I think we should consider age as indicated by user's behavior (not influenced by their claims) with some more interest.

I've seen a recent increase in kids (clearly in middle school) getting hit with year-long suspensions (multiple suspensions of that duration, in some cases), both network-wide and on certain sites. Looking at how much kids I interact with change over such time spans, I think a whole year off is a bit too painful and it's likely to drive them away permanently, which shouldn't be our goal.

This is what I think our system should be: we give suspensions to them with the same criteria, irrespective of the reason (rule violations, low quality contributions, voting fraud, whatever). They shouldn't be let off the hook just because their kids. We hold them to the same behavioral standards. Then, as status quo, we start with short day/week penalties, which increase in duration. But once the duration reaches 2 months, I think it should stop increasing. If the person comes back to misbehave, we simply give another 1-2 month timeout. I'd like no lowering/raising of the trigger... just a restriction on the suspension length.

I also do not expect any changes in the automatic post ban... even if they're in middle school, they need to take signs that the questions aren't working, and since that mechanism is already quite gentle, it doesn't want changing. (Furthermore, I think that's automatic, so the system clearly can't guess approximate ages.

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    What do you suggest as the criteria to be elegible to receive these reuduced suspentions? Additionally, how do you suggest we verify/interpret the age of our users? – angussidney Feb 22 at 10:15
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    You say "they shouldn't be let off the hook just because [they're] kids," but then you go on to suggest exactly that. – TheWanderer Feb 22 at 12:35
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    It should be one of a user's goals not to get suspensions. If they're unsure of what's inappropriate they should read the help and ask on this site to clairify the portions that they feel are unclear. If they think a year is too long they can appeal the decision, usually such lengthy suspensions aren't handed out without previous shorter suspensions. Sometimes you can get a year or longer first try if your actions are deserving. If the only thing they learn is not to return to the scene of their indiscretion at least they will be well traveled and gain insight as to how it works elsewhere. – Rob Feb 22 at 14:34
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    @TempMail: "it's likely to drive them away permanently, which shouldn't be our goal." It should be if they're breaking the rules so severely that they caught a year-long ban. The harm that such people do to the community still happens, and it won't happen less if you ban them for less time. – Nicol Bolas Feb 22 at 16:18

I don't think we should treat 'kids' on SE differently. Why did I say 'kids'? Because you can't be sure someone isn't pretending to be older or younger than they actually are behind the anonymity the internet offers.

Also, user profiles no longer display age. Behavior or language usage isn't a good indication of age: People that speak English as a second language might talk 'like a kid', and old people can regularly behave childishly. So unless someone puts an age in their profile description, even a moderator can't find out how old a user claims to be. So treating those we know are younger differently from those where we don't know... well, it isn't really treating everyone equally based on their contributions to the site/network.

Then there's the downside of people deliberately pretending to be a young user, just to avoid ever having their suspension escalated to a full blown 1-year suspension. Years of having to suspend someone for just 1 or 2 months, having the 'problem' return each time, is going to be pretty disruptive to a community.

There already is a restriction on the suspension length: a year. And we don't give those suspensions willy-nilly, they are reserved for those special people that show no effort to learn/improve over time, have had multiple suspensions before, and still, are being very disruptive to the community.

This means it (usually) already takes up a lot of time and previous suspensions before moderators are even considering suspending a user for a year. If a younger user can change a lot and fix their behavior in one or two months, this will probably have happened by then, and if not... perhaps the risk of them not returning after a one-year suspension is one worth taking.



This seems like a bad idea to me. First off, as @Tinkeringbell notes, there's no way to prove age, and trying to infer it is basically impossible.

Second, this opens a can of worms of treating users differently based on things such as age, location, gender, etc... which is a can that should stay closed.

A user should be treated the exact same way with regard to everything on the site. Just as we don't prevent fourteen year olds from becoming moderators, we can't prevent them from having full penalties applied. We can't say that on the one hand, they're mature enough to use the site and even to moderate it, and then on the other hand say that they're not mature enough to get full suspensions.

Disclaimer: I became a moderator at age 14.

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