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Queens Chronicle

Can we talk? GenKvetch.com says yes

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Posted: Thursday, June 4, 2009 12:00 am

The Internet isn’t just for the kids anymore. GenKvetch.com is making sure of that.

Marilyn Carroll, her husband Melvin, and their friend Steve Greenbaum, all retirees, formed Gen Kvetch last fall. The site, a collection of different things, was formed to give baby boomers a place on the web to call their own.

“I have a daughter in her 20s, and they go to Facebook, but the older crowd, they’re interested in more than that,” said Marilyn Carroll, a 61-year-old former school counselor who lives in Flushing, except when she’s snowbirding in Florida. “What are we interested in? We like good jokes, videos and book reviews. We try to keep it clean and wholesome.”

Gen Kvetch currently boasts 2,855 registered users, according to the site’s current member directory. The founders’ slogan reflects the group they’re drawing in: “Out of place at Facebook, Myspace, Twitter….? Then this is your space. Social Networking for Baby Boomers and Beyond. We welcome people of all backgrounds.”

The site really took off over the winter while the couple was in Florida, when an article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel gave it a boost.

Gen Kvetch boasts a multitude of features, from groups and forums to healthy recipes and crossword puzzles. A diverse place, the forums have sub-forums for healthy living, elderly issues, and gay issues. There are even spots for region-specific singles looking for companionship. But the thing they have in common is their age range, and Carroll wanted that reflected in the site’s name.

“We were thinking of different names. When you register for a site, you have to look up if that name is used. And believe it or not, those names were taken, Over the Hills and Golden Oldies. And we thought, what characterizes people over the age of 50. What happens, life changes and you get aches and pains. And so we though, kvetch. It’s just a joke as they age,” Carroll said.

Marilyn spends her time hunting down interesting articles to post on the site, from healthy recipes to articles on the newest medical breakthroughs. Her husband, a former electrical engineer, handles much day to day upkeep of the site, and helps users with their problems.

User feedback is something that is strongly encouraged at Gen Kvetch. Recent features like chat and sudoku were implemented because of requests, according to Carroll.

“I’ll wait for the user. We go along and evolve,” she said. “For example, we had jokes. Somebody emailed and said the jokes are very good, but we’re an older crowd, and it’s harder to see with those fonts. So make them bigger. And we did. Then, when they wanted to connect with one another, we changed the software so they could message.”

Users come from all over, even as far away as Australia. There are even groups for those who live in Arizona and Nebraska. Features like the jokes have appeal everywhere — though those who log on should be aware that the contributors don’t shy away from off-color laughs.

People who aren’t too net-savvy needn’t worry about Gen Kvetch being too complicated. Everything is spelled out for the first-time user, and a detailed FAQ sheet — for frequently asked questions — gives clear instructions on how to use all the available features.

Carroll’s message about the site is simple, and charming. “It’s entertainment, that’s the main thing,” she said. “Life is difficult, and all the worries we have. But here’s a place you can come and laugh and see amusing things.”

Welcome to the discussion.