Age-Verification on Alcohol-Related Websites In Bo...

Age-Verification on Alcohol-Related Websites In Both Micro-Stupid and Macro-Stupid

I hate stupidity.
Not real stupidity, of course. Not “Bless his heart, if the poor boy could read the word ‘pull’, he’d be home to Momma by now,” stupidity. Someone who’s not very smart or educated and just trying to get though life deserves a smile, and a little help, which together makes the world a better place.
No, today I want to rant about willful stupidity. The kind of stupidity where the perpetrators are not stupid, yet only someone who genuinely is stupid could possibly fail to recognize the utter stupidity of the situation.

The specific stupidity I’m pissed at today is the process of age “verification” on the internet by companies that sell alcoholic beverages. Not only is it stupid, it is what I call Full-Spectrum Stupid. It is stupid on every level from the practice itself, to the industry, to government, all the way up to an inescapable indictment of our entire society for first-degree stupidity.

Well now!
Aren’t you the grumpy old man today!

Get off of my lawn! But allow me to elaborate first.

To begin with, the entire idea of age-verification for alcohol sites, etc. is ridiculous. Remember, on the internet, no one knows you are a dog. How can they possibly expect to know if you are 21? (The 21 year old drinking age is another issue that I deal with less angrily elsewhere.) When he was 16, Matthew Broderick nearly started World War III to impress a girl. He couldn’t slip past Brown-Foreman’s crack age check web team?

Not to contribute to the general lawlessness of the Anonymous web hackers group, but here’s the highly-complex hack that you can employ to break their iron-clad security: Enter 1970 in the year field, instead of your actual birth year, and you are right in there, little Timmy! You are free to wander the Woodbridge Reserve website and obtain all the intoxicants you want, but are too young to legally….

Oh yeah….

It is also stupid because you can’t get any booze from these websites! When Steve Jobs starts doing his inevitable keynotes from beyond the grave via iSeance, and introduces the new FireSpout port on Macintoshes that lets you dispense bourbon via the world wide web, come talk to me.

But it still might be a good idea to keep younger web surfers from exposure to booze and booze-related ideas….
No sense is offering the temptation, right?

My God! You are my friggin’ sockpuppet, Guy! How can you be so stupid?
What chance is there of a 15 year old boy bumping into the Effen Vodka website, unless he already pretty much was thinking about booze to begin with? Sure, perhaps his hitherto unblemished and pristine mind found itself at the Tuaca website by following a link at this blog, which he found by searching for “naked supermodel bodypaint” on Google, but the kid was already thinking of booze before he reached the maker, and the iron-clad security of age-verification is unlikely to wipe his mind of the contamination.

Well, it does show a commitment to not advertise to minors, at least.

Uh huh. As my Twitter bud, Andrew Hall observed, I must have missed the age-verification shutters on the gigantic, 3D, Three Olives billboards in downtown Columbus. Or the part where they ask the kids to leave the room during the Packers game while they advertise Budweiser.

Oh, I’ll send you a message alright….

So to sum, Age-Verification as generally done is stupid on its face. It doesn’t work. If it did work, it would accomplish nothing. And it wastes my time.

Even if you at least put the effort into making it seem a bit entertaining, it still sucks.

And the whole industry does this, to one extent or another! An entire industry merrily pisses off their entire customer base as if they are required by law to do so. And it is not required by law, folks.

Maybe not yet, but I’m sure their lawyers tell them they should anyway, just to cover their asses.

Whose asses? The companies’ or the lawyers’?
And besides, the whole legal indistry is showing its stupidity here. Half the lawyers out there have been trained to inflict financial pain on people and companies who not only do stupid things, but who don’t do stupid things (like waste time and energy on systems that demonstrably don’t work as nothing but lawyer repellant). The other half of lawyers are trained to sit around and think up the lawyer repellant. But they also sit around (billably) researching what lawyer repellants have been thought of by other lawyers, lest the first half of the lawyers do this:

And both halves convince themselves that all this isn’t stupid because they have to find a way to pay off the ridiculously over-priced education they took out student loans to get.

And of course, our government is stupid here, too. Sure, they haven’t mandated these age-verification screens. Yet. But they do “suggest” them….

When the government suggests things in this way, aren’t they kinda acting like the Mob suggesting that you’ve got a nice apartment building there, and you should buy insurance for it?

Exactly. Except the government has more guns. And worse, more lawyers.

Every congress-critter and senior bureaucrat thinks he has to “accomplish” things regularly to justify his exorbitant salary and opportunities for graft. And since there are only so many legitimate, non-stupid things for government to do in the first place….
Take your stupid somewhere else, boys. We are fully. stocked.

But the biggest stupidity here is displayed by…

We allow all of these stupidities to go on. We put up with this crap every day, and countless other stupidities as well. We don’t mock, ridicule, and otherwise punish this sort of stupidity anymore. We shrug our shoulders and stupidly go on with our lives.
God help me, but I usually give my actual birth date when I hit verification screens. I voluntarily give information out over the web that could be valuable in some small way to identity thieves and other miscreants.

Sounds to me like you are pretty stupid too…

Didn’t I tell you to get off my lawn?


  1. Jordan

    9 December

    At the least, it’d be nice if they switched to a “Are you 21? Yes/No” system, which still gives them plausible deniability while being a whole lot less annoying.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  2. jellydonut

    9 December


    some sites do that, and I digitally hug them when I come across them.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  3. Doug

    9 December

    I had a whole section of this rant that discussed the few, glorious but still stupid, companies that at least just ask right out. But it is still just as stupid, for the obvious reason that it is even easier to defeat a yes/no question.

    Also, if you read the link to the government “suggestions”, you’ll see that the bureaucrats don’t countenance this “solution”. Apparently they can’t trust a person to calculate their own age—You have to give them the date and let the system calculate if you are of age….

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  4. Frederic

    18 December

    Sometimes, it’s worth clicking that you aren’t 21. Like here:

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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