A father asked me if this site is appropriate for children considering the fact that oftentimes incorrect answers are being posted. Children are very impressionable and as Chazal tell us, Shabeshtah, Kavun D'ul, Ul. , a mistake, once it takes hold, it stays. I understand that in theory, given the guideline of providing sources for the answers there shouldn't be mistaken answers, but we cannot control this. So what do you think?
I think it depends on the child and is entirely up to the parents' judgement, consistent with their general policies on Internet access and on Halacha learning (1). Hopefully, all parents these days are teaching their kids not to believe everything they read on the Internet (or in real life for that matter) and skills for gauging the credibility of information.
Of course, one option available would be for the parents to participate here as well and pay attention to what their kids are participating in and to topics that their kids might be reading about, so that the parents can provide correction (publicly or privately) in areas that need it.
I do hope that people understand the responsibility they take on themselves when they write an answer (or even a question) in public. You never know who's going to read it (child or adult, Jewishly experienced or not), but the better job you do at making it accurate, humble, well-backed-up by sources, and clear, the better chance that they will come away enlightened rather than confused.
"Scholars, be careful with your words!" - Avtalyon, in Avot 1:11
1) As I've mentioned before, formal Torah classes can also give people the wrong impression or prompt them to action that may not be appropriate for them. And, the authority status of the teacher makes these impressions potentially stronger.
2) As an aside, I've gotten a little excited about mi.yodeya's utility as a kosher place on the Internet for young Jews to frequent:
- Lots of Torah learning.
- Engages their curiosity.
- Highly interactive, almost in real-time.
- Dignifies simple questions with serious answers from serious, smart people.
- Practical education in clear writing and web interaction.
- Moderated for content, but not heavy-handedly.
- There are no private spaces. No private messaging. No sharing of contact info. No yichud. Every interaction here is visible to parents and the public.
I think that if a child goes on this web site, he should be accompanied by a learned adult who can guide him through the right answers & questions.