The term Elder, or its equivalent in another language, is used in several countries and organizations to indicate a position of authority. This usage is usually derived from the notion that the oldest members of any given group are the wisest, and are thus the most qualified to rule, provide counsel or serve the said group in some other capacity.
Elder is a role played in the organised community that is most common in tribal subsistence cultures, Elderhood being the condition or quality of being an elder. It is essentially the state of being in the latter portion of one's life and being looked to for leadership of either a passive or active nature by your peers and\or subordinates due almost exclusively to this fact. Sometimes it involves a ceremonial investiture of some kind, and other times it does not. Sometimes it involves a definite chronological milestone which must be surpassed, while at other times the required age is simply relative to the ages of all of the other members of the group in question. Once having met the peculiar requirements of their individual groups, however, all elders are generally expected to mentor, share their experience, create a sense of oneness for their followings and, most especially, act as the spiritual embodiments of their communities.
An example of informal elderhood is the role of the matriarchal grandmother as it appears in many parts of the global South. In the absence of viable male alternatives or even in the presence of them, grandmothers in these areas tend to serve as both the de facto heads of their groups of descendants and the catalysts of their periodic reunions and meetings. By doing so they provide their families with a cohesion that would probably be absent if they weren't present. Another example is that of the vocational mentor who guides his or her apprentices with tools of sponsorship, advocacy and the demonstration of skills. He or she serves to facilitate creativity in his or her charges by teaching the methods of the past as they pertain to their various occupations.
In more formal examples of elderhood, elders serve as the members of the governing and/or advisory bodies of higher personages such as kings and presidents in the form of a council of elders. This often gives them a prestige amongst their peoples that's comparable to that of the classical nobility of ancient Europe. Due to this, elderhood of this variety is generally considered to be something worthy of aspiring to in the communities where it exists.
There are long established conceptualisations of elders on the Internet. In such online communities elders are typically thought of as established members who are outbound, often due to unwanted changes they can't prevent.