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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Web Site ‘Entrance Exams’

Years ago I was working on a site that allowed users over 18 to register for things like competitions, and we discussed whether there were innovative ways we could deter kids from participating. Booze and porn sites commonly ask for date of birth to cover themselves, but is it possible to devise something that tests for adulthood, even allowing for silliness and limited accuracy? Are there any key facts or skills that most adults know and most kids don’t? We threw around daft ideas but failed to come up with anything even vaguely worthwhile.

A few months back I noticed the SportsFilter registration page, which vets new users by asking simple sport questions, slightly reducing both spam and idiocy in the comments. It’s not off-putting for the target audience, and is the first good example I can recall of a web site ‘entrance exam’; anyone spotted some others?

Update: the Leisure Suit Larry age questions mentioned in Dr. Detroit’s comment are a pre-web attempt at the kind of thing I had in mind.


The first Leisure Suit Larry game (from Sierra, about 20 years ago) asked questions about Gerald Ford, Elizabeth Taylor, etc. to prevent underage players. I dug around and found the game (fits on a single floppy; a 547k game) but couldn't make it run on XP, so I can't give any specific examples of the questions. Sorry.

— Dr. Detroit, 23rd Jul, 10:29am

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