After I posted about how I got involved with Mozilla, other people shared their stories too. To make it easier to find these, I’ve set up a contribution stories wiki page. Please feel free to add your own story there.
Reading through these shows some common threads—one that stood out was the importance of help from an existing Mozillian for new contributors. Ted helped Lukas, Luke helped Buddy, Dave helped Armen and then Armen helped Robert…
When Mozilla was smaller this matching between new and existing contributors could happen organically, but I think this happens less as we get bigger and more complicated.
On the Get Involved pages we’ve been trying something to help make this matching easier and to scale it to more people who want to contribute.
Over 2,000 people used the Want to Help? form last month to express interest in contributing (for example: “I’m a translator for English and Czech. Is there any need for translators in the Mozilla family?”). Someone then responds with information and an offer to help if people get stuck.
There are a limited supply of Mozillians, so we can’t mentor everyone. We can automate some things, but the goal is to connect people. How do we make sure the matches we do make are most likely to succeed?
I think we need the right hurdles. Lowering barriers to entry in general is good, but asking people to do a simple initial task before setting up a match will demonstrate that someone is really interested in contributing and is familiar with some necessary basics.
We’re trying this with people interested in testing. An automated response asks them to download a Nightly and then join the next test day (there’s also a great new video about getting involved with QA). For the people who do, they’ll have a chance to talk directly to other Mozillians.
Would lowering barriers to entry and replacing them with the right hurdles work for your project area? Come to the Contribute Group meeting today or get in touch with me to talk more about this.