15

Questions:

  1. Can I refer to a person who has been using SE for a longer period of time than me as an elder member?

  2. Is the usage of senior member correct?

Note:

Thanks for the good answers. I asked this assuming the word elder is applicable in terms of seniority as well, not necessarily physically older as written in The Free Dictionary.

elder

adj.

  1. Greater than another in age or seniority.

  2. Archaic Superior to another or others, as in rank.

  • 6
    This isn’t worthy of an answer, it’s just a note, but don’t — if you value your peaceful coexistence with that person — do not use ‘archaic’. – Fivesideddice Aug 6 at 6:15
  • 6
    @Fivesideddice the use of the word /archaic/ in OPs question does not refer the person he wants to call elder or senior, but the usage of the word. As in, Superior to another or others, as in rank is an archaic use of the word elder. – Torque Aug 6 at 13:29
  • I think the correct answer to this really depends on the user and how you say it. I would respect "you're like an elder to me" but probably wouldn't take "you're an elder/senior member" as well. – user117065 Aug 7 at 21:58
  • Why would you need to? What is the context? Period of time spent being a member of something doesn't correlate to much else on my opinion; someone could have been an SE member for years but it wouldn't necessarily mean that it means that anything they know, are or do is comparably greater than what you know, are or do (other than having an earlier "member since" date) – Caius Jard Aug 8 at 4:39
39

"Senior member" is the better choice, unless you're deliberately using it in a joking way. Although it's technically true that the user's account is older than yours, "elder" is generally used in a more narrow sense to describe someone's actual, real-life age, while "senior" is much more commonly used in this context and doesn't necessarily indicate an age difference.

"Experienced user" or "veteran user" might also be good choices, depending on the exact tone you're going for.

Edit: As others have pointed out, "senior" is often used to indicate not only a longer period of membership, but a higher rank and greater perceived authority within the community. If you simply want to express that someone's been a registered user of the site for a long time, then "long-standing" or "long-time member" might be a better option.

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  • +1 for "Experienced" a user may be senior (in the SE sense of having more moderation privileges) even though they have been using the system for less time. – James K Aug 5 at 9:54
  • 10
    senior is not good for SE. My goodness. Longstanding member. – Lambie Aug 5 at 17:59
  • 4
    I would sort of agree with Lambie, because I think "senior member" implies more than just having been around longer, it implies that the member commands more respect and has greater authority or "rank" within the community. If you just want to get across the idea of having been around longer without additional implications about the person's status, then "longstanding" or "veteran" or so on seems like a more appropriate choice. – David Z Aug 5 at 19:27
  • See for yourselves:meta.stackexchange.com/search?q=longstanding+members – Lambie Aug 5 at 19:59
  • @Lambie see for yourself: meta.stackexchange.com/search?q=%22veteran+users%22 – Mari-Lou A Aug 5 at 21:47
31

Given that a young member could have been here for longer than an older person, or someone might have been here for a long time but not achieved many privileges, I suggest long-standing member. This has no implications of age, superiority or of anything else except purely the time they have been on the site.

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  • 1
    This was going to be my answer until I saw it, because of the converse: a new member is not necessarily inexperienced in their field. – Weather Vane Aug 5 at 17:58
  • @WeatherVane longstanding is just about how long they have been a member of something. They could be experienced or inexperienced in their field. – Lambie Aug 5 at 18:00
9

A person might be in their twenties but be a member of a Stack exchange site for as many as 8 years. In that case, elder or senior member sounds a bit of a misnomer. I prefer

See also @pinkfrosty's answer

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  • Actually, a veteran member or participant. I don't "use" SE, but I sure to participate in it. – Lambie Aug 6 at 14:55
  • +1 for veteran. While elder/senior should be understood (in context) to refer to tenure and not age, veteran is much less ambiguous. – A C Aug 7 at 16:09
6

(See Edit section at the bottom as well.)

For your situation, senior member is correct and is much better than elder member.

If senior is used like an adjective, in situations like this, it usually means that someone has been with the company/site longer, that they have a higher rank, or something else like that. This includes someone who has been using SE longer than you.

However senior can also be a noun. It is a polite way to say old person.

Elder is usually also a noun. It often means one of the oldest people in the group. At other times though, it sometimes means an older member of the group, whose specific job/role is to advise and/or to lead.

You can also say elderly member, which is a polite way to say old member. Old member means the same thing as member who is old. Elder member, however, typically means member who is an elder - which is similar to, but slightly different than member who is old.


senior (adjective):

  1. having a higher rank, being with the site/company longer, or something similar
  2. old

senior member (noun phrase):
member who has a higher rank, has been with the site/company longer, or something similar

senior (noun):
old person

elder (noun):

  1. one of the oldest people in the group
  2. an older member of the group, whose specific job/role is to advise and/or to lead

elder member (noun phrase):
a member who is an elder

elderly (adjective):
old

elderly member (noun phrase):
a member who is old


EDIT:

As was stated in the comments at one point in time, something closer to chasley - reinstate Monica's answer would be much better for Stack Exchange. Senior member technically works, but Stack Exchange doesn't usually call it that.

Think of a job. Different people have different titles, and the same job might have different titles at different companies. For example, one company might use the word teacher, while another uses the word instructor. Both are technically correct, but each organization has its own preferences.

The same applies for things like senior member. It technically works for Stack Exchange, but it's a little ambiguous; and long-standing member, as @chasly-reinstateMonica suggested, is fairly unambigous and is much more appropriate for this group.

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2

Realistically, both elder and senior are going to bother someone, eventually, as ageism. Even "long-time" has that feel to it.

I try to pick something that's inherently a compliment to them instead. I personally like more tongue in cheek descriptions like superior, ranking, eminent, ascendent, or tenured. Tenured Member is hard for an experienced forum resident to take the wrong way, since its meaning is inherently respectful of high skill rather than being an age related reward.

There are many such complimentary words people use for sovereignty that can work. Those only come off as demeaning if someone thinks you're being sarcastic, which is at least easy to correct when it happens. (There's a reason Can't tell if serious or joking is a popular meme))

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  • senior is not about ageism. It's not the right kind of institution. Not because it means a person over 65. – Lambie Aug 5 at 23:49
  • Thank you for the feedback, Senior Member :) What I've found is that to some people, "senior" is so associated with being a senior citizen that they don't appreciate being labelled that way. There's a similar thing where young adults bristle when called "Mister"; they might say "no, Mr Smith is my father". If you feel ageism isn't the right word for that experience, sorry for the confusion. This reaction has happened to me enough on Internet forums that I have a coping mechanism for it though, and I thought that was worth sharing. YMMV. – Greg Smith Aug 6 at 20:20
2

Personally, I'd assume "elder member" was meant in the same context as "elder statesman"

Collins:

An experienced and respected member of an organization or profession is sometimes referred to as an elder statesman

I certainly wouldn't take it as referring to somebody as elderly, or in any way offensively. That said, I can see how some people might not make that distinction.

As per other answers, senior or long-standing might be safer.

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