Roan Kattouw wrote:
[The volunteers'] role, IMO, is to keep the
positive. This means being welcoming to new staff, embracing them,
pat them on the shoulder when they to things right and correct them
when they do things wrong, while keeping their patience.
I feel that especially the shoulder-patting and patience parts have
been lacking lately, at least in the perception of the staff members I
spoke to. This leads to them perceiving the environment as
predominantly negative towards them, which does not encourage them.
Please pardon an outside comment which may be misinformed, or too
blunt; I haven't been part of this discussion or followed all of
it, and I'm not well-informed on the tensions which motivated it.
It seems to me that if we're talking about backpats, it's the
volunteers who are more likely to need them, not the paid staff.
Since you hire the paid staff, you can presumably pick people who
are professional enough to understand their job requirements and
remuneration structure, and the special issues involved in
working with volunteers. One of those issues is that the
volunteers are sometimes going to be cantankerous, or even
downright vituperative, and if in spite of this you think it's
primarily the volunteers whose job it is to "keep the environment
positive", you're likely to be disappointed.
You don't hire the volunteers, of course, and you're somewhat
stuck with the ones you get. If one of them gets his nose bent
out of joint over some perceived slight, then you might have to
give him a pat on the back (even if you think he doesn't deserve
it), because you can't get rid of him if you think he's being
oversensitive, and you certainly can't tell him to quit his
blubbering and be happy with the paycheck he's getting.
The volunteer's primary job is to donate real work for free,
and if he imagines that one of the perks of the role is the right
to get kvetchy from time to time (perhaps due to a twinge of
jealousy that the staff are getting paid and he's not), then
that's okay, and it's the staff's job to humor him, with a pat
on the back if necessary. Unfair and asymmetrical it may be,
but the staff does *not* get to get kvetchy in turn about a
negative or unwelcoming atmosphere.
[Disclaimer: I am not at all trying to suggest that Wikimedia's
volunteers *are* a bunch of praise-craving blubberers. But if
anyone's going to act that way, it should be the volunteers, not