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.

3 thoughts on “NCI and its staff: How we bring new staff on board”

  1. Was this posted by Tateru or is it just posted as an FYI-type post?

    I would say some my personal experiences that NCI needs to keep a very close eye on those in “positions of responsibility” to ensure they don’t get the idea that it is a “position of power” instead.

    It is that inexorable draw and lure of power that made Linden Lab *never* grant such positions within Mentors, not even so much power as to be able to remove griefers from Welcome Areas even. But there were still Mentors who took the tag and behaved badly and arrogantly.

    Altho there may currently be a ‘double probation system’ the process is not very transparent or clear, and in many cases it is reported to simply be those who hang around enough and get noticed at the right time by the right person. This might be ok, but it also probably misses a lot of great people who would be able to serve NCI in ways that NCI has yet to even imagine.

    With Mentors officially closing, this means another opportunity for NCI to grow and change and become better. And often with change, we have to change the way we look at things and do them. Standing still in anything is almost no better than going backward. If you stand still in a river… you will notice yourself slowly drifting where the current takes you.

    I guess I would just ask those who make these decisions to think about what opportunities there are in this moment, and try and do something specific to meet the challenge.

  2. I did indeed write and post this myself. And yes, the process itself is a work in progress. The organization itself and its staff aren’t perfect. What we can do though is strive to improve.

    That means selecting people who exemplify what we stand for, who show themselves to be a good fit over time. The qualities we look for aren’t easily found on a resume, and some of our problems have indeed come from choosing people through faster selection methods, where difficulties didn’t then become apparent until much farther along.

  3. We are the clouds that veil the midnight moon;
    How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
    Streaking the darkness radiantly!–yet soon
    Night closes round, and they are lost forever:

    Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
    Give various response to each varying blast,
    To whose frail frame no second motion brings
    One mood or modulation like the last.

    We rest.–A dream has power to poison sleep;
    We rise.–One wandering thought pollutes the day;
    We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
    Embrace fond foe, or cast our cares away:

    It is the same!–For, be it joy or sorrow,
    The path of its departure still is free:
    Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;
    Nought may endure but Mutability.

    Percy Bysshe Shelley

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