My name is Michael and I work to manage the Tech Speakers Program here at Mozilla. I think your post is an important one, and so I wanted to provide a reply for you. First, let me please say thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are absolutely correct that a confirmed talk is an important commitment that should be honored. This is something we absolutely believe in and strive for in the Tech Speakers program.
So far in 2017, Mozilla Tech Speakers have successfully delivered hundreds of talks and presentations at conferences and events around the globe. The cancellation rate for our talks/workshops in 2017 is roughly 1%. These cancellations are typically due to events that are well-beyond Mozilla’s control (reasons such as earthquakes, tsunamis, riots, and border crossing issues).
In the specific case of the planned talk at openSUSE, the event you referenced, the Mozilla Tech Speaker traveled to Japan with the intent of delivering a presentation, but was denied entry to the country by border officials and had to return to their home country. The event organizer was immediately notified of the development so they could make appropriate accommodations to the change.
Unfortunately, we live on a planet where not all people have equal access to various countries or regions. The speaker was very disappointed to not be able to present at openSUSE, and all efforts were made to honor the commitment. However, sometimes there are variables that lie outside of our control. We in the Tech Speaker program work hard to minimize these unfortunate occurrences, which is part of the reason why we enjoy a 99% successful delivery rate. I am, however, sorry that you personally experienced one of these rare and unfortunate occurrences.
Thank you again, Bobchao, for sharing your concerns and thoughts; Keep on Rocking the Free Web!