Quality over Quantity

I was in Portland last week for a work week and Michelle recommended that I try the donuts at Blue Star. The blueberry donut was really great. The inside of the bakery was interesting too—right inside the doors was a big mural that said ‘Quality over Quantity’.


That turned out to be an good summary of the work week. We were checking in on progress toward this year’s goal to grow the number of active contributors by 10x and also thinking about how we could increase the impact of our community building work next year.

One clear take-away was that community building can’t be all about growth. Some teams, like Location Service, do need large numbers of new active contributors, but many teams don’t. For instance, localization needs to develop the active contributors already in the project into core contributors that can take on a bigger role.

For me, creating a draft framework that would give us more ways to support teams and communities was the most important thing we did—in addition to taking a great team photo πŸ™‚


Growth is part of this framework, but it includes other factors for us to look at to make sure that we’re building healthy functional and regional communities. The health measures we think we should be focusing on next year are:

  • Retention (how many contributors are staying and leaving)
  • Growth (how many new contributors are joining)
  • Development (how many contributors are getting more deeply involved in a project)
  • Sentiment (how do contributors feel about being involved)
  • Capacity (how are teams increasing their ability to build communities)

Having this more nuanced approach to community building will create more value because it aligns better with the needs we’re seeing across Mozilla. The growth work we’ve done has been critical to getting us here and we should continue that along with adding more to what we offer.


There is a video that Rainer just posted that has a story Chris Hofmann told at last year’s summit about one contributor that had a huge impact on the project. This is a great example of how we should be thinking more broadly about community building.

We should be setting up participation systems that let us help teams build long-lasting relationships with contributors like Scoobidiver as well as helping teams connect with large numbers of people to focus on an issue for a short time when that is what’s needed.

Moral of this story: Eat more donuts—they help you think πŸ™‚

4 thoughts on “Quality over Quantity

  1. I’m very happy to see these extra health measures for the community and 100% agree that size alone is not a measure of a community’s impact, but the ‘quality over quantity’ headline made me a little nervous about swinging the focus too far in the opposite direction.

    (I don’t think that’s the intention here, but wanted to note this just in case)

    I’d frame it as: Impact = Quality x Quantity.

    Whilst acknowledging that there are some systems where increased quantity reduces quality, but sometimes you can still have more impact overall.

    Using Webmaker Mentors as an example:

    I would say that 1,000,000 people teaching one hour of web literacy skills has more impact than 1,000 people teaching web literacy skills for 10 hours.

    And the Blue Star site makes me *really* want a doughnut now!

    1. Adam, good point about not swinging too far in the other direction and the headline doesn’t reflect that we’re going for a balanced approach.

      The proposed health measures include growth equally with a few other measures and I don’t think we need to de-emphasize any of the growth work we’ve been doing.

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