for grooming. LEGO is after all a child's toy and a forum such as this might reasonably be expected to have a high number of under age participants (if we let them join) and therefore may attract the wrong sort of person
. I'd be mortified if something I was responsible was used for that purpose. I suspect the chances of this are pretty close to negligible in reality, but nevertheless, there is a chance. Whether it's fair and reasonable to let that small chance influence the policy, I'd appreciate your views.Against:
Playing devil's advocate: do we adults really want teenagers butting in in our conversations and potentially swamping the place? Do we care what they have to say?For:
I'm not against teenagers per se (I have two daughters of my own, now 16 and 18) and I know they can be perfectly mature and sensible (when they want to be :-) ), and a policy like EBs which doesn't ban them outright but lets those that act maturely participate might be a model to adopt here. Let them join, if they 'appear to be adult' then they can stay, but if not, their account is disabled.
- no division and, perhaps as importantly, no feeling of division in the Brickset community
- favorable position of giving each user "the benefit of the doubt", and letting the merit of their own actions dictate the terms of their involvement
- increased risk of polluting the forum, which was an overriding goal to be without. I mention increased risk because a) there is no guarantee that the forum won't be polluted with the current 16+ designation and b) it is not definitive that lowering the age limit will actually pollute things.
- alienating adults who, for whatever reason, prefer an area free of minors. Personally I'm ok with this risk because I think AFOLs, of all people, should be able to exist harmoniously with minors
- creating an opportunity for exploitation of minors which Huw already mentioned. Perhaps the risk of this can be lessened by disabling private messages of the accounts of minors (is it possible?)
- increased need for moderation, both from the sheer increase in the population, but also because history has shown that minors, as a whole, do need more moderation. I'm willing to put in the effort if others are.
Adults have their nomal life to deal with, and regardless of what you do to make a living it does take away from your passions (i.e. LEGO).
Children do not pay bills and earn a living, so they are free to spend all their time or as much time as they want at their passion. By allowing them to freely populate this forum, it will become filled rather quickly and become difficult to navigate (for those of us who don't live on the web).
And for the a basis of arguement I use StarWarsCollectors post... no value to the discussion, just a comment.
I advocate raising the age to 18
Not every 15 year old is immature and their opinions do matter.
For every mature 15 year old that reads but never posts (or posts only when necessary), there seems to be a gaggle of immature 15 year olds (or younger) that post but never read. If you catch my drift.
I also appreciate what Huw said about safety issues.
I also appreciate that more moderation, as Rocao said, would require more work of those who run the forum.
Keep the 16+ restriction.
Love hurts sometimes...
Drawing an arbitrary line at an age stinks - but if it ensures the quality of posts on the forum, and the safety of those who aren't allowed to post it's the right thing to do.
Remove the direct message feature, implement a transparent process for removing people, make sure everyone knows about it and enforces it, and lower the age to 13. Or 10. Lego is for kids primarily and we shouldnt forget that.
We should stop being afraid of kids or our society is doomed.
Besides, the last thing that I want to see is this forum being populated by users asking:
"I have $100, what set should I buy?"
Thanks Huw, yellowcastle, bluemoose, roaco and others for all that you have done to make this forum a reality.
The Lego forum is a lot more appealing to kids than a stripped down, simple (and beautiful) one like this.
J/K - Very nice post.
I would keep the age limit in 16, what makes a difference in 12 or 14 months? I mean, I know I wasn´t as mature as I am today one year ago, and every year I´ll be more and more mature, but 1 year ago I was able to post a comment giving the same maturity as today.
If you are looking for maturity, judge every post. Don´t you know many people who are 20 and still thinking the same things as a 13 year old boy?
Let's just say, statistically, a person is more likely to be more mature when they are 16+, and that's why age limits apply to many aspects of modern society, they are often seen as unfair barriers by youngsters, but barriers are there for everyone's safety.
I feel that 16+ is a good limit because it is the age required to attend most AFOL events, it means there are less poor quality threads and it is nice to have more mature discussions with other AFOL's than with the younger teens, who I seem to encounter a lot on other forums that I am active on.
A sinking/liking system for threads and posts would be a good idea as well. That way good discussions would be prevalent while less desirable ones would end up deleted.
If "immature" or "inappropriate" posts from certain users are spotted, and the users weeded out, then less potential for bad or inappropriate activity will exist across the board.
I just recently came across that site and thought (yahoo answers for legos!) sounds cool, but within 2 minutes on the site I realized why there was an age limit on this forum. It's horrible, 90% of the questions are "Should I get Set A or Set B?"
Additionally, I noticed I traffic the main brickset site much less now that the forums out, I think if you open the forum to all (or more) it will take away from the main site.
I think the age limit should have been 18, 16 is already a compromise. I agree with everyone else as well, there's plenty of other forums they can go to.
EDIT: Forgot to mention the nightmare of trying to tell a user he's not "mature" enough to use the forum. That's going to cause a lot of animosity and spark a lot of "justifications" for their posts trying to dispute the decision. It's going to make everything way to complicated.
Now I'm back from my short vacation, and we've been in beta for a month or so, I'll be discussing moving the forum to 'live' with the rest of the forum staff soon.
There aren't a lot of posts from juveniles, but those that are made are removed pretty quickly. There are one or two individuals that we have had to ban, and who then rejoin with another, similar, user name (sure sign of a juvenile) but on the whole it seems as if we are successfully moderating the forums. Let us know if you think otherwise.