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Grants:IEG/Senior Citizens Write Wikipedia

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Senior Citizens Write Wikipedia

project contact:







A pilot program designed to engage more senior citizens into the Czech Wikipedia.

engagement target:

Czech Wikipedia

strategic priority:

Improving Quality, Increasing Participation

total amount requested:

160000 CZK (~8000 USD)

2014 round 1

Project idea


What is the problem you're trying to solve?

Wikipedia is a living entity in need of a constant flow od new editors. English Wikipedia has seen a decline in active editors in recent years and Czech Wikipedia has reached a moreless steady phase recently. To counteract this problem, several initiatives have been started in the Czech environment, including a successful student education program called Students Write Wikipedia (Studenti píší Wikipedii). This program was founded by Vojtěch Dostál in 2011 and aimes at students. However, students are only a limited target group of potential Wikipedia editors and, moreover, usually stop editing Wikipedia as soon as they finish their coursework. At the same time, there is a substantial pool of potential Wikipedia editors and have enough free time, i.e., senior citizens.

What is your solution?

Senior Citizens Write Wikipedia (Senioři píší Wikipedii), abbrev. as SCWW, is a Czech initiative aimed at senior citizens (usually retired citizens) and started in December 2013. One of the first impulses was a lecture given by prof. Jan Sokol on the 2013 Czech Wikiconference; professor Sokol is a politically active person, a long-time Wikipedian and an advisor for the SCWW team. Vojtěch Veselý wants to put their ideas into practice and Vojtěch Dostál, who is behind Students Write Wikipedia program, is willing to help. SCWW Team has already contacted several senior centers and 'Third Age' universities and they expressed their immediate interest.
We have learnt a lesson from the German Silberwissen project and also spoke to several people from the various Education programs of the Wikimedia movement. The project itself should concentrate on senior people who can already work with PC - there is a growing number of elderly people skilled in computers and Internet. These are predominantly gathering in senior PC centers. Several lectures will be organized in different senior institutions to find even more ways of engaging this group of people into Wikipedia. One of the target groups are retired professors - highly skilled people with a will to contribute their knowledge to a wider audience - and we have contacted experts from the Academy of Sciences to choose the best ways of engaging these. Overall, we believe that our expertise from the Education programs and our established contacts could kick off a viable project that could serve as inspiration to other language versions of Wikipedia.

Project goals

This is a pilot project aiming to reach out to senior citizens new potential editors of Wikipedia. The goal of the project is to establish Wikipedia courses for the senior citizens of Prague, organize several independent lectures in various places and also reach out to a group we call the 'retired professors'.

Project plan






The project is conceived as an experiment to determine the best way of reaching out to senior citizens and teaching them to edit Wikipedia. All the workshops require established contacts with various institutions; a majority of these contacts have already been made to make sure that the project will not fail completely. This is a list of sub-projects that are planned to take place:

  • A weekly Wikipedia workshop in the Elpida senior center in Prague-Pankrác. This is probably the largest club of this kind in Prague and there is a mutual will to organize weekly workshops there, using the huge audience of several thousands senior citizens reading their regular newsletter. We will rely on a personal attitude and a friendly contact across the generations.
  • Regular Wikipedia seminars at the 'Third Age University' at the Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague. This is an already established learning system for the 'third age', i.e., senior citizens, who come in large numbers to attend various lectures and courses. A Wikipedia course will be prepared as a part of this project.
  • Independent events such as lectures in the library (which actually may also take a form of a regular workshop (currently in discussion) but also in other places (universities) in and outside of Prague. Professor Sokol as a well-known authority has promised to lead several such lectures and is likely to attract considerable audience; other lectures will be carried out by the grantee.
  • A system to engage senior (retired) university or high school professors. We want to directly speak to or write to retired professors and, first, draw their attention to specific articles from their area of interest. They would then give us a feedback and we would guide them to slowly embrace Wikipedia and start actively proofreading it. This sub-project is planned to use the web of contacts that is still present among the professors themselves, asking them to reach out to their colleagues and organizing small events for them.

The additional activities will include:

  • Designing a new Wikipedia brochure oriented at senior citizens (named "Jan Sokol to Senior Citizens About Wikipedia") and preparing a small leaflet and a banner. The Wikimedia Czech Republic chapter can provide highly skilled volunteers to look after the graphic design.
  • Reporting on the progress of the project to the Foundation and to the Czech Wikipedia/Wikimedia community.
  • Public relations (giving interviews to newspapers and radio) and a cheap and efficient media & social sites campaign (social sites enable the use of a directed advertisement for age groups).



Total amount requested

160 000 CZK (about 8000 USD)

Budget breakdown

Item Cost (CZK) Cost (USD)
Handout leaflets 20 000 1 000
Brochures 10 000 500
A3-size posters 2 000 100
Targeted advertisement
such as boosting posts on Facebook
4 800 240
Rent of a computer lab for weekly events 55 000 2 750
Project management (15% income tax included)
The grantee will work as the project manager, lecturer and mentor
66 000 3 300
Travel expenses 1 000 50
Phone receipts 1 200 60
Sum 160 000 8 000

Intended impact


Target audience

The project is specifically targeted to the Czech Wikipedia community and will involve improvement of Czech Wikipedia content through article writing by senior volunteers. The most obvious target is thus the Czech Wikipedia and its readers. However, it will also benefit a broader Wikimedia community by hopefully providing a working example of a "senior Wikipedia Education program".

Community engagement

Czech Wikimedia projects have always been highly involving the broader Wikipedian community as the number of Wikimedian volunteers (such as chapter members) is limited in the Czech environment. This has been a case of a highly successful Mediagrant (for Wikimedia Commons contributors) but also the Students Write Wikipedia program (with many Wikipedians becoming instructors or online volunteers). We are counting on a full support of the Czech community in our efforts, also thanks to a natural respect felt to professor Sokol, who is an advisor for the senior program and has spoken publicly about it several times (including the Czech TV). The idea behind 'education programs' is well-known in the Czech Wikipedia community and we hope we will receive their support, including the guidance of newcomers and technical help with the program.

Fit with strategy

Increasing participation on Czech Wikimedia projects and improving their quality.


From our experience, the project management is most demanding in the first months to one year after the kick-off. This was the case with Students Write Wikipedia, which currently are fairly sustainable without any paid staff and cover their expenses through a PEG grant. We believe that the senior program will be successful in its goals and show us the directions it could take in the next term. We will then consider running it either as a volunteer-based project or seek other ways of funding it, such as through a direct Wikimedia CZ chapter support.

Measures of success


Need target-setting tips?

  • At least 30-50 seniors attending regular courses;
  • several hundred (200+) senior citizens having attended at least one of the events;
  • several dozens of contacted retired professors;
  • at least five new highly active senior Wikipedians to continue editing for at least next 6 months.


Vojtěch Veselý (formerly user Byrnjolf) is a Czech Wikipedian since 2008 and currently a student of History in Prague. In 2014 he attended the Czech WikiConference and became a member of Wikimedia Czech Republic. He then decided to concentrate on a senior citizen project and will work as a project manager and mentor of the Senior Citizen Write Wikipedia program.
Vojtěch Dostál is a Czech Wikipedian since 2007, an author of >1500 articles on Czech Wikipedia and a researcher in his professional life. He is a founder of the Czech Students Write Wikipedia program and thus has experience in organizing education projects of this type. He also serves as a board member of Wikimedia Czech Republic and is helping other volunteers to execute their projects and receive grants.
Jan Sokol is a Czech Wikipedian since 2007 and an author of >1300 articles on Czech Wikipedia. He was an active dissident in the Communist era and a lifelong philosopher by profession, then a presidential candidate in 2003. He has openly spoken about Wikipedia on many occasions and helped to established contacts for the Senior Citizens Write Wikipedia project. Being an active senior citizen himself, he was able to point out several peculiarities that needed to be taken into account when thinking about this project.



Community Notification


The first notification was a lecture given by prof. Jan Sokol on the 2013 Czech Wikiconference in November. We launched and introduced our project on Czech Wikipedia in December, and since that quite a few wikipedians have participated in discussions on our "lab" and talk pages and in email threds. Here is also a notification of our IEG proposal on Czech "Village Pump".



Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

  • Community member: add your name and rationale here.
  • Dominik Matus: I'm working on students project with Vojtěch Dostál and I think this new specific project has a future. Senior citizens have big experiences and a lot of knowledge, so we can give them an option to share their professional knowledge and experience with big community of Wikipedia by writing articles or by correcting mistakes in them. Only possible problem for senior citizens could be an ability to use a computer comprehensively. Senior citizens will learn something new and discover that Wikipedia is very usefull tool for mass of people which deserves to expand. --Dominikmatus (talk) 18:49, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Jindřich Nosek: I can see great potential of this project and will support it actively. There are about three million retired or physically handicapped people in the Czech Republic, some highly educated, capable to contribute significantly. Prof. Sokol is doing a great campaign to persuade seniors that contribution to Wikipedia is meaningful and can bring a personal satisfaction.--NoJin (talk) 09:42, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Support sounds like a great community outreach activity, harnessing a relatively-untapped talent pool. Stuartyeates (talk) 20:46, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong Support Wikipedia needs to diversify its editor base. This is a great project to combat Systematic Bias on Wikipedia. If this is accepted I think it would be fair to say we would want a full write-up of the challenges you faced and things you learned so that this can be replicated by others in the future. Zellfaze (talk) 14:08, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Certain endorse. This can be a great project, with the potential to address systemic bias issues that have largely been ignored so far. I've long believed that there are a vast number of potential editors in these age groups that we are failing to engage, and can only support any project that aims to address this. the wub "?!" 23:01, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Endorse. Given what these folks have been able to accomplish with students, and the movement-wide shortage of a well-planned, well-documented outreach to seniors, this is definitely worth funding. I have a lot of trust in the participants to be able to do this well.--Ragesoss (talk) 14:10, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Endorse. +1 to what Ragesoss said. Vojtěch Dostál was so enthusiastic and confident when he talked with me about this project in Prague. The WM.CZ guys are great contributors to our movement and just awesome people. If they're involved, I'm certain this project will be a success. Anna Koval (WMF) (talk) 21:44, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Endorse. In my view, this project could recruit just whom (Czech) Wikipedia needs – erudites and experts in their fields with spare time on their hands. Fully confident about the project team too. Littledogboy (talk) 12:16, 4 May 2014 (UTC)