Thank you for your interest in signing up to volunteer as part of the OTRS team. We are always looking for volunteers and this page explains the work that OTRS volunteers do, what qualities we are looking for in a prospective agent, and how you can apply.
What do OTRS volunteers do?
OTRS volunteers handle incoming e-mail for the Wikimedia Foundation. This covers everything from complaints about simple vandalism to allegations of libel and bias in articles on the various projects. We often need to do some sort of investigation, asking follow-up questions and so need to be very patient where required, for example:
- Customer: "Hi, the picture of Zip is really my picture, can you take it down?"
- OTRS volunteer: Which project? Which picture exactly? Who is Zip? Can you give me the link to your picture and assure me it's you?
Our OTRS system has a number of "queues" which allow us to separate emails so that volunteers with the necessary language skills and either on-wiki or OTRS experience are able to answer them. info-en is our largest queue handling the majority of emails written in English, and is further split into "subqueues" to allow volunteers to easily choose whether they'd like to answer emails about minor article issues or biographies of living persons for example. There are also different levels of access, as some tickets are more difficult and require more OTRS experience. These are some of the busiest queues in the OTRS system and serve as the "front lines" for most reader interaction.
Please be aware that answering the info-en "tickets" can be stressful. You'll be handling messages from people who can be upset, clueless, disrespectful, and who in many cases have a legitimate complaint. However it is also rewarding knowing that you've helped to solve an issue of someone who is genuinely concerned about something in an article. This is a great chance to be part of the public face of Wikimedia. We can't always help people, but we do our best to leave them impressed with our professionalism and responsiveness. Please consider helping out, and please spread the word to others about the need.
What makes a good OTRS volunteer?
We always welcome new volunteers to help with answering tickets. Nonetheless, to ensure the quality of service and given the confidential nature of the work, there is a selective application procedure. The OTRS administrators are a group of highly-trusted and experienced volunteers who assess your application to join the OTRS team. When assessing an application, they familiarize themselves with your work on the Wikimedia projects to ensure that you are suitable as an addition to the OTRS team.
What do we look for?
- Must have a positive attitude about the Wikimedia Foundation and its mission.
- Must not have a history of biting newcomers. (Almost all OTRS tickets are from non-Wikimedians or newcomers.)
- Should be in good standing on all Foundation projects where you participate.
- Should have a history of keeping their cool even when dealing with raving lunatics.
We accept volunteers with varying levels of experience, and are especially interested in hearing from you if you are:
- An administrator on one or more Wikimedia Foundation projects, especially if that project is a small one with few or no OTRS volunteers.
- Familiar with processes on Wikipedia and able to answer routine questions about them. Some common responses include Ref Desk referrals; explanations of deletion processes or how to edit. This is very similar to work you could do at the Teahouse or Help desks, so if you are helping there you'd also be able to help out here!
- Familiar with acceptable licenses for images and text and willing to handle correspondence related to permissions. Many are routine, but some issues include unclear statements of permission or permissions issued by people who can't be clearly connected to the source.
- Familiar with policies regarding living people and organizations and able to assist article subjects with lightweight needs (updating logos, correcting small information) or serious concerns (allegations of gross inaccuracy; bias).
- Fluent in both English and another language and willing to help with interlingual complaints (for example, complaints written in English about content in the Greek Wikipedia)
- Knowledgeable of who does what at the Foundation (to be able to forward to the right people, move to the right queues)
However, this list is not exhaustive and so please do apply even if you have experience that's not listed above! The queues are also structured so that you have access to ones that get e-mails you will be knowledgeable about, so you do not need to have all of these skills. In addition, agents often work together as a team and collaborate on difficult tickets.
How do I apply to volunteer?
So you've read the information above and would like to volunteer? Great! Please go to OTRS/Volunteering and follow the instructions at the top of the page to submit an application.
Can I help out on IRC?
Sure! If you're not quite ready to help out with answering emails, you can join the #wikimedia-otrs IRC channel. All existing OTRS volunteers are "voiced" in the channel, and you can help out agents asking emails by doing small tasks such as:
- Rewriting parts of an article to meet the BLP policy
- Deleting an article from one of the Foundation projects, including Wikipedia
- Deleting a file from Wikimedia Commons
This list is also not exhaustive, so please don't hesitate to join the channel if you have any specific skills or permissions that you believe may be helpful to allow OTRS volunteers to respond to tickets.