phi (totient) wrote,

five minutes at anime boston

I went past the Hynes this afternoon as Anime Boston was winding down and stopped in to see if anyone needed any help, and see a few friends on staff there. I wasn't there long, but I noticed something interesting.

Anime Boston had a room with a "Convention Operations" sign on it. This was different from Arisia's convention operations room in a lot of interesting ways, and as Arisia tries to recruit more people, especially the vast number of people who've been to Anime Boston before but not to Arisia, we're going to need to keep these in mind.

Convention Operations seemed to be serving several functions that are split up at Arisia. I don't just mean that those functions are more than one department. Ops and Volunteers and Staff Den aren't even all in the same division at Arisia. And what's more, those three functions are some of the physically most separated functions in the convention. Someone coming in from Anime Boston looking to volunteer is going to go to Ops because that's where you'd volunteer at an anime con, and if we try to send them halfway across the universe instead of taking their name and giving them a timesheet and something to do we're never going to see them again.

Convention Operations at Arisia tries, as roozle put it this afternoon, to "keep the riff-raff out". There are tables in the back where people could hang out in exactly the way that people were hanging out in Anime Boston's ops, but we'd rather they didn't with a few exceptions, and even then we look at it as a distraction and not something we are trying to accomplish. What kind of experience is that for most volunteers?

But the real difference is that at Anime Boston, there appear to be more volunteers than jobs to do. This may not really be the case but the appearance is critical, and the difference need not be large -- a percent or two will do. Volunteers sitting in a space that welcomes them, waiting for something to do, shows that the convention isn't desperate, that volunteers will have some choice in what they're sent to do, and critically that there will be relief when the volunteer decides they're done. This makes more volunteers willing to also help out. Have two extra volunteers and soon enough you will have twenty. This is all about appearances and it may well be that the right strategy is *not* to respond to every volunteer request even if there are volunteers available. Not only does this let there be a social nexus at the point where volunteers are coordinated, but it'd also allow assigning new volunteers to tasks quickly if they seem likely to wander off if there's nothing for them to do.

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