What Does ‘Mozillian’ Mean?

I’ve been thinking about Gerv’s recent summary of the What Does ‘Mozillian’ Mean? sessions from the Summit. The three criteria that came out of those sessions seem useful to me:

  • Belief in the mission
  • Action to support the mission
  • Interaction with other community members

One way these criteria could be used is to clarify the community definitions we created a couple years ago that describe how Mozilla is made up of users, supporters, casual contributors, active contributors and core contributors.


The definitions we’ve been using are a little vague. For instance, a casual contributor is someone who has volunteered small amounts of time. But how much time is that? How does that differ from a supporter who also donates time to Mozilla?

Using these criteria can give us clearer definitions. Casual contributors and supporters both give something to help the project, but casual contributors interact with other community members (eg, going to a Bug Day) and supporters don’t (eg, making a donation).

It’s not clear though if these criteria define a Mozillian or if they define something else, such as who a Mozilla contributor is. We talked about this at last week’s Grow Mozilla discussion and there were two different thoughts.


One was that the word ‘Mozillian’ should be reserved for people who met all three criteria. Others thought that this doesn’t capture the important part of our culture that allows people to self-identify with our mission and they thought ‘Mozillian’ worked better as something inclusive that anyone could use.

I think we want words to describe both sets of people. Knowing who meets these criteria lets us do things such as figure out who we want at a Summit. Knowing who identifies with our mission lets us establish relationships with people who can become more deeply involved with the project.

I’m interested to hear what other people think. How would you define ‘Mozillian’?

13 thoughts on “What Does ‘Mozillian’ Mean?

  1. I participated in one of the sessions with Gerv in Brussels, and it seems to me that a large majority of the group supported the notion that the term “Mozillian” implies something more than just passive support.

    I agree that having terms for both groups would be good, but I do think that the term “Mozillian” implies a little more familiarity than somewhat passive support.

  2. In my sense Mozillian means the person
    who believes in mozilla philosophy and have an understanding of Open Source philosophy in line with that, who contributes in Mozilla in ways he can and follows the philosophy in every way he can(like not using cracked or pirated softwares and OS) and have a good realtion with the Mozilla Community in his region and have a good understanding with them.

  3. I like the broader and more inclusive definition of Mozillian. I think up until now we’ve been very protective of the term, understandably so. People who put a lot of time and effort into the project want a way to be recognised and rewarded. If we can surface up recognition and reward some other way, then opening up Mozillians to a broader group makes sense.

    However, as you imply many people might not want to identify themselves as a Mozillian. For example, they might be a proponent of the open web and identify with our mission, even contribute sometimes, but feel the term is too narrow.

  4. I agree that the two sets of people are different sets, and that it is useful to have a word to describe each of them, and they have to be different words.

    So we are left with two questions:

    1) Who gets dibs on “Mozillian”?
    2) What do we call the other group?

    I think anyone claiming to answer 1) also has to answer 2). Them’s the rules πŸ˜‰

    The open web is bigger than Mozilla, although we are leading the charge in promoting it. Someone who “self-identifies with our mission” may not have anything to do with Mozilla the organization at all. They may be involved with a different organization, or no organization. So I think that we need a different name for someone who supports that mission, who supports promoting and protecting the open web, and it should be a name related to the web that they love, not to Mozilla. We are not the web. So: “Open Web Citizen”? “Open Netizen”? Netizen has gone out of fashion a little bit…

    1. Gerv, I agree about how this conversation is boiling down to the two questions you mention.

      You offered a potential solution for one scenario of how to answer those questions and I’ll throw out an option for the other scenario.

      If ‘Mozillian’ was used for the broader group, perhaps ‘Contributor’ could be invested in as a name for the group that matches the criteria from the Summit?

  5. Based on the feedback from numerous discussions and sources, David and I propose moving forward with the following, inclusive definition of Mozillians:

    Individuals who identify with Mozilla’s principles and mission to make a web where people know more, do more and do better.

    The spirit of the definition is to allow people to self identify and affiliate with us. As next steps, David will kick off a discussion around better defining the levels of contribution and association within our community, i.e. active contributor, core contributor, supporter, etc.

    1. Great suggestion about localizing this infographic. We do have the original PSD file and I’d be happy to post that for people to edit. I suggest waiting until we see what happens in this discussion since some of the definitions in the infographic may change and I wouldn’t want people to need to redo anything.

  6. I like the 1st two ideas tying belief and action together, but not sure #3 addressing community, esp in light of the contributor mentioned at the summit who contributed oodles of code but nobody knew who he was in real life! I have to think he is a mozillian too. πŸ™‚

  7. When I hear the word “Mozillian” it makes me think of a humungous number (gazillion) – which I like. Making it as broad and inclusive as possible has a lot of appeal. If there is a need to recognize levels of contribution from a more engaged group, perhaps this should be seen as a dogfood opportunity. Open Badges seems like the perfect way to recognize people and to easily identify their contributions.

  8. Yes, I’d like to be inclusive about the meaning of Mozillian, and find ways to identify the core, regularly active contributors who drive mozilla forward. I wrote about this in .governance as well. Iused the phrase “self-identify with the Mozilla mission” which i think is quite close to David and Mary’s comments.

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