Glad you asked! Students from all backgrounds are welcome to join staff. We don’t interview or have a selection process for joining—you simply have to express interest and show up to our weekly meetings. We don't impose a specific time commitment; some volunteers work many hours per week, while others contribute occasionally. If you want to learn more and be an active participant, there are multiple ways to get started:
We use a mailing list (ocf.io/announce) to announce weekly meetings and recap past meetings. If you’re joining in the middle of the semester or missed a meeting, you can also read the mailing list archives to see what we went over in the past. This is a low volume mailing list (2 emails per week) and you can unsubscribe at any time.
We hold two meetings every Wednesday:
The OCF Board of Directors has open meetings from 8-9 pm every Wednesday. BoD is where we discuss and vote on administrative decisions. If you are interested in gaining insight into the internal operations the OCF from an administrative perspective, please come to BoD meetings! Meetings always are open to all.
In these meetings, all OCF staff (that includes you!) get together to discuss technology, learn from each other, and work on OCF projects. These meetings will be a mix of presentations, work time, and socializing. Our goal is to build OCF staff into a strong community of capable individuals.
There are no prerequisites to joining staff, other than a willingness to learn and participate! If you have no prior experience with coding, Linux, working with servers, etc. and would like to learn how to contribute to the OCF technically, we have a variety of starter tasks, beginner projects, and other resources to help you get acquainted.
The most effective way to get started is to come to the lab during weekly meetings and after-hours to talk to staff members! We can help you figure out your interests at the OCF and provide more direction towards contributing.
The staff training resources contain a number of weekly collaborative exercises, working up from the basics to eventually making a substantial contribution of your own.
If you'd like to learn about many of the tools we use around the OCF in a more traditional course setting, we regularly offer the Linux SysAdmin DeCal. All lectures and lab assignments are open source and available for free on the website, and you are more than welcome to use them even if you aren't officially enrolled in the course.
The Starter Tasks page in our documentation contains a variety of intermediate-difficulty exercises that are another great way to get some practice working with OCF infrastructure.
We know that finding ways to contribute to the OCF can feel daunting, but we don’t want you to be discouraged. Don’t worry about finding the best way to contribute, as long as you find something that you want to work on. Here are some ways to get started:
We have a curated list of projects at ocf.io/projects. Projects labeled “newbie” are ones we think are best fit for new staffers, but we are happy to provide context and mentorship on any project. In general, don’t worry about fully understanding the project description. If you find a something that interests you, respond to the thread or reach out to a veteran staffer to get more information.
All of our code is on GitHub (github.com/ocf). You can find good ways to contribute by browsing open issues, but they can sometimes be hard to understand if they’re short on context. The following links can be helpful: (note that you must be logged in to GitHub to see these links)
If you'd like, you can also look at issues within specific repos. Here’s a list of our most active repos, with some examples of they're used for:
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can search for the string “TODO” across our entire codebase.
During the semester, our firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list gets around 14 emails per week from the UC Berkeley community. Volunteers like you respond to these emails. Most requests are about requesting virtual hosting and helping users debug or fix their websites. If you’re interested in seeing how this process works, ask a staffer to add you to the RT mailing list. Since this is high-volume, we recommend filtering these to a different folder so you don’t get notified all the time.
Joining this list doesn’t obligate you to respond to help requests. It’s perfectly acceptable to only read tickets as a way to learn more about what we do.
If you’re on staff, you can view the ticket archive at rt.ocf.berkeley.edu.
As a volunteer organization, the OCF’s direction is driven by the interests of our members. If you have a new idea for the OCF, we want to help you build it. You can use our chat channels or talk to a veteran staffer in person to get a starting point and roadmap.
During the week, veteran staffers host “staff hours” (ocf.io/staffhours), where we provide support to users of our services. Newbies are encouraged to attend staff hours too. For a newbie, attending staff hours can serve multiple purposes:
These channels are typically very active, and you shouldn’t feel the need to read every line to stay updated. You also aren’t required to understand all the technical jargon that’s used in #rebuild. Feel free to introduce yourself in any of these channels if you’re new, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
OCF staff members usually like to socialize in the lab. We’re a friendly bunch, so feel free to talk to us! You can also come into the lab after-hours—just say you’re interested in joining staff and we’ll let you in.
I wasn’t able to make the first/second/nth meeting of the semester, can I still join?
Yes! You can join at any time. If you’re worried about what you’ve missed, we recommend reading archives from our mailing list (ocf.io/announce). These will usually contain links to presentations slides and information about what was covered. You can also ask a veteran staffer to bring you up to speed.
What if I can’t physically be present at weekly meetings?
You can still be part of OCF staff! Even if you can't make meetings, the suggestions on this page are useful for getting started. Staying in touch by being active in Slack/Discord/Matrix/IRC and email are great ways to be part of the OCF community.