Last fall, Tim Post ♦ mentioned that the primary reason that the accounts of underage users are deleted on sight is that there are laws against holding a minor's Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This has caused some consternation among both child users who have been banned and adult users who appreciated the contributions of child members that have been banned due to their age.

That rigamarole has led me to come up with the idea of proposing a programming site for underage users (tentative name: Stack Overflow for Teens) that would be more or less like a "regular" Stack Exchange site but where no PII would be collected from participants, or at least the gathering of PII would be completely voluntary and underage users found to have disclosed PII could continue participating after their PII was deleted (and perhaps a short suspension to teach them a lesson, especially if they have continued to provide PII after being warned that they are not old enough to do so).

Is a site that does not collect PII feasible? I have not (yet) proposed such a site because I (currently) lack the required community to build it. The fact that underage users can't come onto the current Area 51 obviously doesn't help much, but that's not the focus of my question. I'm not asking about finding a community, but if I could find enough sympathetic adults to push through a proposal for a site for underage users, is this something that would be feasible or would Stack Exchange the company be likely to shoot it down as unfeasible either in a technological or business sense? E.g. "This is a great idea, but I have to close this proposal because the programming effort to remove all mandatory PII collection points would cost more than the company has, and the company's model anyways involves the monetization of PII so there's really little reason we would want this."

  • This is probably worth a read: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – Robert Longson Mar 17 at 14:49
  • I would add - most of the time we know someone is underaged cause they literally say so. If they have the maturity to participate, they should have the maturity to understand why the rules are there and well... Possibly not mention their age – Journeyman Geek Mar 18 at 10:12

No, it is not. Our entire accounts system is built on the premise of an email address, which is required for any and all interactions on the network. Unfortunately that is also PII that we are not allowed to collect from an underage user. There is no way we could set up a site that does not collect PII.

But let's also not set aside the fact that we would not create a duplicate site for the purposes of allowing underage users to participate in a replicated environment. There's little point to discussing the legality or technicality of such a proposal when we would not consider such a proposal for other reasons. We've repeatedly shut down the idea of setting up a "homework" site as well.

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