Mozilla Manifesto – Towards 1.0

April 18th, 2013

The Mozilla Manifesto identifies a set of principles that we believe are critical for the Internet to continue to benefit the public good, commercial life and individual opportunity. For those interested in Mozilla history and development, this 2007 post describes why the Mozilla Manifesto was written and its goals.

In 2007 we gave the Mozilla Manifesto an “0.9” designation and began using it as a guidepost for our work. My plan at the time was to see if translating the Mozilla Manifesto caused questions or suggestions for improvements before moving to a 1.0 version. We have seen many translations (35 languages to date). In an unplanned path, the 0.9 version proved extremely resilient and we didn’t actually change it to a “1.0” version.

We’ve now reached Mozilla’s 15 year anniversary, which is a good time to make a few tweaks and identify this as our version 1.0. To do this, we’ve gathered input from the Mozilla community over the last 12 months, via workshops held at MozCamps and at the Mozilla Festival. Having considered all that has been said so far, we are proposing 3 changes to the 10 principles in the Manifesto.

1. Add a reference to “privacy”

Preserving the privacy of users is a core Mozilla value. In version 0.9, the reference to “security” in principle 4 was intended to imply “privacy”. However, experience has shown that the text is not read that way. And so we propose changing principle 4 to add an explicit reference:

Individuals’ security and privacy on the Internet are fundamental and cannot be treated as optional.

2. Make all principles expressible in 140 characters

Rightly or wrongly, being able to make a point in 140 characters is now an extremely useful (and sometimes necessary) way of conveying information. Making each principle tweetable helps us communicate them. Also, we believe that we can do this without losing key messages, and that the shorter versions are clearer. To do this, 3 principles – 1, 6 and 9 – need to be shortened. We propose:

1: The Internet is integral to modern life – education, communication, collaboration, business, entertainment and society.

6: The effectiveness of the Internet as a public resource depends upon interoperability, innovation and decentralized participation worldwide.

9: Commercial involvement in the Internet brings many benefits; a balance between commercial goals and public benefit is critical.

3. Strengthen the reference to individuals being able to create their own experience

Mozilla’s mission involves empowering people to act, to move from being consumers to creators of online life. A rewording of principle 5 makes the “building and making” part much more clear:

Individuals must have the ability to shape the Internet, and their own experiences on it.

A summary is available of the feedback from the MozCamps and the Mozilla Festival – this was the document we considered in coming up with the proposals above. If there’s something big you think has not been considered, let us know. If you think any of these changes are wrong-headed or destructive, also let us know. You can comment on these proposed changes in the governance forum.

7 comments for “Mozilla Manifesto – Towards 1.0”

  1. 1

    Benoit Jacob said on April 18th, 2013 at 4:57 pm:

    I don’t regard even the Weak Twitter Hypothesis — that 140 characters is enough to express /any/ interesting idea — as validated by experience yet. After all, I have yet to find any tweet worth reading, and to paraphrase a colleague, Twitter is a /write-only/ medium — everybody wants to tweet, but people are only reading tweets to find ones to retweet. While the idea of promoting conciseness does appeal, excessive and rigid conciseness rules incur the risk of reducing principles to vague, ill-defined mottos that would only acquire any real meaning from an expansion into more-than-140-characters form. So with that in mind, I am concerned to see such a questionable format become the standard for our Manifesto.

  2. 2

    Gervase Markham said on April 19th, 2013 at 3:57 am:

    The change markers for the middle 3 changes (the 140 character ones), and the removed text from the last change, appear to have got lost in the editing process; people who want to see exactly what was changed will need to compare the versions here with those currently published in the Manifesto.


  3. 3

    Gervase Markham said on April 19th, 2013 at 4:00 am:

    Benoit: this is not an endorsement by Mozilla of the “Weak Twitter Hypothesis” (good name; did you invent it? – searching doesn’t produce any hits). We are not saying “Any interesting idea is expressible in < 140 characters. These are interesting ideas. Therefore, we must be able to express them in < 140 characters. Therefore, we should express them in < 140 characters." We are saying: "Often, people use communications media where 140 characters is the maximum expressible. We want to use the manifesto principles to make thought-provoking interventions in such media. Therefore, it makes sense to see if we can reduce them to < 140 characters without decrease in meaning or sharpness." And we feel we have been able to do that, and the results are above.

    If you have particular issues with the edits made (e.g. they remove important meaning or reduce clarity), please raise them.


  4. 4

    Sonickydon said on April 20th, 2013 at 4:37 pm:

    140 characters might be not enough for some languages even if some of the principles are shortened in english. Why can’t we use some sort of “official” summary on twitter instead of altering the manifesto itself?

  5. 5

    Axel Hecht said on April 25th, 2013 at 2:24 pm:

    One thing I just found, the manifesto doesn’t mention the word “choice” once.

    I kinda miss it, if nothing else, than for being able to point to the manifesto, as a backup in conversations with the community about what choice means in the context of mozilla.

  6. 6

    Gervase Markham said on April 29th, 2013 at 9:18 am:

    Hi Axel,

    I agree the word “choice” isn’t used, but the idea runs throughout – particularly in principle 5 (even more in the new wording) and principle 6. “Individuals must have the power to shape the Internet, and their experiences on it”, and “interoperability is important” are all ways of saying that users must have choice – because choice requires multiple interoperable and hackable implementations.

  7. 7

    Tony Sukiennik said on May 10th, 2013 at 3:43 pm:

    Regarding the 3rd change: “Individuals must have the ability to shape the Internet, and their own experiences on it.”

    I had never previously read the manifesto but have, over the past 2 years, made significant progress on allowing Users to create a Searchable Personal Web while allowing them to them Share Slices of it back to the Web itself. Check out iRelate (dot) us to see the progress I’ve made.

    I’d like to somehow get involved in Mozilla’s noble mission…

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