The way the system works now volunteers are pretty much on their own for learning things. We try to help them where we can, by giving reviews, answering questions in learn_support, and occasionally e-mailing them to make changes to answers that would be good once the changes are made.
This works really well for a category like G/Unk but for a category like Customization where a volunteer needs to have a some basically skills in both html and CSS to even start it doesn't work so well. Also what about the people who have the basic skills and show promise but need to learn more to become truly effective at the more complex stuff? We all know from experience that once you get going its not that hard, that their are a limited number of things you actually need to learn and to know in order to answer even the most complex questions in Customization. But how do we teach people these things?
As the system stands now volunteers are encouraged and supported but are never actually "trained" in html and CSS. Never "taught" how we do things, other then by trail and error. If they want to advance to the more complex requests they are left to their own devices to try and educate themselves. Most of our current volunteers do this and spend a lot of time learning how to work on every more complex questions. They ask questions, they are responsive when we make suggestions. We have a really good group of volunteers. Yet we are still short staffed.
So here's what I'd like to start doing, and braindrain has already agreed to be a guinea pig for this program for me. I'd like as many privs as I can to also help out so that we can really and truly teach people how to work in customization. Not just how to answer, but how to use html and CSS, how to work with a user's messed up overrides, how to work with styles.
I'm going to start a Mentoring program. What this means is that screened volunteers will have a priv that will work with them on a one on one basis. A priv might have two or three people they are mentoring.
To begin with I'd like any privs who are willing to mentor screened volunteers to comment in the post being made right after this (since this is public and any discussion about the competence level of a given screened volunteer should be kept confidential to the community) with people whom you think would benefit from mentoring. Any screened volunteers who would like to be mentored can comment here. Screened volunteer don't comment here still might be contacted by a priv about whether or not they would like to participate in the mentor program any screened volunteer who comments here will definitely be contacted by a priv.
Now for the details of how this will work.
I'll keep a Friends Only post that will have a list of the mentoring privs and the volunteers they are mentoring. This way there's no confusion and we don't accidentally give a volunteer more then one mentor.
What a mentor does:
A mentor will need to review some of the answers (not necessarily a full scale review, especially if the volunteer has had a review recently) of the screened volunteer they are working with to get a feel for their ability level.
The mentor will then, in the normal course of going through the board to do approvals, closing comments, check up on requests etc, make note of some requests that are slightly above the screened volunteer's current answer level. Not a lot of requests around 3-5 at a time would be a good number.
The mentor would mark the request with an IC that they have e-mailed "username" about answering it. If nobody's come back to the request in a couple of days then the request is fair game.
The mentor would then e-mail the screened volunteer with this list and a description of what each answer needs to include and perhaps some suggestions on where to find that information. Once the screened volunteer has answered the requests they would e-mail the mentor back who would then review the answers and suggest any changes that need to be made.
If the answer the screened volunteer gives isn't the best available then the normal rules apply about approving the first, best answer. But even if the screened volunteer's answer isn't ultimately the answer that's approved they've learned something. They've learned what types of things need to be in an answer to that kind of request. They've tried a request they might not have considered trying before and they are that much closer to being able to be the first best answer on that type of request.
Screened volunteers would then be able to e-mail their mentor when they have a question about answering a particular request, if they need help working on a certain answer.
Note that mentor's won't be writing the answers, just indicating what needs to be included in an answer. Also just because a screened volunteer has been e-mailed a list with suggestions doesn't mean their answer will automatically be approved. This is a way to help screened volunteers learn more and improve their skills. Whether approved or not the learning and knowledge are still there.
We want to help screened volunteers learn more about customization and improve their skills so that they can earn privs themselves. A mentoring program will allow us to do that far more effectively.
This is a rough outline which I'm sure can be improved on so please make suggestions on how to do that. :)