All posts by taterunino

NCI and its staff: How we bring new staff on board

As you’re probably all aware, Linden Lab’s volunteer mentor program (which was effectively closed a little over a year ago from memory) is now finally being disbanded. We’ve already had a number of folks from the program ask to sign on with NCI staff, and so this is probably as good a time to talk about that process as any.

NCI is, as you should know, a volunteer organization. Nobody gets paid for the work they do, except for instructors and event hosts who are paid a small fee for classes. NCI has a very large footprint in Second Life, in terms of people, land and facilities. It is not cheap to run, and there’s nothing left over for wages.

NCI does not have ‘positions of power’ (with the exception of the owner/trustee). Instead it has positions of responsibility. NCI staff and officers are expected to fulfill those responsibilities with diligence and principle.

Being a volunteer organization and a widely distributed one, we value key criteria in different priorities to what you might find in more centralized organizations or businesses. Your principles, trustworthiness and reliability are more important than raw ability. The latter can be learned. The other things are harder to come by.

Civility, courtesy and respect are the three things we look for in people dealing with new Second Life users, and in dealing with NCI responsibilities. Those three core qualities should be a part of everything you do, whether you’re dealing with new users, your fellow staff, or griefers (whether accidental or intentional). Everyone makes mistakes or slips up now and again, but those three qualities will help get us all past mistakes and failures, whether we’re NCI staff or new users.

We select staff members through a double-probation system. Anyone who is willing to comply with the rules of our spaces, and who is willing and able to help new users is welcome to do so — just show up and start helping. Ask one of the staff for more information about the rules of the spaces, if you need to.

Not everyone who is both willing to help and able to help is necessarily an ideal fit for NCI’s operation, but those that distinguish themselves in action and principle, are provisionally taken on staff as Helpers. Helpers who continue to distinguish themselves are given increased responsibilities within NCI, if they want it and some appropriate role is available.

At one time, we had an actual application process, but the actual results were quite poor compared to this rather longer process.

Your ethical compass is, of course, expected to point firmly towards new users and, by extension, NCI. Assisting as many new users as possible, and as effectively as possible, is why we’re all here. It’s good for the new users, and what’s good for them improves all our Second Life experiences as a whole.

We help more than an estimated 40,000 new users each year, and that number continues to grow. We remain the most vigorous and heavily trafficked organization of our type because we stick to our principles, we maintain order in our facilities, and we’re selective about our staff.

Everything old is new again

Dear NCI folk, before I get to the heart of the post, I want to thank each of you for dedicating your time and skill (be it scripting, building, helping new citizens, or a sense of humor that can help lighten the mood of Group Chat.) NCI can be a great organization without a single Linden Dollar or a single square metre of land. But it must have great people to be a great organization. And NCI is full of great people. Thank you for making NCI what it is.

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