An increase in the number of volunteers is imperative for a citizen-participation based movement such as Wikimedia to keep it going as before, and to provide the participation towards newer initiatives.
Volunteer recruitment happens in many ways — some are encouraged by friends to join, some join because of their own interest and curiosity, yet others are brought into the fold because of outreach events and organised edit-a-thons etc.
So, volunteer recruitment is basically not a process that can be pushed but that can be encouraged, as indicated by feedback and studies.
Recruitment of volunteers is primarily a community function. It is for the community to engage and encourage prospective Wikimedians, and to organise efforts in different locations and in different ways to get more volunteers.
Based on community feedback, we may initiate ways and means that encourage people to edit, make the process of getting the basic skills for editing easier, encourage more new editors to stay, prosper and become long term editors who contribute to the movement in a wide variety of ways.
However, there are communities where there just aren’t enough editors to do more than barely survive. These communities need many new volunteers if they are to achieve their potential. However, they are unable to do it by themselves and would need help from others.
I suggest that each language community and their Wikimedia projects be assessed to determine whether it is constrained in growth and development by sheer lack of volunteers. Based on our findings, such communities should be supported by WMF staff, and regional hubs, as and when they form, in their efforts to recruit volunteers.
Measures to recruit volunteers could include:
- Appeals to the people of the country to edit Wikimedia projects and thereby support open knowledge, and to preserve their country’s heritage, language and culture.
- Outreach activities both to schools, colleges and other institutions, as well as to not-usually engaged communities, such as old citizens’ groups, professional bodies,
- Use of social media to inform people, get them interested, and to facilitate their recruitment.
- Lobby for support from government organisations so that they cooperate in outreach and activities that will help recruitment.
- Have public competitions of contributions so that more people are attracted to the movement in hope of recognition and reward.