Whilst helping my daughter out with an English Language challenge, the power of social networks to educate, through the proxy of Dad became apparent. It occurred to me to question:
How can we make it easier for kids to engage with experts, or even just other more knowledgeable kids, through the vehicle of the Stack Exchange sites?
If a child was just let loose with a login of their own on www.stackoverflow.com for example, then their confused, overly terse, or just badly expressed questions would be quickly moderated out of existence as spam, or otherwise just ignored as mere trouble making. Their user accounts would become blacklisted; not a nice experience when you are starting out engaging with the world-wide Internet community.
Perhaps the Stack Exchange sites could find a way of providing a "kids zone" in which trusted members of the grown-up site are able to help kids out; helping them clarify their questions and guiding them through the subject matter maze -- as it very well may appear to kids starting out -- perhaps cross referencing the most useful questions on the main site itself where applicable. For the grown-up and older kids participating in the "kids zone", it would be understood that a lot of the question may be poorly written, but treated as an interesting pedagogical challenge regardless.
It would be especially gratifying to see older kids helping younger kids out - they would clearly have a strong motivation to do so given the gamification and kudos attribution through badges that Stack Exchange sites pull-off so well. Questions could be categorized by the year-group of the user to help with filtering search results for differing age/ability groups; these are interesting challenges and hold tremendous potential in my mind.
What do you think?