About gratification for volunteers in Mozilla

(Daniele Scasciafratte) #1

I want to start this discussion because I am finishing my second turn inside the Reps Council (there are the new elections ongoing right now without me) so I am feeling free to discuss this issue.
Yes it is an issue, because the gratification is one of the most important part of the volunteer life, because we are doing what we do in our free time for a lot of different reasons.

I shared few days ago a photo when I received the “Thank you letter” from the TechSpeakers program:
17 Likes, 0 Comments - Daniele Mte90 Scasciafratte (@mte90) on Instagram: “In 6 years as volunteer in #mozilla I got only 2 letters to say thank you for what I did. Mozilla…”

Now it is in my wall near the one I got from reps program in 2015 (the first and last one) but during the time I got a lot of other recognitions from Mozilla:

And a lot of swag received during the years and probably other mentions that I cannot remember right now.
The issue is that I am an exception, because I invested in the past years like a lot of hours weekly in Mozilla but not everything I did was so important like other volunteers do since years like localize Firefox or do support as example. There are area of volunteers activities that are not scratched from the swag shipment recognition as example.

One of the point of discussion in Mission Driven Mozillian was the recognition that still today after years wasn’t put in planning with a real proposal.
Right now every Mozilla team has a different workflow for recognition, sometimes is a specific swag sent for a specific reason, a letter from a program, an invite to join an event/meeting in live because of the personal involvement in that topic and so on.

The real point right that there isn’t a clear guide about the minimum to get a recognition from all the various kind of activities that a volunteer can do.
Also, the various kind of recognition shows a different level of appreciation for something that in another team maybe is more valuable.

On my own I always tried to do the most to show recognition to volunteers in my community, like getting more swag to share also with them like the plush or other kind of stuff, when mozilla is not doing that.

The Mozillian of the month initiative is a perfect example of how the volunteers are trying to move on these things compared from what Mozilla is doing (I mean the idea started from a volunteer inside the council). There is a very low participation of nominating volunteers, but we are at the second month and we can improve it (as reps program) this part.
We have to consider also that the Reps of the month recently is not working a lot because mentors are not nominating people https://reps.mozilla.org/featured/ and this experiment is a way to evolve it.

From Mozilla itself outside specific team I can remember only when there was the shipment of Firefox OS t-shirt because people was vouched on mozillians (2013 I think).

Basically I started this discussion for the comments I got privately after the photo share from other volunteers (that want not to be disclosed) that think the same like me. The recognition for volunteers in mozilla is not balanced and not valued as should be.

What means “should be”?

This is something that every team in Mozilla should reply and explain what for them is valuable compared to the minimum that every volunteer can do for them.
In this way it is possible to see similar stuff and start to wrap up and do like many other open source communities that send to you swag only because you contributed to the project as global (and not to a team).

The floor is yours now Mozillians, to move on this discussion!

PS: Another point of discussion is how someone is chosen to go to All Hands because during the years I got a lot of request of clarification for it (check the wiki https://wiki.mozilla.org/All_Hands).
PSS: Another again point of discussion is to join Mozilla as employee because this depends on a lot of commercial/political (with political I mean the yearly focus on topics) needs and this is not the right place for this discussion.
PSSS: I am not doing this thread because I want more recognition, I want more recognition to other volunteers for a matter of inclusivety and fairness like our https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/governance/policies/participation/ affirm.
PSSS: if someone doesn’t want to write publicly can reach me privately and I will write for them.

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(Ziggy Maes) #2

I think Daniele hit the nail on the head. I recall plenty of discussions very similar to this one in the past, both through official and non-official channels. Unfortunately, despite some efforts made, I still feel the organization could do a better job recognizing volunteers whom have dedicated resources (both time and financial) for the good of the cause.

Of course, I recognize that this is a very difficult topic. For the Mozilla Festival, we have had a lot of discussions about the proper way to recognize and reward these volunteers. Besides the obvious logistical issue, there’s also the difficulty of defining when a volunteers’ contribution is worth noting. And when/how do we recognize those who’ve gone the extra mile?

In my personal opinion, I felt more rewarded when I was doing far fewer things for Mozilla (around the beginning of this decade). I feel like swag was more available then, volunteers were rewarded with Mozcamps and Summits while also contributing back at the same time, credit was given when and where it was due, … .

I’ve had this exact conversation with several people, and I do feel Mozilla is at least listening and willing to address this issue. That said, I don’t feel like anything has changed, and it has personally caused some bitterness on my end to a point where I have taken a few steps back. I feel like I was dedicating a lot of my time to Mozilla, and I only know a handful of people within the organization whom actually appreciate it. I believe in the mission, that’s why I started contributing, but those people are the reason I still do (though at a limited capacity because of exactly this topic).

I don’t believe in ‘volunteer of the month’. It’s nice in small organizations and communities, but we have too many volunteers to recognize. We have lost a lot of great volunteers over the years, and I am absolutely certain this topic was, at least part of, the reason they left.

I love Mozilla. I grew up with Mozilla. The community has shaped me to the person I am today. I’ve met some amazing people. I have made some great friends. I believe in everything Mozilla stands for, but it pains me to see Mozilla is bleeding off and failing a lot of its volunteers whom have ensured the organization’s success throughout the years.

I sincerely hope this thread gets the attention it deserves. Thank you for starting it, Daniele.

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(Pranshu Khanna) #3

I cannot agree more, with Daniele. Along the years I have seen a lot of Mozillians come in and move out. I have had this discussion online with a lot of people, and offline too, and only last month I proposed a recognition structure to Kiki and discussed it with her as well, while I was told that it will passed to the Reps Council. But again, I had to do all of it because of the lack of gratification or even recognition from Mozilla for the Contributors.

I work closely with Campus Clubs, and for an upcoming dev to see that his peers who are GitHub Campus Experts are getting a Hoodie, a Tee, a Bag, a Flag, and stickers in a welcome pack is huge. I remember the Campus Club Lead of my college getting a Firefox T-shirt and since then, I got my first t-shirt from Mozilla, over a year later. Until then, I had no clue, what could I do to get one. I got my first Firefox Tee last year, right before MozFest 2018.

I am not one to stop because of the lack of recognition. Then again, this is what makes a Volunteer do more, it inspires them, a lot of them started with me but never really made . Even now, I maintain mozilla/OpenDesign as a Collaborator and have made a few design for the issues there, and have been an active Contributor for Mozilla India Social Media designs as well, but there was never really any recognition, and we didn’t really keep waiting for any.

I was the First Mozillian of the Month and after winning, I proposed a a Recognition Structure I had mentioned above because I couldn’t justify it in my own head that how would compare an A-Frame Contributor with a Design Contributor or a Friend of Add-On, and even if it is, how do you justify the Quality Contribution vs the Quantity they’re contributing with. It just seemed a bit unfair to me.

While Mozilla does have an understanding of it’s various communities, we expect for them to sort this out for us, or look for solutions through the community already. We want new volunteers ti flourish and get recognized, and we want them to move up the ladder.

Then again, I feel the gravity of this statement in my heart and I know that a lot of people would agree with this:

Which is why, we are here, to discuss and sort it out. I hope more people reply to this, and we get heard.

This post has about 400 views, and we need everyone’s opinion on this so that we can improve what we have.
Thank you for starting this post, Daniele. I hope this will make a positive difference in the Community.

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(Akshay) #4

I deeply believe that one of the reasons why Mozilla is losing mission driven mozillians is because the mission is losing its own battle to superpowers like Google, Facebook, etc. It is only natural that in a world where the open web is dying, people who support it also will feel less and less motivated to continue the fight.

I believe it is during these tough times that we should really up our game and make mozilla relevant again so that volunteers can contribute and feel gratified about it.

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(Miguel Useche) #6

I love the idea, there are areas where people collaborate but don’t get recognition or are ignored. For example I know people who had helped in translations and social network but they haven’t received a thank you email or even a sticker. I think if something as simple as a small gear will inspire more people to be part of mozilla.

I know it’s not the idea. But in the Tech Speaker program when I received stickers, t-shirt, etc. I felt like at least someone in mozilla knows about me and gave me a thanks.

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(Yofie Setiawan) #7

First thing i want to say, recognition is important, i agree. But i also think, when you do a volunteering work, that means you are ready to give and expect nothing in return. But some people might volunteering because they feel that they already get something from the product it-self (such Firefox), then they feel the need to give something in return to Mozilla. Even some valued contributors don’t want to get recognized at all. I once recognized a mother, helping to give tips and tricks of using Firefox Browser, and she maintain a thread on one popular Forum site in our country. She answer so much questions from many different people about Firefox Browser, long before i join Mozilla Community. Then i try to reach her and ask her to come to our events so she can get recognize for her works, but she refuse, she feel that’s not important. But she is happy that i send her some Firefox swags to her home address.

I feel, it’s normal if there are people or volunteers that come, then go. That’s the beauty of volunteering work. You can come and go anytime you like. After you go, you can comeback again anytime you feel you want. No one can force volunteers to stay. Of course it’s important to encourage volunteers to keep contributing, but we can’t expect volunteers to stay like forever.

Now, talking about the recognition, i feel there are different levels of recognition. When you are active and invested so much of your time in the past, Mozilla might recognize you, then give certain kind of rewards. Might be as swags, or invitation to attend global conference such All Hands Meeting. Of course back then we have more such Mozilla Summit, Mozilla Camp in many different places.

I’m lucky to have my name written on the Firefox Monument. I believe so much people do more than me, but might not have their name written there. In future, i encourage Mozilla keep regularly think of this type of recognition for future valued volunteers and contributors.

But there is also another level of recognition, such local recognition. Then the local community needs to have certain kind of media, to help the local volunteers to get recognition, for example highlight on local community social media such instagram or facebook, or local community website.

This local level of recognition is also important for us to be aware. So we are as community members, also involved here, and can take part to help volunteers to get more recognition and rewards.

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#8

Wow, this is an interesting topic and one that I have been thinking about myself with regards to the SUMO team.

Recognition is hard as it is a mix of swag (of different levels), being respected within the community and also being asked to be involved in bigger projects. It is different things to different people and on top of this different teams within Mozilla approach this in different ways for different reasons and this can create a mis-match when looked at from a distance.

I really liked this point. I am not on about:credits for this same reason. To me that is massive recognition, but the current process around self nomination makes it very weird.

What I think we need to do is look at all the ways, across Mozilla, that people can be recognised and find a way to combine and even out the different approaches.

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(Emma Irwin) #9

Hi Daniele,

Thanks for writing this, your questions are good and important.

Speaking for myself, this has been on my radar for a long time - first as a volunteer, and now as a staff member focused on empowerment of diverse groups. Before we even get to the question of ‘does everyone have the opportunity to be recognized?’ I would say there is an important prerequisite: 'does everyone feel invited and safe to participate?’.

If the answer to the prerequisite question is ‘no’, then recognition will be skewed, and potentially we risk reinforcement of non-inclusive behaviors and people. And we actually know that to be true in the past.

I hope it’s encouraging to know, that every single recommendation from my 2017 research into this perquisite question has received, and continues to receive organizational investment from Mozilla:

  1. Provide Organizational Support to Identity Groups. Most visibly we ran a cohort training to bring in, and support women technical leaders. There was a clear value exchange identified. We also ran a pilot to create safe spaces for women, in regional areas where contribution was either discouraged (through gate-keeping), or forbidden(by toxic individuals). Initiatives like this are harder to make visible, because they involve privacy of individuals.
  2. Build Project-Wide Strategies for Toxic Behavior I can say, that for over a year now, we’ve had a process, and standards that are, for the first time ever,addressing toxic behavior and violations of the CPG in a systematic way.
    This process is standalone, but also supports every single Mozilla project and community - many who have their own processes, but require extra support. Inline with our consequence ladder, we have issued warnings, temporary & permanent bans to who violate the CPG and thus make Mozilla a challenging or exclusive place to be.
    As part of this, we have also invested in helping people understand the consequences of their actions - and set them up for success in what I call the ‘CPG onboarding process’.
  3. Develop Inclusive Community Leadership Models. Through the Mission Driven Mozillians project, we established a first set of leadership principles, which have now expanded to be a leadership standard template used by other areas of the project. Also inclusive leadership is now part of an application checklist for MOSS (so the Mission Driven work is helping drive this change :slight_smile:

To the question you are asking, and I agree, now that our communities and projects are becoming more healthy, and more inclusive an important next step is to tackle the findings on recognition.

My 2017 research described this issue as:

Despite positive sentiment, and optimism we heard a great deal of frustration (and some delivered tears) when people were asked to discuss elements of participatory design that made contributing feel valuable to them. Opportunity, recognition and resources were perceived to be largely dependent on staff and core contributors. Additionally, recognition itself varies wildly across the project to the omission or inflation of achievement and impact on the project. We heard that those best at being seen, are also the loudest and most consistent at seeking recognition — further proof that meritocracy doesn’t exist **.

We have since removed meritocracy from our governance page.

Research also surfaced a need to focus on value-exchange. Not everyone wants a t-shirt.

While feeling valued was important, our interviews highlighted the need for contributors to surface and curate their accomplishments in formats that can be validated by external sources as having real-world-value.

Our Open Source Maintainer Cohort was an experiment in real-world value. Also, to this end, I have been looking at how the Drupal project assigns credits, maybe that’s an experiment in future? I would be interested in everyone’s thoughts about how that might work. Ultimately I believe recognition cannot scale without it being something everyone can do.

NOTE: I’ll also have someone from Drupal on a future D&I in Open Source call to talk about that (and will update this thread with a link when it’s live).

Finally…

The community is better because of you, and I would also say (and our leadership principles do as well) that recognition is actually a central part of roles like Reps, as this is the work of inclusion. That you are recognizing people in your community is an extension of what Mozilla is empowering you to do. Let’s talk about how to make that easier perhaps?

Thanks again for your question, I was very happy to have this chance to talk about the progress we’ve made - and that more than ever we are setup, to tackle this challenge together. :heart:

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(Daniele Scasciafratte) #10

Thanks to everyone that dedicated few minutes to reply to my discussion, because with over 700 views is not so common to get a reply.

I want to reply to Emma to move on the discussion and leave the floor to other volunteers.
I am happy to see this new cohort, the problem is that I am discovering now.
It was promoted somewhere in the previous months?
The sad point is that your article is from 2017, and we are on 2019 and the effort for me is not enough to change the things because 3 years are moved and in the meantime in Mozilla are changed a lot of things and also in the rest of world. How a project can be competitive in the IT world if takes 3 years to do this changes and there are still problems?
We will have a backlog that still grown without anyway to improve the things.

Basically I am asking more effort from Mozilla (not from you Emma, I know that you did a lot of things and helped a lot of initiative to evolve and improve in the last years) to take care of volunteers (there are also a lot of other people that are doing and did a lot of things but this doesn’t always happen or in a planned way).
For that reason I am starting a new discussion about another point always in discourse ASAP :slight_smile:

(Emma Irwin) #11

" I am happy to see this new cohort, the problem is that I am discovering now.
It was promoted somewhere in the previous months?"

Yes, it was promoted in channels outside of primary that might be visible to you. It was promoted where women participate.

Ah, let me clarify, yes the research occurred in 2017, but actions have been in year and a half since (not 3). Culture change takes time, it just does. New research and experiments are ongoing. Including this one we ran with 24 pull requests to help non-technical contributions receive recognition.

Thanks again. I am still be interested in how you (and others) might envision a Mozilla version of the Drupal credits program . Getting to this bigger vision of recognition you spoke to is a great call to action, and I am interested in what people think that looks like.

(Daniele Scasciafratte) #12

The things are slowly changing, start a discussion seems now not a bad idea after all