Volunteer Peer Support
Is there (or could there be) a mechanism for forum volunteers to request help or a second opinion from each other?
I know we do this informally already by jumping into threads when we have something to add, and by using the “modlook” tag to get staff attention, but there are some questions that don’t necessarily need a staff person, but would absolutely benefit from having another volunteer review the thread and offer additional suggestions or say– “yeah, I don’t know either, let’s get a staff ruling.”
I think this could also be useful when new people start to volunteer. The best way to get experience is to start answering questions, but doing that without training wheels can be confusing for the users who come here for help, and probably somewhat annoying for long-term volunteers who clean up any resulting messes.
The ideas I’ve thought of so far are a “2nd Opinion” tag that works like the modlook tag, although we’d need to make sure new volunteers knew about it, or maybe a P2 or something like it where forum volunteers can collaborate and ask questions without clogging up the threads of users asking questions.
I’m not sure either of those are the right answer, or even that a system like this would be valuable, so I look forward to hearing what you all think.
You may not be aware of this but the long term Volunteers do (informally and voluntarily) ghost the answers newbies post into threads. We do correct any incorrect answers, as well as, enhancing whatever has been posted where required.
Another thing you may not be aware of is that the Staff presence on the support forums during prime online time in North America has increased dramatically.
If you are unsure of an answer you are thinking of posting then you have three options:
(1) don’t post unless you are convinced your answer is correct;
(2) post and clearly state that you are unsure, knowing at least one other Volunteer is likely to supplement what you post or correct it;
(3) tag the thread for a Staff response.
I do like the idea of using a 2nd opinion tag.
However, as far as setting up a P2 forum for Volunteers goes I say “no thank you” to that idea. I don’t need the burden of yet another login and yet another site to participate in.
Thanks, that’s helpful, timethief. I did know that experienced people were “checking-up” at least occasionally, but it’s useful to know that any mention of “I’m almost positive, but would love confirmation” will be seen by your or one of the other veterans.
I was also just trying to think of a way to make it a little easier for you to “ghost” while also making it easier for new volunteers to become genuinely helpful faster–but if the current system is working well for people, there is certainly no need to futz with it.
Like @TT notes above – a lot of cross checking goes on without someone being aware of it – I will add to a thread if something has been left out or something
Most of the time people take the additions in good whatever – but one newbie took serious offense at me cleaning up after them and did a bit of a rant in one of the threads I had cleaned up – they were all upset that I had cleaned up several of their answers – I resisted the temptation to point out that had they gave an accurate answer someone would not have needed to clean up after them
As for those who get “upset” when corrected, they ought to know that in order to provide support over the long term one has to develop the hide of a rhino. When you are on Staff you have to take what trolls, drama queens and kings, passive aggressive snowflakes, etc. dish out because you are paid to.
For the tag, what about, similar to “modlook”, something like “2ndlook”?
I like it! I plan to start using the tag when I could use some volunteer back-up and will also check it in case anyone else starts using it too. If it doesn’t catch on, no harm done, but I think it could be useful.
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