As several people have mentioned recently, talking about Mozilla in a comprehensive way is hard. In the new design for www.mozilla.org we’re introducing people to Mozilla in just a few words and it is particularly difficult to do this in a small space.
Our current approach is to say that We believe that the internet should be public, open and accessible. In earlier comments, there were concerns that this was coming across as a religious message that could be off-putting and that this also didn’t convey any of the actions the community is taking.
Concerns about putting people off are valid, but it’s worth looking into this to find out what is making people uncomfortable since there’s no actual religious content in that message.
One of the definitions of belief is “a body of tenets held by a group” and this seems like an accurate description of Mozilla’s principles. The word itself seems neutral, but it comes loaded with a set of associations. I wonder if the problem then is a worry of having our passion (which is good and which the community has lots of) be confused for zeal (which can definitely be off-putting)? The dictionary lists those as synonyms, so I suppose there’s a fine line.
This concern also applies to other parts of our story. For instance, a manifesto is defined as “a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer” but how many people assume only radical ideas are published in a manifesto? Calling our publicly declared principles a manifesto is correct, but could it be off-putting for people new to Mozilla?
One way to address this is to change the introduction. Maybe “We are building a public, open and accessible internet” is better? It is certainly true—we’re not a think tank but rather a community of people who do things. On the other hand, this misses some of the poetry of our story. We are doing things, but why?
My feeling is that our passion is a major plus (who wants to get involved with a group of people who aren’t excited about anything?) but we have to be aware of how we are perceived by people who are new to Mozilla. Maybe we keep the passion a click away, so people can find it but it isn’t the first thing they see?
We probably won’t know what’s right until we try some things out. This spot on the home page could rotate and feature several introductions and we’ll see what works best (there are bound to be some interesting optimization tests we could run).
I’m certainly open to ideas about any of this, so please post comments, thoughts or suggestions for better introductions.