WCN 2016/Programma/Why support of underage Wikipedians can make a change

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Why support of underage Wikipedians can make a change

Since 2007, the German Wikipedia has a club for Young Wikipedians, called “Die Jungwikipedianer“, as the only Wikimedia project. Currently, it has about 40 underage members who help each other with writing new or improving existing articles, for example with cleanup templates, or by making image contests. Mainly, they discuss topics related or unrelated to Wikipedia on the project’s talk page, on IRC, WhatsApp, and beyond. For staying in the loop, they have a weekly newsletter. Everything they do relates to supporting each other, but they weren’t much integrated in the German community in general.

In 2015, a dozen of Young Wikipedians met for the first time in real life. By taking their efforts seriously and valuing their engagement with the Wikimedia projects, a closer relationship to the Wikimedia projects could be established. Since then, communications with each other increased dramatically, joint photo tours were organized, and local meetups were attended for the first time. Most participants of this gathering also participated in the annual German Wikipedia conference, WikiCon, for the first time, some even went to Italy for Wikimania 2016 in Esino Lario. Besides a presentation on their activities, they supported the organizers and enriched the conference in discussion, with technical knowledge, and much more. In the end, on-wiki support turned into real-life friendship and full integration into the German Wikipedia community. With increasing frequency, current members of the Young Wikipedians as well as former club members take leading roles in the movement, for example, as ArbCom members and mentors.

In this presentation, Young Wikipedians, alumni, and their supporters look behind this success story and will raise the question of whether or not a closer focus by Wikimedia organizations on supporting underage contributors can make a meaningful, positive change to Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in general. Regardless of the outcome of the discussion, we want to motivate the audience to join us in supporting young Wikipedians.