Knowledge Equity Calendar/23

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Wikimedia Israel Senior Citizens editing course, summer 2018 - 1.jpg
Training seniors to edit Wikipedia – and contribute to more different points of view in the projects
Wikimedia Israel

“Wikipedia as a community and the structures that lie beneath is most often the hardest to learn.”

Seniors represent a valuable resource having accumulated a wealth of knowledge throughout their careers. Wikimedia Israel’s Wikipedia Editing Program for Seniors provides them with Wikipedia editing training and opportunities for engagement within the community of Hebrew Wikipedia editors. Their knowledge is of important value for society, but this group is facing some barriers – but a lot of them are insignificant barriers and we give them the tools to be a part of the editing community so they can contribute information that can be useful for their group of age as well as everyone else.

We are working on trying to get as many seniors to join our course, women and men equally. Our challenge lies in getting senior program graduates fitting in the local Hebrew Wikipedia community after they finish the course. A big advantage of this program is that Wikipedia thus will be provided with a lot more diverse knowledge from different point of views of multiple generations. The second advantage is that this program means a lot to the seniors who participate and changes their life. After retiring, some of them feel like they are not active and productive anymore, this program is a great match for those people and gives them a meaningful purpose to use their free time.

Senior Citizens editing course - winter 2019, Haifa 2.jpg

A group of seniors from Haifa, jokingly called by WMIL’s staff “The fantastic ten”, as their course added together 740 articles to Hebrew Wikipedia

Nevertheless, Seniors face mostly social barriers, they feel the online world is rather a "young world”. But teaching them in the program, the technical part of editing Wikipedia articles is not the core of the course: Wikipedia as a community and the structures that lie beneath is most often the hardest to learn.

Getting people to apply to our courses is a long learning process for us. When they apply, they get tested on their technical skills, so we can dedicate our lesson to Wikipedia tech only. Our goal is adding quality content to the Hebrew Wikipedia; our training enables them to make changes and provides help to make them appear in the articles. Our secondary goal is helping seniors to be an important and valued part of society through Wikipedia.

We see that senior citizens are the group that keeps on adding content after having learnt the editing skills, a third of all graduates keep on editing! The challenge is to make elderly users understand the meaning of open content, and knowing that everything can get edited by another Wikipedian even if he or she is not a professional in that matter. People from that age group are mostly used to the old world knowledge hierarchy. But they have the possibility to contribute to the sum of knowledge by writing about their topics of interest: whether it be virus subjects, fiber art or a retired Geography professor editing dozens of geography related articles.

Yes, this program started small, but we see the great feedback of the participants and a growing number of articles, so the program pays off for both sides. Senior citizens have so much to give back to society, so we opened more and more courses in different parts of Israel and will continue providing help.