Minutes from the EC's Discussion on Volunteers
From the SIGCHI Executive Committee Meeting held January 15, 2005 in Portland, OR
Ed: database for volunteers
Really two lists: one for reviewers, one for other volunteer positions
Reviewers are in PCS; others arenâ€™t collected
What is the role of CHIplace, if any?
Joe: people get upset about having to enter information twice
Joe: CHIplace may not have a long life
Joe: What information do we want to capture about our volunteers?
Joe: we want people to be able to go in and update their own profile
We want to be able to query over volunteers
We want to make sure that we can capture the breadth of volunteer activity at all levels
We want to be able to allow volunteers to specify what they are interested in volunteering for?
Ed: what does the schema look like?
Issues around paying PCS to spec and develop extensions
Ed: privacy issues too; who can query?
Joe: what is the real overlap between reviewers and â€œposition volunteersâ€?
How many open positions arenâ€™t filled because we donâ€™t have willing volunteers?
Ed: real question is how do outsiders crack the bloack box to get in?
Joe: suppose we set up firstname.lastname@example.org , encourage volunteers to sign up, and chairs post announcements of open positions?
Ed: thatâ€™s great, but we also want to capture and archive the volunteering that is being done so we can reward people?
Ed: which is more important: opening the black box, or rewarding volunteers?
If someone puts out a call on email@example.com and gets N responses, do they need to answer every one?
What are the entry-level positions in this org?
Joe: a key one is chapters!!!
Kevin: so how do they graduate up?
Key issue: at the SIGCHI level, people tap as volunteers people that we know and trust
Kevin: so that means that we donâ€™t use drop-in volunteers at the SIGCHI level. If we like this model, we should be funneling volunteers into local chapters and into the larger social network
Joe: can we create some new lower â€œgroomingâ€ positions? Perhaps as EC scribe? Host at each conference session to make sure everyone finds a seat? Hosts for first-time attendees at CHI conference? None of these are neessarily good ideas, but should be have as a goal to find a position for everyone who wants to get involved? Or should we just create work for people just to get them in and involved?
Marilyn: weâ€™re ignoring the reward/recognition problem which is real tooâ€¦
Alan: volunteers arenâ€™t free
Joe: I recall some ideas from BayCHI on how they get people involved. One: start with small tasks; be in charge of one thing vs. a major responsibility the first time out. Two: have a large leadership circle that got together regularly.
Ed: lots of ethical and privacy questions around evalutating volunteers.
Erica: thatâ€™s part of the agreement with volunteers: we can make it clear that we evaluate volunteers. It is delicate, but it can be done.
Marilyn: I have a proposal: letâ€™s get started as a call for volunteers and building a list. Then use this as a first volunteer activity: compile the list of volunteers
Ed: but we have that already, in CHIplace; the problem is that we havenâ€™t done anything with it. A few hundred people specifically said that they were interested in volunteering.
Joe: is the problem really a management problem? Are our senior volunteers unwiling to entrust junior volunteers? How do we find tasks that are ok if they fail? Do we need to create entry-level volunteer positions?
Action item for all of us: every EC member should create an entry-level volunteer position in the next 2 weeks. Agreed by consensus.
Ed should create a mailing list for distribution of volunteer positions. Prime it with the email aliases of the chiplace self-selected volunteers
Once we see that this works, we can expand it out to other SIGCHI activities.
Ed: Idea: long-term recognition through â€œtiersâ€ of volunteer effort. Maybe different color ribbons at the conference, varying by years of volunteering and levels of service. Requires committee/work to track service levels and years.
Joe: what if people self-reported # of hours spent volunteering for SIGCHI-sponsored acitvities?
Joe: it would be nice to have a low bar first reward: a stick-on â€œVâ€ for anyone who has volunteered 10 hours?
Marilyn: maybe once a year we collect up a list of everyone who has volunteered for SIGCHI. That also becomes our ongoing record.
Joe: which forces another issue: we need to know who is in charge of every activity that has volunteers. They need to send us the lists so we can archive them and note them publicly.
Kevin: can we do something for local chapters? One nominee from each chapter? A slide at the closing plenary, and a page in the program?
Joe: Can we tell the story of those volunteers? Get a paragraph from the local chapters about each of those volunteers? Tell those stories in the bulletin â€“ either one in each issue or one special issue with all of them?
Joe: Do we need a standard thank-you letter from SIGCHI at the end of the year to all of our volunteers? Should it go to their manager too if they want?