Changes in Community Support in 2017

In 2017, as employees on the Open Innovation Team (a new team made from the combination of the participation and innovation teams), we’re shifting our focus and resources toward experimenting with new open source and open innovation methods. This has some implications for community support activities, which we want to explain in this post.

Some background - still not “winning” with open methods
In examining the approaches we’ve been taking over the past few years, product and technology teams at Mozilla are still not benefitting from open and participatory methods as much as we would all hope. And despite important improvements in the past couple of years, we can still get much better at having interesting opportunities for contributors and external collaborators.

And yet, more than ever Mozilla believes that participation and broader external engagement is a key part of what makes us Mozilla and needs to be a key part of our success moving forward. Creating a multi-year strategy for achieving competitive advantage through open methods has been highlighted as a main goal for Mozilla overall in 2017; this is a project our team will be leading.

(Keep an eye out here - on Discourse - for opportunities to participate in this strategy definition, including a community census!)

Focusing on open source and open innovation experiments with product and technology teams
Mozilla communities accomplished a lot in 2016 and we’re very proud of how we together (employees, Reps Council, many others) improved ways of supporting these communities. While initiatives like the Activate platform provided a new way to surface opportunities, the impact from participation is not reaching the potential we would all hope.

Because of this, we’re changing our approach in 2017: Employees on the Open Innovation team will be focusing on experimenting with new open source and open innovation methods, in partnership with product and technology teams across Mozilla.

We’ll be supporting projects like figuring out how sentiment analysis of project discussions can predict contributor engagement, and trying new methods of sourcing ideas to solve hard problems, like the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge. We’ll have more of these to talk about in the near future, and as always welcome your ideas.

Community support will change in 2017 - we’re relying on volunteer mobilizers
Focusing on open source and open innovation experiments will mean some changes for community development activities.

We’ll have less employee time dedicated to regional community support and initiatives like the community gatherings. We won’t be adding major new tools, like we did in 2016 with the leadership toolkit or coaching training materials (though we will be using these as part of existing and new initiatives, like improving Reps onboarding).

As a result of these changes, we’re relying even more on volunteer mobilizers to support regional communities and distributed activities. We’ve seen some good success from the Reps Regional Coaches and so we’ll be expanding that program and investing even more heavily in these “super-mobilizers”. And we hope that tools created last year (like the leadership toolkit mentioned above, an event playbook, etc) will be used by regional communities in a self-serve way.

We will continue investing in the Reps program evolution (RepsNext) and building-out more and better opportunities on the Activate platform. Building-out Campus Clubs, with a focus on technical and open source contribution, will be a major priority. And we’re excited about working on a diversity and inclusion strategy for community development at Mozilla.

There’s a lot more detail about this work in the 2017 Objectives and Key Results for community development.

Some of these changes involved tough decisions and prioritizations, and we didn’t make any of them lightly. We realize that many of you may feel the effects of these in the short-term.

We wanted to finish by emphasizing: As we move forward with a more technology and product-focused approach, we’re going to need to shift not only some of our activities but our thinking as well – it’s easy to fall back on our habits. This year we’ll need talented mobilizers and new collaborators who can push us all to think differently, to prove that open and collaborative methods are how we achieve Mozilla’s mission.

Please reach out with questions or comments in this post or by reaching out to staff or Reps Council or Peers.

Lucy & George


I’m happy to see the range of freedom that the Open Source Experiments program affords community, essentially empowering anyone to propose and pursue any idea that can improve Mozilla and open source. Really great idea!

I am, however, concerned to not see mention of a strategy for strengthening our flagship product. In a recent interview with Mark Mayo, it was made clear the Mozilla was centralizing on Firefox. While all of the efforts you’ve mentioned here are certainly good, I fail to see how they contribute to aligning the community with Mozilla’s re-emphasis on Firefox and strengthening it through core contribution areas For example, Release Management wants to see an increase in the Nightly user base, but staff alone using Nightly doesn’t accomplish this. We need community support and a strong plan for participation focused on the Nightly channel. I don’t see mention of this as a priority for the Open Innovation team, which is concerning.

I’m also interested in understanding how the community gatherings investments will be different. What’s clear is that employees on the Open Innovation time won’t be spending time organizing them. Does this extend to community involvement in All Hands? Does this imply that the Reps program will no longer be a vehicle for funding and planning community gatherings? I’m missing those details here.

Looking forward to your response.


I would like some clarification on this one as it strikes as a decision that is moving in an opposite path of my expectation. I was not in Hawaii but I was in London and Orlando and on both all hands there was a big message on growing mozilla. I remember a distinct message about “1 million Mozillians”. To cope with such influx of new volunteers or even with all the troubles that large teams have, I would expect more staff time.

Here in Brazil, we had (and to some extent still do) lots of problems in the recent years as @deimidis, @rosana and @kinger probably remember. The community only responded through intervention of community managers along with other staff members. I know of similar problems that have happened elsewhere in LATAM and EMEIA. That is happening with our current numbers, now as we grow our numbers, how can we realistically be expected to cope with problems if we’re reducing staff time?

For example, wikimedia which is smaller than us just commit USD 500k to reduce harrassement both internal to the community and external to users as can be seen here. While other similar organizations are investing more money (and thus time and effort by staff members) into their community we seem to be wanting to grow while reducing costs. This sounds too magical to me as in “we’ll have the best icecream in the world by reducing the amount of money we spend on quality ingredients”.

So please explain to me how reducing staff involvement will help us grow when most community members I have contact with would actually like and benefit from more staff involvement.

Also, please clarify further what this reducing is all about. I don’t care too much about community gatherings, I can see how they can be reduced in the name of saving money but I would like to know what kind of “community support” we are loosing. This kind of announcement could benefit from a bullet list of actual actionable items that are happening.

Thanks for all the hard work.


Marcia from that team is working with Brian and some volunteers (including myself) to get activities around Nightly into the Activate program, we still need to get this set up though and we may need some help there.

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I’m glad to know that Marcia is active in this regard. I’d love to include localizing Nightly into Activate.

Hello Lucy,

Thanks for awesome feedback about this changes, but the Brazilian community has not received any open action from Reps Regional Coaches, do you have any page with updated information and clear actions? Our community has gone through many needs last year and we received no guidance or regular checkin of Reps Regional Coaches.


We haven’t talked about anything regarding localization there, more about testing - but may be good to let Marcia know that you’d like to see L10n there :wink:

I really like this. In the past, the Brazilian community was focused on making events that in the medium and long term didn’t bring real benefits to the community and especially to Mozilla. Another problem, at that time, was that people who didn’t have the ability to speak in public, in many cases, did not feel included in the community because there was no opportunity for anything other than lectures.

But in recent months the focus has changed. Some people started working align with the existing teams, like SUMO and L10n, and this reflected a huge gain for the community, which stopped “fighting” for a while, and especially for Mozilla that now has more volunteers helping to make the products/projects more accessible, inclusive and collaborative for all.

However, I would like more clarification on the role the mobilizers will have. Currently, the Brazilian community has Reps that do not interact in any communication channel where the local community is present and this directly affects the potential that the community can achieve. After all, a Rep with privileged access to Mozilla’s information and projects (NDA) should guide the community, but how to do it if he/she does not participates and is still seen as a mobilizer and representative of the whole community?

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Where do you measure the success of that? From my perception, it was more on the “failed” side rather than “success side” but I’d like to be proven wrong.

I think that’s way too soon to jump onto conclusions. It takes a bit more time than a few months up to a year to see measurable results. But I suspect Mozilla has no time to wait for that from what I’m reading between the lines.

As if we had enough community support by staff before that. i.e: The Community Spaces program has staggered a bit since William Quiviger left, although it was technically still part of the strategy. Only major Spaces have been a priority for this until now. I’m disappointed to see that instead of fixing scenarios like this, we are still cutting edges where we can.


This is a great question. Our goal is to have a clear and understandable definition of what a mobilizer is and what that role means in terms of responsibilities and expectations. See for the issue.


I am nostalgic but I prefer Participation because the purpose is more clear but I understand that there are many things inside that team and that relationship is important.

I think also that many teams don’t think so much about volunteer participation or open communication with team (like with the sharing of graphic assets).

This is so true, RepsNext, Community Gathering and also with the new student program!

I hope that this reply to my comment on second quote :slight_smile: First step of this I think that is of few days ago. Participation system I think that is one of the example where the other teams need their inspiration.

I want reply also to others comments about it. It was an initiative, an experiment as already said on discourse. For us was important to see how manage the RRC and organize them work and what they have to do. It was no simple, only few of them are very active and doing a great job with contacting the communities but from the other side many community not replied to them at first contact. It show many lacks of our idea of the initiative and showed that the RRC need as example contact with a person inside the community that can help for the first contact.
It is also a very time consuming role (a RRC volunteer with 15 community to organize a meeting as example) and without try it we cannot understand how to improve it (there are many other things and this thread is not the right place). Search on Discourse the public thread about the topic and ask here for any information.
I say that because the initiative worked as experiment, the same initiative is under a coaching system and I said also under an agile rules that are not easy to see for people outside the initiative itself.

Yep and we need this as already said above there are many points where we can work on it.

Yes, we translated the community playbook and we want to do the same for the event (that miss of few parts)

I was involved very much and I can see that there are few post effect in the reps, we see them only now as example with the review team and the new onboarding system but there are many other things but the openness of this it’s very amazing on GitHub.

That are showing the potential of the students for mozilla and need the support and engagement of the local community also with the other program like TechSpeakers and Reps. As RC for the Campus Club for me a campus without relationship with the local community is not an healthy club (the same also for the mozilla club), after all they are mozillians so why not contacting them and keep in touch of what you are doing?

Yes, the results of this year are only with the engagement of volunteers because this program, experiment, resources are for us volunteers. So it’s important that we say our thoughts about is happening in Mozilla for the participation side.
I remember in RepsNext that there was a lack of participation and I hope that this year will be different. The comments in this threads is an example of the difference respect of the last year! Keep pushing guys!

Good point that I missed, as I remember in one of the last year reps weekly call we saw the new organization of the open innovation team and I guess that means that know employee have a specific role in all the things of this thread like for Campus Clubs where is @Christos that follow the program as example.
I think that have an employee very focalised is a good things but I hope in new employees of course.

This is also true! Maybe organize an Activate template (for l10n) that every community can organize for his workflow can be an idea.

This one of the problems discussed on RepsNext and RCC need to help in that. Also the new mentor proposal and many other suggestions to improve that like as example with the new definition (phrase) of the Reps program is one of the first step.

In open source world where is the IT, wait often is not a good thing because it’s a rapid world. Of the 2016, with all of the great results of course, my disappointments are for the slow on many things like for RepsNext.

Sorry for the long post, here there is a cute red panda for your patience:

The red panda is here

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This is an excellent case for further digging. For example, Reps usually have “Office Hours” listed on their Reps profile page which lists in which channel they are active and how to contact them. A person in need to help from a specific Rep can contact them directly using that info.

Another important issue is why Reps become inactive in certain channels? What has happened to them to reduce their contributions or acts in the same channels as you mentioned. Mozilla really needs to double down on harassment and that requires more staff time. For example, the Brazilian Community lost many long time contributors during the 18 months. People who have been volunteering for more than 10 years moved away after being wrongfully accused of the most grave issues. I have personally had my privacy invaded and my Reps receipt searched by people who were not staff, mentors or council members looking for problems as they claimed and spread to new members that I was robbing stuff. After such false accusations, my willingness to contribute publicly in certain channels diminished as it is quite hard to look at the face of someone that keeps accusing you and people you know of being robbers, sexual abusers and the like, and still want to help. This is another point of community work that only gets worse as the community expands and staff time is reduced. This problem yet persists and accusations still fly around. It was only through some intervention by community members and staff that things simmered a bit.

So I would like to know how we’ll deal with this kind of stuff as staff engagement shrinks? I don’t know how I would have handled if it was not for the presence of Guillermo, Brian, Rosana, Nuke and Amira. How can we realistically be expected to solve that without staff help?

Also I find very bad taste when a community member just start judging other people contributions like that. There are Reps contributing directly with many functional teams and mentoring people you’re not aware. Reps are not just representative of their local communities, they are also representative of the whole Mozilla and might be more engaged than you perceive them. Judging people like that as if they owe you something is quite offensive. Reps are volunteers just like you. They are more or less engaged as their time dictates. For example, I have spent December and early January in a Monastery, the Reps portal will be blank for that period, that doesn’t mean I am not contributing, it just mean that I needed a spiritual recharge and some calm after suffering harassment for the past three years. I am quite sick of people trying to judge other people work like that.

So, in summary: Participation Team, George and Lucy, please explain to me with a bullet list what less staff time means and how we’re expected to solve conflicts and harassment? How when other similar communities are moving to more staff engagement, we’ll grow by moving to less staff engagement. Also as this open innovation teams emerges and staff change their roles, can you explain to us what each staff member will be responsible for? Like a little org chart of current participation team and innovation team mashup so that we know who to contact for what cause?

Thanks for your questions! I’ll try and answer below:

“Grow Firefox” includes many other parts beyond direct contribution into the browser, contained in this is growing marketshare, increasing developer relevance, and growing mission impact many of which are connected to projects we’re running this year such as the “developer marketing community project” and campus clubs, on top of investigating opportunities around Nightly and Test Pilot.

The second objective is “Grow New Areas” and we’re also hoping to build more participation around Web VR, Rust, and upcoming ideation and innovation challenges.

We won’t be funding staff-lead community gatherings in 2017 but that doesn’t mean communities can’t organize themselves or that staff-lead ones won’t be an option for 2018. The goal of last year’s community gatherings were to create alignment in the community and we think they were very successful at doing this so that now we have the time to resources on experiments and technology focus with our more aligned communities.

There will continue to be community involvement at All Hands and Reps will continue to be a funding vehicle for people throwing events and running local activities.


Lucy, thanks a lot for this answer. This is very good information.

The Grow Mozilla goals you’ve seen aren’t about growing community like they were back in the “1 million Mozillians days”, they are about figuring out a strategy to grow value from participation and external engagement. Which might mean growing the size of community, but we won’t really understand that until later in the year.

As mentioned in the post we’re going to be relying more on layered volunteer leadership. I suspect there is also a conversation specific to Brazil that myself and the team are happy to have along with people in the Brazil community.

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[quote=“agarzia, post:12, topic:13206”]
Participation Team, George and Lucy, please explain to me with a bullet list what less staff time means and how we’re expected to solve conflicts and harassment?[/quote]

Less staff time means relying more on Regional Coaches for:

  • In language 1:1 support
  • Real time support (answering questions super quickly on telegram etc.)
  • Running local calls

Our team will still:

  • Share information regularly on discourse and through email
  • Respond to questions and inquiries on discourse/telegram etc. (may be slower)
  • Provide funding via the reps program for local events/activities
  • Actively seek to engage communities in meaningful activities (via. activate) )

We take harassment very seriously and while we will be investing more in our Regional Coaches to help them be better at conflict management we are also launching programs to try and uncover the underlying issues that lead to discrimination or harassment. We are also designing a diversity & inclusion program and redoing our community participation guidelines to create clearer guidelines about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviors within our communities.

Great request! I’ll update the wiki page and link here.


Hi Lucy, from México. Thanks a lot for all this information.
I have the same issues as @agarzia.
The list you gave about regional coaches fits right, but I’m concerned about the integration of regional coaches in real time.

Right now, we have @deimidis as an amazing support, helping us with some community problems and leading us for a better team work. I’m worried that our regional coaches are not present or I haven’t heard again from them.

My concern is about continuity. How we could be sure that our regional coaches will be aware of present needs. It will be awlful to receive again the regional coaches and START again giving them information or data about the community status, because is one thing that Guille gives some information, but then there’s another vision about how us (community) will give other information.

Also, I know we have received playbook and a lot of documents, but still my community is not organized and I want to know if Regional Coaches will be always available since they’re not employes.


Thank you!

/cc @comzeradd @akatsoulas @nemo Viorela @leo @yousef and @ariellek for the win!

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@lucyeoh I’d like to show my respect for what you are doing here. You are currently on a crazy travel schedule CET-EST-CET-EST and still find the opportunity to respond to many of the comments in a timely manner.

Keep it up!


@lucyeoh mentioned work on a Diversity and Inclusion program (within which I would include addressing harassment in a systematic way). Let me add a bit of detail:

  • Rolling out new Community Participation Guidelines is a key goal/initiative this year, which includes a substantial period for input on draft guidelines (including a test on how this can happen in people’s first languages)

  • A second big goal is to have a Community Diversity and Inclusion strategy and program in place. This is starting with research/insights generation, and moving on to experiments/new initiatives starting around April/May. You’ll probably have seen this post calling for nominations in the focus groups that will kick this off.

This work is being lead by @emma_irwin in close partnership with @lshapiro.