Are there any good 'junior versions' of Metafilter?
January 7, 2011 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Are there any good 'junior versions' of Metafilter?

I have a child who, while quite mature for her age and wanting to follow Metafilter, is probably not ready for the blue or green. I've advised her to lurk for awhile and discuss anything that interests her with her mother or I. In the meantime though, I'm curious - anything resembling Mefi out there for those not old enough to be cynical and world-weary yet?

I should say at the outset I'm thinking of sites where issues or news stories or links are discussed, not sites with games or fashion tips.

posted by stinkycheese to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's kinda hard to imagine a sorta kid-oriented community like metafilter. Part of the problem is that the time between "old enough to read" and "old enough to use metafilter" is short enough that the turnover in the community would be lightning fast. As an early teenager I spent a lot of time on some venerable old BBSes (see my comment here) and had a fabulous time. Having access to the minds of thoughtful adults when you're growing up is very empowering. Unfortunately that vibe seems to be hard to find these days. Something Awful has some great forums, but it's even less kid appropriate.

Maybe shoot Danah Boyd an email and see if she has any great ideas? If anyone knows where the nerdy kids are bumping into adults these days, it's her.
posted by pjaust at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2011

Oh, man, I would love something like MeFiJr for my kid(s). Though I imagine it might be particularly hellish to moderate...
posted by mothershock at 1:35 PM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

It is particularly hellish to moderate. Anything aimed at kids under 13, in particular, is hemmed in by legal issues as well as ethical ones. You'll actually find few forums even available for kids under thirteen because of COPPA - no one wants to screw something up and get stomped by the Feds.

How old is your kid?
posted by restless_nomad at 1:42 PM on January 7, 2011

Response by poster: She's about to turn 11 but reads at a much higher level. Basically, I'm discussing issues I'm reading about on Metafilter with her more or less daily now, and she wants to start reading the online discussions herself. I worry more about the overall tone than anything else; I don't need her getting jaded or blasé any faster than she already is!

We're in Canada so COPPA does not apply.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:53 PM on January 7, 2011

You'll have to look at Canadian-based sites then, is the thing - COPPA isn't pointed at users, it's pointed at providers.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:59 PM on January 7, 2011

I know MetaFilter has some younger users, but I want to say 15 or so is the low end.

The fun thing about MetaFilter is that it's not focused on one topic. But if your daughter is looking for some topical, youthful discussions, she might have better luck than a catch-all site like Mefi.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:32 PM on January 7, 2011

Best answer: My son has hung out at GameFAQs since he was about 14. The non-game boards are here. It seems to be well-moderated.
posted by lukemeister at 3:57 PM on January 7, 2011

Best answer: I learned how to make friends hanging out in Harry Potter fandom around that age and I'm not too emotionally scarred, but fandom isn't gonna have the adult level of discourse that we have here. It is, however, much more likely to be accepting of females than more male-dominated sites. Same goes for art/fiction/poetry sites like DeviantArt and sites like Gaia. The communities that form around roleplaying on livejournal tend to be pretty good too, and the people I've interacted with on those have always been really friendly to me and willing to teach me when I'm lost on the rules/etiquette.

That's assuming she's looking for community, though, and not content. Content-wise, I think BoingBoing is pretty teen/tween-friendly most of the time, it has a lot of the same "look at this cool thing!" that mefi says and less "look at this cool thing to distract you from the crushing despair of your meaningless existence, now look at how terrible things are sometimes". You might also want to set her up with an RSS catcher (if she doesn't know how to do that already) with the blogs of people she's interested in, or help her follow them on Twitter. (Again, she might do this or know how to do this already.) Almost every author who keeps a blog is pretty great; that'd be a good place to start. Does she read Tamora Pierce? 'Cause if she does send her to her site, because she is fabulous. Do not be thrown off by the terrible, awful color choices that were probably chosen in the mid nineties. Does she like to write? If so doing NaNoWriMo and hanging out on the Youth boards would probably be fun times. (I started doing that around 15, before they had youth programs, and now there's a ton more support for people under 18 'round those parts.)

Honestly, the version of AskMe for 11 year olds is Yahoo Answers. I think you are doing her a great service by providing her alternatives to that, because once when I was around 12 I got in a conversation with a stranger in an AIM chatroom who claimed she had sex with her dog and wanted to know if she could get pregnant and so I asked Yahoo Answers and I narrowly escaped being a "how is babby formed" meme because I don't think anyone noticed it. You know how you're like, I want my kid to learn about sex/life/drugs/whatever from me, and not on the street? Yahoo Answers is the street. (4chan is also the street but it is the sketchier street, or possibly the sewer.)
posted by NoraReed at 5:01 PM on January 7, 2011

My youngest has been (sporadically) on Metafilter since he was about eleven, lots of other sites too of course. Doesnt seem to have caused any damage. But any other suggestions would be welcome - though he is rather particular.
posted by jan murray at 5:05 PM on January 7, 2011

re: gamefaqs

You have to be 13 or they will ban you. She could easily still participate there but never self identify as younger than 13 or she will get banned.

A few of the non-game boards seem to be particularly juvenile. The PC Hardware board skews older for the site but there are still tons of teenage users.
posted by utsutsu at 11:57 PM on January 7, 2011

When I was a teenager, I spent some time at

Back then, it was mainly forums, and the quality of the discussion was similar to what you'd want if you were an intelligent and curious tween or young teen. Now it looks like they've added a lot more stuff to the site, and I'm not sure if forums are the main focus anymore or how active or interesting the community is.

Another thing that seems to have changed is that there's a lot of advertising, and most of it is of the OMG TEEN GIRL SQUAD variety. Not sure what your stance is on that sort of thing, but it's a notable difference between MeFi and gURL.

But if it's anything like it used to be, I highly recommend it for your daughter.
posted by Sara C. at 12:30 AM on January 8, 2011

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