Wikia age requirements and COPPA enforcement

Last week, Wikia announced that several wikis would be locked to anonymous (i.e. unregistered contributor) editing, due to the perceived subject matter of those wikis being appealing to under-13 users. Fortunately, The Sims Wiki was not affected by this decision, but the incident brings to the fore some other issues related to Wikia's ToU, specifically the age requirement, and how our local administrators enforce it.

What is the age requirement about?

As part of the Wikia network, all users on The Sims Wiki are bound to follow Wikia's Terms of Use (ToU). These are Wikia-wide rules that are agreed to when users first join Wikia. Part of the ToU states that, "[a]ny registration by anyone under 13 is unauthorized, unlicensed and in violation of this Agreement."

Why do The Sims Wiki admins enforce it?

Most matters of ToU enforcement are handled by Wikia Staff directly; local administrators and bureaucrats typically only enforce the wiki's own policies. However, in the case of age violations, the administrators here have chosen to take a proactive approach. The reasoning for this is two-fold. First, it is unknown what action if any Wikia could take against administrators who knowingly allowed underage users to edit on the wiki. But, the main motivation for doing this is to protect the underage users. It is standard practice for Wikia to permanently disable underage accounts once discovered. By comparison, our local administrative practice is to block the users for a year. That way, after the block expires the user can return to editing without losing their earned rights, edits, reputation, etc.

Is The Sims Wiki affected by Wikia's recent COPPA actions?

Fortunately, Wikia's actions in enforcing COPPA do not affect The Sims Wiki, as of yet. Be mindful that this higher enforcement may some day spill over to this wiki, though there is no reason at this point in time to assume that it will.

Points to consider

The new attention being paid to COPPA and Wikia's ToU make it worth reiterating the following points:

  • It is against Wikia rules to be a member of Wikia while under the age of 13.
  • If you are discovered to be underage by a member of The Sims Wiki administrative team, you will be blocked.
    • This can include stating your age in Chat or the IRC Channel, stating your age on your user page, on a blog, or anywhere else on The Sims Wiki.
  • Wiki administrators will not pursue those suspected of being underage unless there is proof of this fact.

All this is to lead to one inevitable conclusion, a so-called golden rule:

Do not talk about your age (especially if you are underage) and do not "out" other users as being underage. This includes on the wiki Chat and IRC channel. If TSW admins are made aware of a user being underage, we are obligated to act on the matter.

If you have any questions about this particular policy, please seek out an administrator.

-- LostInRiverview talk ~ blog 17:24, June 24, 2013 (UTC)