Tag Archives: community

Mozillians on Digital Freedom

Matjaz wrote a blog post on his presence in ACTA debate in Slovenia. With multiple interviews, shows and a speech at a government organized roundtable discussion, Matjaz became an ad-hoc representative of our collective in front of the audience that we rarely interfere with. That is just awesome Matjaz! Congratulations, dude!

But it’s not only Matjaz! Mozillians have been active all around Europe in the public debate on ACTA. Me and Staś have been both helping the civic NGO side on ACTA front in Poland, Otto in Estonia, and Bogo in Sofia, just to mention a few.

Three things that strike me about this are:

1) The whole generation of Mozillians who gained their experience by shaping local Mozilla communities in Europe are now becoming respected public figures precisely because of what we are doing at Mozilla project. For years we’ve been responding to what was needed, adapting to the changing landscape on the cross of the local and global Web, growing up to roles that had to be filed. It’s amazing to see that our experience and cred gained by fighting for the Open Web is now placing us in the spotlights when the future of the Internet is being debated.

2) We all seem to intuitively build our positions on a small set of principles that we wrote just a few years ago.
I remember the time when Gerv has been driving the conversation at FOSDEM trying to isolate the limited set of statements and principles that unite us, Mozillians, and I even remember voices questioning the need for such a document arguing that we were successfully able to raise and grow our project without it.
These days, the very first thing that we do when we face something that we intuitively feel is wrong for the Internet, is that we cross check it against the Mozilla Manifesto.

We are united under this manifesto, it does work as a written summary of what we believe in and now it serves us as a point of reference when we face proposals that are not in line with the Internet that we want to see. Just take a look at Polish Mozilla Community position on ACTA, or read Matjaz’s speech.

It  grows far beyond what we originally expected and everyone who worked on this document should be proud now. I certainly am!

3) As individuals, but also as representatives of Mozilla project, we are being asked to speak, because people want to know what Mozilla thinks. It’s important. Like in all other debates that we took part in, web standards, browser wars, web video formats or privacy, Mozilla has a unique role and it’s fundamental for us to walk this thin line of subtle balance that we aim for with our hybrid nature. I’m particularly proud to read Mitchell’s words and also journalists commenting on our statement in a way like the following:

Essential statement on ACTA by Polish Mozilla Community
(…)
It’s worth pointing out, that the community’s position is very rational, calm and stripped of the emotions that are driving most of the conversation these days.
(…)
Polish PM, Donald Tusk, has said that Poland will not ratify ACTA if the there will be any doubts, and this statement by the community clearly presents those that are of vital importance for the information society.
(…)
The statement written by the Mozilla community in Poland is important for yet another reason. Its authors are not connected to any market player. Mozilla Community is not an NGO or political organization. Usually, Mozilla and its community do not comment law related topics.
(…)
Those are the people that usually avoid law related topics focusing on their great, a bit crazy vision.
Apparently what has happened, made them feel they have to speak up.

In cases like SOPA in US or ACTA in Europe, Mozilla DNA that has shaped all of us, is being injected and influences the debate in a profound way.
The same vision that has shaped Firefox, Thunderbird, Drumbeat and tons of other projects and products, and through this influenced how the Web looks like today on both, technological and social layer, has also shaped our minds and beliefs, and through this is now impacting the public debate that is being held all around the world on the future of the Interent.

Isn’t that just amazing?

p.s. We’re igniting a newsgroup devoted to the topic of digital freedom. Join us there!

Hard Blockers Counter 1.0

A little bit more of coding, a few bug reports later, HBC is ready for its prime time. Version 1.0 fixes the nasty toolbar height problem, it gives a user an indication of the interval covered by his plot and is just overall better.

It can be downloaded from an addons.mozilla.org listing, and the source code is available at builder.addons.mozilla.org. :)

A few of the lessons learned and thoughts:

  • builder is awesome, but it needs more real life users. A lot of bugs are only reproduced after you write your extension for some time, hundreds of revisions etc.
  • AddonSDK is excellent for this kind of extensions. It has everything you may want and makes the whole code extremely clean and simple to write and maintain. Just look at it – about 50 lines of core code – your cat could read that.
  • AddonSDK needs more real life users. Like with the builder, bugs show up only when you really use the extension you created.
  • AMO is an excellent developer friendly platform – it gives me a lot of satisfcators in a form of stats, and ability to manage my extension release process.
  • AMO-builder bindings need more real life users. I felt like I’m the first to try to push builder based extension to AMO – many trivial bugs that can be only revealed if you try to go through the whole thing.
  • AMO’s review/release process is excellent for the extension of the Old Days. It gives us a pool of high quality, verified extensions, that are easy to find and safe to use. It does not work with agile development. Builder and AddonSDK makes creating ad-hoc extensions super simple and quick (literally, 2 hours and you’re done with the first version, every new version is about 15 minutes of work). When you then push it to AMO it feels like Matrix slow motion then – you suddenly wait days for a preliminary review, not to mention almost two weeks you have to wait for a full review. My last revised version is super old comparing to what I claim to be the “stable” one now :(

This issue requires a little bit of description. I do not try to say here, that what AMO reviewers are doing is wrong – quite the opposite, I believe the whole process is excellent and anything that is exposed to the millions of users should get some time to season and be tested and be reviewed. It’s just that AddonSDK/Builder gives you a totally different setup that fits different needs. I believe AMO will need a workflow for extensions that are created in 10 minutes, distributed in 20 minutes, updated 5 times during 4 hours and are becoming useless after one or two days.

Think of a conference where schedule is updated often and people have hard time to track it. Using AddonSDK/Builder you can create an extension for it in literally 20 minutes (xhr, panel, widget). AMO is excellent for distributing it, updating your users etc., but it requires very different approach than say, AdBlock or Firebug. Then, you add a feature (ability to mark the talk you want to attend and get a notification when its room/time changes) and upload a new version 15 minutes later. You want to switch all your users to the new one now. Then you fix a small bug affecting linux users, and update users once again.

It’s amazing that Firefox is becoming a platform where it is possible, and I can’t wait for such application for AMO :)

  • AddonSDK requires a lot of users with their use cases. Myk’s approach is to iterate often which means to get version 1 ASAP and then add new features for version 2 instead of trying to build an ultimate solution without a release. I love this approach and it serves AddonSDK well, but now we need version 2 of many of the packages there – it can only be done if people start using the packages for a real life extensions and report what they miss. Like – Widget content cannot be easily themed. Or, you cannot control Panel’s scrollbar appearance. Jetpack team cannot plan for those use cases, they have to come from jetpack users. So be brave! Try things, report everything you need! :)
  • There is a group of at least 500 people who deeply care about our release process. They’re ready to increase the amount of items on their screen to have a continuous updates on our progress toward Firefox 4. And it’s been just two days. It can motivate people to help, make them feel the sense of progress, help them understand the challenges better. It sucks outsiders closer to the inner circle. I believe we can do much more and the nightly users, mozilla planet readers and the audience of my extension deserve the chance to get more info which can help them start contributing! :)

My vision of the future of Mozilla local communities (part 2)

In my previous blog post, I summarized the transition through which Mozilla project went and how it applies on how local Mozilla communities. I explicitly mentioned enormous growth of Mozilla ecosystem, diversification of products & projects, and differentiation of project development patterns which results in different requirements for marketing, QA, support, localization etc.

Now, I’d like to expand on how I believe our local communities now operate.

On Local Community Workload

from: http://www.edc.ncl.ac.uk/highlight/rhnovember2006g01.php/

The result of this growth of Mozilla ecosystem is a rise in a workload that our local communities experience.  With this work comes the challenge to communicate to locales the richness of Mozilla on a local ground.  It seems that localizer workload is mounting high and local communities are trying to find ways to adapt, because:

First, it is not scalable to manage all Mozilla localizations by the team of a size that fit the needs 5 years ago.

Second, localizers are not the only type of people that exist in a local community. There are various tasks which require different skills and different people may find different sorts of motivation to work on different aspects of Mozilla.

It’s pretty easy to get out of balance and try to take more than you can handle when there’s so much going on and you feel in charge of your locale. Some communities are more successful finding their way, some are struggling.

I believe we have to adjust our approach to this new reality.

My opinion on the role of l10n-drivers

Traditionally, a lot of the local engagement work has fallen on the plate of localizers.  The L10n-drivers team then becomes very important in helping local communities manage their workload.  Having participated as an l10n-driver for over one year now, I see how the team became crucial in supporting communities in several ways. It:

  • It makes sure that when we call out for localizations, what you localize will be used for a long time to improve maximum work/value balance.
  • Builds tools that reduce the entry barrier and time spent by localizers on localization and local management tasks around
  • Provides information on projects, their roadmaps, goals and results (metrics) to help localizers make informative decisions on what to localize and when.
  • Supports localizers in solving localization blockers like hardcoded strings, or untranslatable strings to make the results of their work worth the time their spent and that if they want, they can fully localize the product and make it look awesome and natural in their language. (read: one untranslatable string ruins hard work and is a great way to demotivate anyone)
  • Helps adjust roadmaps of projects to minimize the overlap between relases to spread the workload in time.

But, the role of local communities has expanded far beyond just localization.  Our team’s work will not be enough and I think that we have to revise assumptions we all make about what is localization process, and what are our goals.

My opinion of the changing role of Localizers

Localization of Mozilla today is not a single, homogeneous task like it used to be. There are different tasks to take and different people who want to contribute. Some tasks require short spikes of attention once per year (around release), other require bi-weekly contribution, other have no release schedules and just take any contribution. It all requires different amount of energy, focus, attention and time.

And the core goal of localization – to bring the product closer to your local ground – is suddenly becoming a complex toolset. With so many projects to choose from, local communities should stop thinking about them as a single bundle. Instead we should all start recognizing that this diversification allows us to pick what we need.
You, local community members, are the best positioned to make the right decision on which projects are needed in your region. We cannot assume that each region needs the same amount of Mozilla ingredients.

By that I mean not only ability to pick up projects to localize for your region, but also deciding, together with the project leaders, how much of the project should be translated, and what kind of adjustments are required for your culture. It’s extremely important to understand, that sometimes you cannot localize everything, although we all know how much satisfaction we have from “collecting it all“. Sometimes “top10” articles gives better result than “try to figure out how to translate it all“. And sometimes you need to go beyond translation. The “top10” SUMO articles in English may be different than “top10” in your locale, and maybe some aspects of marketing campaign could resonate better in your country if you adjust it to your culture and reality.

Armed with this power, local communities can pick the projects that best resonate with what is needed to promote Mozilla vision in their region and put more effort in those. It’s a great power, and a great responsibility, and we have to trust local communities that they know better than any centralized decision making system can ever know, what is important. And we, owners and peers of the projects have to help local communities make the right choices, and fine tune the ingredients they picked. You, local communities, are in charge here.

Local community

With so many tasks, evangelism, marketing, PR, QA, development, support, localization, that are represented in Mozilla, it may be very challenging to fulfill them all by localization team. Many local communities are working on various aspects of Mozilla project, and what’s common to them, is their regional identity and proximity which allows them to support one another, share resources and find new contributors. I believe it’s crucial to preserve the local identity and that there is a great value for each contributor from around the world to peer with other contributors working on other aspects of Mozilla in their region, but localization is not the only task out there.

And more than ever, we need local communities to cooperate with Mozilla project leaders to find new contributors and grow the communities. Generating new project that attract new contributors is one of the key aspects of a healthy, sustainable ecosystem and it’s true for both, Mozilla project as a whole, and for Mozilla local communities.

In the last part, I’ll try to summarize the state change and give you some ideas to consider.

My vision of the future of Mozilla local communities (part 1)

I know, bold title.

Since I decided to start a blogging week, I see no reason not to start with a major topic I have been working on for a few months now.
  The future of local communities in Mozilla is made of two parts – Social and Technical.

I’ll start with the former, and it’s going to be a long one – you know me.

Notice: This is the way *I* see things.  It is not representative of the l10n-drivers, the SUMO team, the QA team, or the marketing team.

But, it represents the progress of thinking about local communities we’re making right now. It is different from what you saw some time ago, and it may change in the future, it does not represent any kind of consensus, and my peers may disagree with me on some of my points.

A little bit of history

Historically, and by that I mean years 2000-2004, when first strong local communities were constituted, it was centered all around localization.  The localization ecosystem had several characteristics.

  • finite number of projects
  • core of any local community were localizers
  • each product had limited number of strings
  • each product had a release cycle not shorter than 1 year
  • we had limited awareness of localization importance among Mozillaians

Another specific thing about that time was that Mozilla as a community/project started growing faster than Mozilla as an organization.  By this, I mean that people started participating in Mozilla all over the world, sometimes faster than the organization could predict, know about, understand and harness.  It was very independent.  What happened in Poland, was very different from what happened in Italy or U.S. or wherever.  At the days when Mozilla was formally organizing, few people at the “central project” could predict what was happening across the world.  At times, it was very frustrating to them…things were happening so fast, beyond the organization’s control.

As a motivated community, the Internet allowed us all to download the early Mozilla products, and gave us something to gather around.  We did and it was amazing.  People started fan sites, discussion forums, and “news-zines”,  The most determined ones started seeking ways to bring Mozilla to their country.  The most natural way to participate was to localize the product, and by localize I mean various actions that make the product more suited for the local market – translating, changing defaults and adding new features or modifying existing ones.

All this work was usually targeted in two directions – toward local markets, where those early community leaders were building local branches of Mozilla, and toward the Mozilla project to fit the concept of local communities, and the fundamental goal of internationalization of a project into the core of our project culture.

Thanks to that work in those days, today we can say that Mozilla is a global project and we recognize localizability as one of the aspects of Mozilla approach to projects.

But since those days, many things has changed. What was good by that time, may not be enough today.

Growth and Variety

Fast-forward to today:  Mozilla today as a meta-project is producing much richer set of projects/products/technologies than we ever did.

We create many websites of various sizes.  We have blends of websites and extensions (like TestPilot).  We have webtools like Bugzilla, addons.mozilla.org.  We have products likeFirefox, Thunderbird, and Seamonkey. We have a mobile product with higher screen space limits.  We have experiments that are introducing new level of complexity for localization like Ubiquity or Raindrop.  We have more content than ever.

The point is this: local communities represent Mozilla through a diverse set of mature products, early prototypes, innovative experiements, one-time marketing initiatives, and documents like our Manifesto that will live forever.  This means that the work flow has changed dramatically since the early days.  Different projects with different or changing frequencis are becoming the standard for communities to absorb in a new differentiated and highly competitive marketplace.  And, our communities need to evolve to respond to this.

Each product has different characteristics and the local delivery through l10n and marketing means a very different type of commitment.  It now requires different amounts of time and energy, different types of motivation, and different resources.

Additionally, we’re also more diversified in the quest to fulfill our mission. We have regions where modern web browsers constitute vast majority of the market share, where governments, users and media understand the importance of browser choice or privacy and Internet is a place where innovation happens. But, we also have places where it is not the case. Where incumbent browsers are still the majority, where the web will not move forward in the same way it did in the past, where the latest technologies cannot be used, where privacy, and openness sounds artificial.

Recognizing this shift is important factor to allow us to adjust to the new reality where local communities have to expand beyond just localization.  They must become local Mozilla representatives who are experienced in evangelism, marketing, localization, software development, and all other aspects of Mozilla.  We need to get more local and grow beyond the responsibilities of our local communities in the past.

In the next part, I’ll cover some ideas for the future…

Ubuntu 8.10 released

Congratulations to Canonical and Ubuntu community on release of Ubuntu 8.10!!!

I’m proudly using Ubuntu 8.10 on my mbp (it works great) with a beautiful Dust theme, and even more beautiful GDM theme WillWill. (there’s also Willbex theme available).

The most interesting thing from my POV in this release is a great community riot around the theme for the new Ubuntu release which was strengthen by this set of mockups promoted at brainstorm.ubuntu.com and digg.

I find it a good sign of the community health how strong reaction this topic received and I’m a bit disappointed by lack of public discussion between broad community and people in charge of the project. I believe we’re doing a better job on this in Mozilla and I hope it’ll be a lesson for Ubuntu project similar to what we got with Firefox 1.0 Theme switch issue.

Bottom line is that I believe this energy motivated Mark to hire designers, usability and user experience experts. It’s always good to see community getting so energetic around something *they* think is important, and I believe open projects model makes it especially effective in a longer run.

Once more, congrats on the release guys! :)

[RFC] Mozilla Community Theme

We’re listening to you and we’re excited about your ideas :)

Some time ago, Staś and Seth started a survey program to get an idea on what You feel about Mozilla. And in the very first survey they led, the very most commonly requested support from Mozilla was to provide Mozilla website template for community sites.

We were not surprised to see this in the survey results because it has been something that many of us have been considering a long time.  How could we find creative ways to support all of our Mozilla contributors?  How can we make life easier for everyone?  We have all levels of communities, from large to small and new to old.  Many do not have all the resources needed to create this on their own.

That’s exactly how Mozilla Community Sites project started. We’re going to work on customization of several commonly used community webtools to make it easy to set up and deploy a website for your community. If a contributor community chooses to use the tools provided, they can get a site up and running that looks like a Mozilla Community project website, with several features built in specific that do not requiring mastering PHP/MySQL etc. (but if you want, feel free to support us with your skills :)).

The tool presents several commonly used webtools like Drupal, WordPress, phpBB/punBB, PlanetPlanet etc. and prepare them to be ready to start in the Mozilla community environment. We’re planning to offer two kinds of websites:

  • powerful and highly customizable website using Drupal CMS
  • smaller, easier to deploy and less interactive based on WordPress.

We want these sites to easily feed from Mozilla Developer Center, SUMO, QMO and list latest stable releases in your language.

We also intend to use Single Sign On, OpenID, and other features to improve integration.

One featured below is a much requested Mozilla Community Theme.

From the survey, we gathered that people wanted a theme that clearly indicated that websie was part of the Mozilla Project, while at the same time not an effort from the Mozilla Corporation or Foundation.

We worked with designers to help us create something that had a feel somewhere close to the Corporation and Foundation sites, but still unique and different.

And today, I’d like to present you the draft and ask for you feedback on it!

Below is the screenshot of how the website could look like.

Main Community Website 2
Main Community Website Draft
Main Community Website 3
Main Community Website Draft
Main Community Website 4
Main Community Website Draft

The content presented on the screenshots above is of course just an example. Website maintainer will decide what to present there.

Also, the theme is not obligatory to anyone. It’ll be just an option you can use while preparing your website. We appreciate and respect how our communities are independent.

We will also provide you a special Guidelines that will help you customize the template according to your needs (changing colors – green, orange, blue etc., backgrounds, etc.). These guidelines are intended to make it easier to modify the template if you want to skin another webtool from outside of our list with this theme while still maintaining quality.

Just to be clear, with this tool you will be able to select the following:

  • components you want to display (top header, header bar, left, right panels, etc.).
  • colors to use (Guidelines will provide a list of color pallets that fits the theme well)
  • ideas to put in the background (maybe something specific to your community – Eiffel tower in the header background?)
  • community logo.

We will suggest you to follow those Guidelines, but if you want to go beyond, feel free!

Oh, and… the theme will be, of course, open sourced :)

So, now, that we spent some time with designers on this, we need your feedback before going any further. We need to know what you think, would it fit your community if you lead one, which kind of community does this mockup fit, what could be improved to fit others, what can we do better and what is missing. It’s especially crucial to find out what’s missing to make sure it’ll be covered with the final version. Please, focus on clear, productive feedback. Thanks! :)

Community Wiki gains OpenID support

I’ve just added OpenID support to Community Wiki. It should make it easier for people to edit the wiki, but its also a step in the direction of Mozilla Community Sites package.

I will write a separate post about MCS, but as many of you know since Fx Summit, I’m working on the set of customized open source web apps that will make setting up a community website much easier. One of the webapps that will be offered is MediaWiki, and one of the features of all the tools will be support for OpenID. Using this on Community Wiki is just a first step :)

Community Wiki

For last two months I have been working on a project that has been in my mind for over 4 years now.

Originally, the idea of what we called a Community Pack appeared during Mozilla Europe Board of Directors discussions between me and Pascal and the first notes drafted by us are located at old MoEu wiki.

Today I’m proud to announce the wiki that one day may become an official community/contribution website for Mozilla. It’s very early in the game, the theme is just something I crafted temporarily, the name has not been decided yet, the structure of the categories may change.

What is there, is an idea with a groundwork already started. The purpose for the website is to help new contributors learn about various activities inside our project and smooth the learning curve.

Beside, the wiki should help people create their own communities, improve community-2-community experience and knowledge exchange. We will try to help smaller communities learn what mature communities know, share the materials we have and address the potential that lies in strong, independent communities existing inside the Mozilla project.

The wiki will not duplicate any material that exists anywhere. It will serve as a kind of roadsign to all the various materials in different places. Wiki.mozilla.org, MDC, SUMO, QMO, SpreadFirefox and others. It’s a Wiki because we want to b

e able to add content in cases where we don’t have where to link to.

The structure of the main page represents the activities that are part of Mozilla, not projects because people who are new to Mozilla don’t know the names of the projects, but will be able to select the activity they’re interested in.

The temporary URL to the front view of the Wiki is http://como.labs.braniecki.net/ but it’ll of course be moved to Mozilla servers pretty soon.

The back end, for editing is http://como-edit.labs.braniecki.net/.

It’s not a perfect solution, but I had no time to work on the skin to make it present all the UI of MediaWiki, especially the theme will be reviewed to m

atch Mozilla sites guidelines.

What now? Well… it’s up to you! First, do you like it? Do you think it may be useful? We want to grow this roadsign, so we want to add urls to your community websites there, to all resources inside Mozilla, and add content in the places where its missing. The one section that requires a lot of work is Community building.

If you are interested in helping, just create an account and start editing! Don’t be afraid of changing thing, we’ll review them.

I will be working on adding content to missing pages, since I’d like all main “category” pages to look at list like Accessibility or Localization. In the next weeks I will be also working on Mozilla customized web tools and Community Website Theme that will help you create new community websites. :)

Ubuntu Developer Summit in Prague

I’m at the UDS Intrepid 8.10.

I’ve joined a group of over 150 people from all around the world (including reed) at the Ubuntu Developer Summit. The schedule is stuffed, and they’re very modularized for me, but I’m learning fast :)

I’m watching Ubuntu project pretty close because they seem to be definitely one of the most promising open source projects, with a clear vision and huge community network. I believe there’s a lot we can learn from them, and at the very same time we can guide them through nasty traps we’ve been facing with our project several years ago.

It’s amazing how many overlaps there are between what’s going on in Ubuntu and the atmosphere in Mozilla project around 2003 or 2004… they feel the potential they have, they know they need to polish before exposing themselves and they do see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The difference is that they have who to look at for a case of successful hybryd of open source and market success :)

p.s. weather report. prague. rain. pitty.

Open Projects community survey

I’d like to introduce you to my latest university project – studies on Motivation of Open Projects Volunteers.

I have spent a lot of time, with help from many of my friends, shaping it and polishing to the current form. I believe that it’s an ultimate opportunity to learn how the volunteers operate, what are their motivators and satisfactors and what are the core requirements for a successful open project.

For the needs of this survey, I coined a term “open project” to distinguish it from from FLOSS, OSS etc., raise above it and cover all activities that people consider open and coherent with the vision of various aspects of FLOSS community, be it kernel, FSF, Mozilla, Open Street Map project, OSCar, OGP, OpenMoko, Wikipedia etc.

So, if you feel you volunteer in any open project, please, help me by completing this survey! If you’re working with any open project communities, please spread the word about this survey! If you wish, I may profile the results for your project so that you can know better what’s the profile of volunteers in your project comparing to the average!

I emailed some community managers that I have email addresses of, but I really want it to reach wide audience.

So please, if you can blog about, digg it, send link to the survey to your community mail-list, forum, newsgroup it’ll be a great help!

Digg!