Wikimedia Conference 2011/Documentation/Volunteer management

Facilitator's summaryEdit

Types of volunteersEdit

Most, if not all Wikipedians and -medians start off being volunteers. So what does Volunteer Management mean? Who should be "managed", how, and why?

We dived into the topic by looking at different types of volunteers. A typology everyone seemed to agree on was that of

  • Proactives: frequent organizers
  • Actives: organizers, attendees
  • Observers: attendees; passive, but present
  • Passives: are absent, don't respond

(see flip chart image)

Before we looked at those four types, the discussion focused on the fifth type. This group can also be called proactive, but in a different way:

  • Trolls

The debate focused on the question of how to deal with trolls, whether to kick them out, convert them or see them as provocateurs necessary for the ecosystem of Wikimedia. Some thought we spent too much time discussing trolls, while others seemed to find this an important topic.

Transition of volunteersEdit

We agreed that the goal of volunteer management is mainly to help and motivate people to transition from the less to the more active types of involvement. We also considered that not everyone can be a proactive. The main focus would thus be on getting passive ones more involved and observers to be more active. Another idea that came up was how to turn the proactive force of trolls into a more positive, helpful one.

Various possible solutions were shared on how to motivate volunteers, to harvest and maintain their positive feelings towards the project as well as make their energy productive for the Chapter (see Notetaker's doc and flip chart image).

Notetaker's DocumentationEdit

1519 Sorry, had to talk at coffee break, back again. Now Saal 2, volunteer management, 31 participants

1519 On flipchart: volunteers

editors/ chapter (active/participants/passive)

1521 krieger “most problematic encounters?” we can't tackle all of them

Goals of Volunteer ManagementEdit

1522 DE: problem: transition, how to make people become, observer, active, pro-active

1523 agreement: important point, how transition. Room “somtimes you need to downgrade people, sometimes you just push them to hard”. Room other: kind of luxury problematic

1524 Krieger: specific example. Looking for microphone. Thank you nota.

1525 chart: proactive, (organizers), active (attendees), observers (absent), passive.

1526 room: downgrading sometimes necessary from proactive to active

Dealing with TrollsEdit

1527 AUT: chapters with a few members, trolls have the power to shoot a chapter down. “silent majority”, you don't know what they actually think. Would help if other people would stand up. Decrease percentage of output of trolls.

1529 AUS paying members are signing off because mailing list, problem mainly done by one person.

1530 FRA: in big chapters trolls useful to push bureaucracy, put issue on table. “they actually bring people together.”

1530 chapters comm: to put people from active to pro-active you need to put fun into it.

1531 FRA: yes, you can kick trolls out.

1532 IND trolls are important part of eco-system

1532 krieger: are there ways to make trolls and their energy productive?

Taking emotions into accountEdit

1533 SF about fun: people acting of enthusiam or because of obligation. People get drawn of enthusiasm, get involved, find out stick around because of obligation. Obligation only lasts so long, when we discuss fun we should recognize people are driven by different motives, consider different things fun.

1534 ISR: one fun universal goal, that your opinion is heard. When people feel that they are not being heard, they get angry and leave. Everyone likes to be taken seriously.

1535 SWE: if you kick trolls out, you can get powerful enemies, maybe AUT should listen to someone?

Experience sharing on strategiesEdit

Assigning small tasksEdit

1536 SWE: applied for some money, financing person who is structuring and quality marking articles. Small tasks could be a way to involve people.

1537 Krieger: small tasks could be a good solution to involve volunteers?

Paying peopleEdit

1538 FRA: two kinds of paid people (1) do tasks (2) organize volunteers to do tasks

1539 UKR: 4 functions need to be ensured

  • production
  • administration
  • innovation
  • integration

1541 theory: one person can only do 3 functions, normally only one or two. In UKR president can only do 3 functions, does everything, people don't know how to integrate. UKR have list of small tasks, because people know what to do.

Sharing knowledge: TandemsEdit

1544 Krieger: If president does 90%, if he goes.. UKR: actually he does database, when he's not there, nobody knows.

1544 AUS: had this problem, somebody had all information for 2 years, person fell out of board. We try not have one person again in charge of too much.

1545 FRA: we always tried to work in tandem, at least two people (lead and follower), so the last one knows what's going on.

1546 AUT: can solve the problem technically, by having everything in the wiki.


1546 SWE: when I was new. I was surprised about open communication and everybody shared information generously,

1547 SWE: I think openness is something

1548 EST: wanted together a team for wikilovesmonuments, nobody responded to lists, got answers when I asked people personally lists and openness didn't work.

List of tasksEdit

1550 FRA: on wiki, document with tasks were people can sign in.

1551 chap com: can WM share how you got from zero to so many people?

1552 KEN. Successful 10 celebration, most of us were proactive members, had very few trolls, have around 5 proactive members, now: 5 proactive, 50 active/observers.

Involving only those who show upEdit

1553 KEN: for you to vote you have to shown interest by attending physical meetup. We punished them for not showing interest.

1554 KEN: most proactive members were organised by google.

1554 chapcom: I was just amazed how kenya grew quickly. Most chapters had a start and stop at 20 members, kenyas already have 50 members, want to know what they did

Tangible projectsEdit

1555 room about KEN: started with tangible project, had this idea of wikipedia in schools. “if they focused all their energy on wirting bylaws it wouldn't work. They got themselves real outreach projects, that gave them momentum. Harder if you start purely on administrative projects.”

Taking culture into accountEdit

1556 SA: It depends on peoples culture. SA is not volunteer type of culture, last year workshop. 40 to 50 people but everybody wanted to have a title, when we couldn't give it, it dropped to 6 or 7 people. Around now its only one or two.

1558 SA: depends from country to country and culture to culture. Need different solutions for different cultures.

Trusting the newbiesEdit

1559 room: question to kenya? What is experience to send new volunteers to schools and letting them talk. My experience: many people afraid to send new people out. My experience is that kenya was very open. How did kenya react? How did new volunteers react?

1559 KEN. Most new recruits had great enthusiasm, were very receptive. You should trust new recruits and give them responsibilities.

1601 END. Coffee break till 1630.

1602 DE. Quick summary (wrap up): Many ways to communicate with volunteers, not work always, experimenting important thing, in the long term you want to make sure pro-active have the opportunity to be initiatives and not be buried in administrative tasks.