While we make every effort to keep the Horse Forum family friendly, we have also always maintained that the community is for adults and young people who can conduct themselves maturely first and foremost. To that end, we have made several changes in response to members' recent feedback about the participation of younger members.
In a recent poll, roughly 2/3 of respondents indicated that they would like to see the Horse Forum be a community for members ages 15 and up. Members' chief complaints seemed to be that they would often find trivial or even nonsensical replies from younger members in threads warranting just the opposite, as well as threads of that nature started by younger members in substantive forums. The 1/3 of the community that did not want to see the age limit raised did not want to see younger members miss out on the opportunity to learn from and otherwise benefit from the experience of older, more experienced members, or to lose access to the less substantive forums many younger members enjoy. After giving everyone's feedback a lot of thought, we have come up with a solution that we believe addresses everyone's concerns in the least restrictive way possible.
1) Members who would like to see the Horse Forum be a community for members ages 15 and up can now effectively achieve just that by changing a setting in their User CP.
Simply visit your User CP, select Edit Details from the lefthand column, and set "Show threads started by members under 15" to "No", and threads by members under 15 (13 and 14 year olds) will no longer appear in forum listings, New Post searches, or other search results. Of course, that alone would not address the issue of members under 15 making unsubstantive replies in other members' threads in substantive forums. Therefore,
2) Members under 15 (13 and 14 year olds) can start threads in any forum (except the Saloon), and can add replies to their own threads as often as they like, but cannot reply to other members' threads in substantive forums.
Members who ask non-superficial questions or begin non-superficial discussions want non-superficial replies, and that goes for members under 15 as well. The typical 13 or 14 year old simply lacks the experience to provide the types of substantive replies members start their threads in order to receive, and unfortunately often lack the maturity to recognize as much.
Of course there are exceptions, and we are happy to make them when appropriate. If you believe you warrant an exemption because you are able to make substantive replies to other members' threads by virtue of your experience and maturity, please start a thread requesting an exemption in the Talk to the Team forum and tell us why you think so. Otherwise, you will be able to reply in all threads in every forum (other than The Saloon) once you turn 15.
In addition to being able to start a thread in any forum they want to and being able to reply in their own threads in substantive forums, members under 15 can reply to any thread in following forums:
- Horse Pictures
- Horse Videos
- Horse Artwork
- Art Requests
- Horse Contests
- Horse Stories and Poems
- Famous Horses
- Meet the Community
- Member Journals
- Horse Memorials
- Meet the Community
- Off Topic Discussion
- Jokes and Funnies
- Teen Talk
- Music, Movies, and TV
- Other Pets
- Using the horse forum
While members under 15 will undoubtedly be less than thrilled with being unable to reply to other members' threads in substantive areas of the site, we hope they will recognize the lengths we have gone to in order to address the concerns of the overwhelming majority of the community while at the same time ensuring they can continue to participate meaningfully. Again, if you are under 15 but believe you warrant an exemption because you are able to make substantive contributions to other members' threads on account of your experience and maturity, please start a thread in the Talk to the Team forum.
3) Members can now specify which forums they want to see appear in their New Posts list and exclude the ones they don't.
Members who want to exclude all threads from specific forums from appearing in their New posts lists can now do so by visiting Edit Options from their User CP and scrolling down to where it says 'Exclude forums from "Get New Posts"'. For example, if a member did not want their New Posts search to include threads and posts from the Teen Talk or Art Requests forum, they can now exclude those forums.
4) Members now must be at least 13 years old to register, without exception.
Our previous policy was to allow members we discovered to be under 13 to continue participating so long as we received a parent's consent, unless/until they proved too immature. However, by the time it became evident they were too immature, the proof was often scattered throughout the forum by way of a member's posts, and it likely had a deleterious impact on members' perceptions and/or enjoyment of the community. Children under 13 are more than welcome to read and learn from threads as guests, but they will have to wait until they are 13 to register.
Our hope is that these 4 changes result in even more of the intelligent horse related discussion the majority of members come here for, and enhance everyone's experience at the Horse Forum as a result.
The Horse Forum Team