There is something magical about how anyone anywhere can contribute to Mozilla—people show up and help you with something you’re doing or offer you something completely new and unexpected.
The Code Rush documentary has a great example of this from the time when the Mozilla project first launched. Netscape opened it’s code to the world in the hope that people would contribute, but there was no guarantee that anyone would help.
One of the first signs they had that this was working was when Stuart Parmenter started contributing by rewriting a key part of the code and this accelerated development work by months. (This is about 27 minutes into the documentary.)
It is hard to plan and schedule around magic though. This year we’ve been building up a participation system that will help make contributions more reliable and predictable, so that teams can plan and schedule around leveraging the Mozilla community.
Pathways, tools and education are part of that system. Something else we’re trying is contribution challenges. These will identify unmet needs where scale and asynchronous activities can provide impact in the short-term and where there is strong interest within the volunteer community.
The challenges will also specify the when, where, who and how of the idea, so that we can intentionally design for participation at the beginning and have a prepared way that we’re rallying people to take action.
For next steps, leadership of the Mozilla Reps program is meeting in Berlin from September 12-14 and they’ll be working on this concept as well as on some specific challenge ideas. There will be more to share after that.
If you’re interested in helping with this and want to get involved, take a look at the contribution challenges etherpad for more background and a list of challenge ideas. Then join the community building mailing list and share your thoughts, comments and questions.