People are the hook

One of Mozilla’s goals for 2014 is to grow the number of active contributors by 10x. As we’ve been working on this, we’ve been learning a lot of interesting things. I’m going to do a series of posts with some of those insights.

The recent launch of the contributor dashboard has provided a lot of interesting information. What stands out to me is the churn — we’re able to connect new people to opportunities, but growth is slower than it could be because many people are leaving at the same time.


To really highlight this part of the data, Pierros made a chart that compares the number of new people who are joining with the number of people leaving. The results are dramatic — more people are joining, but the number of people leaving is significant.


This is understandable — the goal for this year is about connecting new people and we haven’t focused much effort on retention. As the year winds down and we look to next year, I encourage us to think about what a serious retention effort would look like.

I believe that the heart of a retention effort is to make it very easy for contributors to find new contribution opportunities as well as helping them make connections with other community members.

Stories we’ve collected from long time community members almost all share the thread of making a connection with another contributor and getting hooked. We have data from an audit that shows this too — a positive experience in the community keeps people sticking around.


There are many ways we could help create those connections. Just one example is the Kitherder mentor matching tool that the Security team is working on. They did a demo of it at the last Grow Mozilla meeting.

I don’t know what the answer is though, so I’d love to hear what other people think. What are some of the ways you would address contributor retention?

Community Building Stories

One of Mozilla’s goals for 2014 is to grow the number of active contributors by 10x. For the first half of the year, the Community Building team has been supporting other teams as they connect more new contributors to their projects.

Everyone on the team recently blogged about their experience supporting projects. The stories below show different stages in the lifecycle of communities and show how we’re helping projects progress through the phases of starting, learning, scaling and then sustaining communities.

We’ve learned a lot from these experiences that will help us complete the goal in the second half of the year. For example, the Geolocation pilot event in Bangalore will be a template for more events that will connect more people to the Location Services project.

Photo courtesy of  Galaxy Kadiyala
Photo courtesy of Galaxy Kadiyala

These are just a few of the stories of community building though. There are many other blog posts to check out and even a video Dia made about how contributors made the Web We Want video available in 29 different languages.


I’d love to hear what you’ve been doing to connect with more contributors and to hear about what you’ve learned. Feel free to leave links to your stories in the comments below.

Data driven community building

One of Mozilla’s goals for 2014 is to grow the number of active contributors by 10x. We’re almost half way through the year and we haven’t had a way to track our progress toward that goal—until now.

Pierros Papadeas, Adam Lofting, Sheeri Cabral, Anurag Phadke and several other people have been working on gathering contribution activity data and putting it on the new dashboard.


For the second quarter, we had a goal to launch a dashboard showing 5,000 active contributors as a milestone toward the year end total of 20,000. I’m excited that we’ve done that (plus done a bit more by showing over 7,000 active contributors).

Having this dashboard does much more than just complete a quarterly goal though. This enables people doing community building work to be more effective at their job and to optimize contribution pathways to connect even more people to the mission.


For example, the view of Firefox coding contributors shows a higher growth rate than the overall contributor growth and this is great feedback that Mike Hoye and Josh Matthews are having an impact with mentored bugs and with other efforts to support new coding contributors.

I’m proud to be part of a team that is focused helping all teams have the kind of success in connecting with new contributors that Mike and Josh are having. Making more data available to more teams is one way we’ll be able to do that.

Currently we’re just showing data from Bugzilla, Github and SUMO. We’ll be adding more data to this dashboard throughout the rest of the year. Check out the Baloo roadmap for details of what’s coming next.

Enabling communities that have impact

If I had to summarize the Town Hall about the goal to increase the number of active contributors by 10x this year, I would use the word ‘intention’. This word captures how this is the time we pivot from unplanned to planned community building.

To learn more about why we need to become intentional about community building, what our vision is of where we need to be going and what we’ll get by making this shift, take a look at the recording of the Town Hall presentation and Q&A.


We had the Town Hall in the San Francisco space and right outside the entrance is the Mozilla Monument. I think the monument provides a really great concrete example of this pivot toward intentional community building.

There are over 4,000 names on the monument that represent the first 15 years of Mozilla’s history. We’re planning on more than tripling that number of people in one year. This is only possible with an intentional, scalable and systematic approach.

The monument was created as a physical representation of the community (for instance, the globe is designed to let light through to demonstrate how we are a transparent community) and I’d love to see it also embody this increase in our community.


Updating the monument with the names of the new active contributors that join the community this year would be a great way to show progress toward this goal. Hopefully people have better ideas for adding names than the sticky note approach that Larissa and I took 🙂

Maybe the panels get replaced and we reduce the font size to make space for more names? Maybe we create a virtual monument that grows until it is as tall as the Mozilla office building or the nearby Bay Bridge? What ideas do you have for adding names of new contributors?

Creating a volunteer agreement

One of Mozilla’s goals for this year is to increase the number of active contributors by 10x. That means that many new people will be joining the community and we want to make sure they have a positive experience.

A few teams have contributor agreements that provide details about what it means to volunteer in that specific area, but there’s never been information that covers contributors in general.

To help new contributors understand more about what they’re getting involved with, we’ve drafted a new volunteer agreement. I wanted to share the text of that and talk about how we would make this available.

First though, I’d like to be clear about a couple of points:

  • This is not intended to be a document that people will sign.
  • This is not something that applies to existing contributors, just to new people who are joining the community.

After sharing the text of this here, on the Governance list and at an upcoming Monday project call, we’d like to add this text as a new page on

We would then link to that from the Get Involved page, the entry point for most new contributors. We would add this to the existing opt-in on the form that references Mozilla’s Privacy Policy.

Please take a look at the text below and share your thoughts on that and on how we would make this available to new contributors.


DRAFT Volunteer Agreement

Welcome to Mozilla! We’re pleased that you will be working with us to volunteer your expertise, knowledge, and skills to our Project.

Before we begin, there are some basic terms you should be aware of and agree to. The following is an agreement between you and Mozilla that describes your volunteer work with the Project:

1. You or Mozilla may end this Agreement at any time for any reason on immediate notice. If you wish to end the Agreement, simply email a Mozilla staff member to let us know.

2. As a volunteer for our Project, you will be working with Mozilla staff, employees and other volunteers.

3. We have policies at Mozilla to protect the Project and you. While working with us, we want you to be creative and help us to grow the Project, while observing the following rules:

a. As a volunteer, you cannot bind Mozilla to any agreements or sign any agreements on behalf of Mozilla, but you can introduce Mozilla to different ideas, processes and ways of doing things;

b. You are not an employee or contractor of Mozilla and should not represent yourself as such;

c. You cannot engage in any activities that violate the laws of your locale, Mozilla’s policies, or the rights of any group or individual;

d. You agree to behave in a professional and respectable manner when acting as a Mozilla volunteer. Mozilla’s Participation Guidelines can be found at;

e. It’s definitely okay to talk about your contributions to Mozilla, but you should not use Mozilla’s logo or trademarks without Mozilla’s prior written consent. Mozilla’s trademark policy can be found at; and

f. This Agreement is about you and only you. You may not transfer or give this to any other person or group.

g. If you violate any of these rules, Mozilla has the right to end this agreement and your volunteer activities.

Connecting with more people interested in contributing

To increase the number of active contributors by 10x this year, we’re going to need to connect with more people interested in contributing. I’m excited that the Community Building team has helped reboot a couple of things that will let us do that.

Nightly builds used to bring up a page with information about how to help test Firefox, but it had been turned off about a year ago because the page was not being maintained. The page is now back on and we’re already seeing an increase in traffic.


We’ve taken a first pass at updating the Nightly First Run and What’s New page and are working on a larger redesign to get relevant contribution information in front of people who are interested in testing, developing and localizing Firefox.


We’ve also been working with Community Engagement to bring back the about:mozilla newsletter which has over 60,000 people who have signed up to receive regular contribution opportunities and news from us.

The first issue since October is coming out this week and new issues will be coming out every two weeks (sign up for the newsletter on the Get Involved page). We’re also making it easier for you to submit timely contribution opportunities that we can feature in future issues.


These are just a couple of the ways that we have to connect with people interested in contributing to Mozilla. We’re putting better documentation together to make it easy to tap into all of the ways to connect with new contributors.

If you have questions about any of this or would like to get help with bringing new contributors into your project, feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to work with you.

What will 20,000 active contributors do?

There were about 2,000 people who went to the 2013 Summit. One of Mozilla’s goals this year is to increase the size of the community by 10 times. That means if we have a Summit in 2015 there could be 20,000 active contributors attending.

Photo by Marcia Knous
Photo by Marcia Knous

One question that is worth talking more about is what will these 20,000 active contributors be doing? That is something that the Community Building team has been spending the last few months looking into.

We have been partnering with teams across Mozilla to help every project bring more contributors in. From those discussions, we’ve come up with a list of areas that have both high growth potential and align with our strategic goals.

  • Coding
  • Documentation
  • Engagement
  • Localization
  • Location Services
  • Privacy/Policy
  • QA
  • Support
  • User Research
  • Web Compatibility

This list will inform what contribution opportunities get placed where lots of people interested in Mozilla will see them, like the home page. There are many teams not on this list though that we’ll also be helping.


To see all of the teams we’re supporting with their community building efforts, check out this dashboard. Let us know if there’s additional information you’d like to see. Also leave a comment or reach out to me directly if you’d like help bringing contributors into your project.

Sharing Mozilla love with new contributors

I just got two of the Mozilla Love shirts earlier this week—one to keep for myself and one to give away. I’m going to try to use my second shirt to connect someone new to a project at Mozilla.


Giving out two shirts to everyone is a great opportunity for all of us to go out and bring more people in to the project.

If you’ve never done that before, or would like some tips about how to do that, we have a 3-step guide that can help. The steps are:

  • Tell them about our mission
  • Tell them we need their help
  • Tell them where to find opportunities

The guide is short. It takes just a couple minutes to read and the suggestions are things you can make use of in a short conversation with a friend, family member or someone who asks you about your Mozilla shirt.

Read the guide for more details and good luck with bringing in new contributors. Also feel free to add other tips and suggestions to the document so other people can learn from your experience.

Community Building Team

For the past few months I’ve been working with a new team that is focused on understanding the talent gaps of our core initiatives and connecting potential contributors to the most impactful work of the project.

The members of the Community Building team (Dino Anderson, Christie Koehler, Michelle Marovich, Pierros Papadeas, William Quiviger and Larissa Shapiro) have extensive experience in this area and I’m excited to learn from them.


Since we’re a new team, we’ve spent this first quarter of 2014 getting our ducks in a row so that we’re set up to achieve the goal of increasing active contributors to Mozilla’s target initiatives by 10x. We’ll do this by coordinating closely with the Engagement and Foundation teams.

Image from sweet_redbird
Image from sweet_redbird

Our plans for the year are to partner with teams across Mozilla that want to build communities around their projects and help them connect with contributors and support them as they grow.

To help them with that, we’ll be making use of what is being created by the community building working groups. These are places where both staff and volunteers get together to create participation resources that will serve everyone across Mozilla.

You can learn more about these working groups by checking out the brown bag from our meetup in December. This features Mozillians from across the project sharing roadmaps for working groups focused on pathways, systems, education, recognition and events.


If you’re interested in taking part in our efforts to create shared participation resources, please feel free to sign up to the community building mailing list or join an upcoming Grow Mozilla discussion.

Sharks, Parachutes and Hard Hats

Mozilla’s goals for 2014 were shared out recently and included information about how we’ll increase the number of active contributors in the community this year by 10x.

Since it is sometimes easier to digest information in images than in words, I wanted to follow up with some pictures that show what our approach is to achieve this goal (thanks to Pierros for making these).


Today many teams are working on a project and would love to get some help. There are many people who want to help, but there are often obstacles that stand in the way of connecting (thankfully those obstacles aren’t usually sharks).


The Engagement, People and Foundation teams are here to help. Engagement will increase the number of people who are excited about wanting to contribute (that’s the parachutes). The community builders on the People team (those are the hard hats) will help build pathways that let people cross the chasm and connect with projects.


Once those pathways are built and many more people are joining the project as active contributors, the People team will offer support to teams as they adapt to work with a larger group of Mozillians by offering systems, education and more.

If you’re looking for help increasing the number of active contributors for your project, we’re happy to support you. Get in touch by joining and posting to the community building mailing list or joining the regular Grow Mozilla discussions.