As an administrator on the Wikimedia Foundation’s OTRS system, I’ve been asked a couple times what the admins look for in potential volunteers. I can’t speak for the other admins, but here is what I personally like to see in OTRS volunteers. [Of course, volunteers get bonus points if they can work in an underserved language, with tickets for an underserved project, or at a time of day when other volunteers are asleep.]
Some of this phrasing may apply best to the English Wikipedia, but the general concepts apply to all wikis.
- A history of diplomacy
- After a while, we start seeing patterns in tickets. One archetype is the “what do you mean X is not notable” message, where somebody connected to a recently-deleted article complains about deletion policy. A good reply to this category of ticket refers to deletion policy without sounding elitist; it gently points the user towards an appropriate remedy but does not give false hope. That sort of answer is tough, but possible, to write, and when I see that a user has been able to achieve this sort of tact on-wiki I get a little excited.
- Experience dealing with thorny biographies
- This isn’t an absolute requirement, but boy, does it help. Biographies of controversial figures are quite possibly the toughest articles to edit; not only are they high-profile targets for vandals, but they also get a lot of subtle POV added by supporters and critics alike. Somebody who can clean up these articles is just about a shoo-in for OTRS as far as I’m concerned.
- An understanding that OTRS access is a responsibility, not a trophy for your user page
- If you tell us that you want to help with OTRS, then we really do expect you to help with OTRS. I know OTRS can be challenging and time-consuming and stressful, and I know that it can take a while to really adapt, but don’t waste our time if you’re never even going to log in.
- A willingness to step away from templates on user talk pages
- Yes, templates are quick; yes, they’re easy; yes, we have plenty of stock answers written in OTRS; yes, I sometimes use templates on-wiki or boilerplates in OTRS. Sometimes, though, a more specific response is necessary. Remember, OTRS is essentially customer service, and as a result quality counts more than quantity.
- “Administrator” status on a WMF wiki
- It doesn’t have to be enwiki, but the sysop flag shows me that somebody somewhere trusts you. I do check out RfAs as well; they can be handy in spotting potential problems with a particular volunteer.
- Discretion, discretion, discretion!
- This one should go without saying. People who e-mail the Foundation expect that we keep their personal information private.
If you think you fit these criteria and still want to help, then check out the OTRS volunteering page on meta.