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Mozilla Project Dynamics

An open discussion on how the Mozilla project could and should run.

Rough Notes on Discussion

Zak's Brief Summary

People's major concerns are:

    • Keeping and strengthening the good parts of the Mozilla community culture
    • Helping people new to the project (especially those in the corporation) become valid members of the greater Mozilla company.
    • Adhering to the core principles of the community in the community and corporate activities. (Which implies defining the principles.)
    • Making sure that the producing and managing stakeholders (ie. community, corporation and foundation) know what the others are doing (that are not private).
    • Balancing the need for transparency with the need to get work done and protect privacy.
    • Improving communication to improve effectiveness of the project and to improve transparency
  • TOOLS:
    • Using tools to improve communication

Really Ugly Notes

Mitchell's Intro

  • Greater responsibility
  • More complexity
  • More interconnections
  • What concerns, fears, etc.
  • Outline your concerns, fears, interests, etc.


  • Keeping our identity.
  • Hold on to the thing that we care about.
  • Serving the users.


  • Don't bundle irrelevant or low-quality stuff.
  • Don't compromise principles for opportunity.


  • Is there a Mozilla brand/identity
  • Is there mostly just a Firefox brand/identity for the largest audience?

Ben Goodger

  • Identity is partly tied up in the software development methodology
  • Identify what parts of the methodologies should be quantified.

Frank Hecker

  • We need to identify which roles people have

Ben Goodger

  • There are good lessons from the Mozilla world
  • We need to share what we have learned with others


  • Is part of our identity/culture how we build software?
  • Are there areas to improve?

Hecht/Aaron/General Chaos/...

  • Do we need the review process?
  • No transparency in the review process.
  • Reviewers who are responsive get DOS-d
  • Perhaps have a review manager
  • Perhaps omit bugzilla from the header to avoid filtering


  • Have patch facilitator(s) who track the bugzilla review request queue, and assist in driving patches that fall off the radar.


  • What about having managers


  • People have already been having some management

Chris Hofmann

  • The problem of review shepherding, management, cooridination isn't going away. [ Some data that Asa pulled from bugzilla shows that in 2004 over 886 contributors submitted over 17,000 patches to bugzilla. About 80% of the work was done by the top 100 contributors, and then there is a long trailing edge. In some sense that is a the sign of a very healthy Open Source project, but also is going to leave long review queues. Having someone focused on finding the valuable needles in the haystack that we might missing, mentoring to improve patch quality, and coordinating would be valuable.]

Axel Hecht

  • Review queue is just part of the problem
  • Perhaps just have mentoring to help people get familiar
  • Find people who can review better


  • Two issues here:
  • Making sure there are enough resources to review patches. Management won't fix this.
  • Having help to shepherd and coordinate releases so patches don't get lost

David Baron

  • Blame is directed at reviewers.
  • Often those requesting review can make things much easier for the reviewers.
  • Provide context for the reviewers.
  • Use your expertise to reduce effort for the reviewers


  • The decision making process is not transparent or always public
  • This can cause a good deal of frustration
  • More transparency can help a good deal

Michael Kaply

  • Hiring creates difficulty
  • Hiring breaks the community model


  • FLOSS projects don-t tend to grow people managers
    • sometimes they grow project managers
    • mostly they grow developers
  • We need to find the right people for the jobs needed.


  • trouble finding the right person for a particular task
    • need intranet-type solution
    • this should include skill list

Michael Kaply

  • Do corporation developers get more credit that non-corp developers
  • Try to introduce people as much as possible
  • We need transparency


  • We have not been as transparent as possible
  • The corporation should define who is management, what their roles are, what management means in the corporation and to the project
  • Being hired by the corporation does not imply that you have more voice in the community
  • Good that we separated the foundation from the corporation
  • Non-devs are not as well-known in the community

Frank Hecker

  • Frank mentions the proposed "Mozilla community census" - write to Zak <zak@mozillafoundation.org> for more on this.

Michael Kaply

  • We really need to know who does what

Mike Connor

  • Belzner did a good job and did not behave outside of the constraints of our culture
  • People who are directly involved in specific areas know who is responsible for an area.
  • People are integrating well with their core team
  • But external people do not know who does what

John Lilly

  • If you have pages to introduce corporation staff to the community, how many people in the community care about what the page says if the person has not worked through the community process?
  • Instead, relationships should be developed over time by new hires working with the community


  • It is important to know who new staff are and what they do
  • It is also important to integrate people carefully.
    • no easy solution to integrate people
    • new people must understand and follow community guidelines
    • culture is important

Axel Hecht

  • Power in a floss community comes from their ability to convince


To address the problem of finding who is responsible for a given area or key task:

  • Have role-based email addresses that are directed to the responsible person or group
  • An introductory mail should be sent out if:
    • you have not written to the email address within a certain amount of time
    • or if the person(s) responsible for the role have changed
  • The introductory mail should:
    • Describe why the mail is being sent
    • How the project defines the role, activity or task
    • Who is responsible for the role/activity/task
  • Mail to the role-based addresses should be archived

David Liebreich

  • In some ways, having a project that is difficult to work on helps ensure that we only have participants with the right skills and who are committed.


  • ... but this excludes many people who could participate meaningfully.


  • It keeps peer projects away as well.

General Consensus

  • We need to need to purge old modules


  • Mozilla has been developer centric
  • As the corporation has built out its management team, they have gained more influence in the project.
  • What is the role of the management team now?
  • What are the limits of mozilla.com management?

Mike Connor

  • Beard works within the CULTURE
  • Other developers have acted as a filter of Beard


  • How do people from outside influence the project?
  • Thunderbird for example
  • (Are) things are being dragged behind FireFox


  • General disagreement on the above point


  • mozilla.org was a developer organization for years
  • non-devs not needed to make the project succeed in its current goals
  • is our identity how we build and ship software?
  • When you deal with other companies, they need to have a confidential business relationship with a group that is tied to another entity.
  • You need a corporate body
  • Who decides when a product is ready?
  • What process?
  • Who is involved?
  • It is good if that person is full-time and is engaged with the corporation, but not required.


  • Drivers has not been that active in release management
  • Should tehre only be one person there to make release decisions?
  • Of course not, there should be people from the community involved
  • There must be a community function/process in all of the project management roles and processes

John Lilly

  • Can only have buyin from the stakeholders if you do the right job.
  • Transparency, communication and accountability is always required.


  • Are all the mozilla employees now part of staff@mozilla.org? Who else is on there?


  • Some people were removed from the list who were not active.
  • People have not been added in a while
  • What are the criteria for mozilla.org staff going forward.
  • Mozilla.org staff used to speak for the organization
  • What is the relation of the mozilla.org staff to the assets of the corporation
  • Those left on the list are mostly employees, but just by attrition.
  • What does mozilla.org staff do?


  • Meeting minutes are meant to allow for transparency

Michael Kaply

  • Sometimes the meeting notes raise more issues than the address


  • Some things are omitted because of a broad readership.
  • Disclosure of things like release time can inform media improperly


  • (I fuzzed out here. Brendan, can you elaborate? --zak)


  • We should choose what to disclose to the community
  • We should make a formal release to inform the community


  • (I missed Mitchell's response here. Mitchell, can you comment? --zak)


  • The contents of the minutes should not come as a surprise to the community.
  • The only things which go in there are things which it's OK for the public to know.
  • If they find out that way rather than through a "better" mechanism, it means someone has not communicated on an issue with sufficient timeliness using the "better" mechanism.

David Baron

  • There can be a deterrent to communicating, in that the communicator can become responsible for more communication on the issue.
  • ie. Write to the list about some issue and then you get to become responsible for answering questions about it for it for the next few days.

Todo for Zak

Create census-@t-mozillafoundation.org