Special help for older WikiTreers?

+20 votes
I have had this experience in this last week alone about once a day. I'm 50+ years of age; there is an older generation of potential WikiTreers that has so much to contribute, but these mostly elderly potential contribuants mostly can't use WikiTree proficiently in the technical sense of the word. Throw in provider problems and bandwith issues, and these people (all over the globe) feel powerless to contribute.

It breaks my heart to think that they sit with all those memories, photo's & documents and we cannot help them. I feel powerless too because of priority and time constraints, besides lacking the technical dexterity (and at times even communicational skills when dealing with such an older generation), my help is rather limited.

Is it possible that we could create a team of capable mentors / greeters who's only focus will be on this group? (60+ / 65+ / 70+)
in The Tree House by Philip van der Walt G2G6 Pilot (160k points)
Wel! I am in the 80+ group and have found the WikiTree mentors very helpful snce I joined a couple of weeks ago. One thing I am sorry about is that it seems that stories tha I post on my tree will only be seen by my "Trusted" members. I don't have any so it is a waste of time wrting them if no one is going to read them!

It makes me happy that you've been helped in a efficiënt and adequate fashion. The mentors do an amazing job behind the scenes, I have only had the badge since the beginning of this year and am not even as structurely involved as the others are, there for excluding myself from this compliment - Yes They Can and They Do!

As far as the stories go - I have so much of which also the baggage of many of other members and non-members alike, that it will take a lifetime or three to write it all down. It is comforting though that we will all pass and through our legacy - what memories and stories we leave - will pass the memories on to other generations.

I am often confused by the formatting but I just keep doing stuff until it works. I did however mess up my Vantine Family ONS page and that will take some untangling. I was told what to do with it once, but I had no clue what I was supposed to do. *shrug*

Cari, the gramma
I would love to see more IRL local Meetups that could help people in person. This could be facilitated by making it easier to find people who currently live in one's area.
Joan, If you would like the stories you enter on profiles you've created to display for everyone, not just those on the 'trusted list', you can change the privacy level of the profile to 'Open'. Welcome to WikiTree!
Thanks very much Kaŷ that îs good news - I though it was just photos for which you could choose privacy levels. This site is a bit complicated! I would like everything to be public, as it is on my ancestry tree..
WikiTree can be complicated! But now you know where you can ask for help.

This made me think back to the frustrations of my old DOS machine and how many times I had to read the VCR manual to stop it from blinking and not working...  After reverse engineering some of the 1st voice activated software (Firefox) and seeing how many folks now use SIRI on their pocket device, I become even more interested in the trials and tribulations our ancestors endured to accomplish what they wished to do.  I wonder if it isn't the younger generation searching for an "Ap" for that?  Don't we all receive pm emails from distant relatives that give clues as WT profiles become indexed across the myriad of search engines?  Yes, there is a learning curve with Wiki Tree; but, I don't see technology going away.  Have fun, ask questions, and learn!  The Ranger project deserves a big "SHOUT OUT" for catching many potential forest fires among the multitude of branches on our massive tree.  

Yes indeed. Indeed. Despite of all the help functions and aids in WikiTree I spend a huge smack of energy and time making firebreaks and putting out fires before the whole forest burns down, and worse of all before people get a "referral" for mentoring. And for every 1 person that gets referred to me through the Wiki system, there are 3 others that I get on my radar and steer with advice. And yes they range from young to old.

However. Poeple do leave WikITree - and the group I was referring to at the beginning of this feed are the ones that concern me - the ones that have so much to give but find the complexity of WikiTree too daunting, mostly because of age.

Age is an determinant that features in many a sociological research. It is a neutral indicator. One cannot give a baby lessons in WikiTree. One can try, but if it will deliver the results (whatever we would like them to be) is another question. Someone with dementia might not absorb WikiTree. Someone that is 90+ with full functioning intellect does not neccessarily mean that they will understand or want to understand WikiTree.

It becomes an issue when someone says: "I'm 94 and would love to share but this platform is just too technical for me" and leave.

And it happened last week.

This is the reason I asked this question. Yes the Rangers, the Mentors and the Leaders all 'rock' in their own ways, especially deserving acknowledgement for what happens behind the scenes.

However - the issue I'd like addressing is the one of those persons leaving and others not joining in because an age related issue.

It is a perplexing issue; you likely noticed I just had a "senior moment" when naming Firefox instead of Dragon as one of the original voice recognition programs.  I could easily go back and edit that comment as simply as I just added this one.  My 2 cents is, as you have eluded to, we all learn in different ways and we all make human mistakes.

Encouragement instead of admonishment is a fantastic tool that I believe all great leaders have used.  Keeping folks interested through assisting them with their specific needs is challenging.  One person whom told me WT was too complex later sent me a pedigree file with some basic sources in an email.  Once I added the profiles given I noticed they went back and added more info to the profiles.  Of course the formatting was incorrect; but, I corrected it (the way I thought standards were best fulfilled) and they learned from me telling them about how the changes tab shows what was done.  

Many of the shortcuts I currently use were learned from this G2G forum and other project forums I participate in.  There are many extremely intelligent folks using WT and being able to learn from them is an honor. 

I'm currently listening to some old "Blues" music and just decided to use the font color. <chuckle>  So many different and interesting things can be done if we have time and patience...

6 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer

The mentors of course are doing a great job, but maybe it's an idea to have some sort of beginners course added somewhere ? 

Joop added a beginners course for Dutch speaking/reading members to the Nederlands Portaal (Dutch portaal)

Where all basic things and the most important things are explained as easy as possible, with example images to make sure everyone who just arrives can get started and understand and learn everything about Wikitree . So maybe if we had something similar in English it would help ? 

It would be a help for the mentors as well I think ?

by Bea Wijma G2G6 Pilot (284k points)
selected by Philip van der Walt
I like this idea! Now, mentors post scheduled messages on member profiles, each message containing additional info on how to use WikiTree.

The problem is that these messages are not geared to individual members' paces. So we post the same message on the bulletin board of someone who has made 900 high-quality contributions as we do for a member who has made 3 contributions. These people really have different needs, and we try to split the difference by posting what we think people should know. A course would get around that problem somewhat.

If there could be links in each section of the course for more info, including how to contact a mentor, it would be great.
I know this topic is old, but I need to add my 2 cents in. I am almost 78 years old and find myself feeling like an infant not to Wikitree, but to the age group of upcoming genealogists.

Let me explain. I was using RootsMagic as my desktop storage and progran prep for my data. We started the online email Question and Answer sessions. One thing that hit me was the problem members were having in their frustrations. It was the thought that they were too old at 55 to handle RootsMagic.

Answers came back so fast that they were not too old because there was 30 or 40 replies who were over 65 and just starting and having no problem. We are looking at the Boomers of our time coming up. Wikitree is the replacement for the well known Bible records of old.It may replace the church records of the traveling public. Paper records are going by the wayside. Keeping your records at hand, secure, online or not is important. So much is being stored in the "Clouds" of one company or another, the upcoming generation is looking for Grandma's storage replacement.

Illness of age has its problems, but one deterrent to memory loss is problem solving. Wikitree can bed real good for that. Remembering the name Grandma was born with, etc. Wikitree can even be a turn around for memory loss. Jon P Czarowitz
+13 votes
I have only just joined WikiTree, so I am still finding my way around, but have done a great deal of research since I retired 2 years ago, and have found lots of ancient family photos, relating to Wards, Fitzjohn's and Hibbert's from Essex and Hertfordshire in UK, but it is going to take me a while to catalogue everything and learn the mechanics of WikiTree. I agree with these comments, thank you-

John Ward
by John Ward G2G6 Mach 2 (29.6k points)
I am 62, and can find my way around the internet, but I wouldn't say I am an expert. When I first joined up with Wikitree it blew my mind, literally, there is so much to inwardly digest whilst trying to understand the workings of geneology research, BUT as with all new things, I am willing to learn, albeit a bit slower than the average bear, and I ASK QUESTIONS, I dont care if I sound stupid, and I am most certainly not made to feel that way. The only way to learn is to ask questions, and try things, your not going to break the internet, things are easily fixed, either by yourself or one of the lovely people here, give it a go, I did and I am managing just fine.. Oh and welcome :D
John, I took a look at the profiles you worked on, that I could see, and I see no major problems with them. You add sources and that is better than a lot of people who have been on here a lot longer than you so keep up the good work. As they say do not be afraid to experiment because almost everything can be changed back if needed, merges being the major exception, and as Anne states don't be afraid to ask questions here because there are a lot of people who will try and help. there is even a group who will look at your Open profiles and help with format problems if needed.
+8 votes
Philip, I agree with your general idea but have to say that separating the "older generation" is flat out wrong. I am 65 and my computer skills are far advanced to those of my children and I understand the principals of genealogy better than them also. At least here in the United States there is help available to low income people that want internet access and most library's in my area have genealogy programs with help there. The problem spans all age groups and the root problem is the complexity of WikiTree, we just do things different, and that even with the improvements on the individual help pages, finding the help page you need is a daunting effort.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
I am not saying that the way things are done on WikiTree are wrong of even bad but most people who do this kind of thing have been exposed to one of the other sites out there and the sad truth is they are easier to work with. That ease of use comes with a price and that could be an actual dollar amount but the big price is that they do not focus on sources or accuracy, and that makes WikiTree even harder to understand for them.

No Dale, I do not agree with you.

Yes the complexity of WikiTree is a given. We all have to deal with that - and yes there are also 65+ people with excellent computer skills (like you).

Not to have special attention though for that specific (perhaps also computer skilled) group of elderly would-be wikitreers who do have issues, is downright a shame when they pull out. Because they might not be that digitally savvy, poor eyesight, or (like me) their hands might be trembly.

I have seen a very recent case in the mentor's group besides having many personal encounters. There are in my family name two such elderly genealogical researchers alone, who does not participate even though they had compiled great works of valuable genealogy to the broader society. Every day I get messages and I do my best mentoring, but it might be easier on us all if we can focus and consolidate our best skills and best practices according to the specific needs of specific individuals that might generically belong to a specific group.

Again You want to point the finger at the elderly and not the real problem. Most of the changes I have "seen" on WikiTree just make the problems worse for those with the problems you mention. I have problems with typing sometimes but that is due to problems other than age. Yes my eyesight is not as good as it once was, but all of these pastel colors on all of the screens do not help either. But the biggest problem is that you saying that the elderly need special help. I have encountered many 20, 30 40, year old people who have a very difficult time working on WikiTree that I helped also, in person and not on line, so I am saying yes there is a need for special help, but to say it should be focused on the elderly is an extremely biased opinion on your part.
It could be that we do not need a "special Mentors group" but just better Mentors who can deal with all ages.
And once again you choose to misconstrue my messages and intentions Dale.

I'm not pointing any fingers at a specific group. Why should I - nobody is actively doing anything wrong in any group ...

But if you feel ok with playing the victim role here, there is nothing I can do help even if you are the smartest and most self-reliant 65+ person alive.

I'm going roll now.
I am not "playing the victim" but rather pointing out that your "question" is probably offending the entire group that you are proposing to help by making it seem that they can not do this like everybody else.
Is this where we all take a deep breath and say to each other, "Get a life!" ??
No, this is where we all take a deep breath and say DWWA
Pls define 'DWWA'....  I must be too old...  77-yr-old... :o)
Don't Wiki While Angry! from a 75 year-old.
I think what you intend is a group for the opposite of WikiTree super-users as far as their computer skills. Even then, I can easily splitting it into two groups:

1) Experienced genealogists with much to offer, but not the computer skills to enter it (yet).

2) Newbie genealogists that also don't have much in the way computer skills.

There are the mentors, but it isn't a support group. Sometimes you want to talk with someone who knows where you're at, and maybe that group could use some mentoring.

I'm coming at this from a slightly different angle. I'm in the middle as far as genealogy skills (and age), but I'm a Wiki master in my own right, just not here. The same editing/data organization methods that work on a site like Wikipedia work here, which is why I was able to get off to a quick start here. I've dealt with learning curves on my own user base (corporate wiki, a few hundred active users). While the stereotype that older users have more trouble is often true, it definitely isn't always true, and sometimes the younger ones struggle just as much. Leave the age part out, but the sentiment is good.
+16 votes
We have a top notch mentor team! Mentors help members of all ages successfully every day! This goes on in the background and you may not notice it.  Mentors are trained to help in many ways with every possible type of problem. Mentors are respectful, pleasant and patient to all who need help.  I think we already have a special team set up!  Members experience specific problems independent of age. Mentors help with whatever the problem is. Mentor help is available to anyone who needs it. Thanks, Mentors!!!
by Paula J G2G6 Pilot (256k points)
Thank You Paula, That is my point, age is not the problem so age specific Mentors are not needed. And I also think that the Mentors, for the most part, do an excellent job.
I requred much help with the website software when I was new. People of all ages can need or give help.
+9 votes

Joan's comment above brings up another issue, not confined to seniors: What happens to the private profiles in which a deceased member had been the only person on the trusted lists? See Death of a Member

Unfortunately, those private profiles will be deleted if there is not someone to take over the profile. Opening as many profiles as possible, per Kay's recommendation, is the first remedy. A good backup plan is an Advance Directive

by Carole Partridge G2G6 Mach 7 (71.1k points)
Very valid question in my humble opinion.
Thanks, Philip. I was reminded of the issue earlier this year when my husband's uncle died. He had been a fairly active WikiTreer, posted lots of family photos, and created profiles for his wife, children and their families. I didn't want to see all of his work on more recent generations disappear. Eowyn was really helpful in getting his profiles transferred over to me.

I do agree that the technical aspects of WikiTree can be more of a problem for seniors than younger people, overall. There's a lot of jargon that frequent computer users throw around casually that can sound completely foreign to new or infrequent users. Older mentors (like you, me, and several other posters on this thread) are a self-selected group that has become familiar with most of the jargon, so I'm sure we need a little bit of reminding to think about our audience.

I also like Bea's idea of a beginner's course, beyond the help pages and mentor posts.
+8 votes

This is a great idea and I would be first to volunteer. My mother (age 78) just got her first computer a few years ago. There were (and still are) many phone calls and visits to "put out fires." Most were very simple but she didn't understand and had never even touched a computer. Now, when she wants to know something fast, she just calls me and orders me to look it up. (She doesn't text, the horror!!). I was trying to explain some WikiTree things to her the other day and she finally just told me to shut up and quit speaking Russian. I believe her specific frustration was "what the heck is html code? Like a password? Where can I find that?" 

Any-hoo, if this does happen, put me down as volunteer zero. I'm at your service. :)


by Summer Orman G2G6 Mach 8 (87.4k points)
Something that really helped me out is a younger person who's Grandmother kept wonderful accurate and well sourced records has come on wikitree. She is doing really great work on the family members of her own and those we share. And she understands the technological stuff. So that is great to have that collaborative thing going on. And although her life is quite busy she is very dedicated. I'm thankful for all she does.
Summer try to join the Mentor project. I firmly believe that if we have good mentors then we do not need a special project just for older members. My teenage grandchildren call me when they have a computer problem so it is not just the older generation that needs help sometimes.
Hi Dale,
I've already inquired about it.  :)
Thanks Summer for your understanding. Though I know that I am an excellent mentor I also believe that some older people would benefit from age specific mentoring. I'll make a note of your name and if needed contact you.
Phillip, anytime. :)

Your comment about your Grandma reminds me of last Christmas when hundreds of news computers were given to the elderly from the now well to do child or Grandchild so Grandma or Grandpa could keep in touch with the younger set.

Along with this was the new RootsMagic Essentials, that company's free genealogy program. With Ancestry passing the storage of data to RootsMagic, Wikitree is the next online solution to Ancestry's online storage costing a fee,

I know RootsMagic was pleasantly surprised when their Q and A sessions reached over 2000 members on Facebook. That meant they had the business and future business as well.  Jon

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