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Why should academics consider working on Mozilla?

Mozilla is a global open source community with a rich technical diversity. Its products are used by hundreds of millions of people around the world in many different languages. The size and complexity of Mozilla can seem overwhelming at first; however, this also makes Mozilla a good choice for those seeking to do real-world project work.

Here are some reasons why working on Mozilla as an academic makes sense:

  • Mozilla's source code is freely available for study, improvement, and extension. Students and educators can work on and with the code without having to sign restrictive contracts or non-disclosure agreements.
  • Mozilla uses many different technologies from C/C++ to JavaScript, Python to XML, and every open web technology imaginable. There are all different levels and types of involvement that are possible. Everything from software engineering to user interface design to technical documentation to marketing to translation are possible, along with many other types of involvement.
  • Small improvements are valued along with large ones. Projects come in all shapes and sizes.
  • Mozilla's products work on every major platform, from Windows to Linux to Mac, as well as mobile devices. As such, leveraging a student's or school's knowledge of a particular platform, operating system, or API is possible.
  • The culture of Mozilla is built on peer review and collaboration. When a student completes work to fix a bug or add a feature, the code is reviewed by Mozilla. This means that there is a built-in mechanism for students to get feedback, for educators to insure that students' work is technically sound (i.e., you don't have to understand all of Mozilla to have your students working on it).
  • Mozilla is an interesting mix of very old and very new technologies. For those wishing to study and gain experience with software maintenance, Mozilla is an excellent case study. At the same time, others can focus on the latest additions to the web and get experience innovating with new techniques. Both are going on at the same time.
  • Mozilla creates world-class software that is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. When a student can contribute to these products while still in school, she builds her resume and gains valuable experience that is hard to gain in other ways.

Above all, working with Mozilla means working with a passionate world-wide community and having a chance to make your own contribution to the open web.