Creating a volunteer agreement

One of Mozilla’s goals for this year is to increase the number of active contributors by 10x. That means that many new people will be joining the community and we want to make sure they have a positive experience.

A few teams have contributor agreements that provide details about what it means to volunteer in that specific area, but there’s never been information that covers contributors in general.

To help new contributors understand more about what they’re getting involved with, we’ve drafted a new volunteer agreement. I wanted to share the text of that and talk about how we would make this available.

First though, I’d like to be clear about a couple of points:

  • This is not intended to be a document that people will sign.
  • This is not something that applies to existing contributors, just to new people who are joining the community.

After sharing the text of this here, on the Governance list and at an upcoming Monday project call, we’d like to add this text as a new page on http://www.mozilla.org.

We would then link to that from the Get Involved page, the entry point for most new contributors. We would add this to the existing opt-in on the form that references Mozilla’s Privacy Policy.

Please take a look at the text below and share your thoughts on that and on how we would make this available to new contributors.

————————-

DRAFT Volunteer Agreement

Welcome to Mozilla! We’re pleased that you will be working with us to volunteer your expertise, knowledge, and skills to our Project.

Before we begin, there are some basic terms you should be aware of and agree to. The following is an agreement between you and Mozilla that describes your volunteer work with the Project:

1. You or Mozilla may end this Agreement at any time for any reason on immediate notice. If you wish to end the Agreement, simply email a Mozilla staff member to let us know.

2. As a volunteer for our Project, you will be working with Mozilla staff, employees and other volunteers.

3. We have policies at Mozilla to protect the Project and you. While working with us, we want you to be creative and help us to grow the Project, while observing the following rules:

a. As a volunteer, you cannot bind Mozilla to any agreements or sign any agreements on behalf of Mozilla, but you can introduce Mozilla to different ideas, processes and ways of doing things;

b. You are not an employee or contractor of Mozilla and should not represent yourself as such;

c. You cannot engage in any activities that violate the laws of your locale, Mozilla’s policies, or the rights of any group or individual;

d. You agree to behave in a professional and respectable manner when acting as a Mozilla volunteer. Mozilla’s Participation Guidelines can be found at http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/governance/policies/participation/;

e. It’s definitely okay to talk about your contributions to Mozilla, but you should not use Mozilla’s logo or trademarks without Mozilla’s prior written consent. Mozilla’s trademark policy can be found at https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/foundation/trademarks/policy/; and

f. This Agreement is about you and only you. You may not transfer or give this to any other person or group.

g. If you violate any of these rules, Mozilla has the right to end this agreement and your volunteer activities.

11 Responses to Creating a volunteer agreement

  1. gervmarkham says:

    Particularly given that people aren’t asked to sign it, what is the goal of having an agreement? Is it about expectation-setting?

    If there’s no signature, then the wording of g) about termination makes no sense to me.

    • davidwboswell says:

      Good point. In an earlier iteration there was a consideration of having people sign this in the same way people sign the committer’s agreement. It seems like there are some parts of this need to be updated more to reflect that this isn’t a signed document.

  2. goofybz says:

    I have been laughing at what I thought was a brilliant parody until I realized this was under discussion on mozilla governance and debated seriously. I sadly understand now I don’t share same sense of humor nor same sense of volunteer engagement than Mozilla.

  3. goofybz says:

    (I won’t mind if you don’t publish this comment, this is for you only)

    In find the simple idea of this agreement:

    1/ completely irrelevant to the case of volunteer contributors who join and leave freely without any kind of signed or unsigned contract and without any necessity of solemn engagement nor prior notice of end of activity. And I really hope it will remain so.

    2/ rather disrespectful of volunteers as they are considered with this kind of agreement as potentially dangerous people for Mozilla to the point that they must be tamed with a grid of near-to-legal set of implicit and explicit rules. What I feel here is: Mozilla does not *trust* me beforehand as a newcomer as long as I dont comply with this kind of agreement. It is very antagonist to my experience of already old volunteer contributor: I personally engaged more and more because I was happily surprised by the immediate acceptance of my modest initial contribution, as I was trusted and “included” (hey Mozillian staff love this concept nowadays!) on the basis of what I did as a contributor but not of who I was. Nobody asked me if I was willing never to infringe law,

    3/ probably counterproductive to gain heaps of new contributors. Most of new contributors we have welcomed in our community recently would probably have fled away if ever this kind of agreement would have been presented to them. Maybe it is specific to some culture I don’t know. Perhaps in some countries/continent the idea of this agreement would be sort of attractive seriousness… I am pretty sure it is not the case in France.

    4/ should target rather Reps program who are more or less acting on behalf of Mozilla. But I suspect they already have one serious kind of “agreement” with clear rules, haven’t they ?

    • davidwboswell says:

      Thanks for your thoughts. The goal is certainly not to turn people away or alienate them. This is also a draft and that’s why we’ve posted this for comments before moving forward with it.

      In general, I do think that it’s useful to let new volunteers have more information about what they’re getting into.

      We’ve been talking to other organizations who have large communities, like the Red Cross, and having onboarding material available for new volunteers is a best practice.

      If you’re not opposed to providing clear information about what it is like to volunteer at Mozilla to new contributors, I’d definitely be interested in seeing your edits to this draft to see what you think would work better.

  4. B.J. says:

    In 3.c. you say “cannot… violate… Mozilla policies”, but you don’t even link to the policies. How is someone supposed to know the rules? (Or know when they change?)

    Also, it would be hard for volunteers to talk about contributions to Mozilla without prior written consent. The statement “I helped with Bugzilla” uses the trademark “Bugzilla”. And they can’t say “I helped with ” as the logo is a trademark. You’ve even trademarked “Mozilla”.

    And to echo the other replies, the tone of the “agreement” doesn’t seem to match the stated goal of getting more volunteers. The document would be a turn off for me if I was thinking of starting to help Mozilla.

  5. […] communauté Mozilla » (voir réf. ci-dessous), Mozillians.org, voici un nouveau projet de rédaction d’un accord entre Mozilla et les nouveaux volontaires qui ne va pas dans le bon sens et constitue un facteur d’exclusion au sein d’un projet […]

  6. Lior says:

    Sorry for posting here but David can you tell us why mozdev.org is down for the last few days ?

    • davidwboswell says:

      There is a hardware issue with the mozdev server and some people are looking at moving the data over to a VM. There’s not a specific date for when they expect it to be back up.

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