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Here is the first post in our series on rules. The object is to have a transparent discussion of these rules so that everyone might better understand them and so that we (the moderation team) might better enforce them. Input is welcome.

The Rule:

1. Members must be at least thirteen years of age to join or participate on this site.

The Reason:
Whether or not we think much of this rule is actually rather immaterial as this rule is technically not ours; it is a rule that we must enforce because it was handed to us by Ning as a part of their terms of service:

The Ning Platform is not directed to children younger than 13 and is offered only to users 13 years of age or older. If you are under 13
years old, please do not use the Ning Platform. Any person who provides
their personal information through the Ning Platform represents to us
that they are 13 years of age or older.*


You also agree not to knowingly collect any information from, or develop any Networks that are targeted at children under the age of 13.*


As Ning provides this "platform," we must agree to this rule to use their service. No service, no website. Feel free to comment, but I can't say that it will do any good. Until such a time as Ning sees fit to change this, it is set in stone.

The Action:
If we find someone who is under the age of 13, we will remove them from the site. This is not a situation where a "warning" is possible. They will be, of course, be free to re-join once they reach their 13th birthday.

Stay tuned, Rule #2 is coming soon!

Exciting, isn't it?

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Replies to This Discussion

Very exciting, and a respectable, logical rule.

Besides NING not being aimed at children, there is a fair amount of adult discussions on this site. Plus, much as hate to see children indoctrinated into religion, it makes it harder to accuse A/N of luring children to indoctrinate them into Atheism.

Of course, we wouldn't be indoctrinating so much as providing a safe haven to learn critical thinking, get what I mean.

;-) Thanks moJoe!
The age restriction to thirteen and above may well be a Ning requirement, but it does not follow that A|N must have age restriction. If so desired, the minimum age for A|N could be set to any age thirteen or over. As Jo notes, there is a great deal of adult discussion on this site. Or, to put it another way, non PG topics and language. It could therefore be argued that a minimum age of 16 or 18 years be the requirement.

I'm not saying A|N should be restricted to such an age. Personally, I don't care. But there does arise the issue related to Rule 4, which is Do not post pornography, other adult material, or links to said items. A good rule of thumb is if you would not show it to a thirteen year old, it is not OK to post.

Do not post pornography is fine, but what constitutes 'adult material' and suitable for a thirteen year old? Opinions will vary on this issue.

I accept that this off-topic and is to be left for when Rule 4 is presented for discussion, but these two rules are linked because of the age restriction; consideration of one necessarily affects consideration of the other. I offer this comment merely as preface to later discussion of Rule 4 to encourage thought on the matter.
You make some fine points. I had not thought of the possibility of raising the minimum age, although it is likely a little late to do that gracefully. I guess we'll revisit this shortly.
seems pretty obvious, ning sets the rule here.

as for raising the age, i would not - i doubt that topics or language here are more 'adult' than what is in the school yard. it's valid interest to bring up, and we can argue all sorts of ways as to what is the age threshold for talk about sex, politics, and religion. if religion is taught to the young, atheism should open to the young well, and there needs to be a supportive community for young nontheists. as Stephen notes, that will be in what is considered 'adult' in rule 4, which usually means sexual, and language which usually means cursing.
Don't eat babies. Got it. Starting off with a tough one huh?

Seeing that a birth certificate is not required to join the site, it's basically unenforceable. Now when it comes to participation, I'm sure there's lot's of 12 year olds who would be more mature and interesting than some of the intolerant, self-righteous atheist purists that permeate this site.
If this is your idea of constructive participation, please feel free to refrain from further bothering yourself.
Don't worry, no bother. But until you reply to Felch's comments in your "New Community Manager" thread, I agree with him that this is all bullshit. Why you're bothering yourself with re-establishing the obvious doesn't seem very constructive either.
Thanks for the input.
My rule suggestion to add would be that deleting other members comments is prohibited under any circumstances. Only members can delete their own comments (or the admins). I dont like that an OP can delete an entire discussion, in fact, I hate that. People put a lot of time and effort into their comments, and it seems like a violation of their freedom of expression for an O/P to arbitrarily delete their comments. Complain about them, sure. Debate them, ridicule all means, but silence them? Seems utterly in opposition to the idea of free expression.
I'm not fond of this practice either. I don't believe it is possible to take this ability away from everyone and I don't know how we would enforce such a rule. It is something to consider for the guidelines, perhaps.
In this case, you could simply say "ignore the delete button or we'll delete your account...temporary for the first offence or two, but after that its a permanent ban upon complaints from members. Same goes for moderating comments or blocking them from a post...." then ask ning about how to change the functionality.
Not that easy. We are starting on the assumption of going younger for the cut off age. What about going older? Why 13 and not 16?


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