Tonight I’ve been thinking about the anti-youth bias on Wikipedia.
Systemic bias is a serious charge on Wikipedia. According to the special project page about the topic on Wikipedia, systemic bias “…naturally grows from its contributors’ demographic groups, manifesting an imbalanced coverage of a subject, thereby discriminating against the less represented demographic groups.” This is especially true of the presence of adults on WP, who form the age of majority on the website. It is because of this systemic bias that I want to raise awareness about an ongoing trend of discrimination against youth-focused topics on WP.
After introducing a series of articles from the field of youth studies, I have seen articles addressing youth-focused issues be routinely subjected to the process known as Articles for Discussion on WP. These “AfDs” are essentially conversations focused on whether to keep or delete an article on WP. There is a pseudo-voting process, and in these discussions on these youth-focused articles editors tend to call out the validity of the topics rather than the worthiness of the articles themselves, often dismissing the verifiability and neutral point of view, which the core of WP article writing.
Note that oftentimes concern for these articles and templates are pointed at me directly, accusing me of article ownership and bias; however, this pattern of AfDs and TfDs ranges further than my direct editing. Following is the pattern I would like to draw attention to.
The AfDs include:
- Fear of youth
- Youth subculture
- Youngest mayors in the U.S.
- Student voice
There is also a pattern of discrimination against editors who identify themselves as middle or high school students, or as being under 18, or as youth; however, this bias is harder to demonstrate given the difficulty of searching editors’ talk pages.
The closest Wikipedia has come to having a conversation on this is a conversation started on the ageism talk page in 2007. There needs to be more conversation. Any responses are appreciated.