Normally the Crat Corner is used to present a short list of issues that have come up or general things to make everyone aware of. This time, a major issue came up today that affects a large number of the people who come to this wiki.
In about a week, Wikia is going to change it so that you have to have an account in order to edit here. Any wiki where young kids are likely to go is going to require an account. For example, the Club Penguin Wiki and the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Wiki are two others that were notified today.
Wikia is doing this to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This U.S. law has been around since 1998, but there's some changes that go into effect July 1st. Basically, it defines what information a company can collect from people who are under 13 years of age when they go to a website. If you're younger than 13, you have to get your parent's permission to give out that kind of info. Other countries typically have similar laws, but because Wikia is located in the U.S., they're going by the U.S. version.
The problem companies face is that they have to be ready to prove that they have verified that each person who comes to their website is 13 or older, and prove that they have verified that younger people have officially been given permission by their parent(s) or guardian(s).
That kind of record-keeping is expensive and time-consuming. Big companies can afford it. Smaller companies can't. Wikia is a smaller company, so they have decided that requiring people to sign up for an account is a way of complying with that law. During the sign-up process, you have to provide your birthdate.
10 last days of summer vacation
As mentioned before, you will need to have an account to edit here. If you don't have one or don't sign in, you can still read pages. I'm not sure if you'll still be able to vote in a poll if you don't have an account.
You need to take the time to sign up for an account now. Wikia will have some more details on Monday as to what will happen and when. The law is updated on July 1st, but Wikia might make changes before then. That's only 10 days from now.
To create an account, click on the "Sign up" link at the top of any page, to the right of the "Video Games / Entertainment / Lifestyle" menus. During the sign-up process, the last line is the "Blurry Word". That's there to make it harder for spambots to create accounts. If you can't figure out what the word is supposed to be, refresh the web page to get a new word.
Skirting the issue
When you sign up for an account, you will need to enter your birthdate. If you weren't born in June 2000 or earlier, you won't be allowed to create an account.
Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "I'll just say that I'm 13 years old even though I'm younger than that." Please don't. Even though you might feel that a small fib won't hurt anyone so that you can keep editing here, it could wind up hurting a lot of people if it got Wikia in trouble because of it. As in, shutting down wikis or going out of business.
And besides, Phineas wouldn't want you to lie, either.
We have tried to be a bit more flexible in our policies with how we handle under-age members. But now we can no longer do that. Those policies will have to be updated to make sure they match what Wikia is doing.
If you didn't tell the truth about what your age is when you created your account and we find out about it, we might put a block on your account until you turn 13. We will probably just note this as "under age" for the block reason. Once you're 13, you'll be welcome to start editing again. Note: Wikia does not require admins to set blocks, just to notify them, so whether or not we set a block will need to be decided on shortly.
Keep calm, register and edit on
A lot of people are going to get mad about this. But before you start yelling at Wikia, keep these things in mind:
- COPPA has been around for 13 years, with some updates this year, so it's not something that was created recently.
- If Wikia did not take these steps, they risk fines or lawsuits. This helps protect them so that they can keep wikis available that we like and can use for free.
Odds 'n' Ends
- There's actually new stuff to buy. The merchandise review returns next issue.
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- Get ready. The next round of voting for a featured article begins next month.