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Becoming A Balloon HQ Volunteer
Frequently Asked Questions

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 format.

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?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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)!

  5. 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.

  6. 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).

  7. Take a bow.
    Document the date you complete your revision and add your initials at the end of the file.

  8. 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:

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.
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