Status update: MoFo Plans for 2011

January 6, 2011 § 31 Comments

In 2010, the MoFo team had one big goal: grow Mozilla’s scope. The core of this was Drumbeat — an effort to move beyond software, getting all kinds of people doing things to help the web. We also applied our elbow grease getting more people to understand and contribute to Mozilla as a cause.

At our December board meeting, we agreed to double down on our efforts to expand Mozilla’s scope as we move into 2011. Our plan is to a) grow the reach and impact of Drumbeat and to b) launch a membership program that will connect 100,000s of new people to Mozilla. These slides provides an overview of the plan:

If you just want the quick summary, the top level plan looks something like this:

1. Grow Drumbeat. More projects and reach.

2. Launch Mozilla membership program.

  • Aim: connect people to Mozilla, build much broader understanding of our public benefit mission.
  • Basic offering: $5 to join Mozilla. Gives you bragging rights to say ‘I’m a Mozillian’ and an inside track on information about what’s happening in Mozilla and on the web.
  • Mozilla-wide effort, ideally kicking off just before Firefox 4. Culminates in large scale global event toward end of 2011.

Also: we will continue to play core community support and legal structure functions for the whole of the Mozilla community in 2011.

We’ll be blogging more on individual elements of this plan in coming weeks. Watch Planet Mozilla and Planet Drumbeat for these posts. Also, if you have feedback or want to get involved in any of this, please comment below or pop me an email.

Quick clarification (jan 7):

We’re still in the early stages of defining the membership program. There are many decisions yet to be made about how we describe it and how it works. Eg. what should we call people who sign up? Comments below suggest it should be something other than ‘Mozillian’.

There is one certainty however: this program it is not a replacement for the awesome community of 50,000 Mozillians who make, localize and promote Firefox everyday. These people are the life blood of what we do and will never be asked for money in order to belong to Mozilla. They are already giving something much more valuable. The ‘Join Mozilla’ program is for people who are not — and may never be — ready to contribute at this level.

More posts coming soon with details and questions for discussion on membership. The idea here was just to let people know it’s a priority for 2011.

§ 31 Responses to Status update: MoFo Plans for 2011

  • Doug Turner says:

    Hi Mark,

    Something that stood out to me was the $5 to join Mozilla. I would *much* rather people keep their money and help by testing Firefox, Thunderbird, participate in Lab projects, talk about Mozilla at public events, help give feedback on the license, or any number of tasks.

    I also think we shouldn’t have any “inside” track. Our jobs should talk a lot about this “inside” track publicly everywhere we can.

    Keep up the great work and long live Mozilla!

    • msurman says:

      Hey Doug. Thanks for this.

      I totally agree we want all those people helping w/ concrete things — but we need a way to build a relationship w/ them first.

      All the best practices show that you need to give people a small and easy way to get involved first, and then slowly to help the most motivated amongst them dig into deeper contribution.

      So, that’s the thinking behind the $5 — based on what we’ve seen in other big non-profits that use volunteers.

      In terms of the inside track, it’s more the idea that we’ll make an extra effort to help members find ways to contribute more deeply if that’s what they want. Maybe we should call this something different.

      Frankly, we aren’t great at this right now. Creating simple channels like a member newsletter that speak to a committed audience / explain how you can contribute is likely to help us get better.

      Does that make more sense? Or still seem odd to you?

      • tylerdowner says:

        By charging to develop a relationship with new contributors, you will run the risk of alienating those contributors that you already have. Why should those who have contributed to Mozilla for years have to pay to be called a “mozillian”? Or, even if you don’t charge them, those who have made major contributions will see people who have only paid a $5 fee will be placed on equal footing with them.

      • FuzzyFox says:

        I can see some of the reasoning behind this, and I agree on some levels with the idea, however…

        Being a Mozillian means a lot more to me than just a subscription payed and done. It is all about giving back your time, effort, passion, and love for the open web. It is about having a belief in the Mozilla mission and Mozilla’s principles.

        If the term was different then maybe I wouldn’t mind so much. The term Mozillian is a badge of honor, there is no honor in paying for it.

        I suggest something more like “Official Mozilla Supporter”. I know it is not the best name but it shows they are supporting Mozilla, but not necessarily contributing.

        By being a supporter you should indeed get something for the money you gave… maybe this could be something like adopting a line of code like Miro did, or maybe a discount in the Mozilla Store, but I don’t think exclusive news is a good idea. After all, we are meant to be open about what we are doing.

        I would gladly be a member of this scheme however not if it gives up what I believe to be a core part of Mozilla, and not if I have to so that I may retain my badge of honor as such.

  • Majken "Lucy" Connor says:

    I’ve started a twitter account with a related facebook page @mozopencalls where I’m RTing any calls for volunteers to officially run or endorsed projects.

    Personally I like contributing to marketing, but I don’t have time to invest in a project that will not get off the ground. The idea here is by only promoting “official” projects volunteers know the project will be followed through, and hopefully they will take the initiative to further explore Mozilla’s opportunities.

    I do think a good “inside track” would let people enter keywords and then be notified when projects come along that match those keywords – a suggestion I had for SFx ages ago. This is something that’s too complex to do with the twitter/facebook account.

  • Sam says:

    If I’m understanding the membership program correctly, you’d pay $5 to be a member of the Mozilla Foundation, since that’s where the donation goes. Does this mean the board has voted / is voting to change the current bylaws which fairly clearly state that the Foundation will have no members? Do these members have some sort of a voting right?

    What about current community members? Will they have to pay the $5 or will they be brought in based on their contributions?

    The “inside track” thing almost seems at odds with the way Mozilla and open source work. Will said track be publicly available to non-members? At the same time?

    Looking forward to seeing more posts about Mozilla Foundation “members” as you hash things out. As you can see, I have quite a few questions.🙂

    • msurman says:

      Short answers: we’re not talking about member in any formal or legal sense. More of a supporter — a simple way for people to say they want to be part of what Mozilla stands for (which contributors already are, of course).

      While it’s not decided yet, we may not actually use the term membership in the final program to avoid exactly this confusion. On the flip side, this use of ‘membership’ is pretty common terminology amongst non-profits which makes it easy for lots of people to understand.

      I’ve got a post dedicated to membership coming next week which looks at alot of the other questions you’ve raised.

      • Samuel Sidler says:

        Great! I look forward to reading about it. I bet I’ll have more questions then, but it’s good to know a post is coming soon.

  • tchut says:

    Great targets! Defenitly getting membership.
    By the way, speaking about openness, will you release your artwork logos in printable format someday?

  • […] I discovered this news here, about the Mozilla membership program: Basic offering: $5 to join Mozilla. Gives you bragging […]

  • Danny Moules says:

    [Cross-posted from TalkWeb]

    And of course the large majority of those people will be users who contribute nothing to the project other than the $5 ‘I’m cool’ tax…

    Openness, but you need to pay for it.
    Innovation, but not necessarily if the new membership doesn’t like it.
    Opportunity, but only if you’re ‘in’ on it.

  • Giuliano says:

    I am volunteering for Mozilla since 2003, I spend at least 4 hours per day (including week-ends) of my life “working” for Mozilla and since 2006, I’m driving the Official Italian Mozilla Community (Mozilla Italia).
    So, please Mark, be so kind to explain me why I should donate at least 5 USD to be called/identified as a Mozillian?
    Maybe Mozilla should donate some USD to me instead…😉😛

  • Paul Booker says:

    Hi Mark,

    Just a few ideas.

    When a person signs up to be member should we allow a number of donation options ranging from “No donation” upwards with $5 being the recommended default?

    When a person becomes a member could they receive an online membership certificate that they can print out?

    What do you think of the idea of giving each new member a web profile page?

    Additional thoughts
    With our marketing sites we have lots of accounts that are created and then never used (vast majority) or are used for sending out spam could we use the membership program here to work towards resolving this kind of problem? Giving this some more thought ..

    Thanks for all your hard work in the supporting the open web


    Let me know if you need any help with getting started with

    Best, Paul
    i❤ theopenweb

  • Ms2ger says:

    As a proud Mozillian, who spends quite significant time contributing to Mozilla’s most well-known product, Firefox, I am offended that I will no longer have the “bragging rights” to call myself Mozillian unless I pay you cash. If it is indeed MoFo’s point of view that other contributions are not valued, I suppose I should not waste my time contributing. Perhaps the WebKit project does not require entrance fees?

  • gandalf says:

    I tend to believe that there are two factors that make people feel tension about the 5$ fee:

    – cultural difference, it seems to me that for americans the concept of becoming a part of something by paying a small fee is more natural than for europeans.
    – the unfortunate name of the title. “I am a Mozillian” for 5$ conflicts with who we feel we are today, without those 5$, and through different channels of contribution than money.

    That leads me to my conclusion – I believe we need to make a clear distinction between what you need to do to be part of Mozilla, what does it mean to be a Mozillian, and this. I believe you intended to have it as one of the channels that one can contribute, not *the* channel.

    I believe that the concept of being able to contribute a fee in order to support a project, and by this becoming a supporter of it, is natural and valuable – people who do like Mozilla and do want to support it, but do not have the right set of skills, may choose it. But we need to avoid the sense of this approach replacing the natural project-contribution one.

    Giuliano: I believe this project is supposed to increase the sustainability of Mozilla Foundation by diversifying the sources of financing, and not to build a relation in which someone pays someone else. That’s why it’s a symbolic 5$.

    • Giuliano says:

      Giuliano: I believe this project is supposed to increase the sustainability of Mozilla Foundation by diversifying the sources of financing, and not to build a relation in which someone pays someone else. That’s why it’s a symbolic 5$.

      Even if you’re right Gandalf then why Mark sayd:

      Basic offering: $5 to join Mozilla. Gives you bragging rights to say ‘I’m a Mozillian’ and an inside track on information about what’s happening in Mozilla and on the web.

      5 USD doesn’t make anyone a Mozillian!

      I really hope that Mark will change his original idea and, thanking God, now I see that, after reading some peeved comments, he’s having a doubt about to use the adjective Mozillian:

      Comments below suggest it should be something other than ‘Mozillian’.

      Better late than never!
      In fact, just donating at least 5 USD will not let identify someone as a Mozillian…

      I would suggest something like “Mozilla Donor” or “Mozilla Subscriber” instead of “Mozillian” in this very specific case.


  • tylerdowner says:

    I have been a contributor for about 3 years now, but I’m afraid that if Mozilla started a $5 “fee” for people to call themselves “Mozillians” I would be forced to leave the project. Not because I can’t afford it, but it would be an affront to all the openness and community stand for. Paying for the right to call yourself a name and get an “inside track” when many many people have given hundreds of man hours to Mozilla and never asked for compensation would be an affront to me. So if this goes through, I’m afraid that will be the day I stop my contributions to Mozilla.

    • msurman says:

      Tyler, Ms2ger, Giuliano, Danny:

      I can totally understand your reactions — hopefully the biggest problem is that I’ve explained the idea poorly.

      To clarify: the idea that community members need to pay to belong was never on the table — that would be crazy in my mind. The Mozillians who give their time are already at a much higher level of belonging than anyone who would sign up just for the ‘Join Us’ program. As Bogo said on his blog, people like you who contribute time ‘are Mozilla’.

      On the flip side, I believe we need a way to let millions more people express their support for our cause. And, over time, to make it easy for some smaller group of these people to contribute more actively (100s of thousands?). It’s hard to do that without some kind of connection and channel reach out to them. Membership programs with symbolic donation amounts have proven to help other organizations do this in the past (e.g. the 25 cents I used to pay each week to be a Boy Scout).

      It could be that there are still reasons to object to a membership program aimed at this broad audience — and there are certainly many ways we’ll want to improve how we design it as we dig into the details. Very happy to get into discussion on all of this.

      PS. Also -> see my clarification not at the top of my original post above.

      • Giuliano says:

        Hi Mark,

        you wrote your last post while I was writing mine so i didn’t see it until I posted it.
        You wrote in English much faster than me!😉

        As I wrote in my reply to Gandalf, I would suggest something like “Mozilla Donor” or “Mozilla Subscriber” instead of “Mozillian” in this very specific case.



  • Ms2ger says:

    What you’re saying now is much more in line with what I’d expect from Mozilla, indeed. I should note that I’m not at all opposed to a scheme whereby our “supporters” donate money to, as Gandalf said so nicely, “increase the sustainability of Mozilla Foundation by diversifying the sources of financing”.

    I’m not sure about the “symbolic” angle, though. If I (as a European?) donate money to a cause I want to support, I want it to be used well; I don’t want it just to be a token gift. Of course, $5 doesn’t buy you much (post-its for the MV office?), but with some luck, these donations will enable us to actually improve our products.

    Also, I’m unhappy about what you call “an inside track on information about what’s happening in Mozilla and on the web”, but I’d rather have you explain how you see that before commenting.

  • Axel Hecht says:

    From what I’ve heard, the $5 are not intended to end up being a financial support of the Foundation, but more or less cover the administrational costs of the program.

    Which would be my biggest counter argument, at least with my gemerman hat on. We’re pretty religious over here on how much of donations ends up for the cause, and how much ends up paying someone shuffling my papers around.

  • Jordan says:

    I think that once you get over the way the membership program was worded (just a bit of poor wording/communication, the basic idea is indeed widespread among non-profits), the more interesting question is Axel’s “what is it going to be used for?” Being for revenue diversification, Drumbeat, administrative things, or something else are pretty big differences.

    I think one of the special things about Mozilla is that people don’t usually think about it as a
    “normal” non-profit. Because of the MoCo side, there hasn’t been lots of “need to donate to …” like a Wikipedia or NPR and so on. I see why you want to add that, but I think that a lot of people are looking at it and not seeing the “need” that other orgs have. A perspective to keep in mind.

    Now that I’m going off-topic, I should mention a totally unrelated thought that has been rumbling in the back of my brain for a while. I think we’re in a unique position to really use Firefox as a way to improve and protect the open web. It feels that most of the Firefox product people are focused on “making the best product we can,” which is fantastic and also important, but also what other browser makers are doing. By making some stands we can really support that mission. Concretely so far, the best example is open video. The two I think have been mentioned most coming up are web apps and identity. Really focusing on these and finding more of them feels like the best way of using where we’re at now.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by changefeed and preed. preed said: Mozilla Foundation offering "$5 to 'join' Mozilla." Is an all-expenses-paid week- long Whistler trip included? […]

  • Dan Mosedale says:

    I rather like Paul Booker’s suggestion to simply allow a sliding scale, including no donation. A while back, James Burke pointed me to , has some interesting thinking around this space.

  • It’s an interesting question, whether the model of participation successfully used by a range of “traditional” (by now) NGOs – where an activist core is supported by a mass of passive, paying supporters (GreenPeace, for instance), can be adapted to movements fitting the “commons based, peer produced” model. Benkler, in describing his model points out that it’s always a challenge to introduce financial gains for some participants without alienating others, and I think he’s right. In principle, this traditional funding model might not work well with a movement which has active, not-for-profit (in most cases) participation at its very core (as illustrated by earlier comments).
    I think that the solution could be to employ a peer / commons model to funding itself, through a Kickstarter-type scheme, in which people know where their money goes, with paying being just another form of participation. But the problem with such schemes is that they work well with exciting projects, and probably cannot be used to fund bland, day-to-day financial needs.
    One more thing you could consider: it seems to me that people are willing to fund projects in the name of their autonomy: “let’s fund ourselves to be self-sufficient!” – maybe that’s an argument to use, I think we see more and more that open web needs to be autonomous, maybe even financially.

    • msurman says:

      Interesting point about funding autonomy. I think we’ll need to try a number of things over the next year or two. That might be one good thing to include.

  • […] little over a week ago, Mark Surman outlined the Mozilla Foundation’s plans for 2011. Only two items made the list this year – down from three last year, and missing one that focused […]

  • […] on all what I can have read on the Join Mozilla program ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6] articles, linked resources and comments), I can see a couple of things: – […]

  • […] I noted in my last status update, Mozilla Drumbeat will continue to be a major priority for the foundation team in 2011. We plan to […]

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