Elderly and Wikipedia -- a Possible Matchpoint. But not quite, for now

In Argentina, women older than 60 years, are 15% of the population. Out of 6 million elderly, they represent 53%. For these women, many things have changed over the years. For example, they do not stay in house to maintain their families, but looks for ways to get involved into socially valued activities. For these women, Wikipedia could be an option for spending the free time they have, to get involved into an interactive comminity, and to contribute to the global knowledge sharing.

"The biggest advantage of elderly people is that we have more free time compared to a younger person. While we are still productive, and active, many come from teaching and university background, meaning that we have research and writing skills." Says Susana Correa, a graduate from Cinema and TV, living in Salta, Argentina. "Learning how technology work, gives the freedom to senior citizens to use it or not. But understanding technology gives a lot of possibilities to many of us. As of Wikipedia, this is an opportunity for elderly women to provide the knowledge they have, and to find a respect for their hard work in a welcoming community."

The most important for senior readers of Wikipedia (as for most of other ones), is not that much to understand how to contribute, but why and what for they should do it.

While age is an important demographic for learning to edit on Wikipedia, Susana provided one more factor: the academic background. She says: "People with academic background often have a very strong point of view and feeling they are right, while others are wrong. This makes it difficult for women with lesser background to lack confidence on their contributions."

Susana also noticed that the values such as free culture, free software and collaborative construction of knowledge are values that elderly people understand and try to follow. Therefore, Wikipedia quickly becomes a project favourite to many elderly citizens.

One possible solution Susana has found in her work with elderly citizens, is to couple them with younger people (contributors). Often, this link is made with university students who have resource banks to conduct surveys. This is one of the ways that senior people's knowledge and capacities gets formatted in the right way and published properly, without risk of deletion because of irrespected rules.

Another possibility to partner on a local level, including gender issues, is to form local committees of geek communities, representatives from NGOs, women's rights activists, but also elderly people who are interested in contributing to Wikipedia, in order to discuss and collaborate on ways for diversifying the gener content (or genering the content, including female viewpoint to already existing articles).