Let me start by saying I do appreciate community discussions like this. Although they come up often, they help keep the volunteer team motivated to a degree, and these topics let us know the thoughts of the community. Discussions like these help get everyone on the same page.
I'll clarify that xat does not have a head volunteer. I am not the head volunteer. There is no volunteer who manages other volunteers, and it's like this because the administrators do not want to give one volunteer too much power. Power and abilities are certainly limited, and the administrators do keep tabs on these types of things. If a certain individual appears to be holding too much power, there will be some sort of intervention. However, it is true that more senior volunteers sometimes hold more responsibilities and are thus in contact with administrators more often than other volunteers.
Suggestions for volunteer team adjustments, including adding or removing volunteers, are usually a joint effort. We make recommendations to the administrators, but it's up to them to make the ultimate decisions.
In the past year, we have discussed internally what is considered an acceptable level of activity for a volunteer in the ticket system. We decided that a certain amount of tickets per week would be considered reasonable, but we don't strictly follow that rule, and as you can see, volunteers are not easily removed. We also internally discuss the activity of certain volunteers, meaning we actually name inactive volunteers and welcome their feedback so that other volunteers know the status of those inactive volunteers. I have found that when inactive volunteers are removed or when removal warnings or threats are made, it does not increase activity overall. Removing inactive volunteers will let the community know who is really active and it will give the community a better image of who is actually answering tickets, but I don't think removing volunteers would ultimately increase activity. It just hasn't worked that way in my experience. The only solution that I see is to remove the clutter of inactive volunteers and search for new people.
It's nice to see that the community doesn't place too much blame on volunteers. It's true that it is not our job to monitor the overall status of the ticket system. We couldn't even if we wanted to since no volunteer has the ultimate power to fix inactivity. Each volunteer can only make recommendations.
Every volunteer goes through periods of activity and inactivity. It's like waves. After doing this for years, I've found that it's hard to be motivated every single week. This is why we rely heavily on each other. We rely on each other to stay motivated. I remember that before I was a volunteer, Spell once said this: "[Y]ou should only try to become a volunteer if you like helping people. If you are really just in it for the test powers, you’ll hate the entire process of becoming a volunteer and hate being a volunteer if you do even manage to get it." I can now say this is so true. After a while, vanity dies off, the novelty dies off, and eventually you are just a person who answers tickets because you care about helping people. I guarantee the only reason I still do tickets is because I've been on xat for a long time and care about the website, and I care about the users. I'll admit though, sometimes it can be extremely difficult.
Andre covered how delays are being dealt with, so I won't get into that too much. Compared to a month or two ago, the situation has definitely improved, and we look forward to continually improving and getting us to a place where there are no delays in any department.