Community and Volunteers

Published on Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Tags: community, crosspost, Mozilla, Thunderbird

It was suggested that I cross-post this from onto my blog. This is in reply to a thread entitled “Proposal: Move Thunderbird and SeaMonkey to mozilla-central” about (essentially) merging comm-central back into mozilla-central. There have been many technical concerns raised in the thread (that I’m not going to rehash here). What I’m more interested in is the lack of community feeling there. As Nicholas Nethercote said in that thread:

“I am surprised […] by how heartless the discussion has been.”

I should note that I did have some help editing this down from my original post. Turns out I tend to write inflammatory statements that don’t help get me point across. Who knew? Anyway, thanks to all of you who helped me out there!

My full post is below (with a few links added and plaintext formatting converted to HTML formatting):

On Monday, April 14, 2014 4:52:53 PM UTC-4, Nicholas Nethercote wrote:

> The technical aspects of this decision have been discussed to death, > so I won’t say anything about that. I am surprised, however, by how > heartless the discussion has been.

I agree, the technical bitshere seem to have solutions suggested by Joshua and others, but the non-technical parts of this discussion have left mefeeling disheartened and confused with the Mozilla community.

I find it ironic/amusing/sad/upsetting that a few threads above this is a thread entitled “Contributor pathways, engagement points and bug mentoring” while in this thread I see community contributors being blocked at every turn!

Here I don’t see people attempting to foster a community by putting their best foot forward. I see people trying to get their job done; with an attitude of “if this doesn’t help me, get it outta my way!” I don’t think this is the right way to grow a community. I don’t think this is how Mozilla HAS grown it’s community. I don’t think it’s in line with what Mozilla expects from it’s community members (both employees and volunteers!)

Personally, I dislike the amount of Mozilla Corporation goals focus in this thread. Can we have a discussion aspart ofa larger community? Why must it focus on Corporate goals? I’m not part of the corporation, I don’t really care what its goals are or are not. I care about Mozilla, I care about providing high-quality, free, open source softwareto improve the experience of the Internet for everyone. And no, I’m not talking about Firefox. I’m talking about Thunderbird. I understand that Mozilla’s goals arecurrently Firefox and Firefox OS, but these are not my personal goals.

At the Summit I had a few conversations with people about “on-boarding” new employees and getting them to understand how the community works and that interacting with the community in a positive manner is an important part of Mozilla. I don’t remember the exact context, but part of it wasthat it is important that new employees don’t think of it as “How can I use the community?”, for that implies taking advtange of them, but “How can I work with the community?”

Please don’t see this as an “employees vs. volunteers” argument. I believe that I’m expected to live up to these same goals. If I, as a volunteer, can help an employee achieve his goals; I’m more than willing, no…I’m EXPECTED to do that. I think this is a two-way relationship that must be fostered. It has seemed to me that over the past couple of years that I’ve been hanging around here there’s been less and less focus on the community and more and more on the Corporation.

I understand Thunderbird and SeaMonkey may not be important to you, but it is important tome! (And otherswho contribute totheThunderbird/SeaMonkey community, including employees who contribute on their spare time.) When Mozilla stopped directly supporting development of Thunderbird it was widely announced that “Thunderbird is dead!”. We, as part of the Mozilla community, have been fighting to prove this wrong.Could you please respect our efforts? Merging c-c into m-c will help us focus our efforts on building a great product instead of spending significant effort on keeping a dying one on life-support. (And prove to all that “Thunderbird is dead!” was just a sensational headline.)

I don’t have much else to say beyond that (besides thanks for reading this far!)