I've just noticed that moderators are required to be at least 18 years old (the very bottom of the page). How do they prove this? Do they have to send the image of a national identity document issued by their country? I thought that SE users, moderators included, are allowed to remain anonymous if they wanted (a somewhat similar discussion took place in 2014).

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    $\begingroup$ It seems that the text you're referring to that appears at "the very bottom of the [election] page" is only visible to those with enough reputation to nominate themselves. For everyone else, here's the official announcement regarding the raising of the minimum age for moderators to 18 years on Meta Stack Exchange: Is there a minimum age for Community Moderators on Stack Exchange? $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2021 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ There's little a mods can do, even though they might want to do something. And ditto for SE CMs. Unless someone was sloppy and mentioned their age in chat or anywhere else, there's no way anyone can know what their age is. It's mostly a trust in user's good faith. Unfortunately that has led to preventable abuses on this site, with respect to things left to users self monitoring. The only ones who mess up and get punished, are the less clever, or those that have not formerly been sanctioned. So in fact, Stack Exchange Enables clever violators to continue to violate with more clever hacks. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Nov 8, 2021 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's more of a we waive liability, you tell us you're 18+ so we are alright with the law, I don't think you need to prove that you're 18 just confirm it. $\endgroup$
    – kingW3
    Nov 8, 2021 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ IMHO age does not matter here $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2021 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ I think it does matter. So then, @kingW3, what else is posted to waive liability? I don't like arbitrary enforcement; it explains targeted enforcement away. This no longer works for US police forces; at least in some cases. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Nov 8, 2021 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ @the_candyman I very much disagree. I think that age does matter. Yes, I am sure that we can all come up with examples of mature 15 year olds, and equally compelling examples of immature 47 year olds. However, as a matter of statistics, age is highly correlated with maturity, and so is a reasonable proxy for maturity. An older person is more likely to have had more interactions with people in a professional environment, is more likely to have had to have acted as an authority at some point, has a larger repertoire of interpersonal skills, and so on. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Nov 8, 2021 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ Note that "being a skilled mathematician" is entirely orthogonal to "being a moderator on Math SE". There are times when it is better for a moderator to know mathematics, but the relevant skills to the job are people skills, which generally develop with age. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Nov 8, 2021 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ How does this question earn 14 net upvotes? The comments discuss primarily the-candyman's claim. It has little to do with the upcoming election. @AlexM., Why does SE require users to be 13 years old? I respect responses to the-candyman, which were needed to set the record straight. But heck, I don't get the upvotes, given the time posted, about a small disclaimer at the bottom of the page, required by law. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Nov 10, 2021 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ In fact, there are compelling examples of immature 61 year olds on this site. $\endgroup$
    – copper.hat
    Nov 10, 2021 at 6:16
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    $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson As an extremely compelling example of an immature 47 year old, I resemble that statement. $\endgroup$
    – Deepak
    Nov 12, 2021 at 2:44
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    $\begingroup$ @copper.hat: there are compelling examples of immature 61 year olds on this site --- That was a close call! Thank goodness I just turned 63, so I can't be one of the people you're thinking of. $\endgroup$ Nov 21, 2021 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ We have to trust them. Even though I am not free of guilt: I admit to have lied many times a few years ago about this topic. Just not on MathStackExchange. $\endgroup$
    – tommy1996q
    Nov 21, 2021 at 18:07

1 Answer 1


We don't.

The 18+ rule is likely mostly to cover legal bases for SE itself, due to laws surrounding Personally Identifiable Information (PII) access. We are not required to submit any formal proof that we are 18 (like you said, that would require revealing our real identities, which is not required in any way) but it is part of the agreement that we are bound to - it's a system of trust.

To address some of the comments - kingW3, you're right. SE does make us confirm that we are 18, so if it turns out a mod isn't 18, it's not SE's fault for not making that a requirement or not making it clear. However, we don't have to show a passport or birth certificate or anything like that.

the_candyman, age actually does matter. Not only do you have to be 18 to be a moderator, but you have to be 13 to use SE. I found out the hard way how seriously they take it. My account was deleted for being underage because I offhandedly mentioned creating my SO account when I was 12... I was almost 15 at the time. They take it quite seriously. (To clarify, this was a mistake on SE's part, because they misunderstood me as saying I was still underage. The point is that it's illegal to store underage children's PII so if they don't find out and you turn 13, you're fine afterwards. I'm just saying it's taken seriously here.)

And in case you meant that age does not imply maturity, that's correct, although in addition to Xander's comment that age is, of course, very strongly correlated with maturity, it's a legal matter too. I can access some PII of users in chat and on my site and that ability can only be handed to me under certain legal restrictions (I believe largely due to the General Data Protection Regulation, a European privacy-protection policy). As someone older than 18, I am legally an adult, and thus have the legal accountability of an adult, which means age does matter. Same goes for the 13-year-old age restriction to use the site - it's to comply with the US Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

amWhy, a lot of things here are unfortunately unenforceable, like kingW3 said - some of the moderator agreement is entirely based on trust and things like PII access, while logged by the company, is still something they can't really bind us to be unable to share because I am not a puppet of SE. This is all part of the user agreement and ToS - volunteer moderation is what keeps the site running but with that comes its risks, and it's up to each user that signs up to accept the risk of trusting people like me, a random nobody on the internet.

I'm not sure where the rest of the comments in the argument are going, so I won't bother to respond to them. All I'll say is this - we are only moderators because we were elected by people in our community who trust us, or appointed by CMs who trust us (in the case of pro-tempore moderators). The entire system itself is built on trust. If you cannot trust any of us, SE isn't the site for you.

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    $\begingroup$ So, if a moderator agreement is violated due to age constraints, will that cause the moderator to be fired? $\endgroup$
    – user21820
    Nov 10, 2021 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ @user21820 Yes. It's the same as if someone were to violate the moderator agreement for any other reason too. I believe when this policy was first created at least one moderator was removed due to the age restriction increase, though there is the option to go through reinstatement once they turn 18 again. $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2021 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ Ok thanks for confirming! (You can delete this comment.) $\endgroup$
    – user21820
    Nov 10, 2021 at 20:47

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