Poland, Warsaw, Recruiting volunteers and creating an OTP Community

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Revision as of 09:09, 17 October 2014 by Snai (talk | contribs) (OTP Stands)
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Why am I writing this now?

In my presentaiton at the workshop at TEDGlobal 2014 I realized I brushed over some very important aspects of organizing workshops, namely: finding people to join the project and attend, the expected retention of interest and the user contribution curve. These are important to think about because they give you some ideas on how to action the goals, and prevent you from getting discouraged by setting your expectations too high.

It's good to keep in mind that even among fifty volunteers there may be only few who become regular contributors. And that's okay. Continuous volunteering online differs from volunteering at events because it requires a consistent time investment as well as lacks the immediate pay-off and the fun of socializing, this last point being something I really wanted to address.

Initially I wanted to write this article chronologically, but I realized it would become too chaotic, so instead I went with a list. If anything is unclear feel free to clraify or ask, you know where to find me.


Let's start from the beginning. Two years ago, at TEDxKraków 2012 me and Krystian met and inspired by TEDx organizers attending who decided to start a Poland-wide Google group we decided to follow suit. After a while there wasn't much that was happening in the group, we got occassional questions about translations and posted information about upcoming TEDx events, which brings me to the next point...

Advertising at TEDx events

That's a great way to find volunteers.

  1. You are in a creative environment with a selet group of people interested in great ideas.
  2. You don't have to go out of your way to find people, they come to you.

OTP Stands

An OTP Stand can be as simple as a poster and a dedicated sheet of paper for interested people to leave their e-mails. Or it can include language games, leaflets, quizzes and a nice corner for the translators to gather.

The times when we organized stands in Poland we contacted the organizers and they referred us to their venue designers who indicated where we can set it up. Usually it's fine to also state your needs. (TV, power outlet, table, chairs/sofas, projector)


OTP Meetups

A TEDx event is a cool opportunity to finally meet the people you have cooperated online with. The more translators at an event the bigger the chance they will be noticed too ;) Even if you are not organizing a Stand or a Workshop, it may be enough to have an excuse to meet some people from the OTP community. I recommend writing to the organiziers about free passes for OTP translators before the registration starts, so you can get a "secret code" to distribute in the OTP community. The worst thing that can happen is that you hear 'Sorry, we can't' - and then still you can try to attend.

TEDxWaw meetup.jpg

OTP Leaflets

A crucial part of an OTP stand, or even better: a TEDx gift bag. After in 2012 OTP leaflets were distributed on seats in the main theatre of TEDxWarsaw there was a surge in the number of volunteers signing up. Recently I met a volunteer who attended a transcribathon for the first time and his decision to attend was motivated by the interest sparked after reading the OTP leaflet two years prior! So the ripples of your actions may only become visible much later :)

This was the first leaflet we distributed at TEDxWarsaw 2013. Later we started using the design by Judith's friend: A more modern KISSed* design *Keep it simple, stupid ;) The new version was also translated into Polish and focused on transcriptions.


Event badges

Thanks to Kelwalin we had the idea to create the "TRUST ME" stickers for us, but as they weren't too visible from the front we also marked the OTP translators with violet squares, which was mentioned from the stage.

Making sure your event badges are recognizable to the people "in the know" from the front is one thing, but it's also great if they contain contact information to someone in the OTP.

The badge is something people often keep as a souvenir (I do!) and study during the more "Yawn" times.

PLBadgefront.jpg PLbadgeback.jpg

OTP audience activities

OTP translation workshops

OTP games

On the TEDx team

I really advocate for joining a TEDx team, OTP activities work great with TEDx events and community. So, how to join? You have to approach a TEDx team with an idea.

Italic text Right after joining the TEDxWarsaw team I created an Action Plan, which would list final goals and actions needed to achieve them with approximate dates. I got my friend to join me in organizing things - second opinion is really important, and it's great for motivation if you promise to do something.

Excerpt from the action plan:

WORK TO BE DONE (to prioritize)
1. OTP leaflet translation & design
2. TEDxWarsaw website localization
3. TED.com website localization
4. TEDxWarsaw talks - transcription (gather links to tasks)
5. TEDxWarsaw talks - translation (gather links to tasks)
6. TEDxWarsaw OTP tab, subpage & key information
7. Send out a weekly otp newsletter with highlighted tasks available (Mailchimp)
8. Translation of OTPedia articles
9. Promote the TED talks we translate into Polish. There are FB TED fan groups in Poland but NOT IN POLISH? Start one & find an admin for it. 
If there is one, then ask for posting permissions & delegate to someone good with social media.


1. Should translation and transcription meetings be separate? 
(1 translation meeting a month and 1 transcription meeting a month?) Reason: PPL who transcribe may not know English
2. Maybe start an OTP/TEDxWarsaw internet page instead of a newsletter?
3. Consider using Basecamp for the subteam

Future, future, future:

- Take pictures, write a story about it - perhaps it will inspire other TEDx team to start local OTP subteams :)

In hindsight I see that a lot of these items were not necessary, but I can also tick most of them as done :)

Facebook advertising

The first step was to create a FB ad explaining what OTP was. Back then there were no OTP videos on YT, so I felt it will be the easiest for the people to send me an email, to which then I'd reply with instructions on how to sign up. However I overlooked the fact that I forgot to mention it's a volunteer project, so I got lots of CVs. Next time I made sure to make it clear.



Sharing responsibilities

Face to face meetings

Introductory trainings

All in all about 50 people replied, and I still get some e-mails about it today. Out of these, about half followed the registration steps and then about 15 attended the introductory meetings in Green Cofee in Warsaw or via Google Hangouts.



Sightseeing together


Social outings

PLStands2.jpg PLBowling.jpg

Planning for the future