Getting involved with Mozilla evolved

The Get Involved with Mozilla page is being redesigned to fit into the One Mozilla look. I think the new and old designs of this page tell an interesting story about the community.

The design has changed a few times before. For instance, early versions were very text heavy and each new design has had more visual elements and less text.

A lot more has changed than just the look though—the way the page functions has also been evolving.

The original version was a clearing house of information that people could sort through to find the right next steps for what they wanted to do. There wasn’t even a way to directly contact anyone from the page.

That worked when the community was smaller and it wasn’t difficult to get an idea of what contribution opportunities existed.

Mozilla is bigger and doing more now and even full-time employees are overwhelmed by the firehose of information available. Asking a potential volunteer to sort things out on their own is no longer realistic.

A few years ago when we designed the current version, we tried something new to help people help us. We invited people to contact us if they wanted to get involved but didn’t know how.

The contact form was in a sidebar and the main content was still information for people to sort through and find out where to go next. It was just an experiment and we didn’t know if it would be used or if it would be useful.

Today thousands of people are contacting us this way to express interest in contributing to all areas of the project from coding and support to legal and design.

Some spam and support questions come through, but we also get many messages like this every day: “I’m moved by the Mozilla mission. I’m not sure if my skills can help your organization but I’ll be happy to volunteer some of my time.”

Making sure that these people can contribute is all about what we’re doing on the Contributor Engagement team. We’re working with all project teams on volunteer focused tools, channels and strategies.

Inviting potential contributors to get in touch and starting them on the path to be a successful contributor is becoming a central part of our strategy. You can see that in the new design where the form moves from the sidebar to a central element.

The fact that Mozilla is big is not surprising, but the fact that the amount of interest in contributing to Mozilla has continued to grow is great news. We have an opportunity to grow Mozilla more and more each and every day.

Let me know if you have any thoughts about the new design or about our plans for helping get more people involved.

17 thoughts on “Getting involved with Mozilla evolved

  1. I always mention MDN to web developer/coder contributors, because MDN has a couple of spaces where a developer can contribute without having to dive into the deep end of a big existing codebase:

    1. MDN hosts developer docs in a wiki and the docs are awesome; just try it – compare MDN docs on any web topic to other sources. Mad props to our doc community, and they can always use more contributions.

    2. MDN hosts web technology demos. These are a great resource for learning and for evangelism for Mozilla’s mission. We can always use more demos. And if a contributor enters the dev derbies they can wish cash-money!

    1. Casey, I think MDN demo’s and doc’s are a great way to help Mozilla without letting anyone down. I.e., there’s no obligation do do them, they can be done (comparatively) quickly, and they still help Mozilla’s mission.

      OTOH, the incentive to “not let anyone down” is actually a powerful incentive for communities, so we might actually want to encourage contributors jumping into projects where we have to depend on them.

  2. Great work indeed! Congrats!

    I still think we need to find a better shared email/potential contributor contact and communication system where we can assign emails and folks to contact to contributors (or contributors can self assign ideally) instead of heroic best effort email replies from people using their mail client which obviously doesn’t scale and will lead to burnout. Ideally an open source equivalent of Cerberusweb with better UX:

    1. Roland, I definitely agree. If encouraging people to get in touch with us becomes a more important part of our strategy, we’ll need to make sure we have better processes in place that will allow us to manage that.

    1. I hear your concerns about the amount of space. This seems to be the general approach with the One Mozilla design though and not something specific to this page.

      I’ll ask the Creative team for more on their thoughts on this approach — I’ve asked about this a bit before and IIRC their thoughts were that scrolling isn’t a big hurdle these days.

  3. The design is fantastic. One thing that I would change (if I could) is I’d put the contact form at the bottom.
    One reason being is that when you have someone landing on that page, you want to get them started as soon as possible while their interest in helping out is greatest and fresh.
    Perhaps though, with the new design, fewer people will need to use it.

    A little off topic but imo, the sooner that potential contributors can start communicating with the community that their interested in getting involved with, the sooner they’ll start, and the more comfortable they’ll be and they’ll feel more welcomed. So, if reasonable, an introduce yourself opportunity should be made available for each community.
    I did notice that most of the contributor pages for each project linked from the current areas of interest page did have a talk to us section, but an introduce yourself option would be helpful.

    On the original Spread Firefox, I created a post titled (SFx) Introduce Yourself to encourage people to engage and to welcome them and it worked really well. It was one, if not the most active threads and my friend Otto de Voogd carried that over to Spread Firefox v2 where it was equally as popular as the original one.

    Perhaps something for the next contribute meeting?

    1. Ken, I agree that it’s important to get people started as soon as possible while they are interested in getting involved. The form will allow us to do that — people can get an automatic response right away with more information and with a way to get in touch with someone from that team to start a conversation about contributing.

      I also like your idea for the importance of getting people communicating with the community and this certainly is a good topic for the contribute meeting. This maps to the community building plans we want to create — what are the steps new contributors should take and what are the paths for them to get there? That could involve sending people information about how and where to introduce themselves when they first show up.

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