I'm not sure if this question has been asked before, but I believe there should be an age cap to run for moderators, because people as young as 13 have & are running for mods.

I have no problem with that, but considering mods are obligated to fulfill some tasks, these tasks would be better at the hands of more experienced people. In short, I think in the same manner as driving, drinking ... a minimum age should be applied for participants. >= 16

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    Nah, the age restriction of 13 is just fine. You don't have to elect a mod if you don't like. But if they are deemed to be capable, there's no real issue. – Bart Feb 17 '14 at 17:29
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    I've seen plenty of immature 30-somethings, while Boltclock and Minitech have been solid moderators. – Martijn Pieters Feb 17 '14 at 17:29
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    Oh sure @MartijnPieters, call me out like that ... – Bart Feb 17 '14 at 17:29
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    @Simon_eQ - You deserved to be downvoted. For having the bare faced cheek to ask a question on MSO! (sincerely, I do not have any idea why.. Would be nice for the downvoters to say why sometimes when it's not obvious..) – James Feb 17 '14 at 17:31
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    @James: See the faq; votes on MSO are different from the regular Stack Exchange websites. People are voting on the proposition: do you think moderator elections should be age restricted (beyond the ToS age restriction for Stack Exchange sites in general). – Martijn Pieters Feb 17 '14 at 17:32
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    @Simon_eQ But we don't need to make blanket generalizations. It's not a choice between having all 13 year olds as mods or all 16 year olds. Every single moderator can be judged on their individual merrits. If no 13 year olds happen to demonstrate their capability, then they won't be elected. If a few happen to be capable despite the fact that their age makes it less likely for them to be capable, then they've still shown themselves to be capable. – Servy Feb 17 '14 at 17:35
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    @James there's an obvious (and very likely) reason - people don't agree that there should be an age restriction – Pekka Feb 17 '14 at 17:35
  • @MartijnPieters I know, but (doh) I read the question too quickly and saw "what is the age for...". Need to offline for a few hours methinks.. – James Feb 17 '14 at 17:35
  • You are free to vote this way in the election. – user206222 Feb 17 '14 at 17:51
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    @LaszloPapp How do you know he's not 13 years old. He hasn't claimed to be older than that, and it's not listed on his profile. – Servy Feb 17 '14 at 17:58
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    Out of the curiosity: How about "old" people? What would you like to see for the upper limit? Can our grandpas participate? – lpapp Feb 17 '14 at 18:00
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    Why all the downvotes? Let's just address the question! – Simon Kuang Feb 17 '14 at 20:43
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    not fair at all – NKN Feb 17 '14 at 21:06
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    This seems to be a resoundingly unpopular idea – user246806 Feb 18 '14 at 8:19
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    Please consider the aspect that even if a very young person wants to devote a considerable amount of time to the community (and has the competencies and social skills which can be acknowledged by voting), it may be a matter of protecting youngsters from their own enthusiasm to a certain extend. Imho, lives of (yes - not only) 13 years old can change within days and commitment can suddenly turn into over-commitment without their fault. We should probably encourage them more to go out, meet friends, get broad experience, PLAY, .... rather than become SO junkies (at that age ...) – MikeD Feb 18 '14 at 9:06

We don't ask you for your birth certificate when you sign up. There's a birthdate field, but some people don't bother filling it in - it's completely optional.

So all you're really suggesting is that we encourage younger candidates to lie or omit information. That's not really a good attitude to foster in folks you hope to trust with a fair bit of responsibility on the site.

If you don't think someone is up to the job, don't vote for them. It's really that simple.

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    You don't have to buy it, @Simon - as I said, your vote is your own to cast as you see fit, based on whatever criteria you feel are appropriate. But by the same token, you don't get to tell other people who they can or can't vote for, or what criteria they must use. – Shog9 Feb 17 '14 at 17:46
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    @Simon_eQ Yes... – Cilan Feb 17 '14 at 17:51
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    @Simon_eQ Someone 8 or 2 years of age is unlikely to write a compelling nomination, unless their parents do it for them, at which point this becomes a much more interesting discussion. Until that happens, anyone that proves themselves worthy of the position gets it. – Tim Post Feb 17 '14 at 17:54
  • @Simon_eQ If you're making the assertion that they have demonstrated that they are capable and qualified in every single way other than their age, then sure. I'd find the likelihood of a two year old passing such qualifications so low as to equate it with impossibility, but in the event that they demonstrated that they're capable, they are, by definition, capable. – Servy Feb 17 '14 at 17:54
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    Strictly-speaking, there are some legal issues with allowing folks <13 to use the site (nevermind run for election) @Simon. Those are unfortunate for a bunch of other reasons, leading to the exact problem I describe here: if you lie, you can be any age but if you're honest we have to kick you out. So yeah, I know what I'm talking about: this would be a stupid-messy restriction to try to implement. – Shog9 Feb 17 '14 at 17:54
  • @Shog9 How can a minor accept the moderator agreement, and (especially) be trusted with PII? – mpdonadio Feb 18 '14 at 0:19
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    Same as anyone else - by agreeing to uphold it. – Shog9 Feb 18 '14 at 1:14

Age doesn't really matter. Or at least, it's not of primary concern. If a 13-year old is not up to the task, their general behaviour (prior to the nomination) will show it. If they show however that they do have the qualities to become a moderator, there is no problem either.

Could one argue that a 13 year old is less likely to possess those qualities than someone significantly older? Sure. But the election will weed them out based on merit, not on age.

And in the case where an elected moderator really wouldn't be suited for the task (which is pretty unlikely), SE afaik reserved the right not not make them a moderator. So I would say there's no problem whatsoever.

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    Their general behaviour on the site, prior to nominating themselves, will show it. Just look through some of the comments below nominations. The community doesn't take elections lightly. Even for some of the more veteran users. – Bart Feb 17 '14 at 17:37
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    @Simon_eQ - we have plenty of information about a candidate's behavior. Comments, answers, flagging history and more. So claiming that they are an unknown quantity is simply incorrect. – Oded Feb 17 '14 at 17:38
  • FWIW I've seen more excellent candidates not get elected in the past, than I've seen dubious candidates get anywhere near being a mod. – Bart Feb 17 '14 at 17:39
  • He hangs out in the Tavern quite regularly @Simon_eQ. And while I do see him come close to being a mod in some future election (if he keeps at it) I don't see enough evidence to suggest that I should currently vote for him. He's free to try, and he should cherish the experience, but the community generally has a good idea what to do and what to look for. – Bart Feb 17 '14 at 17:40
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    Also, if we put an arbitrary age restriction on moderator candidates, what would prevent them from filling in bogus ages to avoid that? We have many members who say they're 99 years old because they don't want to share their actual age. There'd be no way we could verify or enforce this. By law, SE has to deal with anyone who identifies themselves as being younger than 13, but no age verification is done on accounts. – Brad Larson Feb 17 '14 at 17:41
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    @BradLarson Actually... you can't be 99 on an SE site. :P – hichris123 Feb 17 '14 at 17:44

It's not about age, it's about maturity. If someone sees a 13 year old nominating themselves, and they see they're a loon, they won't vote for them.

In any case, the age restriction on mod election should be the same as the age restriction of signing up (though SE doesn't ask for proof).

Being a 13 year old myself, I do feel kind of loonish, but that's why people are telling me under my nomination in the comments to wait for next year. My friend, on the other hand (who is also 13), is very mature and lots of people will probably vote for him (@Doorknob).

Even if your thoughts go in to effect (I'm talking hypothetically, of course they won't), people would easily avoid their fates by leaving the age field in their profile blank.

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    @Simon_eQ I believe that rule is because small people can't reach the pedals. – Cilan Feb 17 '14 at 17:49
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    @Simon_eQ You're worrying about an imaginary problem. The elections prove time and time again that moderators get elected based on their merit. We have had some <16 moderators elected, who turned out to be brilliant. And they were elected based on their excellent prior contributions. Your age restriction is arbitrary and attempts to solve a problem that doesn't exist. – Bart Feb 17 '14 at 17:49
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    "You really think someone can know your maturity just by your posts?" Yes, assuming there are enough of them, in combinations with comments as well. On top of that, you can interact with the nomineessthrough comments on their application, ask them questions, etc. to judge how well they might do. It's worked quite well so far. For driving the main problem is that it's simply not possible for governments to spend the time/effort evaluating candidates with the same degree of effort as we can with mods here. Thousands of man hours go into vetting each mod. Each driver gets less than one. – Servy Feb 17 '14 at 17:52
  • Lol I deleted it but I said something about Hitler. What do you know, I was loonish after all! – Cilan Feb 2 '16 at 4:46

Not all young people are immature.

There is a greater percentage of immaturity amongst the youth, but that doesn't make every youth immature.

We already have some really young mods (There's one on Stack Overflow, a couple others across the network1), and they're doing great.

If there's an immature candidate, the election process can filter that on its own. I've seen a couple of immature adult candidates in previous elections. For what it's worth, I think I've seen more of these than I have seen amongst the youth.

1. Including me, if you count 19 as an immature age.

  • Have many youths actually nominate themselves? What would be your estimated ratio for adult candidates for every one young candidate? – Cilan Nov 10 '14 at 13:32
  • @TheWobbuffet I've seen around one nom by a minor in every two beta sites, where there are ~5-7 other nominations. Small sample size. – Manishearth Nov 10 '14 at 13:45

First of all, how would you ensure that user indicated his age honestly?

There are many reasons to limit driving/alcohol by age, and some of them just because it's impossible to see in advance who is responsible enough.

But here on SO/SE community uses more fine-grained ways which are based on user contribution. Every candidate must have some of the participation badges for example. So during nomination phase community could examine thoroughly every candidate and take well informed decision.

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