Anti-Youth Bias on Wikipedia


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:

The only youth-focused template on WP is focused on youth empowerment, and it has been taken to Templates for Discussion not once, but twice.

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.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

One thought on “Anti-Youth Bias on Wikipedia

  1. It would have been minimally honest of you to note in your article that all but two of the articles in your list of AfDs were retained rather than deleted, and the other two were redirected; “fear of youth” to “Ephebiphobia” (which is defined as, err, fear of youth), and “Pedophobia” to an existing article, “fear of children” (alternatively called “pedophobia”). In other words, nothing has been deleted beyond two articles which duplicated existing articles.

    This leaves your systematic bias supposition, at the least, floundering for want of any credible evidence. AfDs discuss whether articles meet wikipedia policy requirements such as notability. Patently obviously, all of the subject matter you have raised has been found to meet the requirements.

    Further, neither the extent nor the dates of the AfDs credibly support your notion. Three were in 2005, and then one each in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011. So in a seven year period, you’ve found 7 AfDs which led to zero loss of subject matter.

    And your template? That was not deleted either.

    You say “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.” But you must know that is tendentious nonsense. The key requirement for an article on wikipedia is the notability of the subject matter. That, presumably, is why editors “tend to call out the validity of the topics”. Because that is core wikipedia policy.

    Would I be right in thinking that your post was prompted by your being pissed off that Adultism was taken to AfD in late August 2011? And found to contain a great deal of original research – something which wikipedia does not like (as you know, we prefer to rely on tertiary sources, and do not put up with concocted essays).

    In short, there seems to be absolutely nothing at all in your blog post that holds water. You’re tilting at windmills – historically an old man’s occupation.

    What your article does not discuss is the use of wikipedia to push points of view. You might like to take some quiet time to reflect on whether that is something you are engaged in.

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