Mozilla Decision-Making Process

December 20th, 2010

Last week the Wall Street Journal issued a correction of a factual error central to a story about Mozilla. It’s good to have the official correction for obvious factual errors; this is a mark of journalistic integrity. However, the correction is flawed itself: it notes a key error in the factual underpinnings of the article, but does not reassess the article. Even with the correction, the story still conveys an incorrect impression of the Mozilla decision-making process. I’d like to address this so that everyone touching Mozilla — the thousands of people choosing to build Mozilla products like Mozilla Firefox, the hundreds of millions of users of Mozilla Firefox, and anyone interacting with Mozilla — understands how mistaken this suggestion is.

The story stated that Mozilla removed a feature we believed to be good for users because of pressure from an advertising industry executive. This is not accurate in any shape or form. It’s not accurate about any particular company. It’s not accurate about the particular executive named. It’s just wrong.

Decision-making at Mozilla is based on the criteria in the Mozilla Manifesto — the set of values that underlie all work of the Mozilla project, including Mozilla Firefox. Sometimes people think we’re naive — or even lying — when we say these values are what drive us as we build consumer products. However unusual it may sound, these values are the foundation of our work. Mozilla is a public-benefit, mission-driven organization that uses our products to move our mission forward. We use our products and our development method to increase individual empowerment and give each of us more ability to be in control of our online lives. Our decision-making process reflects this. This process may be difficult to understand, since most software organizations base decisions on maximizing profit. Our challenge is to explain this better.

Our decision-making process may be different from what people expect. That’s fine — Mozilla is an unusual organization. Hopefully, the future will see more public-benefit organizations sharing some Mozilla traits, and hopefully our goals and decision-making process will become less unusual.

6 comments for “Mozilla Decision-Making Process”

  1. 1

    Mr Appy said on December 20th, 2010 at 9:16 am:

    Hi Mitchell
    Funnily enough WSJ ran an article entitled ‘Your Apps Are Watching You’ – the title gives a pretty clear idea of their angle… WSJ seems to be following a theme!
    I can’t say whether their finding were either accurate or representative but they were surprising; given that WSJ got it wrong on Mozilla I think I’ll go back and do a little more exploration.
    On the subject of privacy I feel better browsing the web with Ghostery and ABP – thank you and may I wish you and all at Mozilla a very happy Christmas.

  2. 2

    David Sanchez Bote said on December 22nd, 2010 at 2:50 am:

    Hi Mitchell, thank you for your explanations. It would be great if we had a list of organizations that make decisions as Mozilla does

  3. 3

    The Admired said on March 12th, 2011 at 2:37 pm:

    Wall Street Journal makes more errors nowadays then they used to. That is why I don’t read them anymore, especially since I like Mozilla :).

  4. 4

    Energy Publishing Brisbane said on March 16th, 2011 at 6:01 pm:

    The writing is very well!

  5. 5

    Darren Spellman said on March 21st, 2011 at 7:37 am:

    Thanks Mitch, for setting the record strait. It does sound odd or naive to have a mission of service that benefits a commonwealth in this day and age where profit is God to most people unfortunately. Oddity aside, Mozilla’s declared mission is one of ethical value which aligns with my own values which are based on the ideas of Natural Law and building a Commonwealth, so I will continue to support Mozilla.


  6. 6

    corkboard said on March 28th, 2011 at 12:30 pm:

    hi great post thanks mate

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