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Care and Feeding of Volunteers


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Volunteers make open source projects go. This talk discusses how to attract volunteers, what to do once you have, and how to keep them happy once you've got them.

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Care and Feeding of Volunteers

  1. 1. The Care andFeeding of Volunteers
  2. 2. OR
  3. 3. How CanVolunteers???
  4. 4. About MeKat Toomajian (MissKat, zarhooie)Dreamwidth Studios, LLCCommunity & Volunteer SupportExperience15+ years Non-Profit5+ years Non-Profit Management4+ years OSS
  5. 5. Why This TalkGeneral Perceptions about OSS− Little diversity− Hostile community− Need to already have experience− Interview process
  6. 6. Why This TalkBreaking it down− Half the people on the planet arent male10-30% of tech professionals are femaleOnly 1.5-5% of OSS developers are female− Everyones a newcomer− Experience is a catch-22− Your vol interviews you, not the other way around
  7. 7. Your Project is Not A Special Snowflake
  8. 8. Your Project is Not A Special SnowflakeLots of projects out there− Your potential volunteers have choices− Make yourself competitive in the marketPotential volunteers look for− Culture− Environment− Other people− ???? (can be literally anything else)
  9. 9. STEP ZERO:How Do I People???Be nice.− Keep your IRC channel PG-13− Community standards, enforced adequately, willself-enforcePeer pressure works both ways− Combative vs Collaborative developmentIts ok to argue about stuffIts not ok to argue in a way that ends with peopleleaving the project
  10. 10. Four Letter WordsWoman is not a four letter word.Neither is diversity.− Dont make assumptions or jokes based aroundracism, ableism, sexism, or any other -isms− These jokes arent funny, and will drive volunteersaway from your project.If you hurt someones feelings...− Apologize. Dont tell them to get thicker skin.
  11. 11. WELCOME
  12. 12. Be WelcomingLower the entry barrierHave a welcome wagon− Links to:Jargon pageCulture wikiDevelopment wikiLower entry barrier = more developers = lesswork for you in the long run
  13. 13. Step One:Follow theYellow BrickCode
  14. 14. STEP ONE:Follow the Yellow Brick CodeWanted: awesome people!− Not everyone has experience, but...Lots of people want experienceLet them get that experience by coding for you!A → B → CGive people a job to do.Make mentors available.
  15. 15. STEP TWO:What Can You Doo-OO-oo... with aNewbie Dev?Training and mentoring your developersClear path from user to leader to management− User to developer to leadershipDeveloper development is a lifestyle choice− Takes effort, but its totally worth it− DW brought 14 devs and staff to YAPC fordevelopment. The return will justify the means.
  16. 16. Invest in Your CommunityCommon Fears of OSS Projects− They dont know enough to be useful− Im too busy to handle their question− If they have a question, theyll ask− I had to do it the hard way/thats not how I learned
  17. 17. Invest in Your CommunityRebuttals− Knowledge is an acquired thing, not innate− Mentoring is the most important thing you can do.− Technology advances. So should teachingtechniques− Dont ridicule those who ask for help
  18. 18. What is a Newbie Dev?Specific term for someone new to a project ordevelopment in generalYou dont have to go through the mentoring ifyou dont want toMany of our devs started out knowing nothingabout coding at all, let alone how to code
  19. 19. So What CAN They Do?Let them work on tiny bugs− Makes you look good− You dont have to untrain bad habits!− Can point to it and say I DID THATMotivational toolRetention tool
  20. 20. STEP THREE:?????????Every project and developer has specialrequirements− THIS IS OK.Look to your projects culture to find out whatthese needs are− Adjust accordingly.
  21. 21. Be Encouraging!Give credit where credits due− News posts− “merit badges”− Bribes can be a good motivational toolWrite referencesImpostor Syndrome 101
  22. 22. Impostor Syndrome
  23. 23. Theres a Place for (almost) EveryoneDont allow people who are violatingcommunity standards to keep doing that.Non-Development Positions− Cheerleaders− DocumentationEnd-UserProjectCulture− End-User SupportEnd-User Support is a gateway drug to development
  24. 24. STEP FOUR:Profit!Mentoring = Long-Term Project Survival− More invested = will bring their friendsNext to having dev custom built, its the bestAll your tiny stuff gets fixedNo bad habits to train outThey will learn what you want them to learnhow you want them to learn it.
  25. 25. LETS RECAP!Be Nice. Learn how to people.Lower your entry barriers.Mentor your developers.Project-specific goalsEnsure the long-term survival of your project
  26. 26. How Can I Do This In My Project?You can do them all, but start with one.− Pick one.Probably be nice/welcoming− Master it.− Move on to the next one.Learning how to newcomers takes time.− Be patient.− Ask for help.− perldoc friendlymentor (not really, I made this up)
  27. 27. Birthday Hat Hedgehog sez:THANKS FOR LISTENING!