[Call for input] Open Letter to Mozilla Leadership


(Michael Kohler) #1

Hello Mozilla Community,

I’m writing to you all on behalf of the Mozilla Reps Council.

We are starting this topic to gather comments, feedback and feelings from everyone (all community members, not just Reps), we believe it’s our duty as a leadership body in the community.

Over the last months (and especially the last weeks) we have been hearing from volunteers more and more concerns about the recent Mozilla announcements. We care about community and we care about Mozilla, so we think the only way to surface this is to send a clear open letter to Mozilla’s Leadership summarizing it and asking for their answers.

Also we know some of you are no longer motivated to engage in conversations, but we ask you to give us a last chance to showcase how you feel and what you think Mozilla should do. We want this to be a transparent process and we want everyone to be part of it, so also please ask and transfer any comments you are getting from your local community.

In this topic we want to understand and we ask you to share:

  1. What do you feel about the current direction Mozilla is heading (including all recent announcements)?
  2. What do you think Mozilla should do to succeed that we are not doing right now?

Please, note that the second point is especially important in order to communicate not only how we feel, but also what the volunteer community is asking the rest of the organization to do/change.

We will keep this topic open for one week (until Saturday, 11.02.2017 early morning UTC) and then we will draft an open letter we’ll send to everyone at Mozilla’s leadership, asking them for a clear reply to our points (we’ll post a copy here too).

Also, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing this under your name you can reach out directly to us (reps-council at mozilla.com) or create an account here under another name. But please be civil and constructive in your comments, we will make sure this conversation is as productive as possible.

We will edit and summarize this first post with the things we are hearing.

How do we feel:

  • Reps Regional Coaches: there were a few concerns on Telegram that people who expected to be contacted by Regional Coaches weren’t contacted (Reps Telegram Group, Saturday)
  • Campus Clubs: There are concerns that “it’s not moving forward”, as well as concerns about it not supporting our flagship product (Firefox). There were a lot of comparisons with FSA (for example missing recognition program and more structure in CC) (Reps telegram group, Saturday)
  • Contributor pathways for Firefox are hard, apart from “just writing a patch and see” (Reps telegram group)
  • Concerns that we were ahead in the past, but we are not anymore, as well as concerns about Rust (below, striptm)
  • Hard to get in touch with the right people at Mozilla. There is an expectation to know the internal workings of Mozilla. This makes it hard to collaborate with Mozilla as a person outside of the whole structure. Also there are concerns about Mozilla doing it’s own thing (conferences) instead of partnering with others. (Florian’s answer below)
  • Major concerns about WebExtensions and it’s implementation timeline (irvin & yfdyh000’s answers)
  • Some people don’t know how to feel about the current directions and are asking if there are any directions (Michal’s answer below)
  • Given the amount of depth we have in the comments, giving them small summaries doesn’t seem to be valuable enough, we will read through everything again when we create the letter draft

What do we ask:

  • Build circles of trusted friends. Don’t ask them to be Reps if they don’t have time for that. See if you can help them otherwise. Ask them to say a good word about you. See that they don’t have to become Mozilla experts to work with you. Maybe try hiring someone who built up a larger community project. (Florian’s answer below)
  • Clear documentation of how the WebExtension decision came to be, start a more transparent and deep communication with Add-on developers, set a more realistic plan, better documentation and guides for Add-ons (Irvin’s answer below)
  • More performance improvements like js-startup-cache and Quantum instead of Sync or Pocket, content for performance improvements, more “are we…yet” websites to track new thing, review wont fix bugs regularly to see if the opinion changed (yfdyh000’s answer below)
  • Be more open. Better communication. It’s very hard to know what Mozilla is doing. Maybe create a list of projects that are being worked on in a central place, facilitate a better way to contact people inside Mozilla, better announcements of what is happening and why. This also goes for activate, campus clubs etc, there is no single place to reach those websites apart from finding them trough a search engine or link (Michal’s answer below)
  • Given the amount of depth we have in the comments, giving them small summaries doesn’t seem to be valuable enough, we will read through everything again when we create the letter draft

Thanks.


Michael
on behalf of the Reps Council.


Open Conversation to Mozilla Leadership
Open Conversation to Mozilla Leadership
Open Conversation to Mozilla Leadership
(Striptm) #2

I’m sorry but my English is very bad, I leave a copy of my message in Spanish in case something is not understood that some translator will help me.

I am an old connoisseur of the history of Mozilla, I was greatly attracted by the announcement of the release of the Netscape code, and that it was led by the community; a community that was angry with the evolution of the web, that Microsoft did not strive In evolution.

A very exciting project for websdeveloper, to create a browser that showed that the web could be better.

Some time later (Firefox time) end users know it and they like it because it offers better things than the others. This makes feedback and gets more collaborators, allows Mozilla to have notoriety and influences for example in html5 presenting <video />

Thunderbird, another of the projects was also popular and was the default email manager in Ubuntu.

Mozilla was ahead.

They are born Chrome, iPhone, Android… and innovation seems to change to the new actors. For example the javascript engine that delights the developers and opens other projects like NodeJS that opens other projects like, NPM, Atom Editor…

The web moves to mobile, Mozilla gets good deals with big companies but I think it is late to a mature market and unfortunately Firefox OS can not prove if it is better.

At this point I start to notice that in Mozilla we go behind and what we do is copy using the Mozilla philosophy.

Projects that could be innovative are left to die or killed (Thunderbird, Panorama, Persona, total personalization with classic Addons…). I am sure there have been no arbitrary decisions and there will be important reasons for making these decisions.

My impression is that now what is being done is to copy the characteristics of the competition so as not to be left behind and lost the innovation and the ability to influence. Ej, the Firefox toolkit is only for Firefox, I do not see that ecosystem is generated.

The star evangelizers have gone to the other companies and our end users do not perceive the privacy or the neutrality of the network as a problem of the first order. Excluding DRM Firefox would be a marginal product.

After the latest announcements it seems that the star project is going to be RUST a new programming language, OMG a new programming language! I’ve heard too many times how wonderful it’s going to be a new programming language.

I am sure that for the platform it is very important to have something like this, because it has become obsolete to be able to evolve at the speed of competition, but I do not think this is a product that will attract new people.

And the old people do not see you feeling excited when I read this: http://fasezero.com/lastnotice.html

Lately I start to think that perhaps the simplest would be to use Blink and add features like anti-tracking that devote efforts in copying to stay up to date.

And what scares me is that it will happen in a few years when the consumption of the web is mostly mobile, or almost everything are native apps and the desktop is somewhat residual.


Soy un viejo conocedor de la historia de Mozilla, me atrajo enormemente el anuncio de la liberación del código de Netscape, y que pasase a estar dirigido por la comunidad, una comunidad que estaba enfadada con la evolución de la web, que Microsoft no se esforzaba en evolucionar.

Un proyecto muy ilusionante para los desarrolladores web, crear un navegador que demostrase que la web podía ser mejor.

Algún tiempo después (la era Firefox) los usuarios finales lo conocen y les gusta porque ofrece mejores cosas que los otros. Esto retroalimenta y consigue más colaboradores, permite que Mozilla tenga notoriedad e influye por ejemplo en html5 presentando <video/>

Thunderbird, otro de los proyectos también era popular y era el gestor de correo por defecto en Ubuntu.

Mozilla iba por delante.

Nacen Chrome, iPhone, Android… y la innovación parece que cambia a los nuevos actores. Por ejemplo el motor de javascript que ilusiona a los desarrolladores y abre otros proyectos como NodeJS que abre otros proyectos como NPM, Atom Editor…

La web se mueve a móvil, Mozilla consigue buenos acuerdos con grandes compañías, pero yo creo que llega tarde y a un mercado ya maduro y desgraciadamente Firefox OS no puede demostrar si es mejor.

En este punto comienzo a observar que en Mozilla vamos por detrás y lo que hacemos es copiar aplicando la filosofía Mozilla.

Los proyectos que prodrían ser innovadores se dejan morir o se matan (Thunderbird, Panorama, Persona, personalización total con los complementos clásicos…). Estoy seguro que no han sido decisiones arbitrarias y habrá importantes razones por las que se han tomado.

Mi impresión es que ahora lo que se está haciendo es copiar las características de la competencia para no quedar detrás y se ha perdido la innovación y la capacidad de influir. Ej. Lo que se hace para Firefox sólo sirve para Firefox, no veo que se genere ecosistema.

Los evangelizadores estrella se han marchado a las otras compañías y nuestros usuarios finales no perciben la privacidad o la neutralidad de la red como un problema de primer orden. Ej. sin DRM Firefox terminaría siendo un producto marginal.

Después de los últimos anuncios parece que el proyecto estrella va a ser RUST un nuevo lenguaje de programación, ¡Ohh un nuevo lenguaje de programación! he escuchado demasiadas veces lo maravilloso que va a ser un nuevo lenguaje de programación.

Estoy seguro que para la plataforma es muy importante tener algo así, porque se ha quedado obsoleta para poder evolucionar a la velocidad que la competencia, pero no creo que esto sea un producto que vaya a atraer a nueva gente.

Y la vieja gente tampoco veo que se sienta ilusionada cuando leo esto: http://fasezero.com/lastnotice.html

Últimamente empiezo a pensar que quizás lo más sencillo sería utilizar Blink y añadirle características como el anti-tracking que dedicar esfuerzos en copiar para estar al día.

Y lo que me da más miedo es que pasará dentro de unos años cuando el consumo de la web sea mayoritariamente móvil, o casi todo sean apps nativas y el escritorio sea algo residual.


(Striptm) #3

And if you ask me what I would like Mozilla to do, my answer is that it is still where the web is created.

That it continues being reference as it is with MDN.

Do not read news articles like https://carlosazaustre.es/blog/como-crear-webcomponent-de-forma-nativa/ and end up telling you that in Firefox it is not available.

And I’m sorry to be ambiguous, I do not know the answer.


Y si me preguntan que me gustaría que hiciese Mozilla, mi respuesta es que siga estando donde se crea la web.

Que continue siendo referencia como lo es con MDN.

No leer artículos de novedades como https://carlosazaustre.es/blog/como-crear-webcomponent-de-forma-nativa/ y que terminen avisando que en Firefox no está disponible.

Y siento ser ambiuo, no conozco la respuesta.


(Vigneshwer Dhinakaran) #4

Thanks for this initiative :slight_smile: I personally believe this is a very effective approach.

I feel that Mozilla’s emerging technologies are of great interests to many in the community and will have a huge impact in the developer community and building amazing projects.

The participation in emerging technologies track are limited to volunteers with specific skill set, if we could have better Onboarding processes for a wider set of audience it would be great.


(Florian Gilcher) #5

I was conviced by Alex Lakatos to answer to this thread, even if I don’t feel spoken to by these questions (and that is part of the context).

A little bit of context: I’m part of the Rust community team and helped creating Rust Berlin even before Rust 1.0. I was leading the team creating RustFest 2016. Before that, I ran multiple meetups, 4 conferences in the Ruby space (eurucamp) and served as a board member of Ruby Berlin. I love working with a lot of Mozillians and am currently happy in the Tech speakers course. I do hobby community management since 15 years now. Never in that time, though, I have considered myself a Mozillian or want to.

I love working with many Mozillians on a personal basis. With all it’s flaws, I’m amazed of Mozilla Reps effectiveness in regions of the world where other projects can’t even dare to get representation in. Mozilla has goals and values.

But working with Mozilla as an entity is the worst thing that ever happened to me in that time. Worse then any flimsy startup, Oracle and RedHat combined. That has a couple of reasons and some of those express in those questions.

So, let’s start with that: communication with Mozilla always starts with a hefty piece of expectations from Mozilla side that you know about Mozilla and its inner workings. My feelings about the current direction of Mozilla? None, I guess you have your reasons and Mozilla, the software vendor, doesn’t bother me much. I’m grateful for your funding of a project I love and support, but beyond that, I can’t say much. Yes, I loved Firefox OS the concept, but Mozilla Corp be the judge of whether they can make that a viable project. Same with “what can Mozilla do to succeed?”. I’m not into Mozilla enough to give good recommendations there. I don’t know what Mozilla could do.

As someone who doesn’t want to join Mozillas structures in any capacity, this becomes even worse: it’s hard to get in touch. We tried to get Mozilla involved into a large Rust tent (100 peak visitors) on CCCamp 2 years ago. I haven’t found a point of contact. None of the Mozillians I know knew one. Finally, it turned out there was a Mozilla tent there, run by someone else we didn’t get in contact to. At the same time, we stopped collaborating with Mozilla as a host for our Rust meetup, after they turned out to be very unreliable - far less reliable then other free venues in Berlin.

These things continue: we ran RustFest right after ViewSource in Berlin, and - we didn’t know - on the weekend of the European Rep meeting. Turns out: almost no Mozillian knew either. So we had people in the Berlin Office that then figured out that there was European Rust conference happening at that time.

So, gosh, is Mozilla hard to approach and to ask for cooperation, even if your event is basically “we have something here, do you want to slap a Mozilla sticker on?”.

Finally, an extra-aggrevating thing is how everytime when you speak to someone in Mozilla about that thing, there’s a stock answer: “Well, you have to understand that Mozilla is a large company and you know how it is.” The problem is that I know how it is. I prefer to call Oracle, Microsoft and Google for community project support over Mozilla. Why? They have someone to call and they have a process to get to yes or no. I am not alone in this opinion, most organisers of events I know send Mozilla the sponsorship prospectus (if they know someone within Mozilla, because there’s no easily findable point of contact). The extended version of the answer is someone explaining internal structure of Mozilla to you. I couldn’t care less. Mozilla has no grounds on which it can expect me to bother myself with Mozilla internals if I just want to collaborate on a project with them. They don’t care about my orgs internals either. It also isn’t necessary, as most collaborations don’t need that. A big problem here seems to be that many Mozillian employees that don’t do community work all day have issues with communicating to people that have less time to allocate to their community work. (after all, this is my hobby, not my job)

The cherry on top was a representative of the newly formed participation team that promised to put an end to the unresponsiveness - he never replied to any email. Which is quite sad, because one of the goals was to organise a meeting with local FOSS community workers to discuss Mozilla. Just to give you a rough gauge: most people here don’t know Mozilla has an office, much less a community group in Berlin. I think such a meeting would have helped matters here a lot.

Also, hearing that local tech activists wouldn’t be invited to the last time Mozilla higher-ups were in Berlin also showed where the interests lie.

Which brings me to yes/no. No one in Mozilla seems to feel comfortable of deciding about support. Which means you never have a satisfactory time frame in which you can be sure of support (which, if you are a conference organiser trying to find someone to help you with a venue lease, is a major source of insecurity). Another facet of that is that no one knows what’s possible. I asked if it were possible to join the work week in London as a chance to finally meet some Rust community workers and maybe finds some time for planning. The answer I got was no, work week is Mozillians only. Turns out, two weeks before the event, I meet someone who is indeed there as an external person. I speak to another Mozillian and he’s like “yeah, that"s kinda usual”. Sooo, chance over. It’s a death by man paper cuts. Positive experiences with Mozilla is very rare for me. Fully negative, too, but every time I’m like “there’s going to be a catch”.

You know what got all of that a little better? One of our group getting hired at Mozilla. Because suddenly, you have someone that could catch those people on whatever communication channel Mozillians use. You have someone with an @mozilla.org adress. But damn, getting your friends employed at Mozilla just doesn’t scale.

Finally, the involvement of Mozilla in RustFest was very problematic. Details are not really for here, as the matter is discussed with the people involved and brought to a satisfactory conclusion. The core of the issue was, though, that Mozilla agreed on doing things that would have went easier without Mozilla and saying no on things that were completely arbitrary. Also, being very late.

Every couple of months, a Mozillian comes along with another point of contact and asks me to repeat this rant to them. That point of contact then promises to make these things better. They then never reply to emails as simple as “hey, we chatted about this person and you wanted to introduce me to them”. So, here’s another replication of a rant that Participation, DevRel, Mozilla Community Berlin and a couple of others already heard and that changed nothing. But I don’t want to end bitter.

So, to not get only into complaining and to give you my running theory about all this this: Mozilla is open tech community from the past. It has a very well running system that worked when Mozilla was the only player in that space. Most other foundations only care about tech. Mozilla cares about people and tech, with a great focus on people. It shows when participating in Mozilla project: I’m currently in the Tech Speakers program, and damn, do these people know how to keep in touch with people around the globe. But what Mozilla is very bad on and heavily struggeling with is that they are not the only groups bringing people in touch with technology anymore. Many of them are local to cities, like the OpenTechSchool, others are global, like the CoderDojo or the Bridges. Many of those hold Mozilla in high regard, for what they have done, but many wouldn’t want to be involved in Mozilla for that reason. They have their own structures, their own way of working, their own ties, which are probably more effective then Mozillas on their small scale. So, my question here is: is it necessary that everyone working towards Mozillas goals considers themselves a Mozillian? Wouldn’t it be far more effective to find ways how all these projects that are fundamentally aligned to Mozilla and their idea of empowering people to work with and understand open technologies? For example, why does Mozilla run their own conferences? They are literally the only player in the market that can - with good conscience - ask people for free labor. Build circles of trusted friends. Don’t ask them to be Reps if they don’t have time for that. See if you can help them otherwise. Ask them to say a good word about you. See that they don’t have to become Mozilla experts to work with you. Maybe try hiring someone who built up a larger community project.

I don’t know, you make what you want of that.

I’m also on holidays, so I’m not really interested in discussing that further.

Edit: I just read https://discourse.mozilla-community.org/t/changes-in-community-support-in-2017/13206 and gosh… “People are hard, we didn’t quite get it working, let’s do sentiment analysis instead”? Well, if people offer to work with you, and you never reply, no wonder that whole meatspace stuff doesn’t quite work.


(Irvin Chen) #6

How do we feel:

https://discourse.mozilla-community.org/t/concern-about-webextension-exclusive-stretegy-from-add-on-authors-and-users/13310/

Like the discussion in above articles, I feel we’re missing the communication between our Firefox Addon team to our volunteer add-on authors. Too many popular addon authors is publicly complain about decision to remove XUL-based and Addon-SDK based extension architecture in the end of 2017, and that means far too less communicate for participants in our Firefox ecosystem, before decision is made.

If addon author is not happy and cannot bring their wonderful things with us forward, then our heavy user won’t be happy too. And it is causing many noice on local market from our core user that “Mozilla is behave just like others, not listening to user anymore” recently. (Eg., 1 2 3 4 I just randomly select some posts from our core Mozillians and long time Mozilla-supported opinion leaders who had complain about Mozilla just in this week.)

What do we ask:

  1. Found out how the decision is made and why is it made in this way, that urge so many angry add-on authors to argue publicity instead of communicate.
  2. Start a more transparent and deeply communication between Firefox Add-on team and popular add-on authors to recover their faith and our once-best-in-time extension eco-systems. (In fact, we need more transparent procedure on anything we want to abandon. Especially we had all experienced the worst Firefox OS case.)
  3. Set a more realistic plan and timetable to implement all necessary SDKs and for author to porting their current SDK-based Add-ons. Set a new active-user-number-based time plan to dropped XUL extension architect.
  4. Set procedures, necessary documents and more hand-on resources to help our current Add-on author on their works.

(YFdyh000) #7

I feel:

Are moving forward, but more abandon and restrict, less freedom and community.

From the add-ons signature mandatory, the new add-ons schema (WebExtensions, and once the Add-on SDK, jpm and more) and timeline, as well as the AMO collections feature, the complete theme, the toolbar customizations and more to fade away, they are not subject to users feedback for long-time, only by the development team or leader to decide and implement, without vetoing rights by the users feedback.

As well as ignoring the rationale and impact of feedback, for example, WONTFIX bugs on Bugzilla, and old http://input.mozilla.com/ (it has lots of feedback but no response, I understand it is a huge and almost impossible, but seems no one to be responsible for this. https://support.mozilla.org/kb/get-community-support and community forums thus becoming the only valid choice.)

I ask:

  1. More performance improvement and advocacy to build confidence, like js-startup-cache, Quantum, and more, rather than promoting or merging feature that have already been done in Add-ons or those non-exclusive features such as Sync, Add to Pocket. You can negotiate and strongly promote the add-ons by community (just like the system add-ons, but allow more to choose and disable, like allows the enabled by default according to certain criteria or release), rather than implement it yourself by crappy ones and no follow-up updates (like Tab Groups).
  2. A contest for performance improvement (even like face the security issue, although reducing the intensity.); A contest for porting or creating new add-ons for WebExt, and promoting them, at least does this.
  3. More substantial promotion for us is a community, like “Are” websites, they are silent and faded.
  4. Periodically in turn review wontfix and others bugs on Bugzilla, such as quarter or year, to looks for changes in views or improvements, as well as attention the vote number of bugs for people concerned.

(Michal Stanke) #8

About 8 month ago, I have heard a statement on Mozilla All Hands, that Mozilla needs to be bold - stay clearly and vigorously stand behind the manisfesto and values. But as Firefox is changing rapidly to catch the shortages from the recent past, Mozilla need to be bolder about these changes and reasons for them too. It’s nice to see the announcements stating how amazing things are, but I am missing any public reactions to the opposite opinions (yes, talking about add-on developers again and heavy XUL add-on users). To a lot of people around me, it sounds like Mozilla does not care and just repeat and repeat how great it is without even noticing the commend, not even under official blog posts.

Then it ends up like this week - after NDA leak about Connected Devices being dissolved, I have read many articles like “The non-profit that neglected Firefox is firing employees”. So to the first point, how do I feel about current direction - I actually do not know. Is there any direction? And if so, why it’s not communicated well, not even the individual steps on the path? And why there are no clear timeframes for having things done/production ready (e10s follow-ups, Quantum, Servo, browser.html, Test Pilot experiments, …)?

That’s IMO also the answer for the second point. Mozilla is not open enough. I lack enough communication, it’s hard to know, what Mozilla is doing - too many projects and no list of them, too many activities without a single place to see them, too many groups without an overview of what are they about and proper contact list. It’s often hard to reach to Mozilla, without asking my mentor for a contact or knowing someone already. Moreover despite being a Mozillian and local community veteran, I feel myself put a bit aside. I would appreciate some communication, where any announcements are put a bit earlier or more open and informal way than to the official blogs for the press. So we know, something is happening and why, even if we do not follow the exact IRC channel, wiki page or Disourse forum.

And maybe this is not just about Mozilla leadership, but the community too. The recent stuff like Activate Mozilla, Campus Clubs, Innovation toolkit …, those may be great but it’s super hard to get to the websites, if you do not follow a direct link. You just cannot get there, if you are not looking exactly for this on Google. There is no Mozilla ecosystem or very weak.


(Daniele Scasciafratte) #9

I follow all the discussed stuff (I am agree with all of them especially for addons) here with my little opinion:

  • After the Fosdem experience I see that there are problems between communications with people that didn’t know that in their country there is a community, so we need a leadership from Mozilla itself to help them to promote like also inside Firefox on in their language.
  • There are many old tickets with many people that follow them to get updates and they are ignored. It’s good to move forward but see also the oldest and what’s going on it’s important.
  • Mozilla do many campaign online but the volunteers, also under NDA, get that news or the day itself or with an internal news like a week before. So is not possible to plan a localization for the launch itself. Or the website change without any news like there was for the changecopyright.
  • Mozilla organize also many campaign without get updated the community like the ads for yahoo the last year and is not possible to get the assets. How a volunteer can do promotion without the official assets?
  • I think that Mozilla need to get more employees between the volunteers because they are skilled and know what means contribute. Also they stay more in the company respect people outside that leave after 2-3 years, and volunteers lose a reference point.
  • Mozilla foundation need to be more global, don’t forget that the volunteers in north america are very less respect every other area in the world. Often we see that many things are too much american then for the rest of the world. To fix that is not enough to get employees around the world but get in touch with the communities in the decisions and ask if it is good for the rest of the world.

(Irvin Chen) #10

Second the people point that @Mte90 and @skade raised.

Perhaps it’s one of our strategies that “Changes in Community Support in 2017”. We are losing many many Mozillianized-staff that had build great bridge between volunteers and MoCo/MoFo in past few years very quickly. Gen Kanai (was Asia communities wrangler), William Quiviger (was South-east Asia and South Asia and Europe wrangler), Guillermo Movia (LATAM wranger), Brian King (Europe wrangler) and TJ Lee (for Firefox Student Ambassador) as my quick example, many more names follow.

We’re not only losing the local volunteer because they will need to re-build relationship and sync their minds with new staff (or there is even NO new staff in place, like in my country or FSA for long time), and also local projects would be hard to continue due to lack of wrangler after the core community staff depart, and new staff has no enough background experience on those project.

Volunteer will be struggling finding building new relationship and finding new things to contribute, and they need great community-minded staff to keep care, or they will just stop contributing (only to Mozilla, perhaps). And we will leaving bad reputation on it.

When we kill projects and cease it’s staff position, we’re also eliminate related communities. For example, we’re losing a whole global community after we killed Webmaker and it’s localization project, and we’re losing also a global scale of communities around WebApp after we killed Firefox OS (Now we saw Google is taking the lead with PWA in here).

I know it’s common that people came and go in big project, but it’s very pain on community building. I have to trying build new relationship with different staff almost every year (even every few months). I had experience that failed to keep with latest re-org, and I lost the opportunity to be include, eg. not knowing there is new related-call to join. And it’s even more struggle if the new face has no community-like mind (we had deadly experience on that.)

Because local community are mostly lasting longer then current community wrangler staff and any Mozilla projects (besides Firefox), I and many Mozillians already start keeping our contributing not too dedicate and devoted to any single Mozilla project, in order to prevent hurt when it ceased. It’s not really positive, is it?

I know we want to enable volunteer to do the job, but in fact I don’t think it as a working solution. Volunteer has no enough resources, has no enough time. They already have many local growing projects (and they don’t want to lose it), and they now have other countries to work. In many country, there are multiple communities around different projects.

We’re end up with a very bad hierarchy structure, which we would like to avoid due to conflict we already saw many times in different regions (e.g., conflict that in the end killed whole community few years ago in Malaysia for example).

In my experience, to keep growing local community took me 100+ hours a month, and to help mentoring only ONE community in other country took me another 10+ hour a month. And I’m already missed other communities in the same country, not to mention other nearby countries. (In the mean time we have other Mozilla projects and calls to follow besides community growing.)

Volunteer will end up burn out, and local communities will feel even worst and un-confidence when people (who claim to be their coach) come and go more frequently then staff. Sorry, it is just not that realistic as a role for non-full-time people.

What do you think Mozilla should do to succeed that we are not doing right now?

Try to keep great community builders within Mozilla, and keep brining good builders in. There are many great volunteers working hard on building communities for many many years. We should give them resource, invite them in and make full use of their ability. A health and diverse global community need staffs who had local mind with resources to care and help, and it’s is always our core strength against any challenger.


(Kairo) #11

This is a hard topic, and any post to it will get long, i.e. so is this one. I have been “on the inside” for a while, and in the community before and now again after that so once I get going with thoughts, there are quite a few. (Sorry if I use "we and “us” when talking about “Mozilla the organization” but I feel as part of “core Mozilla” no matter if I’m officially staff or not.)

Knowing who to contact is surely a problem from the community side, I miss access to the phonebook a lot, but relief for that is thankfully planned - so this is something that surely needs to be pushed forward. And don’t try to make it a huge project that does everything at once, go step by step and deliver to the largest pain points first,even if not everything is polished. Innovation and ideas happen where things are not polished.

And that’s something that I feel as a problem with Mozilla in general somewhat: Nowadays, we try to have everything that goes out even to the community, sometimes even a larger circle of staff, to be polished and “ready to go”. That doesn’t just feel very corporate and slick, but also takes away the chance to get more ideas in and have things develop organically - which is what we were good at in our growth phases. Getting information and projects to the community early, with rough edges, is what fosters participation and innovation. The recent logo process was good at that, Rust and WebVR are as well. We need more of those examples.

For community to be successful, the pieces to participate in need to be fun, easy to start but still challenging, and rewarding in a lasting way. Pouring your heart and soul into a project just to see it completely killed without successor by top-down decision making is frustrating and making peers actually warn others from participating (and we will feel that effect lasting for some time). Also, when “giving a project to the community”, it can only bloom if the not-so-fun pieces of administration (including getting builds and releases out there) and overall coordination (facilitating community decisions, not making top-down decisions) is actually done by people who are available full-time to the project - which I know well enough from my own experience as well as what I have seem in the last 18 years of being in this community.

We can’t undo what we have done but we can do better with what is coming up. We need to get the tinkers, makers, and the peers in the FLOSS communities behind our projects and initiatives. I think we need to push on doing workshops with WebVR, FlyWeb, and Progressive Web Apps and need commit to supporting those excellently and long-term in our products so that people playing with them do not get abandoned and we can build sustainable communities around them. We need to make sure that all our local and community outreach has Reps involved and make sure that communities that Reps are involved in and leading are friendly and positive to their members and dare to even throw people out of programs like Reps if they turn to be dictatorial or making people leave the community (yes, that’s sad but it sometimes happens). When we kill off a project, we always need to go back and explain if/why the original projects they wanted to solve are not relevant to the Mozilla mission any more, or otherwise invest in at least research about alternative solutions and help our communities to move to alternatives if so.

10-15 years ago Mozilla was one of the very few communities around openness, and that helped people to get involved (and less likely to go elsewhere), that’s not the case any more, we need to be welcoming and caring to community members much more than before. That doesn’t mean we need to sponsor their every step, it means much more that we need to be there for them when there are questions, we need to get them answers to questions fast, we need to make them feel part of the movement. For those of us used to thinking corporate, they are the salesmen and saleswomen of our mission, our initiatives and even our products. If we don’t keep them engaged, we don’t win “customers” - on the other side, if every one at Mozilla works with them and can get them going for us strongly, they are the best multipliers we can have to make Firefox as well as Mozilla grow (re 2017 goals).

In short:

  • Let’s make sure community members feel welcome and as part of our movement, let’s have them know who to talk to and get them answers fast from any of those contacts.
  • Let’s get things out there that are rough and foster tinkering and innovation, and commit to sustaining technologies that accumulate significant community interest - but if we shut down project, let’s stay honest and openly discuss relevance of it’s basic ideas to the mission and possible alternatives as well as actively help the communities to pick up alternatives.
  • Let’s push WebVR, FlyWeb, and Progressive Web Apps in our products, commit to them in a longer run and engage communities to tinker with them, get maker communities involved, do workshops with them. Other technologies can and should follow that same pattern, of course.
  • If we want community engagement, let’s make sure that fun, challenge and lasting impact are there, and provide the framework in administration and coordination, fostering decision making that feels open, bottom-up and empowering instead of top-down out-of-the-blue decisions.
  • Let’s have a connecting structure of community through Reps and involve them in all local/regional and community activities, and hold them to community guidelines even more strictly as they should be the role models for our community.

I think that’s mostly my thoughts on this right now, happy to be engaged in this more. :wink:


(Andre Alves Garzia) #12

I posted some of my complaints at a different thread https://discourse.mozilla-community.org/t/dont-like-the-direction-that-community-management-at-mozilla-is-heading/13495

Since I want to encourage some discussion instead of adding noise to this open letter thread.


(Michael Bauer) #13

+1 to all those who call for a more effective and outsider (or even insider) friendly way of getting to talk to the right people. I’m in the main a localizer and I feel bad every time I have to drop another email to a Mozilla l10n admin to ask whom I should be talking to about a non-l10n topic. It’s a jungle with no official guide.

So I’ve been localizing for Mozilla since 2010, across most end-user products (Firefox, Thunderbird, Lightning, OS and mobile apps). I am in the main a translator with very limited dev skills though I consider myself an advanced user and I do spot and report bugs etc. Just for background.
Over the years, it feels to me like Mozilla has become too frenetic in its approach to change. The frequency with which solid projects with end-user appeal are dumped (Tb above all) as well as projects with long-term potential but issues which were always going to be the case (OS above all) in favour of developing the beez kneez of something else - only to drop it shortly afterwards.
In my view, Mozilla needs to go back to base and first of all re-establish its core product development. Firefox and Thunderbird and ensure these products are available on as many platforms as possible. Maintain that core and it doesn’t matter if some experimental project comes and goes.
While doing that, sort out organisational issues and especially the communication.
When picking a new project, pick just one or two and take the long-term view and stick with it. OS was never going to happen overnight but Mozilla rushed to market and thus bit off more than it could chew and in the end, had to can it. This should be reconsidered.
The last one is perhaps the trickiest. We need to get out of our FOSS bunkers and start collaborating across projects and become more user friendly. Whether we like it or not, people are on Google because you get everything in the same place. It is telling that a lot of discussions between Mozilla people happen … on Google. We need to consider working more closely with the likes of LibreOffice and try to come up with something that respects our mission but at the same time actually gives the end-user what they want. We can never force people onto FOSS, we can only attract them. Case in point, the download and installation process of Firefox and LibreOffice, both of which have their own facepalm issues. In a mature product, we should not be having headaches over locale selection during download/install, switching UI locales in-product or how to do an auto-update feature. The end-user, in 2017, just expects that to work. Sorry but to hell with a new programming language when we have fundamentals that still don’t work well enough to keep the end-user happy. Because if we do not make products for the end-user, then who are we making them for?


(Brooke Jennings) #14

I have felt that the Lords of Mozilla have been out of touch ever since they surprised us with Firefox 28 (or Thunderbird? I’m gettting old and my memory is failing). I was lucky to learn about 28 before I installed it. Others were taken completely by surprise. I understand that it precipitated an unprecedented tsunami of complaints. And the Lords’ response? We are Gods and you peons will have deal with whatever We in our Imperial Wisdom decree.

I wonder why so many intermediate level leaders quit in such a short period of time. I suspect most left for the same reason. What did the Lords of Mozilla do to send them all packing at once?


(Mickydoe) #15

It’s not the first time the community writes a letter to leadership, and I’m worried we will get the same politically correct and empty answer: “We care about community, we keep improving our efforts”

I want to summarize a lot of what we see. Most of the community feelings now is because of years of desinvestment from the leadership:

  • Firefox OS was created as a closed project. NDA volunteers to ensure partners were happy. Firefox OS was never a community project and even if community raised their concerns about it (we need whatsapp and other main apps or this makes no sense), they were never heard and it failed and drained Mozilla during years.
  • Since then most teams at mozilla have been working behind “close doors”, private gdocs, private slack… their own bubble, no mandate to be open and welcome participation. This is now the culture by default.
  • The teams supporting community always linked just to Corporation needs: We need marketing for Firefox OS, now we need this new campaing, now it’s connected devices, now… what about having a great community as a need by itself?
  • It’s clear that Corporation leadership wants what they call “return of investment” from community and when it’s not there for the goals of the moment they remove support (community managers leaving is a clear sign). Are we going to kill all community support in a few year then?
  • We haven’t seen any signal of corporation leadership enforcing the rest of the org to work in the open or welcome participation. If they want this, they can easily enforce this by connecting it to employees performance.
  • We, the community, don’t want to be free labor. We learn about decisions taken behind close doors, but no volunteer was never consulted or being part of the decision process. Other organizations that are supported by volunteers have volunteers in their decision maker bodies, but not Mozilla.
  • We want to be a global organization but still leadership is California centric. We have thousands of eyes and ears on the field worldwide to inform and influence!
  • Mozilla is becoming just another organization that builds a product, a product that even being as good as others, don’t have a diferenciation with the rest, we don’t take risks. Marketshare decreases because people don’t have a reason to choose us, they don’t have a reason because we just do what others do (and sometimes worse).
  • It’s crazy to know how to get involved in projects. Some are corporation, some are foundation, we don’t care, One Mozilla remember? It feels like 3 Mozillas (Corporation, Foundation and volunteers).
  • There are a lot of things where people will never have interest to help. Why should we give our time to a product that has 1000 employees and hundreds of millions in revenue each year? We want to work on things that have impact, not in things to keep us entretained.

What do we ask?

  • Mozilla Leadership to be accountable to the rest of the community. Have a diverse group of key volunteers in decision making bodies, and have them elected. This way we will feel part of the process and not just observers.
  • All teams at Mozilla should have openess and participation as a mandate, and tied to employees performance evaluation.
  • Community Support is not a “return of investment” but a long time investment, with freedom to take care of the community no matter what the goals are.
  • Major decisions would be consulted, welcoming diverse voices from all over the world. Not just tech experts in California.
  • Teams are open by default (in tools, in proceses, in communications) and there is a way to discover what’s going on at Mozilla in a single place.
  • Be honest and tell everyone what do you expect from the volunteers and community. We don’t want to waste our time, we want to support Mozilla’s mission but not work for free.
  • What are the things we can influenciate direction but we have money to have employees working on it?
  • What are the things were a community of volunteers can make a difference that all the money in the world can’t buy?

And if leadership doesn’t want this direction, let us know and also let us know honestly what direction for community you have in mind. Then we will decide if we want to invest our time in this organization or not (because a lot of us are already tired and won’t return without a radical change).


(Edoardo Viola) #16

During the FOSDEM I could talk with some people inside local European Communities and other, not involved yet but, how said @mte90, they don’t know that in their country exist a local community.
All people who are part of these communities express me different and specific necessity, but what that they feel in common is the absence of a unique platform where find easly all the information regarding update and new programs, initiative and in general of all make in global from Mozilla. I don’t refer only from specific team or work group, but, in general. Moreover, these people feel the necessity to be more engaged on the develop of new products, ideas and ecc… from the first and initial phase and first that for these things will make new internal team or workgroup. They think that the community will be engage not only in promoting, support and localization things.

A more big report about that you’ll could find in the specific section regarding the Reps Regional Coach, there you can find more information and all the proposal solution in order to try to be helpful and reach my goals in my region how Reps regional coach.

For the people who wants to be engage in a local community, the situation is different. Today the people don’t arrive only because are Firefox Users, but because they are in accord with our causes. What we need is that the local communities are, and, feel ready to promote not only localization and support activity specific for products, but to be engage in all things that Mozilla do in the name of OpenWeb.

For reply more specifically at the questions:
What do you feel about the current direction Mozilla is heading (including all recent announcements)?

I think that the current Mozilla direction is good. Isn’t possible in the actual state of things, market share, and, concurrents break up energies. We need to focus our attentions at the people, at the communities and offers this value added that distinguish our self then the others. Is for that I think is crucial remains one with the other the most cooperative that we can. From the more ancient in the community to the last people arrived in our community. We must show at the world all that Mozilla constantly do e show that we are not only Firefox. Especially here in Europe, we need to work hard in this, and, me how Reps Regional Coach I will do my best with all my forces to do it.

What do you think Mozilla should do to succeed that we are not doing right now?

Give more opportunities at the local communities. Use the communities to create new innovating idea, engage more volunteers in all the projects and offer in a simple website (not the Wiki) all the information in relevance of programs, initiative and projects carry on from mozilla. We are the community who represent the Open and the Inclusive, so we have the necessity not only to say that, but show it in a simple and easy website all the value added that we offer (Localization, Support, and programs how: Reps, TechSpeaker, campus Club, mozilla Club, Mozilla Science and more, and more, and more.)
I don’t mean detailed and all the information specific but a website that summarize short information and all the local references of people who are actively involved how mozillians in all these activities.

I see some things wrote by the others, and I hope to read some others, but this is a awesome moment to express our thinking and point of view, so, Thank you to offered at me.
I’m sorry for the Language mistake.
Cheers,
Edoardo


(Brooke Jennings) #18

That certainly explains Thunderbird 28 (or was it Firefox?)
Who owns the Mozilla corporation? Who makes the decision to isolate the corporation from users? Is there any way to put pessure on the Lords of Mozilla, or are they as secure in their power as Putin? Is Mozilla code open source, or have the Lords patented it?

All of these questions relate to a hope that the corporation might be influenced to open up, or alternatively, to put the code under an alternative, open and responsive, management group?

Open letter to the Lords of Mozzilla

The last post certainly explains Thunderbird 28 (or was it Firefox?) Who owns the Mozilla corporation? Who makes the decision to isolate the corporation from users? Is there any way to put pessure on the Lords of Mozilla, or are they as secure in their power as Putin? Is Mozilla code open source, or have the Lords patented it?

All of these questions relate to a hope that the corporation might be influenced to open up, or alternatively, to put the code under an alternative, open and responsive, management group.

Four score and seven years ago our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, which I hope will get this past the electronic censor, which rejected my initial text too similar to my last.

What must I write to make this post sufficiently differ from my last? Trump is a loose cannon; no one knows what he will do next. Except that he will always talk before he thinks.

.


(Richard Armuelles) #19

###How I Feel:

I feel really disengaged from the direction that Mozilla is taking, eliminating or failing to give funds to projects that were good for the end user (Thunderbird and certain Firefox features like Panorama), I feel that Mozilla tries to do everything that rival companies do at the same way these companies do, only using the Mozilla brand and a community that apparently has a voice, but in practice, is not being heard.

We tried to enter the mobile market with a project that was not really open, which was full of non-disclosure clauses for all of us who signed the agreement (it did not feel like a free software project) and we failed and the press took care of remind us everytime that we failed.

We tried to move to an IoT initiative that in more than a year has not produced a single end-user tool (only documents on the wiki and tools maintained by certain communities but not supported by Mozilla), it would have been great to have taken advantage of WebIDE to This task, but nothing materialized. It’s no use for developers to do IoT workshops on Arduino and Node.js, because Mozilla is not involved in these projects, there is not a tool or product that we can proudly say is made by us.

Today What do we have to reach the end user and the developers? Promises of a better browser that slowly runs out of developers willing to make plugins with WebExtensions because the technology does not allow them the same freedom. We have promises of an innovative programming language that runs the risk of remaining as just a curious experiment and not a breakthrough product.

But more worrying is that we have a company rather than a foundation and a structure that does not allow volunteers to be the ones who can make decisions, where those critical decisions are left to a few who do not have the same open community culture and seem to look for Mozilla to behave like Google or any other IT company.


(Berni Melero) #20

Hi!

If this is going to be an open letter for the Mozilla leadership, the first things that I would love to know are:

  1. What’s community for Mozilla in 2017? What does it mean? Which is its role?

Maybe if we know this we can understand why last decisions have been made. I have an understanding of what community meant for Mozilla, but maybe it has evolved and I’m still living in the past. Having this concept clear will help me and others to know if we want to be part of it anymore.

  1. What’s the real goal/s of Mozilla? Is there any direction here?

I read a lot of times what Mozilla is meant for. The mission and the vision. And I love it. The thing is that reality is not aligned at all to them and it’s causing a lack of credibility. Opening and closing protects because we’re experimenting is nice, but then we should include that in the Mozilla goals and values.

  1. What does Mozilla do when hires new people? Which is the criteria? Do they know something about what community means?

There’s no doubt that Mozilla is more corporate than foundation today. It’s good to measure things, create procedures and good structures. It’s great to have experienced and prepared guys to take Mozilla to a higher level. But please, do train all these new guys about the importance of the community here. We’re not people who just do the work for Mozilla.

Once I know the answers to this maybe I’m able to know and propose anything to Mozilla. Now I just think that no one is hearing us there. So thank you to those who created this thread. Maybe it’s not too late.

Best,
Berni


(Gabriela) #21

What do you feel about the current direction Mozilla is heading (including all recent announcements)?

I feel that since Beard killed Grow Mozilla events back in 2014 (before called MozCamps), Mozilla has been caring each year less and less about community.

This became clearer to me when Ari announced Mozilla wasn’t going to partner with mobile phones companies any more and even more clear when Firefox OS was killed! They didn’t at all consider that there where hundreds of community members who spent all their free time and efforts as myself working in a related to Firefox OS project for the first six months of 2016! All these people efforts (my self’s included) was wasted!

Since then, a number of projects were launched, lost of contributors got enthusiastically involved, only to kill them six months later with the consequent disappointment off all of them!

Now, employees from Participation Team and lots of other people are been let go, no more community gatherings, no more Connected Devices Team, etc., etc., etc…

All the past decisions where made by new employees who obviously knew/know nothing about the excellent work community members do expecting nothing! QA and localization are just examples of this.

Supposedly Mozilla is all for openness??? Where is this openness when decisions that involve community are taken only by high positioned employees forgetting/not caring at all about community???

No doubt for me! Mozilla couldn’t care less about community!

Regretfully, each day I feel I have to gather more and more will to continue contributing, knowing very few people will value and acknowledge my help!

What do you think Mozilla should do to succeed that we are not doing right now?

I think all community events: MozCamps, Grow Mozilla’s, Community Gatherings, Leadership summits and such should be organized again, inviting lots of contributors to each of them to help us believe in Mozilla’s ideas again!

Regards,
Gabriela