The new blog post Introducing the Loop: A Foundation in Listening links to a survey, that appears to be what the Loop is at the moment. That is this: "Through the Loop Survey" on SurveyMonkey

When I go to that survey, the first thing I see is this:

to continue please confirm you are at least 18 years of age

  1. To continue, please confirm you are at least 18 years of age.

    • I am at least 18 years old
    • I am under 18

Clicking "I am under 18" leads to an immediate end to the survey.

Why is the Loop survey being restricted to those 18 and above? I personally am currently under 18, but I'd like to think that I am (or at least was) a valued member of the site, having contributed now for roughly five years, serving as a moderator for nearly three of them.

I feel I should be able to use any of the existing methods of transmitting feedback to Stack Exchange and Stack Overflow. Why, then, is this one restricted for me?

  • 13
    Probably to avoid issues about gathering data about kids.
    – Helmar
    Nov 25, 2019 at 21:48
  • 1
    Because Stack Overflow, Inc. is not incorporated in Canada. Nov 25, 2019 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


As the blog post mentions, we've been doing small site satisfaction surveys on Stack Overflow for the past few months. When we created those, they also had the limitation of requiring respondents be 18 or over. I asked about this when we were rolling it out and the response I got is that we consider this to be user research, which, for legal purposes, we restrict to users who are 18 and up in order to opt in.

We do understand that many of our members are under 18 and appreciate their participation on our sites but, for our research, we have to exclude them - you. I'm sorry about that.

  • 24
    How, then, are users such as myself expected to participate in the feedback loops after the "...plan to transition things like bug reports, user and customer support, user feedback, and company announcements off of Meta over the course of next year" goes into practice?
    – Mithical
    Nov 25, 2019 at 22:52
  • 12
    If those "legal purposes" involve COPPA, they aren't satisfied because it's not a "neutral-age screening mechanism". See COPPA FAQ G.3. Nov 25, 2019 at 22:52
  • 4
    Not sure how age verification based on the honor system could cover liability and effectiveness of the sytem.
    – dfhwze
    Nov 25, 2019 at 22:54
  • 2
    @dfhwze It actually does under COPPA if you follow certain rules. For example, asking a birthday and storing a "do not allow from this browser" cookie if the age is too low is enough. Nov 25, 2019 at 23:01
  • 7
    @user58 At this point, I don't know but I'm hoping that we won't be restricting all methods in this way. I wish I had a better answer for you.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Nov 25, 2019 at 23:41
  • 4
    @dfhwze I'm not a lawyer, but the internet's age laws tend to rely on self-reporting for all sorts of things, including access to sites run by beer/wine/liquor manufacturers, which (in the US, at least) require being 21. So, I figure, if it works for them, maybe it works for us?
    – Catija StaffMod
    Nov 25, 2019 at 23:47
  • 13
    I'm sorry, but this is borderline ridiculous. If you accept users under the age of 18 to provide you with their time and knowledge for free, the least you can do is giving them a voice on your new "feedback thing" that you built. How inconsiderate of your users can SE get?
    – Lamak
    Nov 26, 2019 at 1:04
  • 1
    Does the yearly developer survey ask age? I don't recall answering that directly. I looked through the 2019 insights post and see questions that could imply age, but nothing directly mentioning it. There is this line though that seems to indicate it was asked: "If we control for developer age today..." in the "Writing That First Line of Code" section. Assuming it is asked on that survey, are younger ages prevented from answering there too?
    – Andy
    Nov 26, 2019 at 5:10
  • 2
    @Andy That's a good question. I don't know. I think the closest question I can remember is years of experience programming. I'm not sure when this came to be the policy for us but the site satisfaction surveys didn't start until midway through the year, long after the dev survey had closed. It's possible that it will be different this year.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Nov 26, 2019 at 5:13
  • 1
    Sad day that such a legality exists. But I wouldn't be surprised if the network overall became 18+ soon especially with the COPPA revisions coming in the US.
    – Magisch
    Nov 26, 2019 at 7:27
  • @dfhwze what's the alternative? Requiring giving out personal information in the form of official documentation proving your age? Because I can't see a middle ground. At best, you can have a validation system relying on somebody "vouching" for you in some way (e.g., how certificates and certificate authorities work) but ultimately, you get to the same thing - you have to verify the verifiers and that might include personal information.
    – VLAZ
    Nov 26, 2019 at 7:34

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