A Platform for Contributor Engagement at Mozilla


Before I go into anything, let’s try an experiment: go to Google Search and type in “get involved mozilla”. Click on the first link there and try to find an area you’re interested in contributing to and try to find a way to contact someone. Then, try to perform a single task in any of our communities. Here’s what I found:

Community Steps to Contact Info Steps to Do a Task
MDN – Dev Derby 2 6
Support 6 8
L10n 3 NA
QA 4 6
Coding 4 9
Add-ons 4 5
Marketing 3 NA
UX/Test Pilot 2 3
Visual Design 4 6
Drumbeat 5 NA
Technical Documentation (MDN) 3 7

On average, I ended up with 3.63 link-throughs before getting to contact information and 6 link-throughs before performing a task for Mozilla through the easiest to find on-ramp to get involved within the Mozilla community. Going through this process, I felt frustrated at times knowing what I needed to do, but not being able to go find it. Now, think of a Joe Somebody contributor who appreciates the things we do here at Mozilla and wants to turn that appreciation into something of material value back to the project. I bet he wants that experience to be inviting. I bet he wants it to be easy and simple. It is not right now, but I think it can be all of those things a lot more.

What I’m proposing is something built off from what Firefox Input has been able to deliver on (evolving from what Hendrix offered previously): the idea that our user-base and contributor-base are already available and hungry to help in huge numbers. They’re simply waiting for us to open the engagement floodgates enough to be able to sanely scale our contributor involvement by an order (or two) of magnitude. This can’t be done only through process and hiring more people to our full-time staff because we simply do not have the wherewithal to take that approach. What we need are tools in order to augment that strategy and help sanely deal with opening those floodgates.

So, what are these floodgates? Well, they’re standard contributor actions already available, but difficult to get to like patching small and simple issues in our product, localizing our websites and product, triaging UNCONFIRMED bugs, filing new issues into Bugzilla, creating add-ons requested from our community, submitting designs to use in marketing campaigns and much, much more.

How do we open these floodgates? We plan to explore a number of ideas over a 1 1/2 to 2 year period such as:

  • Phonebook: A directory tool in which contributors can create a simple profile that includes who they are, what they do and how to contact them. It will reference them to their identities in other systems (i.e. Bugzilla, AMO, SUMO, MDN, ReMo, etc.) as well.
  • Taskboard: A single application that “uplifts” basic introductory tasks across all sub-communities into a public-facing list of sortable and filterable activities.
  • Events Manager: A simple tool that offers a sortable and filterable list of events created within the tool or aggregated from various sub-community sites. A nice addition may be to allow contributors to be able to join events created via the application if they’re logged in to their Phonebook profile.
  • Badging/Achievements Service: An experiment at applying an achievements and leveling hierarchy for contributors within the Mozilla community. Contributors can be assessed their current level of expertise within a certain role and go further to gain relevant and related skills.
  • Training Modules: An application that offers learning roadmaps and tutorials to instruct new contributors on how to do some basic and necessary tasks within specific roles.
  • Tell Us More: Think of it as Bugzilla’s “simple form”. The idea is to remove the need to create an account in Bugzilla in order to file bugs, but still file relevant and highly useful bugs to be triaged by our contributor base and staff.
  • Input: The primary user feedback mechanism for Mozilla’s products.

I’m incredibly excited for the future and what may come out of these endeavors. If you’re interested in getting involved in a development role or simply have an idea on how to scale ways on how to get involved here at Mozilla, feel free to message in the Mozillians mailing list or simply contact me via Twitter!