Talk:Volunteer Strategy Gathering/November 2014

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We need a timescale for organising this.Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 11:02, 6 October 2014 (BST)

Insights from WMDE[edit source]

There was a really interesting talk at Wikimania by Dirke Franke of Wikimedia Germany. He talked about how different volunteers want different things and that the volunteers get to do the cool stuff and the staff do the less-cool stuff that enables the cool stuff to happen. Do we have a video of the talk? That would be very useful.

Yaris678 (talk) 10:17, 26 October 2014 (GMT)

Thanks for that. I have had a bit of an online search and found one of Dirk's presentations at the Pre-conference Volunteer Support meeting meeting is available here. Is this what you mean? There is a video on You-tube here, but I think this is something different? Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 14:24, 26 October 2014 (GMT)
You make a good point. One thing that then emerges is how to design a project so that volunteers can do the cool stuff and that there a funds for someone to br paid to do the less exciting work? Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 19:48, 26 October 2014 (GMT)
Looking at the programme, the talk was 12:00 to 12:30 in the Fountain Room, as part of the Technology VII stream. It was called "Engineering volunteering – what’s this volunteer support all about anyway?" but the presenter started by saying that it wasn't specific to engineering volunteering.
That Prezi presentation you linked to The community is you friend covers similar ground, although obviously it is just the slides - not what came out of the presenters mouth.
Designing a project so there are cool bits and bits we need to get funding for sounds like a sensible response to this way of looking at things. Maybe we could also do some kind of survey to work out what things people think are cool.
Yaris678 (talk) 11:00, 27 October 2014 (GMT)
Thanks for that. I have tracked down the video here, starts around 35 mins and goes on until 52 mins. I found it rather hard to hear, but the slides are also available here.Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 11:21, 27 October 2014 (GMT)
Thanks for finding that video. I have watched it back and I think it had some really good stuff. I especially like the Q&A at the end. e.g. the very last question, about project management. His point was that they generally don't manage volunteers - they try to support the volunteers to manage their own projects. Maybe doing that is easier said than done, but it is a good thing to aim for. It means people have to work out what is the best way to give support. Food for thought. Yaris678 (talk) 18:31, 3 November 2014 (GMT)
Yes that is an interesting piece which I have transcribed below:
Member of audience: Do you have any tools to manage the volunteers, for project management of volunteers?
Dirk Franke:"We do have some project management, but normally the projects are managed by the volunteers themselves and we try to support them. So the projects are managed by one or two of the volunteers and we try to support them with talking to them and asking questions and just try to help them managing their own projects. It is not like we are managing the volunteers, they are managing themselves and basically they tell us what to do, not the other way around. Sometimes people say that's not the way, but that is really not true: it is always the other way around." Wikimania 2014, Technology VII - Invention
This very much fits in with how WMUK is likely to develop, with a move to much more project-based funding. What this implies, though, is that our volunteers are starting to think in terms of projects and are keen to take on suitable roles to deliver projects. On the other hand it also implies that WMUK has suitable processes to enable and support such volunteers meet the requirements of such roles, particularly in relationship to reporting both for accountability to the movement and in regards to good governance of the charity. One of my hopes is that we shall make some progress in developing this at this gathering.Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 11:40, 4 November 2014 (GMT)
This pre-dates the official version of WMUK's history and thus is probably heresy, but volunteers used to run projects within WMUK, not least because there was nobody else to do it. For example, a volunteer would take the lead in a relationship with, say, a museum, and work with others as necessary to develop events and other things. Whereas now staff take the lead, develop events behind closed doors, advertise them, and bring in volunteers only at the very end of the process. I'm not going to pretend that the WMUK of 2010/11/12 was some sort utopia; it lacked strategy or indeed any idea of what it was trying to do and how its projects tied into each other and it was at a very early stage of its development as an organisation, but one of the things it had in its favour (and the reason I joined) was that it was a grassroots organisation and volunteers could actually play a central role. The WMUK of 2010/11/12 had a small number of volunteers who were very engage, whereas now it has a much larger number of volunteers (on paper, using a very dubious definition) but they are much less engaged. Neither is sustainable in the long term, but at least in the past the board listened to the (albeit small) community. Harry Mitchell (talk) 18:09, 16 November 2014 (GMT)
Harry, the board is listening. You haven't indicated above the practical steps you think that the charity should take to improve volunteer engagement, but I hope you'll be able to come and share your thoughts on the day. I'll be there. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:19, 17 November 2014 (GMT)

On the presentation above, having spoken to Dirk and Sebastian Sooth of WMDE back in June about the changes they made in terms of funding volunteer activities, one change they had made was that they stopped the requirement for all projects to be led by a Wikimedian. They now allow the budget for any project to be spent on hiring someone like a professional project manager or developer to lead the project (the volunteers would be able to hire). The aim of this was to free up the volunteers that put forward the project to focus on what they were good at rather than shoehorning them into roles that don't fit their skills or experience. It also allows for more ambitious projects requiring more specialised skills.

They have also been building a non-wiki page where members can vote for certain project proposals, which on the face of it is a good idea if they can decide how much support (absolute? relative?) a project needs to be approved.

I am currently in Berlin on holiday, but will be meeting up with some WMDE folks and I'll check up on how their changes have been working. (p.s Harry, I hope it's reassuring to know that last week in the first meeting with Amnesty International about a potential partnership/event, we had two volunteers in the room who have been working independently on this and will be key in moving that work forward).--Stuart Prior (WMUK) (talk) 12:13, 24 November 2014 (GMT)

Yes. I think that that the aim should be to allow volunteers to focus on the bits that they feel they can do and want to do. If you have a big project with several volunteers but no volunteer wants to project manage then hiring a project manager might make sense. In smaller projects, they may need a bit of "admin" doing, which the volunteers may find confusing and may feel like they are wasting their time. In other cases then maybe a bit of training can help the volunteers feel confident that they can manage things themselves. It depends from case to case and part of the skill for staff is to realise what kind of case each case is. Yaris678 (talk) 09:16, 28 November 2014 (GMT)

Other highlights from the video[edit source]

Some other things from Dirk Franke's talk at Wikimania 2014, Technology VII - Invention that I think are worth mentioning.

37:20

Dirk: My wonderful boss Dennis, who is coordinating all of us.

(Very brief mention. Possibly relevent to us when thinking about hat we want from our own CEO.)

37:27

Dirk: So what do we do? I don't want to brag because we have volunteers doing the cool stuff. We do the uncool stuff so the volunteers can do the cool stuff.

41:40

A slide that shows the different dimensions staff need to consider when working with volunteers. I think this is very useful.

46:20

Audience member asks about the tension between being a voluneer led organisation and not being able to rely on volunteers for everything.

Dirk refers back to his point about volunteers doing the cool stuff and eloborates slightly.

Audience member: So there isn't an easy answer? You just have to manage it.

Dirk: It's every day. You have to listen. It's really important to listen to what volunteers are saying. Even if you don't do what they say it is really important to listen to it. You can say "I have some reasons. I hope I can explain."

Yaris678 (talk) 09:49, 28 November 2014 (GMT)

Agenda suggestions[edit source]

  • What are the most important things for WMUK to focus on in the coming year? Mike Peel (talk) 20:29, 27 October 2014 (GMT)
  • Which of WMUK's current activities are making the most impact? How can their impact be increased? Mike Peel (talk) 20:29, 27 October 2014 (GMT)
  • How can WMUK better support and engage volunteers? Mike Peel (talk) 20:29, 27 October 2014 (GMT)
  • What role does WMUK have in the Wikimedia movement's technology development? Mike Peel (talk) 20:29, 27 October 2014 (GMT)
  • What is our view of the comments of the FDC staff on our annual funding proposal? In particular, what practical steps can we take to address their opinion that "While WMUK has a responsive strategy to address the interests of community members, WMUK needs to be more proactive in engaging its vast and active community for strategically focused programs". --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:19, 19 November 2014 (GMT)
  • What characteristics/skills/experience would the community like to see in a new CEO, and what should the appointment procedure be? --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:21, 19 November 2014 (GMT)
  • What is the purpose of Wikimedia UK? Is it currently fulfilling that purpose? Is the current framework the best way to fulfil it?
  • How is Wikimedia UK as an organisation relevant to the Wikimedia projects? Should it be more so?
  • WMUK focus for 2015. We will not know what funding we have been allocated by FDC until 1st December. Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 16:55, 29 October 2014 (GMT)
  • Impact of current WMUK activities. Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 16:55, 29 October 2014 (GMT)
  • Better support and engagement for volunteers. I think this has to be a key element of the conference. Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 16:55, 29 October 2014 (GMT)
  • Understanding and expanding volunteer diversity both in terms of people and of skills Mrjohncummings (talk) 14:15, 19 November 2014 (GMT)
  • Understanding what we mean by volunteer for Wikimedia UK Mrjohncummings (talk) 14:15, 19 November 2014 (GMT)
  • Accountability of volunteers Mrjohncummings (talk) 14:15, 19 November 2014 (GMT)
  • Is it possible to connect WMUK volunteers with other volunteer communities Mrjohncummings (talk) 14:15, 19 November 2014 (GMT)
  • What do volunteers need to be productive? Mrjohncummings (talk) 14:15, 19 November 2014 (GMT)
  • How do we invite people to participate and how can we improve this? Mrjohncummings (talk) 15:59, 19 November 2014 (GMT)
  • How do we better give each other opportunities to connect and share our learning as volunteers? (Sharing best practice) Mrjohncummings (talk) 15:59, 19 November 2014 (GMT)
  • Business cards, branded clothing/ badges and other identification. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 18:27, 23 November 2014 (GMT)
  • Expanding sources of funding Mrjohncummings (talk) 16:02, 25 November 2014 (GMT)
  • Expanding reach and variety of activities Mrjohncummings (talk) 16:02, 25 November 2014 (GMT)
  • Establishing/maintaining volunteer communities in outpost areas ACrockford (talk) 17:24, 27 November 2014 (GMT)

Technology development[edit source]

I am not sure how many people attending the conference will be up on all the tech issues. I am hoping that we will have some people from the recently formed Wikidata Working Group to give a report back on how the group functions. What I feel we may need is a one-day tech gathering focussing specifically on such issues. Then it would be possible to get to grips with things and come up with practical steps forward. A decision to organise such an event could be an important outcome of this gathering.Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 16:55, 29 October 2014 (GMT)

To give praise where it's due, a separate meeting focused on technology is a very good idea. But, rather than a hackathon/developer conference type event, I'd love to see an event where on-techy people can talk to techy people about the things they'd like to see and get feedback on how practical the ideas are in terms of the amount of development work required and then discuss how WMUK could support them. Harry Mitchell (talk) 19:03, 16 November 2014 (GMT)
I suggest steering clear of making plans about wikidata for a time when the right technical people are available. I spent this weekend at the wikidata hackerthon after WMNL invited me and offered to cover my expenses (on the presumption that the UK would not), and managed to build a general bot for wikidata to upload the Tate dataset (potentially 440,000 items) as well as attending a related Europeana task force meeting. The only other UK person at the hackerthon was Jheald, which may be an indicator of something.
I'm not available this month, and if I wanted to come I'm sure there would be reasons found to exclude me, what with me being "deeply disturbed". -- (talk) 15:08, 18 November 2014 (GMT)

Engaging new people[edit source]

I was recently shown this, I'm sure there are other examples we could examine and explore for Wikimedia context. Daria Cybulska (WMUK) (talk) 12:43, 4 November 2014 (GMT)

That is awesome. A lot of thought has obviouasly gone into it, but it is very concise and, because of its tabular nature, should be very quick to use. Yaris678 (talk) 22:07, 4 November 2014 (GMT)

Travel and subsistence[edit source]

For speed and convenience, I plan to drive from London. Will there be car parking provision? As I'm not familiar with the venue, I'd appreciate some general information about directions, refreshments, &c. Andrew Davidson (talk) 13:51, 15 November 2014 (GMT)

There are a number of car parks, but not cheap. The nearest two are i) Brindley Drive, immediately at the rear of the library, and ii) at the NIA, just along Cambridge Street (the North, rather than South, carpark is closest). There are plenty of food outlets, inside and nearby outside the library. If approaching via M40/M5, leave the latter at junction 3, and follow signs for the city, then NIA. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 18:01, 16 November 2014 (GMT)
I understand that WMUK will be covering travel costs for attendees (as per the announcement on 7 October), so presumably that will also cover car parking? It would make sense to keep costs low by car-sharing where possible, perhaps we could add a section to this page to facilitate this? I'll be driving from Manchester, and would be happy to offer a lift to anyone traveling from the same direction. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 01:02, 18 November 2014 (GMT)
My understanding is that Jon has approved payment of reasonable expenses which should include car parking where necessary. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:11, 19 November 2014 (GMT)

Volunteer Strategy Gathering 2[edit source]

We are starting to plan a second event around the end of February, 2015, where some of these discussions can also take place.Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 15:01, 19 November 2014 (GMT)

Social and access[edit source]

As a Birmingham resident, I regret that I won't be around on Friday to welcome early arrivals, but if anyone is around on Friday evening and wants recommendations for a place to enjoy the local delicacy, the balti (type of curry), other food, or somewhere to drink, I'm happy to oblige.

Likewise, I can arrange something for after Saturday's event, if people are not in a hurry to leave. What would people like to do?

I'm also wiling to accompany visitors to one or other (or both) of the library's roof gardens during a break, and to point out landmarks. Bring your cameras!

I should also mention that Birmingham's "Frankfurt" Christmas Market is in full swing. You will either love or loathe this, but either way bear in mind that it's crowded (to the point of requiring security staff to regulate foot-traffic flow), especially later in the day, and will delay your progress to and from the Library of Birmingham and along New Street, should you use that route.

For that reason I suggest that pedestrians use:

  • Stephenson Street (turn left out of the station)
  • Navigation Street
  • Go across Hill Street
  • Pass under A38 flyover
  • Turn right
  • Up ramp
  • Go across end of Holiday Street
  • Continue up ramp, gradually bearing left
  • Cross Broad Street at pedestrian lights

to reach the library from New Street Station (and reverse). Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 17:58, 23 November 2014 (GMT)

Thanks Andy, that's extremely useful information. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:03, 24 November 2014 (GMT)

Venue[edit source]

What room are we meeting in? Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 11:03, 24 November 2014 (GMT)

Room 101! Fabian Tompsett (WMUK) (talk) 11:16, 25 November 2014 (GMT)
Apt. Thank you. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 18:33, 26 November 2014 (GMT)

Not sure[edit source]

I've registered, but I'm far from sure I'm coming, as I'm doing too much travelling & weekend "working" at the moment. Johnbod (talk) 00:09, 25 November 2014 (GMT)

Sorry, couldn't make it. Johnbod (talk) 15:30, 29 November 2014 (GMT)

WMUK's final governance audit report published[edit source]

Although not directly on topic, attendees might be interested to read today's published independent report on the charity's governance. I am pleased that Chapman has highlighted the opportunities for the board now to become more outwardly focussed in its time and efforts, as it is an approach the board is entirely in agreement with and which is - starting with this volunteer day - something that we consider an ongoing high priority for the charity. For details, see the Water cooler. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 12:35, 28 November 2014 (GMT)

Technology workshop?[edit source]

One idea that came out of the November strategy meeting (or, actually, was re-visited) was to have a special-interest volunteers meeting early next year specifically focused on IT and tech issues. I'd suggest that anyone who is interested in that might like to have a look at the page for the proposed Technology Workshop. We might want to revise the draft agenda in the light of recent changes in WMUK funding and management, and I've suggested a few things that we could consider discussing. Would that be of interest? --MichaelMaggs (talk) 13:05, 10 December 2014 (GMT)