Members as advocates for the web?

January 14, 2011 § 9 Comments

Earlier today, Bogo did two posts on membership. He said a number of important things including:

We need active members that could be contributors one day, or at least open web advocates.

I agree with this at the highest level: we want people to be active and engaged. Some obvious questions flow from this: What’s roles could members play? Will they want to play these roles? What would we need to do to support them?

Big questions. We’ll all need to put our thinking and experimenting caps on to find good answers. I posted this comment on Bogo’s blog with my gut level thinking (edited a bit):

Thanks for this Bogo. Helpful. I agree that we want members who will become active advocates (soon) and active contributors (over time). It’s also important to remember that anyone who Joins Mozilla has already acknowledged their commitment and that in itself is advocacy.

One thesis I have is that huge numbers of people are willing to sign up for the role of spreading the word about Mozilla and the web. It’s something that is fun and that people will be excited to do. Also, I think we can get people to this advocate role quite quickly if we are well organized.

My guess is that the group of people who give time will always be smaller, and it takes a longer time for people to get involved at this level. We need to get good at always providing step by step pathways for people to get involved if they want to go further. And even better at managing and organizing across many small projects within Mozilla. That said, I think we can grow our contributor community massively over time as a second order effect from membership and advocacy work.

Reflecting since I posted the comment, I realize I like Bogo’s ‘advocates for the open web’ concept quite a bit. I wondered: will people who Join Mozilla want to be advocates for the open web? What would this look like in practice?

I plan to post more on this in coming weeks. However, I wanted to share this question now to see if people have ideas.

§ 9 Responses to Members as advocates for the web?

  • FuzzyFox says:

    I think I will respond to your question in two different ways, so here goes…

    Yes they will, we are a large community who work well as a team, even though many of us have never met. We are committed, we are open, and we almost always pull through for each other. Not only that, but when you read the manifesto and principles behind our great (I want to say nation almost) community, we are for the best cause… not just the internet… but for the future!

    My second response however is not will people become… but how do we let them know they already are! The just don’t know it yet!

    Everyone wants to good for the future, but we are also short sighted a lot of the time, so we need something that returns to us on both short, and long term gain… how do we provide this?!

  • One thing I find promising in the “what will members become” department is the idea of providing educational scaffolding for them to climb up into more contribution or advocacy roles (or down deeper into them).

    I think there was some early confusion around possible differences between members and community contributors. I remember someone said (paraphrased): “we don’t want people’s money as much as we want them contributing to Firefox (as so many community folks do).”

    Of course, my response was that only so many people are going to be comfortable with or ready for activities like testing and filing a bug or localization work. Probably 20,000 people out of 400 million users just might be close to as good as it gets for people who can self-select into those activities. Maybe I’m underestimating, but the main thing is that 400 million people are definitely not ready or comfortable doing those things.

    But they might be – after they’ve done other cool, easier hacking – like getting really good at passwords and sharing that knowledge, editing their first wiki, or making their very first changes to a copied bit of HTML source from a website they like, etc.

    I’d be very exciting if the membership assets we deliver to new members had lots of little nuggets, like little “hack of the week” sidebars in newsletters…

    That way, we’d be unveiling pathways to webby super powers, one step, one brick, or one piece of scaffolding at a time.

    • fuzzyfox says:

      Haha, all this discussion and the “hack of the week” and “scaffolding” have me sold! 😛

    • Following this thread, I believe that people who may apply as supporter members / supporter Mozilians* (using KDE program terminology are likely to be people who are already concerned about the dangers behind a progressive closing of the Web.

      They could be potential active contributing Mozillians, but many of them are likely to be people already collaborating in other social or technical oriented initiatives, so they might not have enough time but, why not give a few bucks…

      We should not forget that these individual money donations from aware and critical people are a good warranty for us to continue the tasks imbued within our ideals in an independent and autonomous way.

      As said above, we should work a lot specially in communication. Consumer-oriented nihilistic buzzing should be strictly avoided if we are to be taken seriously.

      Once a good channel is set up, we should introduce assumable contribution entries, improving the idea behind Even if they might not contribute too much in work-time, they can be people that could enrich our ‘meme pool’ and we should be ready to accept this income.
      Following this, the upcoming challenge will be arriving to a second circle of supporters, but mutation and adaptation will be necessary after this new upload.

      * I’m not personally concerned about the usage of ‘Mozillian’ term. I believe we should feel proud if people want to regard themselves as such, not only because it might sound cool —I think sounding cool is not bad by itself at all—, but because of what it really means in the end (and we should spread that meaning).

  • […] of that post and by Mark’s follow-up posts. (See also Bogo’s posts and Mark’s follow up to […]

  • Ken Saunders says:

    Ok, here goes.

    I think that as a starting point it would be helpful to define what active advocates and active contributors are.
    “An active Mozilla advocate is one that does X,Y, and/or Z, in X,Y, or Z category (marketing, support, QA, etc)”.

    “An active Mozilla contributor is one that does X,Y, and/or Z in X,Y, or Z category (or multiple categories), has done so effectively on a consistent basis for X amount of time, and who has been nominated by his or her peers to be classified as a Mozilla contributor (final approval comes from long time and/or official Mozillians.”

    Something like that.
    I’m not quite sure what my own classification is, but my own progression happened the way that I described in my hypothetical active Mozilla contributor definition.
    I just call myself a Mozilla volunteer.

    I’ve read the Mozilla Foundation 2011 plan, I follow the Drumbeat (and other) lists, and Mozilla related posts, and it seems clear to me that what is needed and more than likely desired is the equivalent of the early Spread Firefox.

    People gathered there to plan, celebrate, learn, brainstorm, share, and mobilize and as we all know, SFx was highly effective at getting Firefox out to the World and responsible for its early success, and also for getting Mozilla and open source to the mainstream.
    Spread Firefox was the most successful open source community ever.

    I’m not saying a Spread Mozilla is needed (I’d hate that title), but an organized, well structured hub is.

    The Get Involved page format would make a good foundation and a good home page setting, but let there be discussions so that current contributors and advocates can interact with potential ones to guide them and perhaps even mentor them (something that Lucy has mentioned).

    It was my excitement over Firefox, and the desire to give back that made me click on the Get Involved – Help spread Firefox! bookmark. I learned about Mozilla and the importance of building and sustaining an open Web at Spread Firefox. I’m just not sure where others do nowadays.

    When I discovered Firefox, I was building sites (with site builder software) that didn’t validate or follow Web standards (check out the source code of, it’s frightening). Through time and with the guidance, partnerships, and help of fellow Mozilla volunteers and friends, and through Mozilla’s teachings and resources, I learned to write my own and to do the right way (although I’m still learning).

    My only goal was to somehow give back to Mozilla as thanks for the awesome software. But I ended up benefiting by learning why an open Web (including open formats) is so important, I learned new technologies, how to create better web sites, I’ve met and befriended some truly awesome people, and overall my life has improved since I started volunteering, as a result of volunteering.
    Besides testimonials like that, there needs to be a way to let others know that by volunteering for Mozilla, yes, you are selflessly contributing to the Web and for all to benefit from, but it can be very rewarding in unforeseen ways.

    Finally (for now), In order to be able to entice and motivate some more of those 400 million plus to get involved, it should be conveyed clearly that there are opportunities to get involved and participate for everyone regardless of what skill sets or experience they may or may not have.

    I was just a highly enthusiastic fan of some software with very basic HTML skills and an interest in helping out.
    Spread Firefox or to be more precise, the SFx community guided me to bigger and better things.
    Mozilla needs a place like that again.

  • BobChao says:

    Hi Mark,

    I would like to write a much long post to response to Join Mozilla program, but it could take years due to my poor English writing skill :/ So, here’s the short one:

    * As a host of local community, I agree that “people who give time will always be smaller”
    and “we can grow our contributor community massively over time as a second order effect from membership and advocacy work.” Actually, donating is kind of expression, people who donate things (money, time) are more likely to support the goal of the organization they donate to, and help promoting in the future. I would love to see a program that help $ donators growing and more active in the community. (And I would like to join the discussion & localization force.)

    * The last thing we want to see is the leaving of a long-time contributor (like Bogo, or anyone don’t like the idea.) So we don’t want a program that will hurt contributor’s feeling (especially things that can be easily misunderstood as a program that make ‘Mozillian,’ or anything we used in the past, a donator-only title.) Please carefully choose the wording.

    * People who Join Mozilla may not really want to advocate for the open web, at least in zh-tw community. Some of them are join because they love the innovating techs from Mozilla, or just for fun (yeah, it’s fun to working with others. Some will do anything his/her friends are going to do.)

    my 2 cents.


  • […] 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: – The “$5 […]

  • […] Read Ken’s comment here. Related posts:Mozilla membership program – (part 2)You can read part 1 here. I will post […]

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