In order to help you all take part in the discussion and get more focus, I would like to outline the approach I think SUMO could take to this project:
At the moment, we are a rather loose group of helpful people with different degrees of participation and engagement in Mozilla’s mission through various types of contributions to SUMO. All such Mozillians, using the support site to help others, form our “SUMO community” - but in reality there’s so much more to being a Mozillian that it would be quite limiting to try and work only within that single concept space. In order to support (heh) ourselves and any future Mozillians wanting to help Mozilla and its users through support methods, whatever they may be, we need to step a “level up” and think of everyone involved as Mozillians, at all times.
We definitely want to keep you all satisfied with your contributions, recognized for them, and involved in shaping Mozilla’s future - not only in support activities.
Moreover, it would be great to have more people contributing across Mozilla - and also through SUMO! These folks may come from other corners of Mozilla or from “the outside”. Regardless of their origin, we want them to feel included, supported, and aware of what Mozilla (and SUMO) is about. This is where the presence of experienced contributors is
We also want to make sure you remember that there is a global community, with many people and resources, that you can (and should, if you feel so) be an active member of and participate in.
On the other hand, if your preferred way of participating in Mozilla’s mission through support is “going solo”, you are more than welcome to do so - but you’ll have to remember that there are others with identical goals, even if your methods and ideas differ. This is where admins step in and make sure there is not too much friction. This is why we want to have this project as transparent as possible.
Mozilla’s mission is our overarching (set of) goal(s) that we are aspire to keep going towards. Because of the nature of the internet (forever changing), we may spend more time on that journey than at the finishing line - but through projects like this one, we want to ensure that the journey is a goal in itself - and that it is a fair, fun, and positive experience to as many people as possible.
OK, enough of the pep talk Let’s look at the principles in the context of SUMO - and remember that we’re thinking “outwards”, not “inwards” here.
Clarification: since we are looking for a term to substitute “leadership”/“leader”, I propose using “community coordination”/“community coordinators” instead. This is just a proposal, so do not get attached to those terms (but let me know if you like them!).
Principle 1: Community coordination should be renewable
SUMO usually works in the rhythm of releases, so checking in for coordination needs every one or two releases sounds like a healthy practice. We want the the check-ins and the renewals be transparent and clear. For this, we need to have a defined set of expectations and task a coordinator for SUMO activities works with and is held accountable for. More on that below.
Principle 2: Community coordination should be distributed
Ideally, to make sure the mission continues successfully, we want to avoid all the decision power and responsibility being put upon the shoulders of a single person (or two people). Wherever possible, a group of Mozillians working together on a single goal (for example, localizing a Knowledge Base into their language) should share responsibilities and decision power. This way, we can be certain that things get done and nobody burns out because of stress. At SUMO, we sometimes lack additional voices and helping hands for some parts of Mozilla’s mission, so making us a more global presence and growing our ranks through this project is necessary.
Principle 3: Community coordinators should be accountable
It’s easy to say what has to happen at SUMO for it to be successful - articles need to be localized, questions need to be answered, users need to be helped. But it’s a bit harder to say what the people who want to make that happen in groups should do in order to make the groups meet those goals. Are we talking about events? Are we talking about creating documentation? Maybe it’s about 1:1 mentoring? Whatever that is, we want to be sure we have the right set of requirements and tasks for those coordinating SUMO (to make it work better, faster, stronger…), so that each release (or two) we can say that the actions taken had a positive influence on Mozilla’s mission in general.
Principle 4: Community coordination should be diverse & inclusive
For this perspective, we are already in a very good spot. SUMO contributors are from all walks of life, places, cultures, and types of humour. We are going to make it even better through our SUMO community guidelines (coming your way quite soon), but at the moment there is not much more to remember, other than the Mozilla Community Participation Guidelines that we’re all using as Mozillians, every day.
Principle 5: Community coordination should be consistent
This part is what I think is the most important bit for us, as we have been mostly focused on doing "SUMO things the “SUMO way”. If we want to participate in a more global and varied community of Mozillians, we need to share the ways we do things and learn from others how they do theirs - and the same goes for those of us who coordinate what we do on any group level. I am really curious to hear what proposals and ideas the global Mozillian community has in this space, and I am sure we can learn and share a lot of useful information through this project.
At the same time, I also hope that as part of this principle, we can make using Mozilla’s vast resources easy for everyone involved in its mission. Great events, swag, fun, and opportunities to grow professionally (or as a hobby) with the open web for everyone out there… We can make it happen!
Principle 6: Community coordinators and technical coordinators should (where possible) be “separate but equal”
In SUMO’s context, “community coordinators” are those of us who get Mozillians together and “technical coordinators” are those of us who make sure the contributions submitted by Mozillians are reviewed and approved according to contribution standards we set for ourselves (“best answers” in forums, properly linked tweets via Twitter, Knowledge Base articles that are formulated and formatted accordingly for their language).
Both kinds of coordinators are equally important to us. We need Mozillians who pull us together and motivate us (but also talk about Mozilla to non-Mozillians) - and we need Mozillians who help keep agreed upon standards of excellence a reality. Those two rather different tasks sometimes require different skills (or equipment), and we want to make sure everyone participating in them has access to whatever is needed (within reason) and is treated with the same respect and attention as any other Mozillian engaged in coordinating people or tasks.
Whew, that’s me for now… I’ll keep thinking about practical approaches to those principles and listening to what you say in this thread or in the global discussion threads on this subject (with Mozillians usually not present around SUMO).
We’ve got a few days before Austin (where the discussion continues and results in 2018 goals) - make your voice and opinions heard!