Feedback regarding the reps program in India

I have never been a rep. But today after seeing the reps program reject an application that I endorsed, I realized the arrogance with which the entire program operates. I am going to give some feedback regarding the program which you may choose to ignore based on my tone (I’m not going to tone this down. Sorry :frowning: ) or think over.

Reps program is required for India

India is a country in which many people are motivated by titles and bragging rights. The success of campus representative of Microsoft, Google, etc maybe proof. It is definitely a carrot that can motivate people (especially students) to lead groups into contributing towards Mozilla.

Reps in India are not all mission driven

From my experience interacting with the few reps I’ve actually been able to meet at community events, I have reasons to believe that not every rep is mission-driven. In fact, I would say a large number of reps are not aware of Mozilla’s mission or manifesto. You may disagree here and I will be happy to stand corrected. But, many of the reps join the reps program because they know about Mozilla as a cool organization and want it on their resume to get their job.

How many reps remain as reps after they get their job? How many reps remain even as a non-rep volunteer after they get their job? Do you have stats on the number of people who had to be removed from the reps program because they were inactive?

I don’t think anyone who’s mission driven can suddenly become too busy to care after they get a job. Especially when our mission is facing continuous assault from monopolies and governments world over.

Reps program is still valuable for India

You cannot change the people of India or the culture of Indians. People are always going to remain carrot-driven rather than mission-driven. And that’s not bad. In the fiercely competitive market of college-goers’ attention, sometimes you have to play carrot-on-a-stick strategies. That’s totally fine.

But

But for heaven’s sake:

  • stop being so arrogant.
  • stop rejecting sincere contributors for the reps program.
  • save some money for better things (I know that mozilla is already reducing the expenses in the reps program, and I congratulate you if that’s true.)
  • stop this secrecy around the reps program.
    • make the events related bugs open. (Why can’t I see how much money is being requested for events? Why can’t I see how much swag is being requested and why they aren’t getting shipped?)
    • make the applications to be rep bug open (Why can’t I see who endorsed a rep)
    • make the other bugs that have nothing to do with NDA-ed information open.
  • ask for feedback about the reps program to the wider community. (I was rude enough to start a thread here. Not all people would be)
  • have better accountability structures for reps
    • transparency to the community (like opening the bugs above)
    • well-defined roles for reps
    • open forum to discuss issues in the reps program (the suggestion now is to email the reps council. The reps council is elected by the reps themselves and the emails that are sent there are like they are sent to black holes)

Before you feel the need to defend

There is no need to defend. What the reps are doing and are not doing is known to everyone who contribute to Mozilla (although the latter may not be obvious to many).

I know that this does not apply to all the reps. There are gems. There are people who did wonderful job in the past and had to move on and would still love to be back. I know there are people who are passionately engaging with communities and leadership and making it all possible. Without all of them, there wouldn’t be a community at all. So, you don’t have to defend that way.

There is no need to defend by saying you’re aware of some of these things and are taking measures. I’ve heard these enough times in the past. Whatever measures you are taking is not good enough/fast enough. Sorry for that. You may be trying your best, but you aren’t doing enough.

There is no need to tell that I’m only complaining and not helping. I’ve given you at least two practical suggestions above. Try to be helpful before complaining that I’m not being helpful.

There is no need to justify that the things can only be this way. Things “can only be this way” because you are too comfortable with the way things are.

There is no need to attack me that I’m being rude and offensive. I am being rude and offensive. I am sorry for that. This seems like the only way to engage.

Who is this addressed to?

I don’t know. All the reps? The reps leadership? The people who are running the entire structure to begin with? Whoever feels like this is useful, please make use of this feedback. Whoever feels like this is hurtful, I am sorry things had to be this way. I would have told these things nicely if you had asked nicely.

Why am I doing this?

Apart from the event I described in the first paragraph which is the immediate trigger, I’ve had multiple people independently communicate (to me, or in groups) about all the things that are going wrong in the reps program. I feel obliged to take up the slack.

Do I have specific examples?

I do have. But this is not about specific examples. Specific examples were tried in the reps-council mail and was probably not bothered about. This is about the program itself.

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Hello,

Thanks for sharing your feedback, I don’t feel you are offensive, but I want to better understand this situation and since I feel there are different topics in the same message this could make the conversation harder to follow.

Let me list the topics I’m hearing here and add a few questions:

  1. A discrepancy on a Reps application. Without any details we can’t further investigate, you can share those in private if you prefer, with me, the council or anyone you feel more confident with. With this info we can work with the on boarding team to analyze and provide better rationale about this case.

  2. Reps in Indian not motivated about the mission. I would like to understand better. By definition a rep is a contributor who helps communities grow and be healthy, it’s difficult that a lot of people would be interested without being interested in the mission but if there are people like this, why is this a problem and as a result what are you seeing?

  3. Budget bugs not being open: This is a legal requirement (not to be public) but they are open to the contributors that need to have access for audit: The requester, the review team, the council and mozilla staff. Why is this a problem and how is this affecting you and your communities?

  4. Communications and feedback about the program being hard. This is the place to have open conversations about the program but we are always looking forward to improve, what are the problems you see with this channel, why they are problems and do you have any proposals to improve?

Thanks!

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I don’t entirely agree neither do I entirely disagree to the points Akshay has laid out. Unfortunately I can relate to some of them. Not writing in a arrogant tone :slight_smile:

It is true that the Reps program in India at-least needs a new cohort of Mozillians who ARE Mission Driven. Since I am a college go-er, I can relate to the carrot-on-a-stick strategy that some companies like Microsoft and Google apply, the success of those programs are something the Reps can take ideas from, however I am not implying that Mozilla needs to apply similar policy like them for the program. :no_good_man:

What is the Reps Program? :thinking:

I think there is a huge gap between folks becoming Mozillians, and Mozillians becoming Reps! What I think should’ve been is, Mozillians who are Mission Driven, apply for Reps, and thereby take the Mission forward! The activities of Reps feel very secret and exclusive, if it was for the Community, why doesn’t the Community know? How would Mozillians get encouraged to become a Rep if they don’t know how the program is? Transparency is missing here :confused:

What is/was the Reps Council Elections?

Non-active Reps voting to select the Council? Ummm, really? We know who are the Council and what work they do (or do we?) but why not let all Mozillians elect that? I’ve been a Mozillian for about a year now, and I think the Reps and the whole team are doing a separate set of work that does NOT involve the community, I do see success but I don’t see where was the effort :grimacing:

What’s missing?

Suggestions, not demands :slight_smile:

  • Enthusiasm is missing greatly! Reps feel like a group of very boastful folks who are very proud of their achievement and aren’t that inclusive but not very enthusiastic about recruiting more! may sound hurting, but this may not be you
  • Missing :sparkles: The program can be more welcoming and inclusive. It should be a place which encourages folks to do more and more good everyday, which in other terms means encourages to stay active :running_man:
  • Never seen the Reps program asking for Feedback from Mozillians :man_shrugging:

Having said all of that, as Akshay said, there are gems, which is why people still care about keeping things alive and keep them running, but how long will the gems keep running on their own? :sweat: We need more gems and we can’t expect them to show up, sometimes we need to create some ourselves :gem:

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This two are due to leaking of personal information with bug of Bugzilla. I can’t remember exactly which issue cause the change, but shipment address and bank account should definitely be private.

Do you have any examples besides budget, swag and application?

Have emailed reps-council the link.

Yes, there are people like this. Why is this a problem? Because they take up reps role and do things antithetical to the mozilla mission. They are not inclusive. They are not transparent. They promote things that are against the open web. They use mozilla funded events to spread things that are against mozilla’s mission. They do not try to grow the community. They do not let the communities grow. They gatekeep. These are all the results that I’m seeing.

What legal requirement is that? I need reference here. Is it US law? Is it from mozilla’s legal team?

Can I, as a community member, request access to all such budget bugs?

This is a problem because we don’t know if money is being taken in the name of events and not being used. We don’t know if excess money is being used. We don’t know anything. How can I tell you specifics of this problem when on the first hand I don’t know who and how money is being taken and used? That is exactly why I’m asking to make these open. If you can’t make it completely open, make it open to vouched mozillians.

How is this affecting communities? I can’t give you an example of budget bug. But I can give you an example of swags bug. Event organizers in colleges have been promised swags by reps who then had their swag request bug rejected. Event organizers have been kept in the dark. Nobody knew anything about anything. In the end event has happened without swag. If only the bug was open everyone would have known that the swags won’t be coming.

By the way, is there a legal requirement that swag bugs should be closed too?

The problem with this channel is that it doesn’t invite feedback from everyone.

Well, then make that private. You don’t blanket cover the entire bugzilla because there are some sensitive bugs. Protect sensitive things. I definitely don’t want access to people’s bank accounts. I just want to know who is getting what.

If that’s too difficult technically, make an open dashboard for that. Put out the stats on how much money each rep has requested and how much has been approved. How much swag each rep has requested and how much has been approved.

What other things do reps do besides that?

That’s clearly against a lot of our rules and agreements. If you see something, please say something, there are channels to report abusive behaviors (Community Participation Guidelines) or breaking agreements (by providing information to Council). We have been acting on these reports in the past and we will keep doing so in the future.

As Irvin commented, people personal and private information (bank accounts, home address). Also the total amount of Reps program budget is not public, but percentages on areas where we have been investing are reported every year. This is not something we will change, we want to ensure people’s privacy and also comply with Mozilla Corporation legal requirements.

Bugzilla is only used for budget, swag and applications. Any other Reps activities are documented in the open in the Reps portal activities and also through other channels like this discourse or social media.

This feel a problem of accountability with a specific Rep, any mozillian can reach out to signal if these issues are happening. Reps shouldn’t be promising anything that has not been previously approved.

This discourse is open to anyone. Can you please elaborate the specific limitations to participate?

Thanks!

Nuke, you’re just going to make me repeat the whole thing again. But I will, because I care.

I will try to answer three of your questions together.

The people who are at the bad end of mis-behaviour of reps is not going to be vocal people like me. It is people who are new, people who are outside the communication channels, and people who have no clue that the rep is not behaving appropriately. By saying “oh, if only you had reported we would have acted” you are just putting your head under the sand.

I clearly mentioned that this is not about specific events/behaviour. I wrote all this up from what I have experienced and heard from others experiences. On the other hand, I haven’t quite felt/heard a lot of times about a rep doing their task brilliantly. To any one reasonable person that should be a bad smell. I don’t know if your nose is working.

If you want to listen to such feedback, you can’t just stay in your cocoon and say “if someone comes knocking, we are willing to hear”. You have to go out and ask people. And for heaven’s sake ask someone who is not a rep.

You are just being comfortable with the existing system. If you care about transparency, there are ways to make these numbers public without the sensitive things being out. What if you add a column to the reps events page where the budget requested and the swags requested can be included? The rep will have to enter that info and whoever approves the budget can also verify that they have entered the correct numbers. That’s just one idea. If there is a will, there will always be a way.

More complaints, now that the defense mode has been turned on

  • Should I list down the profile of reps who have just had two “activities” in the last 24 months just so they don’t get kicked for being inactive?
  • Do you know how much caste-ism or elitism (I scratch your upper caste back, you scratch mine) happens in the reps program? Can you imagine how casteism can be totally hidden to your evaluation metrics?
  • Do you know how much “campaigning” happens for council elections? What makes you think a “democratically” elected council is the best way to govern the reps program? (Imagine this situation. Reps council has a say in the reps program, who gets in, who doesn’t etc. And then, it is the people who get in that vote the next council. And then the council has a say in the reps program. That is such a fertile ground for inbreeding depression.)
  • Can you make a list of cumulative term duration of each council member and other leaders of the reps program? Are these numbers going to look good when you talk about “voluntary leadership principles and leadership rotation”?

If your answer is going to be “report these when they happen” I have no belief in you as a leader. A leader needs to be proactive. A leader needs to understand that silence is not the same as lack of complaints. A leader needs to proactively engage with the communities and fix their problems without having to be prodded by others. That’s one more rude statement I’m going to make.

(@nukeador, thanks for engaging. And thanks for being very respectful. But I’m sorry. Although your tone is respectful, your actions/intentions aren’t)

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If anyone is feeling introspective, go through these things listed by Mark Surman about radical participation

For this to happen, we need an architecture of participation that includes:

  • A clear (and updated) framework for starting something — a project, a local group, etc.
  • Plans and working methods that are as transparent as possible — people see what we’re doing and where we’re going, and can join in. We used to be good at this, but we’re not right now.
  • High quality on boarding and eduction: a way to for people to understand our philosophy, goals and ground rules; and a way for people to quickly get started in doing something useful.
  • A way to recognize — and possibly to rank — people’s participation and contributions. This can both motivate people and help them find a path to what they should do next.
  • A clear volunteer leadership structure, where people anywhere can get involved in leading and shaping the direction of Mozilla once they have proven themselves. Education and recognition are key drivers of this.
  • Software that is embedded into the workflow of products and programs that makes participation in that work easier (e.g. SuMo does this well). This lets people who want to do standard stuff have impact fast.
  • Software that lets groups and project organize, communicate and work under the Mozilla banner. This lets people with new ideas or new local communities get going easily.
  • Explicit ways to talk about and evaluate whether a specific group or project is succeeding. On the one hand, a way for teams to brag. On another, a way for teams and the overall org to know when things aren’t going well.
  • Data and metrics that let us optimize, improve and troubleshoot the overall system.

Read all that and try to position the reps program as it is working out now in India into that.

I’m sorry you feel this way. Asking here not to challenge you but to understand how we can solve the problems. I hear we should be proactively asking for feedback about Reps work because people might not feel empower or know how to provide this feedback. I agree and I’m making a note for Council to think about this. But we can’t change the past, that’s why I ask for notifying any situation that happened in the past with details in private and with the person you feel most comfortable, let’s at least investigate and fix that now.

We have different views here, I’ve been hearing and seeing the great work a lot of Reps have done in the past year supporting important campaigns that translated into huge value for Mozilla and its mission. If this is not easily visualized, we should improve here, also adding to my notes but I would like to understand which channels are we missing.

What I’m hearing from you is that you want the exact figure we expend in each budget. We won’t be doing that outside the requester, we had a conversation in the past with Mozilla legal team and that’s something we not going to disclose publicly. But this is information Reps in certain roles have (review team, Council and Module owner) to keep everyone accountable for our expenses. Yearly reports on the percentages expend by initiative and country are provided in the public for transparency. I know you don’t agree with this, but this is a limitation we need to live with.

You can ping the Council about inactive Reps. Definitely having inactive people is not helping communities and we will reach out to reactivate or transition to alumni.

Module owner and peers have been working on a few proposals to make the Council selection better and basically to solve some of the concerns I feel you have about this process. You can see how the elections have been evolving over time, and now are more inclusive. Module owner and peers will continue this work and keep you all posted and gather feedback on this discourse.

I too feel that some reps are not driven by Mozilla’s mission and take up the role just to be the elite part of the community. I don’t attend events regularly, so my views are based on my remote participation in the community (I lurk around community discussion channels on Telegram). Many reps don’t uphold the values of Mozilla in their deeds. There are many instances where reps weren’t inclusive during discussions and are not open to people and opinions.

I agree that the people who are at the bad end of the misbehaviour of reps do not know where to reach out. The reps structure does not invite enough feedback from the community.

I may be repeating things here but my objective with this comment is to support this view with my observations so that this issue is taken seriously.

I would love if you can elaborate a bit more about this one. What I’m hearing is that people interacting with Reps don’t know where to provide feedback about them, about the program, both?

Thanks for your feedback!

What I’ve seen so far is that reps are misusing their powers to rule and dictate others in the community. There was a rep from Delhi(@championshutler is his TG handle, don’t know his name) who bring bunch of people in the Mozilla Rajasthan community to do mass spam(contaning NSFW content as well), I have reported this to repscouncil but no action has been taken so far. Then there is Rep from Bangalore named Abhiram Kumar who banned me from Mozilla Karnataka group because I was telling the truth about Mozilla community and raising my voice to concern over the issues we are currently facing. There is another Rep from Pune named Prathamesh Chavan, Mozilla Rajasthan has made swag request for our Jodhpur meetup one month before the event will took place, and our swag request was granted acceptance. Still we have not received the swags even after one month of the event been done, because of this to get better understanding of why the delay is there, I personally contacted Prathamesh to know what is the problem in delivering swags, he just replied meetups and events can be organized without swags itself and you should never call me or text me. Honestly speaking, the “Reps Politics” is the Mozilla India community has severely ruined the essence of the tech community established by Mozilla. Most of the speakers don’t even have strong grounds on basic concepts and fundamentals, but they mislead so many people with their nonsense talks just for name & fame. I don’t understand how Mozilla selects such kinds of people for such positions. But, I’m pretty sure about one thing, whatever happening right now is not going to change sooner rather it will grow bigger until majority of people become corrupt and a stage is reached where there is no point of having such community even exist.

I wish you hadn’t diluted my message by using personal attacks that are clearly in violation of community participation guidelines.

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Vital point but the last statement is not needed. Because I believe you are speaking up so that something can be done. And am sure we can all do something about it. I think a discuss should be chanell towards this so we all understand the root and cut it off. I will suggest a more strict approach to boarding reps.

Tunde Awopegba
Software Engineer

The whole community is a result of individuals. All individuals when come together with a common mission that results in formation of a community. If these building blocks become malfunctioning then there is no way of cure without removing the intoxication. So any harm to community is always indirectly a personal attack, as per this. Hence you want to say that when the reps does your so-called personal attacks then its appropriate and justified and when others does the same thing then it falls under the violation of community participation guidelines. Thus, I wish you don’t protect people who does wrong in the name of community and misuse their responsibilities in negative aspect.

I totally resonate with your point, but I hope you will agree that delivering incomplete knowledge is fine(because no one can acknowledge everything), whereas in India, most of the speakers deliver wrong knowledge along with incomplete knowledge just to gain fake fan following and to add such fake achievements in their resume.

Reps being inefficient, inactive, or not believing in the mission is an abstract harm.
Personal attacks and derogatory language causes concrete harm to people’s minds.

They are not equal.

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Yes, we start to regularly check with the inactive rep’s status and graduating them if they don’t have time to contribute anymore starting this year. You can follow the progress here, here and here (begin this month).

You can find them here and more than welcome to do some statistic research. That would be interesting insights.

You can find the list of all Alumni here, starting from page 22 to 24 are the rep who graduated this year.