Beginning in 2007, the minimum age requirement (18 or the age of majority at the user's residence, whichever is greater) applicable to checkusers and oversighters has also been applied to the ArbCom elections. (This created some fuss because it was announced in the middle of the 2007 election, and two candidates had to withdraw.) FWIW, I opposed this change, to no particular avail.
I didn't know that you did, or even would, oppose that. I'm beginning to think your advocacy for child participation in Wikipedia absent implementing any child protective measure is problematic on the Durova level.
There was a Foundation-level decision in 2006 that only legal adults should be deciding on Checkuser or Oversight requests and reviewing private information derived from the results, which made sense. In the fall of 2007, it was decided that this implied that arbitrators also needed to be legal adults because private information is discussed among the arbitrators. That was a defensible interpretation of the policy, but not one that I believed was necessary. In any event, the point is now settled fairly conclusively, and my observation here was simply a historical one.
The ArbCom is a 15-member (more or less) committee, intended to be representative of the community as a whole. No individual one of the members has decision-making authority on his or her own, and I didn't see any reason that one or two members of a large committee shouldn't be drawn from the older teen group of editors, if the electorate so decided. (Note the reference to older teens; we're not talking about 12-year-olds as serious ArbCom candidates.) Previously a 16- or 17-year-old editor had served as one of the arbitrators for a year, and this raised absolutely no sort of age-related problems at all.
As for "child protective measures," I appreciate that you have a good-faith concern about this group of issues, but I've never been clear on what sort of protective measures you would suggest, other than banning younger people from editing, which would probably result more in people fibbing about (or not mentioning) their ages than anything else. Note that we are discussing here measures that you think would protect those who edit the encyclopedia. I'm aware of the threads discussing explicit content, some of which I think Wikipedia could use less of, but that's a separate, albeit related, discussion.
A reasonable and probably overdue child protective measure on Wikipedia would be to create a page clearly warning younger editors about the concerns that surround their posting too much identifying information, and giving them some tips on mistakes to avoid so that their Wikipedia experience might be a more positive one (avoiding too much "Myspaceness" being one of the tips I had in mind, which is apropos of this thread). As previously mentioned here on WR, I drafted such a page some time ago, but you among others here told me it would be a horrible mistake to post it, and I have no particular desire to be called various names in this context. Thus, the page and the advice continue not to exist, which is not an epic victory for child protection.
Sorry it took a couple of days to reply. I removed this portion from what was otherwise a pretty dreadful thread to restart here. I will PM you to help assure that you see this.
you are correct to believe that I would view a advisory as insufficient, especially if directed at the child him/herself. Such a advisory might have a proper roll as part of a COPPA like process in which parents of young children could use it make a informed decision about allowing them to participate.
My overall approach to child protective measures would be use the same standards and best practices that have been developed over time, and from many hard lessons, from those institutions and programs that have had sustained interaction between adults and children over decades or even centuries, eg churches, schools, civic organizations, social/athletic clubs.
The approach they take is very much standard by now. They recruit adult volunteers carefully. They vet and background check those interested in volunteer. They supervise they provide the adult volunteer with training. They provide ample opportunity for the children raise concerns or complaints.
Wikipedia, the largest collaborative project in the world facilitating adult and child interaction, does absolutely none of these things. It is not enough to say that WP is just a website, knowing the degree and extent that predators have come use web based fora as hunting grounds for children. They have in fact developed their own "best practices" for this kind of environment.
Nor can this discussion take place without considering the content of Wikipedia, which has a radical tolerance for pornography, and extensive attempts by practitioners bestiality and even pedophilia itself to shape articles into a form a friendly as possible to these exploitative sexual practices. This tolerance for the unacceptable is so entrenched that number two staff person of WMF has made public statements indicating that pedophilia is acceptable given the child's "consent" and a WMF-UK spokes person taunted an advocacy group with what he described as a "skull dance" when they were unable to make WP remove images of child pornography.
This is an environment much more problematic than the typical boyscout troop or after-school catechism class. But it is presently almost beyond either my own or probably your imagination that WP would in any time soon adopt these tried and true child protective practices. So I lower the bar to something that might be achieved sooner:
- Include child protective language in TOS;
- Use standard COPPA Screen Software (parental consent required for < 13 y/o);
- Disallow minors (up to 18) from identify themselves as such;
- Disable email of all minors, and;
- Make policing this policy an important program objective staffed by employees of the WMF, possibly assisted by volunteers and/or users with appropriate vetting, training and supervision.
But today I am asking even less. As an immediate first step I ask that use your influence and status on Wikipedia to support a policy of over-sighting the user pages and disabling the email of any user that gives significant reasons to believe they are children. This would at least put some immediate barrier between children and predators on Wikipedia.