Proposal talk:Volunteer Management practices to Expand Participation

From Strategic Planning


Some proposals will have massive impact on end-users, including non-editors. Some will have minimal impact. What will be the impact of this proposal on our end-users? -- Philippe 00:00, 13 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The impact could be large for people currently affiliating with Wikimedia and for groups and individuals that would be involved if they had a better way. The assumption that expanded and diversified participation is important comes not only for concern about legacy, but also from the underlying precept that with increased participation and diversity, the content will be more comprehensive and more accessible to users of the free, open educational resources. Jennifer Riggs 18:31, 14 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

that is not how the current system arose

The current organisation model for Wikipedia was not designed. It was one of a number of models which was tried and it turned out to be the most successful.

I believe the proposals here for an organisation model for a popular membership organisation sound good and might well be successful but I would strongly urge that we keep things loose and encourage different bits of the wikicommunity (Chapters, projects languages, even less formal groups) to try out different models and then see what works and what doesn't work.

Remember what happened to Esperanza. We allowed it to grow. We studied it's effectiveness at getting improving the encyclopedia. We kept the effective bits and weeded out the rest. At least that is what I hope happened.16:02, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

I think the organic nature in which Wikipedia and then other Wikimedia projects arose is essential to the continued success. And, I think that learning lessons from the evolutions of all the Wikipedias and Wikimedia projects along with any other organization is also essential to the continued success. Every organization model/framework has limits, by its very nature. I think it's important to explore evolutions of the Wikipedia model (what it was and what its become) so that it can continue to expand (global reach...) and to be relevant in a quickly changing environment.

the delicate balance

Yet another proposal that I like because it is about the fundamentals of volunteer management. As I've said elsewhere, what Wikipedia is facing is what all organizations that involve volunteers face, large and small. Wikipedia needs to explore traditional best practices in volunteer management and explore how to adapt them for their online volunteers (yes, Wikipedia contributors, whether we say it or not, are volunteers).

But as others have said, it's a delicate balance -- will more traditional volunteer management structures lead to a more restrictive environment, one that becomes too bureaucratic and takes away the just-show-up-and-help nature of Wikimedia products?

Putting in a more structured volunteer management system comes with costs, even if it's limited to only those contributors who move on, or want to move on, from edit-here-and-there:

  • Volunteers with higher responsibilities have to have more-defined roles (in writing). Who is going to write those descriptions? Who will sign off on them and make them official?
  • Is the time and expertise needed to fully support and appropriately manage high-responsibility volunteers going to require at least some paid experts? Will Wikimedia need a paid volunteer manager, or a paid volunteer management department staffed by people with volunteer management experience/training?
  • Does Wikipedia have the expertise needed for more high-responsibility roles within its current ranks of contributors, or does recruitment need to happen for specific roles? Are we going to see Wikipedia volunteer roles recruited for on VolunteerMatch, for instance?
  • What systems will be in place to assure that volunteers aren't arbitrarily kept out of higher-responsibility roles they want to assume? How will the system be transparent so that it's always clear why someone does, or does not, get to go to a new level of responsibility?
  • Who will evaluate performance and take appropriate action based on volunteer performance?

The question asked in the proposal, "In what ways do volunteers and affiliate organizations like to be be appreciated. What activities and communications will make them feel valued?" is what I'm most interested in - hence why I'm so interested in "Proposals for editor awards or rewards". Hope the author is also viewing that category.

Jcravens42 16:50, 24 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Maybe 6 months ago, I had a discussion with Sue and Jenifer by email about the Foundation assisting the wiki projects by developing a volunteer database. People could register, include their areas of interest, and their qualifications for specialized work. I think that this would be a valuable tool for matching volunteers with specific jobs. As it stands now, people have no way of being alerted to announcements for specific job openings, and wikis have no way of knowing which people have the skills and interest to perform specialized tasks.
To address job performance of volunteers that perform some privacy related work (Oversighters and Checkuser), the Wikipedia English Arbitration Committee began an Audit subcommittee (AUSC). It does monitoring of on going work and does investigations of complaints. Also, AUSC has filed several reports related to the job performance of the people doing OS and CU. The data was used to request the volunteers with low activity levels with the special tools to voluntarily return them or have them removed. AUSC is new, but so far it is working well to manage the performance of the volunteers.
The key is to have organizational support from the Foundation, and have the volunteers do the majority of the work. This included the higher level administration/management work. FloNight 03:37, 25 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]