So you want to volunteer? Great! AVfM is run entirely by volunteers, and we need people with specific skills (or who are able to pick up the requisite skills quickly), who are trustworthy, reliable and seriously dedicated.
If you think that is you, then read on…
Before you get in contact with us, it helps immensely if you can have the following information to hand:
- Some idea of how much time you can commit to. We recognise that some can spare more time than others, and we also recognise that everybody goes through busy times in life when you’ll have less than the usual amount of time available, so this is not a hard-and-fast commitment. Just an idea.
- A good idea of what you’d like to do and/or a list of the specific skills you have to offer. Chances are you don’t know what we need, so it is often enough to simply say what you’re good at, and we’ll see if we can find a match for those skills. You never know, it may be that you can do something none of us can do (or do well), and we’ve never therefore planned to do anything like that.
Since nearly every type of volunteering involves some sort of privileged access to some part of AVfM’s infrastructure, we must be careful about whom we accept onto staff. Unless you’re well known to us already, or can be vouched for by somebody who is, then we will need to do a background check on you.
Building up trust is enormously important and so, depending on a variety of factors, you may be started off small and given minor duties not quite in your primary area of interest but, just as soon as we are comfortable that you’re not a feminist mole bent on undermining us in the most clandestine of ways (and you’re comfortable that you do actually wish to continue volunteering with AVfM), you’ll be assigned more interesting tasks.
In general, how quickly you progress will depend on you. If you have what it takes and are willing to work as hard as time allows, the opportunities for rapid advancement within AVfM are significant.
General areas of need
Nearly every page on AVfM (including this one) has a “volunteers’ module” advertising most recent needs. It’s always good to check out that to see if there is anything of interest to you. Otherwise, the following are examples of the sorts of things we need help with:
- News gatherers. We need people willing to look for relevant news and, ideally research and write original news content.
- Volunteer coördinator! One of the most important roles vacant. While it’s true that more hands make lighter work, more hands can also mean more time supervising and processing volunteers, especially introducing new volunteers and training them up.
- Reference wiki contribution. The reference wiki is a great idea, but it’s only as good as the content that’s in it. We need contributors to help write new articles, add current research and data and clean up existing articles. Familiarity with MediaWiki is ideal, but is not essential and can be picked up pretty quickly. This work is ideally suited to those who have only sporadic time to contribute.
- Reference wiki administration. The reference wiki has been rather neglected because we simply haven’t had anybody to supervise it. Familiarity with MediaWiki is essential for this work.
- Comment vetting. We check every comment posted to AVfM and though we have a special tool to make this easier, it is labour intensive. The more eyeballs we have on new comments, the less work there is for everybody. There is a team of comment moderators whom you can ask if in doubt about a particular comment.
- Forum moderation. Something similar applies to forums management. We don’t necessarily have any vacancies for forums moderatorship at one given time, but (aka The Man on the Street) who, amongst other things, is our forums manager, will know what is required.
- Editorial work. AVfM has an established editorial process consisting of multiple stages. You don’t have to be a great wordsmith to help out here, one of the most important jobs is to filter incoming submissions (using our submissions management system, RT), pass on the best candidates and ensure that nothing is neglected for too long. Final decision making is, of course, carried out by our senior editors, but there is a great deal of scope for assistance in this respect.
- Radio archive management. We have a complete archive of AVfM radio shows, but none of these have been publicly available since we moved away from BlogTalkRadio (which was expensive and unreliable). We need somebody to do the leg work to develop the radio affiliate.
- Social media management. AVfM automatically publishes our content to various social media platforms (currently Twitter, Facebook, LockerDome and a few others) but the world of social media is ever changing and there is always room for improvement.
- WordPress development. Our system administrator, , does what he can, but there’s only one of him and his duties cover much more than just WordPress. There is a range of vacancies in this respect ranging from general maintenance to plugin maintenance to development of new sites.
- Various other development work. For those with programming skills (especially in PHP and Python/Flask), there are a number of projects waiting for attention, including new projects and debugging and maintenance of existing code.
This list is in no way exhaustive. Some of these things require relatively little time commitment, some more. Some allow for piece-work (doing what you can as and when available), others require that we can rely upon you to complete the task once assigned. If you think you’ve got a great idea for AVfM and are willing to make it happen, let us know.
A lot of the most critical work done by volunteers is thankless and largely anonymous. If you’re still not put off and are still interested in volunteering in some capacity, please and let us know what you’re interested in doing.