Olaf, please introduce yourself to our JCM readers.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself, my name is Olaf Offick, I am 31 years old. I have studied in Germany, Australia and the US and have a master's degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
I am the founder of Learn Skills, a small company based from the beautiful west coast of Ireland (Galway). Learn Skills (www.learn-skills.org) is a company providing customized Learning Management Systems (LMS / LCMS / VLE) and high quality educational materials to businesses, schools and government organisations.
How did you first learn about Joomla!?
I knew about Mambo, but never really got into it as I was building websites in HTML, Perl, PHP and MySQL over many years beforehand. I even went through the trouble and created my own Content Management System (CMS) in Perl and MySQL. But I started to get interested in Joomla! and helped colleagues, friends and family to install Joomla!, so that they could run their own websites.
Do you have any interesting stories about early Joomla! projects or websites that you worked on?
I have quite a few websites running Joomla! at the moment, and looking after even more. The great thing about Joomla! is that almost anybody can update the website (maybe after an initial training session).
I have developed (and am developing) quite a few websites with Joomla!, including a web platform for a college with custom components to match their unique requirements. Some of the projects included Single-Sign-On (SSO) between multiple platforms e.g., Moodle, Joomla! and Mahara. Others included Joomla! and Flash interactions via XML and JSON.
What caused you to decide to volunteer to help support the Joomla! project?
I really liked Joomla! and decided that I wanted to give something back to the community. So I started, about two and a half years ago, to answer a few unanswered questions in the forum and just kept going. And it obviously helps when you get nice feedback, after giving a solution to a user's problem.
What different areas of the Joomla! project have you volunteered for, and what areas are you currently involved with?
I started as a normal forum user, with the aim to help the users in the Forum to give something back to the community. I am currently one of the Global Forum Moderators and Forum Administrators trying to fight the spam in our forums and defusing tricky situations.
What goals do you have for improving the areas of Joomla! that you are currently volunteering with?
A spammer free forum would be a very nice, but I say this is impossible. That would free up a lot of moderators to spend more time answering questions and helping people.
What are some of the challenges you face in the areas of Joomla! that you are currently volunteering with?
Forum trolls and spammers don't make the job easier, and it would be impossible without the fantastic job of all the other moderators in the general support forums and in all the local support forums. With over 2 million posts and 500,000 topics which grow even further on a daily basis it can get tricky once in while. There are a lot of opinions involved and the moderators have to make impartial decisions to make this forum work.
What do you enjoy the most about volunteering?
I love working with this fantastic team in this wonderful community, it is a real pleasure to work with such a global team to serve the community.
What do you find the most difficult or challenging about volunteering?
Finding the time to volunteer or justifying to take the time is probably the biggest challenge, especially if your time is not respected by the people you are trying to help.
What do you like the most about Joomla!?
I like the openness of the project and really like the community behind it. Joomla! is a CMS which allows the user to use it in a lot of different ways, and you can pretty much customize a lot of things without hacking the code.
What would you personally like to learn more about which is related to Joomla!?
I would really like to meet the people in the team/community with which I am working with on a daily basis, get more familiar with Joomla! 1.6.
What opportunities for improvement would you like to see happen in the Joomla! project?
For now, I am looking forward to seeing Joomla! 1.6 in action with all the new features and functionality. And I want to congratulate the Joomla! Production Team with all the volunteers for all the effort and time they put into this new release.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering to help with the Joomla! project?
The moderator in me, would now link to a few articles on the community site which explain the steps how to get involved. ;-) But my personal answer would be to read the unanswered questions of other community members and try to solve them, you will learn quite quickly that you can learn a lot about Joomla! by doing so, and you are helping a lot of people as well.
If you feel like you don't have enough time to volunteer, don't worry about it, any kind of small task will help. Even if you only volunteer once or twice a year, it will help. For example: If you come across a spam post, just click on the report button (it is the exclamation mark button at the bottom of each post) to bring that post to the moderators attention.