Becoming A Balloon HQ Volunteer
Working on the Guide to Balloons and
Ballooning is an excellent way to learn more about all aspects of ballooning.
- BHQ Administrators
What skills and resources does a Balloon HQ volunteer need?
Most tasks require some computer savvy, a good grasp of the
English language, a love for organizing things,
an eye for editing text, and access to some sort of
computer system in your 'free' time. HTML programming knowledge
is an eventual must for working on the Guide to Balloons and
Ballooning, or specialized pages to be included in the Balloon HQ
Highlights area. Thus, your computer must also have a word
processing software package or a web page generation program
(like PageMill) capable of creating ASCII text files coded in HTML
What benefits do I get from being a Balloon HQ Volunteer?
Need new one-liners? Struggling to master various types of
twists? Want to delve into the business of ballooning? Need an
excuse to learn HTML? Working on the Guide to Balloons and
Ballooning is an excellent way to learn more about all aspects of ballooning.
Since you're reading this, you're already feeling that you want
to be involved. You yearn to give a little something back to the
balloon community. You crave the acclaim and prestige of being
associated with BHQ! Plus, the administrators of Balloon HQ have
been known to show their gratitude to volunteers with nifty gifts.
How do I choose which area of Balloon HQ I want to adopt?
Basically, identify a topic that you want to learn more about.
If you have something in mind, let us know! Feel free to be
self-centered and choosy. If you want to go reasearch something related to balloons
and write a paper on it, we'll add it to the Highlights
section. There are always chapters of the Guide
to Balloons and Ballooning to be updated... whether it's merely
editing, organizing, and adding the new information posted by
list subscribers, or a massive layout overhaul.
What should I keep in mind while working on a section of the Guide?
- Everything has been pre-selected. Don't throw anything away.
Mark Balzer culls
"guideworthy" information out of daily posts to the Balloon HQ
e-mailing lists. Mark edits and sorts that information and decides
which section of which chapter it needs to go into.
To keep track of what goes where, Mark has created a document called
the Detailed Table of
Contents. It's just a version of the
regular table of contents expanded to include all the sub-headings
for each chapter.
Mark pastes the new material into the Detailed Table of Contents,
under the appropriate sub-heading. It takes a few months to fill
up, but when it's chock full of information to be added to the
Guide, Mark uploads a copy of the Detailed Contents to this directory where it sits and waits its
turn to be added.
If you are revising a section of a chapter, find the file with the
most recent date (the info in older files has already been added),
click on it, and scroll down until you see your chapter title.
There you'll see just what has to be added to each sub-section.
Sometimes your editing process reveals that information slated
for Guide Section X is better suited to Section Y.
Don't delete something because it doesn't fit your section;
save these paragraphs and return them to Mark.
He will make sure they get to the right spot.
- There is no set time limit.
You are a volunteer, and we are grateful for your help. You can,
however, expect that a Balloon HQ administrator will check in
with you every so often. We need to make sure you are still
taking responsibility for your project and also to see if you
need our assistance in obtaining resources vital to completing
your task. Do not succumb to the dreaded disease "Guide
Guilt;" what needs to get done will... somehow.
- You decide how committed you are.
You may do a one-time update on a section of a chapter you choose,
or you may volunteer to maintain a whole chapter indefinitely.
Please note: If you find that you can not complete a section
you've begun revisions on, please contact Mark as soon as possible.
He will work with you to upload the work you have been able to complete.
- Adopt any format you choose.
Updates and maintenance require that you be able to write HTML,
organize the sub-sections, and insert new material in its proper place.
Extract the points and put them into lists, or create a flowing narrative,
whatever you prefer. Just do your best to present all information
coherently and make sure not to lose any relevant information.
In fact, feel free to add your own original information
(as long as it's relevant to ballooning)!
- Don't be afraid to edit or paraphrase.
While it is netiquette taboo to re-write someone's e-mail
messages, there is a valid need to filter out useful information
from the context of someone's happy chattering for inclusion in
the Guide. Of course, sometimes it's the happy chattering that
really drives the point home; use your discretion. Ask yourself
whether or not your readers need to see this phrase / sentence to
get the point. Usually, there's an opening statement that's not
needed for the context of the balloon-related revelation. However,
be sure not to lose shades of meaning when editing.
- Use your best judgement.
Often there will be 2 or more conflicting opinions expressed in
different paragraphs. Always strive to present all arguments;
and never "play god" (except when you really, REALLY
know that one way is best).
- Take a bow.
Document the date you complete your revision and add
your initials at the end of the file.
- Finish the task.
When you get a completed, tested section update,
promptly email it to Mark as an attachment.
I'm not sure Guide editing is for me, but I'd
still like to help out. What other BHQ projects need attention?
There are always additional projects in the works, some current topics include:
- searching libraries for additional information on a topic and
creating a coherent narrative
- organizing information gathered from non-digital sources and
making it available online via the use of a scanner, typing in
long quotations, or creating diagrams or images
- searching the net for balloon-related resources, and obtaining
permission to include other people's interesting balloon
information at Balloon HQ.
- creating figure diagrams to go be paired with the figure
instructions in the Sculptures Instructions sections
- searching the Guide and mailing-list archives for people
that ask for information on a specific topic to include in their
- creating specialized tutorials or information pages on task-
or event-specific topics like those featured in the Highlights
- contribute to the BHQ newsletter.
How do we transfer large digital files back and forth?
HTTP is the protocol used by web browsers. When you view a web page
on your computer, you have already transferred that page from the
BHQ site to your own machine. You can save a personal copy of the
page you are viewing for later review and/or editing. The precise
procedure for saving a page will vary depending on the web browser
you use. Most have a "save as" option, similar to any
other piece of software used to edit files (word processors,
illustration packages, photo editing tools). If your browser gives
you the option of saving pages in different formats, chose
"source" or "HTML source." (Other options
sometimes offered are "text", "Postscript", and
"Printer file"). "HTML source" refers to the
format in which all BHQ pages must be maintained. HTTP is usually
the easiest way for you to get the pages you want to work on.
You may e-mail all of your changes and additional files for BHQ to
Mark. Most modern e-mail
software allows you to "attach" any type of file to a mail message.
I don't know HTML, but I'm willing to learn. Can you give me some pointers?
Any basic html reference book should be able to help you get
started. Visit your local bookstore or public library. Looking
at a pre-existing HTML document is helpful as well.
Additionally, a search on the Internet for combined keywords
"HTML" and "authoring" will lead to a wealth
of information and tutorials. Some examples include:
Ok, I'm ready to volunteer. Who should I contact?
Contact Mark Balzer
regarding any of the material above. Contact Larry Moss
if have the skills to help translate existing Balloon HQ pages into languages other than English.