I came across a question, which lead me to a user profile1. One thing stood out like a sore thumb:

I'm an .. and 12 year old boy

I immediately flagged the account via the "contact us" link, as the user has multiple Stack Exchange accounts, and could pose a serious concern2.

It occurs to me that I may not have taken the right action. Should I be bringing this up in a more global way, via the "contact us" link, or should I simply notify a site moderator?

1 I will sometimes do this to give me insight into the scope of the question; this will often point me to additional related questions being asked about the same thing, though I refrain from voting, at this point.

2 I can not find the explicit post about it, now, but Stack Exchange is not3 legally allowed to keep any data pertaining to "underage" kids; as such, we are required to state 'I am 13 or older', when we sign up. Penalties are quite severe, due to child protection laws.

3 By "not allowed", I mean that Stack Exchange chooses to refuse user accounts for users under the age limit, rather than adhere to the far more restrictive privacy laws. If anyone finds the actual meta post explaining this, I would be much obliged.

  • Why do anything? Just move on....
    – SDsolar
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 6:39
  • 3
    @SDsolar, because if somebody was to instead alert COPPA, it could cost Stack Exchange up to $40,000. Even if the chances of that happening are minutley small, no reasonable person would take a small chance of up to $40,000 loss.
    – Gnemlock
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 23:40
  • 1
    I see what you are referring to. Here is more info on it: ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/privacy-and-security/… - But as a user I am not a moderator nor staff so don't think it is my responsibility to police this system's users. I think that is too intrusive for my taste. I never would have looked so closely at him or her in the first place. I don't see anything that says I should be doing recon on other users. Of course, when there is a clear threat to life or property I would have the responsibility to report anyone, regardless of age.
    – SDsolar
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 2:28
  • 5
    @gnemlock That's not entirely true. We would only be fined if an agent of our company knew and didn't take action. If a user knows about it and simply doesn't tell us, we are not held responsible as a user is not an agent of the company. This would quickly resolve by us simply deleting the user the FTC contacted us about. We appreciate users letting us know, but not doing so doesn't get us into any trouble.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 3:45
  • @animuson, would you be able to include that in your answer? To be perfectly honest, if I knew it was only an issue on the SE side if you guys knew, I wouldn't have flagged such users unless I thought they were at actual risk.
    – Gnemlock
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 5:49

3 Answers 3


You are in no way required to do anything, and it is very likely that no harm will come of doing nothing. However, as Robert Cartaino♦ said in this answer to a similar question,

If you see something (or someone) that doesn't belong on the site, this <wink-wink> don't tell anyone <wink-wink> doesn't make the problem just go away. It only leaves it for someone else to find… or the wrong person to find… or to multiply until it really is a problem.


Either way is fine, but reporting directly to us via the contact page just cuts a person out of the equation. Community moderators cannot handle this situation - it's only something staff can handle. All a moderator will do is send us a message notifying us of the situation.


Not sure if it has any relation but "im 12 btw" is a meme (more of an inside joke) with fans of Admiral BullDog, an online MOBA Dota 2 professional player and also popular twitch streamer.

Another variation of this saying that is more popular on the internet is I'm 12 and what is this?

From knowyourmeme.com

“I’m 12 Years Old and What is This?”, also known as “I’m 12 and what is this?”, is a catchphrase typically used to react to something that is considered vulgar or outlandish, such as x-rated media.

It is sometimes used to express general confusion, similar to “wat” and “what is this I don’t even”.

Seeing as how the user of the account is a game developer, it is not entirely out of the question that that might be just written there for laughs.

Or maybe he/she is indeed 12.


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