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Not For You, But With You

I just read this quote from my colleague, Firefox product manager Mike Beltzner:
Quote of Mike Beltzner:
it turns out we don't work *for* you, we work *with* you.

I think that says a lot about our spirit in Mozilla about how we work on our products. Nobody pays us to produce products like Firefox, Thunderbird, or SeaMonkey - even if some of us might earn money for doing it, that comes through indirect paths, and not from those using our products. And we're nothing more than community members, just that we're playing a certain role in the community, but we're still parts of it, and we are just as much users as we might fulfill other positions. On the other hand, every user has a chance to work with us to improve the products - we're open for (constructive) feedback and help. We even give you access to the code, and accept patches very much - with the result that some features we ship in our products get developed completely by people not earning a cent for working on it, but being 100% volunteers. This is how open source / free software should work.
Still, we have a lot of dreams of where we want to go, and our teams are always too small to fulfill all those dreams at once, so that help is not just appreciated but very much needed. As Mike goes on:
Quote of Mike Beltzner:
While we appreciate your input and designs, we would appreciate it more if you could help us find people to contribute implementations. Our time is more limited than our interest.

Feedback is good and often helpful, but very often things only happen if someone steps up and takes matters into his own hands (a lesson I sometimes think I have learned too well).

We need you to help us to become even better. We need you to work with us, just like we are working with you.

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on September 3rd, 2010 15:48 | Tags: Firefox, Mozilla, SeaMonkey | 5 comments | TrackBack




Yeah, Mike wrote that, I think because he misunderstood what I said. Going right past clearing the misunderstanding, I think this is all very good and well, but working with community is one thing, defining that community is another.

In the past, I have made a few mockups for a few functions, a few suggestions here and now, in different places and at different times. But it doesn't feel, to me, that doing that made me any more relevant to Firefox development that I was before. Filing a bug that eventually gets worked on and fixed, that makes me feel like part of things, but that only happens when those bugs are already part of the development roadmap (like bug 576960). If I file a feature request, no matter how small and easy to patch it is (like bug 569816), it gets lost. Somehow.

The newsgroups (or whatever they're called), really are the best way to suggest new features, discuss them and propose something new or different to Firefox. At least that's what I was told, and that's what I feel. But I made my suggestion about the options page redesign, and, oh shock, it got lost. How awesome is that? I go through the trouble of making hard to do mockups. More! Of thinking them up, which took me plenty of hours because it wasn't just something I came up with, there are many design issues that arose and that I addressed (although they may not be immediately apparent, obviously). I took the time to make a text that explained my ideas and all that. And in actual fact, it was and IS something very important to the development of Firefox 4.x.

I understand time is a big issue in everyone's lives. It's like these things work. It's irrelevant to say who's at fault here. What I do know is that the way Mike replied to my post was a bit uncalled for, to be honest, and I think it was due to a misunderstanding on his part, but the fact is, I don't want Mozilla Foundation to work *for* me. I'm perfectly happy with whatever, no matter, just anything. As long as it works, as long as it does what I want it to do, I'm ok with it. I'd be perfectly happy, as a user, if Firefox 4.0 was just a rebranded Firefox 3.6. I love Firefox 3.6 and I absolutely cannot use any other browser for any prolonged period of time. But as a Firefox lover, I want Firefox 4.0 to be as awesome as possible, to have as many features as possible, to be as cool, light, fast and fresh as possible. Not for me (because I am perfectly ok with 3.6), but for everyone else. So I want Mozilla Foundation to work for everyone else, rather than for *me*, even if they work *with* me or not.

It's as I said, they work with "us", but that "us" is the community, and the community isn't me. It's a seemingly restrict number of people. Getting into them is, it seems to me, like getting into a normal company, only, of course, you won't get paid in money with the Mozilla Foundation: you'll get paid in awesomeness.

Seems Moz.org has no awesomeness for me.
2010-09-03 22:44


Sorry, I forgot
Oh, after reading my comment, I realize my mistake. I forgot this is the web. As open and as free everything may be, we are still all very much alone and confined to where we are, where we live, where we type this stuff on the internet.

Everyone's got their own concepts and ideas, some are good and some are not so good, but if you don't have the skills (or time to learn those skills), you need someone else to work with you (not for you), whoever it is, hopefully someone with the same concepts and ideas as you, and then you'll realize you're alone.

Happy times.
2010-09-03 22:49



"Good", "awesomeness", or "beauty" are all in the eye of the beholder, so I won't judge if any idea is good or bad generally, but they may be right or wrong in terms of a specific framing, like the Firefox or SeaMonkey products.

And you are for sure a part of the community, and the help of you just like of others who test, give feedback and have proposals is appreciated and surely seen as food for thought by a number of people - what ultimately counts is contributing patches (and getting them reviewed), though, as even I had to learn the hard way.
If you really want to change something, learn to write a patch, and chances are quite good you can get it in.
2010-09-04 15:25


Those running the various Mozilla projects always say things are open and submissions are welcome but in practice this does not appear to be the case. If changes are submitted which certain people running things don't like they are summarily rejected even if a preference can be added to configure behavior. This was definitely the case with the issue of downloaded files not getting the last modification date from the server (check bug 178506) and there are many other examples of issues like this.

I'm guessing that if someone submitted a patch to allow a preference to control whether forms autocomplete=off is respected or not it would be summarily rejected despite the fact that it isn't even proper HTML and it is annoying to many users.

Based upon your own comments and a search of your past statements it doesn't appear that you would be willing to have a preference to select between a find bar and a find dialog simply because you don't like dialogs. How does stuff like this foster any sense of community ?
2010-09-04 18:28



Well, there's still the case that when different opinions in the community arise, someone needs to decide, and we have a module owner system for that among other things.
Also, we can't add infinite possibilities to the core applications as we need to keep them in a maintainable state, and we have a number of cases where our code is already fairly complicated due to the number of preferences supported, and that makes it harder to maintain or improve/change the code.
Some things are better left to add-ons in the end. We should provide good hooks for them to do their thing, and when they are popular enough, we can think about integrating the functionality, like Firefox is doing with tabcandy, or both of our products (I hope) with Sync.
It always depends on what you want to achieve.
2010-09-05 01:00

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