December 06, 2009

Viva Volunteers!

Have you noticed that people who don't volunteer for things are very quick to criticise those who do?
I suppose it's driven (at least partly) by guilt, but it seems incredibly shallow to complain about someone who is doing something you are not willing to do yourself!

Not only are many people depressingly quick to criticise the efforts of volunteers, but it seems that some of them can't even grasp the concept. These people refuse to accept that someone might choose to give their time, effort, expertise or whatever, without expecting anything in return.
According to these cynics, nobody in their right minds would do something for nothing, and even if they can't find any evidence of payment, they simply refuse to believe there is none, and frequently accuse the volunteer of accepting "secret" payment for their services.

Regular readers might guess that I talking about the deluded individuals who stridently accuse volunteer DMOZ editors of accepting bribes, without ever providing any evidence, and certainly that is a classic example of this misguided behaviour.
However, I recently came up against a similar attitude in my local community, where an offer to create a website for a local arts and crafts group was met with suspicion and distrust. Having done the same thing for several years (absolutely free of charge) for our community learning centre, I was astonished to be suspected of ulterior motives, but apparently the whole idea of volunteering is simply foreign to them.

To all such people I recommend this wonderful photo.

Hint: think "gift horse".


KC said...

A place like that couldn't imagine you wanting to help? Let 'em pay for the help then ;)

Or, build a fake website that goes higher on the charts than theirs does. Hehehehehehehe.

Jack Yan said...

Amanda, I have come across those unfounded accusations about DMOZ editors—they most likely come from people whose sites were rejected because they were deceptive (content mills, link farms). They’re sore because they failed to pull the wool over an editor’s eyes. And because they themselves are the sort of people who would accept bribes, they make the first accusation that pops into their heads.
   I have publicly offered volunteer time for a lot of things, from commercial ventures (where one person says there was no way anyone would be altruistic) to things for my city (now that I am running for Mayor, there are things within my own expertise—so why shouldn’t I give up my own time on those areas for free, provided my own company does not get rich off it?). People just don’t understand public service any more, because they are too selfish in the way they live their lives.
   God bless you for the time you give to ODP and all that you do.

Unknown said...

I agree, the lack of understanding and altruism is selfish. And sad. But I take comfort from people like yourself who still believe that there are those willing to do something for nothing.
On behalf of all my fellow volunteers, thank you for your appreciative comment. :-)


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