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  Finding Good Volunteers?
How do I get and keep quality volunteers to assist in monitoring my community? How can I effectively screen applicants so that the volunteers do not cause more problems than they solve?

We commend you for wanting to find quality individuals to help monitor your site. Moderators can be of great assistance in maintaining the quality of content produced, as well as ensuring that your visitors enjoy their time and are getting the most out of your site.

In regards to recruiting volunteers, prior to doing so it is crucial that you establish a list of qualities and experience you wish your volunteers to have, as well as your requirements for volunteering. This is the foundation to ensuring that you find the quality support you are looking for.

Once your list is in place, you can then develop an application process. This process should encompass several components, such as a formal application document or an online interview that will allow you to get to know the applicant and their qualifications. An online interview is particularly important; it is there that you will see how their communication skills reflect their character and abilities. If a person does not come across well during the online interview then it is more than likely they will be unsuitable for your site.

Also, as a suggestion, when recruiting volunteers it is best to share with potential applicants the specific qualities/experience you require, the requirements for volunteering, the monitoring and management of their role, and the benefits you are willing to offer for time spent as a volunteer. Those benefits can be a discount in an online store, free merchandise from the site, payment of internet connection, etc. However, the most important benefit you can provide is a sense of belonging, letting your volunteers know they are valued.

Once the above processes are set you are then ready to begin your search. One of the best places to find volunteers is from within your existing community. Your members already have true buy-in into your site, know it fairly well, and understand the tone and content of your site. This is also a great way to validate them and their contribution. If this is not an option, there are several job sites that post resumes or allow you, as a site owner to place ads based on your needs, or you might also explore newsgroups and comparable sites to look for individuals with communication skills and competency in your field.

Moderators play a crucial role in your community so your application process should be as thorough and as involving as any volunteer posting. We wish you the best of luck with your community and your volunteers.

- Jon Nix and Pam Thomas
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