A Conversation on Staff-Driven Gatherings

In the run-up to the European Community Gathering in September 2016, the validity of gatherings driven by Participation staff was questioned. Let’s explore this fundamental question together. We might uncover aspects ranging from philosophical to strategic …

Please remember to treat each other respectfully. We are mindful people looking for meaningful conversations.

What data can we look at?

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Thanks Henrik for breaking this thread off from the other discussion.

Some comments from my point of view, as a member of a Mozilla functional team - there is a quote from George (Telegram app) posted in the other thread:

"One of the reasons for this meetup at the time it is (knowing staff or
community can run other meetups in the future) is to build capacity for
this campaign and others like it. So it made sense to align the Maker
Party/copyright location strategy with this meetup location strategy. "

As someone involved in one of the Functional Teams, not sure he is aware that individual functional teams don’t necessarily have budget for community events, nor do we have the planning capacity to put together community events. So I am still wondering how the functional teams work to train community when we don’t seem to have any events to be able do that. I haven’t been involved in any community events at all in 2016, and that to me is quite disappointing.

Also, on this page - https://wiki.mozilla.org/Participation/Community_Gatherings - the quote mentions :

“A focus set of relevant training and learning opportunities for
mobilizers are systematized and they regularly access these
opportunities to be more effective in their contributions and as a
result providing more impact to Mozilla’s main initiatives.”

The Platform team has a bunch of top level initiatives, but again I don’t see a way for us to be involved in these Participation team events to be able to provide training and introduce community to areas they can contribute to. I would love to get community involved in Project Uptime, Nightly bug triage and a host of other areas, but right now there is no easy way to do this. Some of these topics require in person training and not on IRC or online.


@hmitsch I don’t feel this is a true summary of the conversation contained within that thread. The core issues as I see them are:

  1. not enough advance notice
  2. a currently fractured integration of community/organisation approaches
  3. effective problem solving process

Using the Connected Devices Contributor Experience Research booklet as a resource, these are indeed problems expressed in data collected in February. If you look at the information presented on pages 44, 48, 52, 56, (6, 10, 14, 18 in the hard copy) and specifically the highlighted pain points. These are very much the tone expressed within that thread.

If you therefore listen to the position of the community expressing themselves, it’s not so much ‘the validity of the whole Participation staff-driven events is in question’, but more ‘you’re still not listening to us’.

There’s definitely an opportunity to drive additional focus here from feedback received. Consider it an iterative feedback loop captured in the moment of engagement. It will be messy but there must be internal processes to capture this. It was captured back in February but still the lessons have not been learned

Vast resources are supplied by the volunteer community and things take a little longer potentially than internal communication to ripple out, and for subsequent and effective action to be taken.


Marcia, I agree that what’s seen as “Mozilla’s main initiatives” on the Participation side and what efforts like the ones you are involved in require are different quite often. Definitely something to think about. That said, we should see if we can get some pieces of what you need into the Activate Mozilla program, which would give it some broader impact.
As both a Rep and friend of your activities, I’d be happy to help getting something going there!

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Would be interested in exploring that possibility, but I am not sure if Activate Mozilla will then feed into the content at the various events that are being held. I think the Functional Team stakeholders should have more involvement in talking about what we would like to see in these events as well. And I think that was the point made by some of the folks in the other thread as well.

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If someone (or more than one person) volunteer(s), some documentation gets written how to do the most common tasks (followed by a struggle to keep it up to date) and questions answered on IRC and mailing list during working hours. Training people upfront so they can contribute back later is uncommon (almost unheard of?), developers provide pointers and feedback in mentored patches. For bigger mentored projects, they often set rather high requirements (like 3rd year CS studies) so not much training is needed/the feedback cycle will be rather short.

I think that model may work well for developers, but not necessarily for other part of the project. Specifically, there are contributors already working in certain areas that will have difficulty moving any further along unless they have some training and also understand what we need help with. I have held several QA events with contributors, and it was pretty clear even after a few days that they needed time to understand the way we test (there are many different methodologies), the way we analyze crashes, etc. (these are contributors who already had some familiarity with QA). In most companies, employees have professional development, and community needs the same - some time together to hack, learn or whatever form that may take when they get together.

We have quite a bit of documentation on how to do things in QA on MDN, but when we started the Triage Robot there were a few contributors who read all the documentation and still didn’t understand the process. So I think reading documentation works for some, perhaps not for others.

I cite the l10n team’s current model of having regular hackathons - they have a body of evidence from surveys indicating these meetups are helpful - and for a lot of different reasons. The dynamics of working in person with contributors to me is much different than trying to work with them online.