A Conversation for h2g2 Feedback - Community Soapbox

Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 1

I'm not really here

I tried to rejoin the ACES, and apparently I have to prove my real life identity via a website.

I can understand this if someone is joining a group that has access to tools that might show personal details, but from memory all you get with one of the basic volunteer schemes is a badge. Scouts and Subs get a few extras, but nothing that could cause a problem. I realise things have changed since I was in these groups before, but the email did say nothing had changed except the method of communication and this id check.

What do other Researchers think? Is this overkill (as I think it is)? Will it put people off? It's put me off, just to greet a few newbies, which I could do without a badge anyway, and I've been here a long time. No wonder the list of ACEs is so short. smiley - sadface

I'm not saying it should be waived for people well known in real life to other Researchers, I think it's too much for anyone. I've never known any volunteer cause a problem which would have been avoided by a real life id check.

Thoughts? Official responses?


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 2

aka Bel - A87832164

Not an official response, just what I recall: this ID verification was required by the Not Panicking LTD board, iirc. I cannot remember the reason given (there was one, I'm sure). I was as surprised as you are, but it didn't really make a difference to me. The process was a lot easier than I had thought it would be, so it wasn't a big deal after all. smiley - smiley


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 3

kea ~ Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded but very well read blue and white website

The way it was explained to me is that it's to do with insurance and how much that will cost. As far as I can tell, it's connected to the insurance company's assessment of risk.

I have two problems with this:

1. I don't think the ACEs should have to be ID checked. We have a *very* long history of responsible volunteers. It's very hard to tell from this side of the fence how hard to bat c3 went on this issue.

2. This is something that should definitely have come back via the community. Maybe in the end there would have been no choice. But I remember distinct conversations in Magrathea about RL ID issues, reassurances given, and I feel that these have been slowly eroded over time and with such poor communication about them that I personally have ended up feeling like I wasted my time talking about it originally. The time/overwork issues only partially explain this.

I do appreciate some of the explanations I've had made to me personally (it's affected my work in two volunteer groups), but the way this has been handled is one example where the ball has been dropped majorly, and the issue should still have been brought back to the community.

I think there are more issues arising around RL ID to come (to do with who can join what level of the community and who can vote etc).


>>Will it put people off?

Yes I think it will. It doesn't put me off so much as exclude me point blank. I have RL reasons, nothing to do with h2g2, that prevent me from being able to do a RL ID check. I've also yet to see a good explanation of how that information will be stored, who will have access to it, and in what ways it could be potentially used.


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 4

kea ~ Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded but very well read blue and white website

So, in the spirit of keeping the community in the loop, maybe we could get a list of which volunteers require a RL ID check.

The Moderators do, and I'm guessing consequently the Community Editors.

The Gurus do if they want to have access to the Gurus' email account. Those working outside that don't.

The ACEs.

I was in the Mod group but left before we moved to noohootoo, and am still a Guru outside of the email access.


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 5

Vip

Just to let you know I'm double checking the answer to both questions and someone will get an official response back to you when it's been confirmed. smiley - ok

smiley - fairy


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 6

aka Bel - A87832164

>>I've also yet to see a good explanation of how that information will be stored, who will have access to it, and in what ways it could be potentially used.<<

Well, we were being told in the ID thread on Noesis.


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 7

kea ~ Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded but very well read blue and white website

Got a link Bel?

My expectation is that if NPL is going to use volunteers, and has specific requirements that are governed by British privacy laws, then there needs to be clear processes and protocols.

To that end I would expect the requirements to be published onsite (where that doesn't compromise anything), and that how the ID information will be stored, who will have access to it, and in what ways it could be potentially used are detailed explicitly onsite*.

The community deserves to know this, and anyone wanting to volunteer deserves to know too *before* they commit to volunteering.

*and at some point relatively soon it needs to be made easy to find.


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 8

aka Bel - A87832164

No, I don't have a link and am too lazy to search. I don't go to Noesis if I can help it. smiley - smiley

>>To that end I would expect the requirements to be published onsite (where that doesn't compromise anything), and that how the ID information will be stored, who will have access to it, and in what ways it could be potentially used are detailed explicitly onsite.<<

Somebody is working on that, Kea.

Please, peeps, don't forget that all volunteers here do have lives to lead which means having jobs to do, families to care for etc.

So, not everything is as complete as you and they'd like to have it, but the volunteers are working hard to get there as soon as possible.


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 9

kea ~ Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded but very well read blue and white website

Being a volunteer I also understand about RL, the overwork and the time constraints smiley - smiley There are some things where the ball is being dropped and this is one of them. I think it's an important one.


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 10

aka Bel - A87832164

It wasn't dropped, kea. Have a read through: http://h2g2.com/dna/h2g2/brunel/Aces-Code

Unfortunately, I looked for it on the 'Volunteer to be an Ace' page, which is why I was under the impression it hadn't been updated yet.

I have suggested to include it on the volunteering page, because I think it is more likely any prospective volunteers will read that first before going on to read the Aces Code of Conduct of which the rule is part. smiley - smiley

Not spoken in any official role here, just so you know.


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 11

lil ~ Auntie Giggles

>>No wonder the list of ACEs is so short<<

Actually, Mina, that list of ACEs is exactly the same list of volunteers who were ACEing for the last year under the BBC and has nothing to do with the ID being brought in.

Some of us had been dealing with the 'help pages' when we were moved onto other areas. Sadly, we didn't get to complete what we had been discussing, which was whether we should merge the ACE Volunteer page with the ACEs' Code of Conduct.

Please look under Non-Disclosure in <./>Aces-Code</.>

I'm sorry any of you have been put out by this, and as a volunteer I will endeavour to get the pages sorted as soon as possible.


lil.
Chief ACE.


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 12

KB

I'm a member of a couple of them - scouts, sub-eds, artists...but I don't recall having to undergo an ID check smiley - huh


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 13

aka Bel - A87832164

>>Actually, Mina, that list of ACEs is exactly the same list of volunteers who were ACEing for the last year under the BBC and has nothing to do with the ID being brought in.<<

Yes, that was something I meant to say but got distracted.

The list now shows those who are active, whereas the BBC list was not up to date because those who left the scheme were never removed from the page (although we frequently asked the eds to do that).


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 14

Peanut

Hmmm, we have though seemed to have gone from the volunteering roles being ones that require no id whatsoever - all that has been asked is for a commitment, responsibility and skills that mean that they can do the role they have applied for

we are now in a position where new roles are essential and for some of these I can see the need for more formal process, where there is a legal or a safeguarding need/requirement for id checks and that I find understandable.

Off top of head, mods. CEs, business team, trust reps, roles which give automatic access to personal and/or other confidential information

Other than that, I see no need for rl checks being a requirement to volunteer for roles on h2g2

I have been very much under the impression that there wouldn't be such a requirement.

It is one of those changes, that has happened and hasn't been well explained

I don't see why this wasn't considered to be quite a shift for h2g2 and therefore something that should have been well explained or thought through




Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 15

kea ~ Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded but very well read blue and white website

>>It wasn't dropped, kea.

I beg to differ Bel. The issue goes wider than just the ACEs. The explanation on the ACE's Code of Conduct page is perfunctory but doesn't adequately address the points I raised above and which I think, given that very serious processes like insurance liabilities are involved, are not unreasonable. It's like we are saying on the one hand, there are these distinct legal and financial issues, so we *have* to do this very formal thing, and on the other hand we think that it's ok to tell potential volunteers and volunteers a two line, incredibly generalised explanation of what's involved, but with no detail. *That* more than anything else suggests that the issues of online privacy are neither well understood nor respected.

And, the community hasn't been well informed, nor was it made part of the decision making process.

So, that's a few balls dropped.


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 16

I'm not really here

Thanks for the info given, to be fair to people running the groups, I wouldn't have read the pages again because I and would have expected such a huge change to be announced.

I realise it's the weekend, but I still haven't seen anything that explains why this huge change has come about. There's nothing on 'what do the ACEs do' that explains why they need to discuss confidential information away from h2g2, and if they do, then in fact the scheme has changed hugely, in which case we need a new scheme, just for greeting newbies. That's a really important job, and it really shouldn't be diluted in such a way that there are barriers to people joining it this huge.


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 17

Mrs Zen

Morning all

(Is everyone getting as annoyed about this hat thing as I am? I'm not in either of the Community teams, or a CE, though I was a Mod for a bit. So this is just an observation).

How much did the actual role of the active ACEs gradually change once the BBC stopped having Community Eds? It's a rhetorical question, but I do wonder if Jimster, Sam and Natalie took a pragmatic approach and trusted the few remaining ACEs with more than just greeting newbies because (a) they knew their real names, (b) there were only three or four of them and (c) because you can't lose three full time people and provide the same attention to detail. I am thinking that the italics may have asked "how's that thread, what do you think might be up with that person" those sort of things. In other words my thought from outside the ACEs and CEs is that the scheme did gradually change as it got smaller and harder after the BBC got rid of the CEs in 2005. Never enough for an announcement, but enough to be a different scheme from what it was back in the day when there were Community Eds, the Who's online box showed who was online, and h2g2 was the biggest and coolest DNA siite.

Ben


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 18

Rev Nick

Perhaps something that should be ironed out sooner rather than later would be Italicized accounts. Folks are much more familiar with the concept
that a post in cool script comes bearing the weight and opinion of 'powers that be'.

A big difference during this transition time is seeing posts from known 'important' people, and the words often conveying a sense of authority and
'direction', and so some days and threads people are unsure if the post is a personal take on a matter or the official party line.

I know that it may be a nuisance for CE's, ACE's, etc to switch panels or browsers for a more formal post, but it might help to clarify things in a number of
threads that get heated or, plainly, stupid.

As with smiley - thepost and Communications, if the 'power' wants to sign a post as 'Vip', or 'Bel' or 'Dmitri' what-ever, that would be a personal choice, and not
something that I would see as necessary. The font of the user-name would indicate that this is official or this is personal.

A coupla-coin's-worth of thought


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 19

Mrs Zen

Unfortunately the Business Processes team doesn't have an italicised a/c Nick.

I always try to make it clear when I am speaking on my own behalf and when I am speaking as the Core Team rep for the Business Process team, and I've seen other senior volunteers making the same destinctions recently.

Ben


Query on Volunteer Groups

Post 20

I'm not really here

I don't know anything about the ACE's role changing, but if there were no CEs then I can imagine the ACEs were not managed. Even if whatever Eds were left did ask the ACEs to do more (which was part of their role anyway) they wouldn't have had confidential discussions with them.

Is there an official answer to the question though? And is this real life ID likely to stay in place? I ask because I can't bear to write for the EG anymore now because I no longer trust my entries are safe here, and if I can't volunteer either, then I'm a big fat drain on resources. Which I'm quite happy about, but possibly the people who give up their free time, or those who need h2g2 to not bleed money all over the place might not be.


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