Community Building…


I believe everyone at Mozilla to start building community more so.  I was given some idea on how to start by some of the people at Mozilla, and I knew I had to do something.  I started a newsletter for mobile and just spread it to most places that I knew I had easy access to.  The reason why I figured this is because there is way too much to do at Mozilla and not enough time, even in QA.  To test everything is impossible as is with a faster release cycle, esp with builds changing on a daily basis.  There are other factors that need to be done that are time consuming such as performance testing, and regression testings that may not necessarily find the bugs.  Deep diving into bugs are just as costly in time to do it for every single bug.  Verifying fixes and keeping track of features, etc. these things all take time.  Even with automation, there has to be someone that verifies the automation.

I came to stop and think about it some, from my own personal experiences.  Most of my close friends that I know have always been through some sort of activity that I have done in my past.  Some through schooling, some through location, some through online interactions (video game clans, etc), and some through volunteer work/donations.  Volunteering at Otakon (the US’s largest nonprofit anime convention) is probably the largest collection of friends that I have.  Some that are really close, others that are at an acquaintance level.  We all have a common interest with the Asian culture that brings us together, and we all shared various experiences that brings us closer together.  In a sense Otakon itself has a self feeding way of community building.

At Otakon, we have a department called Gophers which allow you to volunteer your time so that you can get a reimbursement of your money back.  It’s a common practice now in most of the anime conventions.  Being a gopher allows a person with the common interest of being at the convention to work various departments that the person has interest in as well as other departments that need help the most.  It’s also a good way to figure out if the person is a good fit for the department and one of the best ways to get people on staff if they don’t know anyone on staff.

In some sense, community helps bring people together when there’s a common cause that people believe in.  With shared experience in accomplishing projects or “war stories”, it brings a good emotion of having accomplished something.

I believe that Mozilla can’t follow the same situation as an anime convention; having said that there may be ways to build community that might be similar.  Guy Kawasaki talks about how to create a community online.  So does Darren Rowse.  There’s other types of communities building such as this article about MIT .  Looking at other articles such as this article about an examine the problem of organizing in housing and community development, it leads me to believe that in some sense there is a commonality between various types of community building as well as pitfalls, such as in this article by Leah Betancourt.

I agree that there should be proper organization for the community, and some direction.  Without someone maintaining all the data and organizing it better, it makes it hard for the anyone to follow what is going on if they don’t track things on a day to day basis with a faster release cycle.

The pitfalls article is pretty good to read as well.  Every volunteer would like some sense of recognition and to be a part of the greater good/cause.

In most of the articles that I read encouraging others and to talk about the good works of what other people are doing seems to be a better use of my time than just to talk about what I am doing.

Building community takes time… and hopefully it will be time worth investing.

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