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I stumbled upon this question today that was relatively heavily down-voted and put on hold pending review for being off-topic (for asking a debugging question) and not abiding by the SO rules.

All this is fine, but after looking at the profile of the user who posted the question, it turned out to be a self-proclaimed 14 year old female junior programmer who's new in the field.

Depending on the personality of this user, either they will be discouraged and drop SO as a whole or be inspired to discover why her answer was locked and enhance it in the future. However, I believe some leniency is necessary for these junior developers and the question is as follows:

Can we have a 'junior' flag for developers below the age of 18, that singles them as a special case requiring a little bit extra attention from moderators or users trying to answer the questions?

This will obviously create the problem of figuring out who gets the flag and how to verify age and claims, but that's another question for later.

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    I can put 14 as my age right now. What's to stop anyone doing that, if they learn that gets them leniency? – Oded May 15 '15 at 13:54
  • @Oded as stated, "This will obviously create the problem of figuring out who gets the flag and how to verify age and claims". One way would be to request identification from users who subscribe to this feature. – Bassem May 15 '15 at 13:56
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    How are you planning to enforce leniency? Banning downvotes? Everyone old will be looking for a fake id to appear under 21 – Robert Longson May 15 '15 at 14:00
  • @RobertLongson No enforcement, but the flag will allow the moderator/user a choice to either take or not into consideration the age of the user when answering and/or taking action. – Bassem May 15 '15 at 14:02
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    If I came over to your house and took a dump on your lawn, would you be any more or less offended if a teenager did the same thing? – user1228 May 15 '15 at 14:23
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    How about senior programmers who claim to be 95 year old on SO? I think they have bigger risk of cardiac failure with vast amount of downvotes and question being closed? – Meta Andrew T. May 15 '15 at 14:37
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  • Thank you for showing that post, I read, considered and downvoted the question. – user289879 May 15 '15 at 18:31
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    Voting on content for any reason other than the content is an abuse of the voting system. Not downvoting something because the user is young, or new, or you feel sorry for them, or whatever, defeats the entire purpose of voting. – fbueckert May 15 '15 at 23:56
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No. An important rule in SE is "vote based on the post, not the user." In other words, just because someone is young or inexperienced doesn't mean that they should get special treatment. If someone wants to indicate that they don't have a high grasp of the subject and would prefer answerers to cater to that, i'd consider that acceptable... as long as the question is high-quality. Being inexperienced is not an excuse to post junk and then be handled with kid gloves.

I'm personally 16 years old, and am quite happy to be treated exactly the same as any other user.

  • Yes and you're free not to opt for it as it is not mandatory. Again it goes back to the character of the person. – Bassem May 15 '15 at 13:59
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    opt in for who? If I don't opt in can I keep downvoting bad questions? – Robert Longson May 15 '15 at 14:01
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    @BassemDy The people trying to actively seek leniency are generally the people who are least likely to merit it. People going out of their way to discourage downvotes are the people who are posting low quality content. Those taking the time and effort to post high quality content have no incentive to seek leniency. So you're going out of your way to encourage bad behavior, and discourage good behavior. If anything we should scrutinize content from users opting into something like this more, not less. – Servy May 15 '15 at 14:04
  • @Servy That's quite the ungrounded generalization you make! All I'm suggesting is that instead of bashing a child for failing to abide by a couple of points from the biblical rules, add a simple flag 'junior' to the question and let the answering users be the judge of how to handle it. Some might choose to be more lenient, generous and patient with their comments / explanations / answers than others who will still decide to take the jerk behind the keyboard approach. That's all there is to it. – Bassem May 15 '15 at 14:10
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    @BassemDy Encouraging bad behavior is not being generous; it's being a jerk. Providing correct and constructive feedback is not being a jerk, it's being generous. As you've been told, the author's age has not bearing on how the post should be treated. If low quality content is posted, it should be dealt with just like any other low quality content, and if it's high quality content it should be dealt with as high quality content. Going out of your way to try to encourage people to do the wrong this isn't helpful. – Servy May 15 '15 at 14:13
  • Leniency and constructive feedback are not mutually exclusive @Servy. Bad behavior and leniency are also not one. If this meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9953/… is valid for new users, imagine the impact on juniors. Being nice is always a choice Servy, adding an extra incentive to be nice is not a bad thing or encouragement of bad behavior. – Bassem May 15 '15 at 14:19
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    @BassemDy How is closing a question, for failing to follow the site's rules, "bashing a child"? – Ian Kemp May 15 '15 at 14:21
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    @BassemDy Downvoting low quality content is not being "not nice". Closing questions that merit closure is not being "not nice". Not doing those two things when they're merited is being "not nice". – Servy May 15 '15 at 14:24
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    So the corollary is we can all be rude to people who aren't juniors? At the moment the rule is "be nice" to everyone and I don't see why that should change. Clearly you've a different definition of nice though. – Robert Longson May 15 '15 at 14:30
  • @Servy Yes, it is 'not nice' and not constructive when there is no explanation for 10 down-votes while 1 or 2 and a comment would convey the message properly and most likely induce change in the future. The junior flag will add an extra 'psychological' incentive to take the extra effort and give more generous feedback. – Bassem May 15 '15 at 14:34
  • @RobertLongson yes, that's the rule and no one is contesting it but not everyone is following it. The junior flag will be a reminder to give oneself an extra 10 seconds to be a little extra helpful. – Bassem May 15 '15 at 14:36
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    There is always an explanation for downvotes. It is this... This question does not show any research effort, is unclear or not useful. – Robert Longson May 15 '15 at 14:37
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    @BassemDy Downvotes don't require an explanation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with indicating that you feel a piece of content is low quality. If someone would like to take the time to comment and add additional information, they can. If they don't want to, or have nothing to add beyond what is already available, then there is no reason for them to comment. Trying to manipulate people into not indicating that low quality content is in fact low quality content would harm the site, not help it. – Servy May 15 '15 at 14:37
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    @RobertLongson That and any time a question is closed there's the close reason. – Servy May 15 '15 at 14:38

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