All Hands/Participation Plan
Lots of good stuff happens at All Hands meetings - but the goodness is mostly restricted to those physically present, and we often fail to capture the value in reusable form. How can we make All Hands "be more like the web", and enable useful participation by everyone working on the Mozilla project? This page is the plan.
- Give a clear green light to (self-organized) remote participation in All Hands discussions - by doing a public blog post announcing the next one (week of 12th September)
- Live stream the Keynote speeches for remote viewing (including at Mozilla Spaces) - by asking IT/Desktop Support to make it happen using the existing technology used for product launches
- Provide a member of the administrative staff to be the "eyes and hands" of remote participants during the week - by asking Karen Prescott to make a rota
- We keep everyone in the community on the same page - this reduces shock, stress, fear and unhappiness, and allows us to move faster
- Communicating our vision and plans more effectively inspires everyone to focus on the current goals
- Not all the smart people work for us; community is our competitive advantage, let's take advantage of their input and expertise
- We capture more of the inspiring/useful content and language (video, discussion) for reuse, which gives us more value for the same effort
The last All Hands was just after the Comodo certificate mis-issuance incident. I wanted to have a discussion about the future of Internet security, and what Mozilla should be doing. I felt that this discussion needed to include a wider set of participants than just Mozilla employees.
So I booked a 2-hour slot in Ten Forward during the All Hands, and publicised the meeting in various Mozilla discussion forums. I turned up half an hour early to make sure the audio and video were all working well (we used the Air Mozilla infrastructure), and tell the workmen on the 4th floor to knock off the drilling.
The meeting was attended remotely by representatives of several CAs, other browser vendors (inc. Google and Opera) and even a security expert who got up at 4am in Australia to take part. One local participant flew in from Europe. Notes were taken by a variety of people in an Etherpad which was displayed on the wall as the meeting progressed. It was a great success, and helped frame the follow-up meeting where we decided on some concrete changes to Firefox and NSS.
This was very useful, but arranging it all was quite a lot of work. We should make it clear that this sort of thing is OK, and give Mozillians the tools to make remote participation both easy and the default option. How can we do that?
Keynotes are all about inspiration. Sharing them widely allows that inspiration to reach a much larger proportion of our community. It aligns us around the same goals, and pushes us all in the same direction. In the past, sessions have been live-streamed to other employees. We should make that happen again, and make the stream accessible to all community members. We could then host events at Mozilla Spaces around the world where local community members can gather to watch the keynotes. These events could be catalysts for local community activity around the world. (If one presenter was unable to come, perhaps they could present from a Mozilla Space.) And in the Q&A, questions would be accepted from IRC.
We have done several product launches where we've used a scalable (Flash-based) streaming solution, and made the videos available later in free formats on the CDN. Until we have scaleable open formats streaming, we should use the same system for the Keynotes. We can then hook the archived videos up to Universal Subtitles (a Drumbeat project) so community members can make transcripts and translate the presentations.
The schedule and room bookings matrix should be published on the Mozilla wiki instead of on the intranet or using white boards.
(We try and encourage this now anyway.) Every session should have a dedicated wiki page describing it, with:
- a summary of what the session is about;
- an agenda;
- links to background information and slides;
- a link to an Etherpad (see below);
- space for attendees to indicate interest;
- details of any needs for remote participation (e.g. audio or video conferencing);
- (afterwards) links to any audio and video.
We would provide a form for this to make it easy, using the new system recently added to the wiki for Feature Pages (example form). If we built the template carefully, this would also make the data machine-readable, which could potentially lead to interesting scheduling apps etc.
Ideally in the future, we might install some conference-management web app. But let's start simple.
The aim here is to allow people to self-organize remote participation, rather than putting the burden of managing it onto IT or the admin staff. Hence, the focus is on enabling people to use existing tools and equipment. Those meetings where outside participation was particularly expected should be scheduled in rooms with good A/V. These include at least: Holodeck, Bridge, and Ten Forward.
Implementation Note: General IRC back-channel for the week: #allhands.
Each room would have an allocated conference room number on the Mozilla voice conferencing system. The leader of each meeting would dial the phone in to the conference room (if it wasn't already dialled in) at the start of the meeting, whether they knew of any remote attendance or not. If attendees made themselves known, attempts would be made as normal to make sure that speakers were near the microphone. The small rooms have desk phones, which are OK for a few people. Most of the larger rooms have better audio-conferencing facilities, with posted instructions on how to use them.
There have been issued raised recently with audio and video sound quality. While it is not anticipated that changes would be made specifically to improve remote participation in the All Hands, if the user experience is poor then that will be yet another driver for improvement in this area.
Implementation Note: To find the conference room number, for small conference rooms convert the first letter of the room name to a 1-based index into the alphabet, then it's extension 7<floor-number><room-number>. The large conference room initial letters clash with other rooms on their floor, and so they would be considered to be on Floor 5. Those are: Bridge, C3P0, Holodeck, North Bridge, R2D2, Sick Bay, Ten Forward and Warp Core. Fortunately, none of their initial letters clash with each other. Exception: meetings in Ten Forward would use the normal Air Mozilla room, #8600.
Recently, online meetings at Mozilla have benefited from having a shared Etherpad for note-taking and writing down conclusions and action items. Etherpad's chat feature also allows people to ask questions and provides a back-channel, which is archived along with the pad. For this reason, it is suggested that this be used instead of an IRC channel. One local attendee would be asked to watch the Etherpad for questions and bring them to the group.
Implementation Note: The etherpad would be programmatically named from the session name. The wiki template for a session would automatically generate an Etherpad link.
Anything in 10 Forward should be broadcast on Air Mozilla, with a copy of the video saved and put up on the video CDN. It's as easy as clicking a few buttons. If we can make video work in other rooms, so much the better.
Remote Attendee Help
Despite the best intentions, sometimes session leaders who are doing remote participation will forget to dial in to the audio bridge before starting their meeting. It would be great if one member of the Mozilla admin team were detailed to be the the "boots on the ground" for all remote attendees. They would watch the #allhands channel and if someone said "Help! I want to attend session X in conference room Foo, but they haven't dialled themselves into the audio conference room", they could run up to conference room Foo and remind them.
Some meeting rooms at Mozilla MV are better equipped for remote participation than others. Also, some groups (such as IT) like to take over rooms for the duration so they can work in a shared space. Historically, however, these two things have not been well coordinated. We should encourage such groups to take over rooms which are not equipped with expensive AV equipment, which would then lie idle.
Some larger rooms fitting the "bad A/V" criteria (in my experience) are: R2D2 and C3P0.
It is pretty rare to have an All Hands session where the matters discussed need to be Mozilla Corporation confidential. Even Harvey Anderson's business partnership update keynote in April didn't have much or anything in it which we would be unhappy saying in public. But in the event of such a session happening, it would simply be marked "Mozilla Confidential" in the schedule, and external access mechanisms would not be enabled.
- All Slides Go To Heaven - Matt Thompson
 Understanding this document requires a little knowledge about the layout of the Mozilla MV offices. There are 3 floors, each of which has a large number of conference rooms. The small ones have names beginning with different letters, and the names share a common theme for each floor. The larger ones have a separate naming scheme, and are Star Trek and Star Wars-themed.
- 2nd floor: small rooms lettered from A-M, themed after Internet acronyms, plus R2D2 and C3P0 (which can be combined).
- 3rd floor: small rooms lettered from A-Z, themed after Internet memes, plus Bridge, Holodeck, Ten Forward and Warp Core.
- 4th floor: small rooms lettered from A-T minus G, O and Q and plus Y, themed after Office Space, plus North Bridge and Sick Bay.