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Submissions/How to motivate older people to become active Wikipedians?

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission
How to motivate older people to become active Wikipedians?
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Beat Estermann, Patrick Kenel, Elly Köpf, Jan Ainali
E-mail address
User:Beat Estermann, User:Pakeha, m:User:Elly Koepf (WMDE)
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)

Beat Estermann: Bern University of Applied Sciences / Project TAO (Third Age Online)

Patrick Kenel: Wikimedia CH / Project TAO (Third Age Online)

Elly Köpf: Wikimedia Germany

Jan Ainali: Wikimedia Sweden

Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Older people are still strongly under-represented among Wikipedia contributors, although we can assume that they represent a very valuable volunteer force:

  • Many of them have knowledge and experiences which they could contribute
  • Many of them don’t rely on paid work to earn their living, so they have time for a hobby – why not some activity in relation to Wikipedia or its sister projects?
  • They tend to engage in volunteer activities in a long term perspective
  • They are slower to enter the web2.0 world than the younger generations, but data indicate that those who have entered it are as likely to contribute as younger people
  • They use Wikipedia as an information source themselves

After a first introduction to the project TAO (Third Age Online) at Wikimania 2011 in Haifa, where we presented preliminary results and gathered feedback from the community, we will present various approaches that have been employed by Wikipedians and/or Wikimedia chapters to attract more older people to Wikipedia and its sister projects:

  • Project “Silberwissen” (Silver Knowledge) conducted by Wikimedia Deutschland
  • Different approaches to reach out to older people in the context of the Wiki Loves Monuments photo contest
  • Strategic partnerships with seniors organizations
  • and possibly others

Furthermore, we will shortly introduce the workshop participants to our Wikiversity project that serves the development of a handbook targeted at online community members, representatives of community providers, and consultants intending to take actions to reach out to older people. The handbook is being realized in form of a digital, rolling document embedded in a Community of Practice.

The second half of the workshop will be dedicated to group working sessions where we would like to learn from different stakeholders how they react to the approaches that have been presented, whether and in what way they could imagine getting engaged in similar actions, what challenges and opportunities they see, and what kind of support from the TAO project partners would be welcome.

Main target publics of the workshop:

  • People interested in taking action to motivate older people to get engaged with Wikipedia and its sister projects
  • Representatives of chapters interested in engaging in outreach activities directed at older people
  • Members of the community who have a particular interest in the topic

WikiCulture and Community

Length of presentation/talk

70 min in total:

  • 30 min: Short input presentations
  • 5 min: Introduction into the workshop part
  • 20 min: Group workshops (possibly in 3 groups)
  • 15 min: Gathering of results and wrap up

Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Don’t know yet.
Slides or further information (optional)

Slides of the Presentation (stripped of some images, CC-by-sa)

Project website: www.thirdageonline.eu

Overview of Wikimedia/Wikipedia seniors outreach (Wikiversity)

Notes from the workshop session

Group A: "I’m a Wikipedian/Wikimedian and I want to reach out to older adults. What approach would I choose? What inputs/support do I need from the project TAO, my chapter, other volunteers, etc.? How can I get the support?"

  • Work in Community Service
  • As a way to connect to others in online communities
  • Share what they are doing with others; share values
  • Target elder students who enroll in college/University
  • Multipliers: contact current computer course instructors

Group B: "Bringing seniors outreach on a chapter’s agenda: What are the challenges? / What are possible solutions?"

  • Editing Training @ GLAM
  • Be clear on what the purpose is
  • Provide computers (preferably not laptops)
  • Register users before!
  • Use demographically similar trainers!
  • Provide general IT-Training
  • Budget for these kind of activities
  • Try to get government money to bridge “the digital gap”
  • Apply for EU funds, e.g. Grundtvig programme
  • Lack of volunteers !
  • Act as a partner
  • How to scale up?
  • Start with the groups that already are “digital”
  • Get people back to work programs
  • Full time employee to find funding pays off!
  • Train the trainers in already existing universities in the third age

Group C: "What are the major pitfalls in reaching out to «seniors»? How can we avoid them? / What would be great opportunities to reach out to «seniors»?"

  • Interest: retired persons / of organisations
  • Knowing about WP
  • Used to giving speeches
  • As simple as you can!
  • Not being condescending (one level)
  • Giving them time
  • Pictures – stories
  • AARP (US)

Special request as to time of presentations

Interested attendees

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  1. Carolmooredc (talk) 19:05, 16 March 2012 (UTC) We oldsters must be put to work![reply]
  2. the wub "?!"
  3. GastelEtzwane (talk) 23:28, 18 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. odder (talk) 00:55, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Lvova (talk) 09:48, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Zellfaze (talk) 18:40, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  7. --Jrgoma (talk) 11:03, 21 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  8. SarahStierch (talk) 20:41, 21 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  9. C.R.Selvakumar (talk) 19:44, 22 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Airwolf (talk) 19:44, 22 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  11. I would promote this on Third Age University if I were you. Psychology (talk) 15:34, 24 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Graham87 (talk) 12:43, 31 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  13. Johnbod (talk) 13:23, 25 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  14. SupaplexTW (talk) 02:01, 2 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  15. --Chmee2 (talk) 13:15, 2 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  16. JoBaWik (talk) 12:34, 17 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  17. Polimerek (talk) 11:39, 20 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  18. Kudpung (talk) 15:32, 30 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  19. Doctree (talk) 20:49, 9 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  20. Vini 175 (talk) 20:35, 12 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  21. Carol Bean
  22. Mlangfeld (talk) 06:30, 14 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  23. Your name here!