Mozilla Org Wide Updates: Impacts on Common Voice

Yesterday Mozilla announced some big changes to our organisation as a whole. Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker shared this blog post outlining the vision and thinking behind these changes, which we encourage you to read.

Common Voice, both the platform and the dataset, will also be evolving, in response to the changes here at Mozilla. As a collective organisation, between Mozilla Corporation and the Foundation, we want to ensure the best possible future for the amazing progress and contributions we have seen in the voice data domain. We continue to be the largest open domain voice data corpora in the world, with over 7,000 hours of audio across 54 languages.

We hope to continue our work on under-served and under-resourced languages together, and look forward to ongoing supportive relationships with our language communities, developer communities, and key partners.

In order to achieve that, over the next few months, we’ll be evaluating a number of options for ensuring a strong and stable future for the platform and dataset. Options include moving the project to Mozilla Foundation, which has a strong focus on trustworthy AI and alternative data governance or looking for an alternate home that will ensure both the platform and dataset are well stewarded as open source projects.

This means that we will be moving the platform into maintenance mode - we will not be shipping any new features, but will be doing our best to address any current issues and requests. Ongoing community support will also enter into maintenance mode, and we will not have an ongoing community manager.

We know this is a time of great uncertainty and you likely have many questions about the future that we currently don’t have the answer to. The team you’ve come to know is working hard to find a way to sustain Common Voice in the long term. The platform is still available for you, our trusted community, to continue to contribute to, and the dataset for download. Contributions made during this transition period will be released as part of a future dataset release, as expected.

We will provide updates to the wider Common Voice community as we know more. Thank you for being with us on this journey.

Stay tuned for more information as we progress.

Best,

Jane Scowcroft

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Well that is certainly unfortunate. Common Voice was really the best chance of toppling large companies’ STT monopolies and ensuring smaller, less-profitable languages can still be represented.

I have contributed considerable time to this project and would definitely like to be involved in whatever its future is, as I’m sure many others on the forum would too. It’s also unclear how this affects Mozilla Voice STT, as that also depends to some degree on Common Voice.

I guess a community fork is always an option if official moves don’t work out.

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As a mobilizer among my community (Kabyle), I could never imagine that such an opportunity will be offered. Thanks to CV and DS (and TTS was planned for 2021), and thanks to Alexandre Lissy, Ruben, and much more people from Mozilla and the community, we got our first STT Model in the history of the Kabyle language. Without Mozilla, we can never get it. No mean to do that. That’s why we are going to support more Mozilla with our contributions whatever the circumstances.

You can’t imagine what can these projects (Localization of Fx and all Mozilla’s tools , CV, SC, DS, TTS…) bring to minor languages such as the our (Kabyle). A great chance we got with Mozilla since we opened our first project.

We are still here, and we’ll stay with Mozilla and its global community.

M.Belkacem
Kabyle Community mobilizer

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First of all, thanks for your excellent work @nukeador I just got to know you for a year here, but I saw on Twitter that you were working here for six years. Thanks for everything.

About the reorganization: it will be hard to keep the community together without a community manager. Maybe we can reach out to all the moderators and former contributors of the different languages and create a crowdsourced community management? I will try to answer questions in the forum as good as I can, but we need a connection to someone who really can decide things.

Maybe it’s time to increase collaborations with similar projects like Mycroft or with other organizations such as EFF the FSF or the Open Knowledge Foundation? I am sure that many people, NGOs, states and commercial companies, have an interest in keeping this project alive.

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Sorry Jane,

your profile is up since 8 days, and there are not infos on your position on Mozilla (foundation or corporation ?).

You don’t qualify in your email.

How can me know this is official ?

Sorry, thanks.
Spataro

Please understand those are already painful times for everybody, community as well as employees who are asked to leave but also those who stays.

Jane was not active on Discourse, but the people.mozilla.org link on her profile speaks for itself, although the organizational changes are not yet reflected, this is a legit statement.

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Hi @spataro - Yes, as @lissyx mentioned, my profile on people.mozilla.org is up to date. Please consider this an official notice (and I do appreciate you double-checking).
Thanks,
Jane

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I have read the blog by Mitchell Baker. It’s encouraging, and it seems that Mozilla will be trying to open up more to people and communities, this probably means that products will have better licensing, more permissive, such as MIT or CC0.

Regarding the force that got laid off, I Iean-on the idea that Mozilla will make sure of their well being, and keep an open communication with them, in the hope to turn them into volunteers.

1 Like