The Voice of Mozilla

July 18th, 2007

Who is the voice of Mozilla? Each and every contributor, that’s who. Every contributor has a reason for contributing, a story about how and why we contribute and why we care about Mozilla.

It’s important that many of these voices be heard. It’s important that Mozilla contributors feel comfortable publicly describing our involvement with Mozilla.

We have some formal mechanisms for public speaking. Mozilla sends speakers to a number of conferences; we have the Mozilla websites to describe Mozilla, we occasionally have a press release.

The formal mechanisms are important. But they are not enough. They are not enough to convey the richness of the Mozilla project. They are not enough to respond to all the requests for speakers we receive. And they are not enough to convey the Mozilla message of participation, openness and public benefit.

To convey the Mozilla message properly, we need many people to speak about Mozilla, to speak frequently, to speak to local users groups, local community groups, schools and local technology conferences about Mozilla. We should be clear about the scope and power of the community that make up Mozilla.

We should also help contributors feel comfortable speaking. A good framework should do a few key things:

  • help contributors feel comfortable and empowered to speak publicly about our roles and involvement;
  • provide some basic answers for common questions; and
  • help people send questions outside their particular areas of expertise to the right people.

Our contact person for developing a Speakers framework is Mary Colvig. The beginnings of this work can be found at the Events section of the Mozilla wiki.

If you’re a Mozilla contributor who currently speaks about Mozilla, or who might want to speak about your involvement with Mozilla, or if you want to help develop the framework, head on over to the website and add your voice.

2 comments for “The Voice of Mozilla”

  1. 1

    jeffrey said on July 24th, 2007 at 9:15 am:

    Hi Mitchell.

    A bit of randomness methinks, but here goes…

    I’ve been following the open source communities for 10+ years and am familiar (as user and developer) with many of the projects and products which have arisen.

    While i agree with the basic sentiment (and intent) of your post, I’m curious what formal mechanisms the open source communities (and mozilla teams specifically) have adopted to draw a clear view of themselves?

    While I’ve heard various generalizations over the years regarding the breadth and diversity (talent, geography) of contributors and community members, I’ve not yet seen any formalization of metrics to establish (measure, bound, describe) realities here.

    Given the sophistication of mozilla and various open source communities on so many fronts, I’d hope adoption of such practices and tools would be considered. You talk about wanting to not only convey the ‘richness’ of the mozilla community, but to relate the ‘scope and power’ of it. I too think this is worthwhile – and that the ethics of broad community involvement (read: democracy & inclusiveness) suggested here are critical to the work.

    Mozilla measures and can produce details regarding number of hits its own website (by days of week, page, browser, etc). What has it done (or is it doing) to measure and build a profile of contributing communities (which might serve then as model for other open source projects)?

    For example, perhaps bugzilla should track basic demographics (gender, race, age, location) of contributors along with time estimates for work on reviews and patches? Or perhaps, using social networking / social software approach, perhaps mozilla projects (teams, communities, etc.) should build baseline profiles for each member (even private ones) which allow mozilla to compile / publish generalized view of its community? There are of course a zillion (that’s a real number, right?) approaches to this.

    Perhaps you are already doing such things and I’ve simply not bumped into them?

    I do think that there would be broad utility and interest in such measurements, and that they would serve to reflect the values (transparency, inclusiveness) promoted by mozilla…. and allowing the mozilla communities to more easily see themselves would serve us all.

    Thanks for listening.



  2. 2

    Mitchell Baker said on August 2nd, 2007 at 10:48 pm:


    First, apologies for the delay. Your comment was overwhelmed by immense amounts of spam.

    Yes, we are starting to develop such measurements. It turns out to be a bunch of work — no surprise, and there are lots of complexities and subtleties.

    Asa Dotzler and Seth Bindernagel are the people working on this project. I believe they have some preliminary ideas, and are working to vett their accuracy, as well as think about other measurements that might be useful.

    If you watch their blogs you’ll know when they’ve got data they are comfortable is both accurate and useful


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