Volunteer Management

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(English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

Volunteer Management is a critical element of the Wikimedia movement as the vast majority of tasks are accomplished by volunteers. The Wikimedia movement has numerous volunteers performing software development, public relations, correspondence management (VRT), list moderation, event management, conflict resolution (Arbcom), Funds Distribution (FDC), etc. Attracting and retaining volunteers is critical to these roles.

Definitions edit

Wikimedia movement volunteer: A person who accepts a defined role in assisting the Wikimedia movement. Example: A Funds Distribution Committee member. These volunteers are asked to follow Wikimedia Foundation Policies within the scope of their role.

Number of Volunteers edit

There are about 1300 volunteers working for the Wikimedia movement in roles other than editing the wikis. This is a tentative list (as of 28 July 2014):

Job/Function Number Source of estimate Notes / Reason for modifying the sourced estimate
VRT 420 Email Assumed 35% are staff
Sysadmins 50 Guess probably wrong
Mailing list moderators 400 List count 343 lists (counting only publicly listed lists, more exist), Estimate 2 mods per list, -30% overlap, -10% staff
Mediawiki SW devs. 400 Count -10% staff
FDC 9 Count
Affcom 9 Count
Research Committee 10 Count +2 staff
Trustees 10 When at full strength

Motivation of Volunteers edit

Venn diagram showing relationships in the Wikimedia movement.

The motivations of the various parties working in the 'Movement' is important. The venn diagram helps when considering the relationships between the participants. Circle A represents the users of the movement; they may be readers, editors, or other groups that make use of the 'projects', within the circle are all the needs the users have - information, education, tools, etc.. Circle B represents the foundation and the services it delivers; along with the needs of the foundation to maintain itself including funding and PR. Circle C represents the motivations and needs of the volunteer community, these may include a desire to help, a political agenda, a desire to learn, etc. (McCurley, 2011, p.6)

The motivational circles overlap and these areas lead to different problems and opportunities. Area 1 is termed the 'perfect match' where the needs of the user, the foundation, and the volunteer are all satisfied; in the WMF this might be the VRT agents answering mail sent from users to the foundation. Area 2 is 'still a good match' in that the volunteer views the foundation as the recipient; possibly a member of the FDC advisory group. Area 3 is where the foundation provides the service to the user - providing servers is a clean example; but some could be offered by volunteers as historically happened in Taiwan and the Netherlands. Area 4 is where editors who only edit articles are, providing a direct benefit to the users. This area is the most likely area of conflict if a volunteer does something the foundation staff feels is their role.

Orientation edit

Orientation of foundation volunteers is conducted to explain the purpose of the volunteering and build a common vision. It prepares the volunteer to make a contribution to the organization. A review of staff structure helps the volunteer to know where they fit in. A briefing on current and future plans prepares the volunteer for long term participation.

Support edit

Wikimedia movement volunteers should be integrated in the movement and know their work group members and supporter. It should be clear who to contact with any issues needing clarification.

The volunteer supporter must keep informed over the work completed. This could be as little as monitoring a mailing list up to writing a yearly report about task accomplishment.

References edit

Howard, B. W. (July 22, 1999). "Managing_Volunteers, A paper presented to the 4th Annual Emergency Services Forum on Volunteers in Emergency Services, Sydney". Archived from the original (pdf) on 2014-07-17. 

"Investing in Volunteers, Quality Standard". Volunteering England. Jan 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-14. 

"Linux - Governance". P2P Foundation. 2011-07-27. Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. 

McCurley, Stephen; Lynch, Richard, 1944- (2011), Volunteer management : mobilizing all the resources of the community (3rd ed.), Interpub Group Corporation, ISBN 978-1-895271-63-8 

Peel, Mike (2012-02-11). "Volunteer Policy". Wikimedia UK. Archived from the original on 2014-06-17. 

Sakaduski, Nancy (2013), Managing Volunteers: how to maximize your most valuable resource, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 978-1-4408-0364-2 

"Volunteer Responsibilities and Rights". Minnesota Department of Health. Archived from the original on 2014-06-17.