A relatively understudied bias on Wikipedia relates to the representation of older editors and their respective fields of interest. Data on this topic are quite scarce. A 2012 Editor survey reported around 7% of editors were 65 or older. While the proportion of the world population aged 65 and above in 2012 was 7.8%, this figure varies enormously between countries. For the survey sample this figure was about 15% - that is, twice as high as the percentage of 65+ editors. Unfortunately, although studies on technology use by seniors indicate a steady growth in their online engagement (e.g., in the U.S.A, the Pew Research Center reports in 2014 and 2017), we don't have any recent data on whether this translates into reducing the under-representation of this group on Wikipedia.
In 2017 Wikimedia Israel launched a Wikipedia training program for retired senior citizens. Nowadays, many retired people have years of experience in working with computers, are educated and knowledgeable with long-standing experience in various fields, and often have plenty of free time. Many of them serve as volunteers in various environments to enrich their experience, fill their spare time and sometimes also to combat their loneliness. In this course, we put special emphasis on the fact that Wikipedia editing was not merely part of the information revolution and a contribution to one of the most influential collaborative projects, but also an opportunity for social interaction and entering the wider community of Wikipedia editors.
In this talk I will describe our approach to working with this group, the results and successes of the first year of the project, as well as the limitations and problems encountered. I'll discuss the lessons we learned, and the changes that are implemented in the project's second year.
Attendees can learn how to design a training program to a group that is under-represented in the community. It could be senior citizens, but may also apply to other groups that are less computer literate than the average. Practical tools for screening candidates will be presented and discussed.