Some of my thoughts that were shared on our Telegram channels:
Overall it does feel if Mozilla is less open and community run. It used to be built BY the community and the last three years have felt if Mozilla is now being built FOR the community.
I guess we have to remember Mozilla isn’t an just open source community. It is a Foundation and a Corporation and with that comes bosses, directors, and funders whose voices will matter more.
That being said in many ways I think the refocusing strategy of the last three years was necessary. Firefox loss of marketshare and the rise of mobile are the biggest threat to our mission.
I do believe moving away from FirefoxOS and hardware in general is critical. It was a needless distraction from the core product which has gone stale.
Yet Firefox also has so much potential. FF 56 and 57 and with our focus on being the privacy browser is a perfect strategy to straighten the ship.
I also know the pain many feel about the staff turnover happening on the community side of MoCo. We had the same thing over at MoFO the last year or two when major programs were reshuffled. First staff turnover is normal. People leave jobs after 5 yrs in tech. That is a long time. Especially when major products are canceled and priorities realigned.
On the MoFo side it was the retiring of the webmaker program that occurred at the time of launch of the Mozilla Clubs.
Everyone I knew left at the same time.
Building webmaker felt kind of hacky and iterative. Community voices mattered. Then they simply did not. In fact in between the release of web literacy map 2.0 and 1.0 there was a smaller point version 1.5 that has been erased from history.
An entire team of contributors was abandoned as development shifted from community based to NDA’d “focus groups” who get bosses what they wanted quicker.
There was no plan in place to handle the staff turnover. No hand off to contributors to new staff. In fact many of us had the feeling we simply weren’t wanted and provided more a distraction to what the Board wanted done.
Yet as contributors we must remember the staff is small. Community support is hard and the number of projects needs to be minimized.
Are we open?
Yes. The transition to GitHub while difficult is now complete and we are better off for it. Some items, specifically G suite make us feel less open. One: it is not FOSS technology. Willing to accept that. Mozilla makes its money of of search as well. The problem is more the crappy workflow built into G Suite. Sharing a document openly outside of a Mozilla address takes like four clicks. Closed is the default and people will not ask to see closed documents that are shared in GitHub.
How many and who are we?
I still can’t answer this question. There is no clear space for community contributors to track their progress. We need better stats and recognition. Lets make mozillians.org more robust. Work with GitHub possible to build API that follow repo rather than the user only apis avaliable. Lets add a badging platform to Mozillians.org or make it like a portfolio such as Mahara.
I like this focus on the decentralized alliance based approach. If we can spawn self sustaining communities like open science, open journalism, and open design that align to our mission that is great.
Duplicity and Competing Efforts
I find it troublesome when I see duplicative and competing efforts between MoCO and MoFo. It is wa ste of limited resources. I know legally the entities are separated. Yet we can share and pool resources. Why for example for two years have different paid staff been working on two different leadership trasks? Why do we have multiple platforms trying to do the same thing.
Take Activate (MoCo) and Mozilla Learn (MoFo). They are basically built on the same taxonomy, three strands broken into competencies and then skills under those competencies. Yet they use two totally different platforms and our not inter-operable.
Why? Who is watching what happens between MoFo and MoCo?
In the last few years it is hard to tell what direction Mozilla is heading in to even answer this question. Feels priorities will change after each board meeting or all-hands.
As a contributor it is hard to help when the goal lines move. Plus you never know who is doing what. People change titles and roles at Mozilla more than I change socks. I don’t know how to follow this or where staff changes get updated so I can even give a congrats if someone gets promoted.
I thought the Mozilla 2020 would finally give a multi-year strategy but much of that is not in the latest plan. I look forward to the all-hands when the speech is “We are simply going to continue on the current path” Just because power brokers meet does not mean we need a new strategy.
I don’t know how add-ons/extensions work or how they are made. I just know they aren’t good when compared to Chrome and when I ask developers why they do not make them for Firefox they say its too many hoops to jump through or too hard technically.
This should be where a community browser should thrive. We should have legions of folks making cool extensions and apps for the “FireFox App Store”
Still the number of active users of Firefox on Dekstop and Android are the only real metrics that matter. Everything must focus on growing out Firefox. Everything.
I think their is also room to make Firefox the broswers of the weirdos, geeks, activists and artists. Lets make it the first truly remixable browser. Lets make Firefox the browser of emerging markets. Get people of many tongues and colors sharing and building. Basically make the user base look like Dumbo (sorry for inside US joke about gentrification) used to.
This makes sense. Mozilla Clubs that help people read, write, and participate and Campus Clubs that build, protect, and teach is a future user and contributor pipeline.