User:Iosart/A Vision for the Future

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Update: Home Page » A Vision for the Future


This document summarizes my own vision of the future of UMO. Please feel free to modify this document and add your ideas and opinions. By "add-ons" I mean extensions, themes, plugins, search plugins and anything else that can be installed into a Mozilla product to enhance it in any way.

The huge recent success of Mozilla products can be partially attributed to their "lean and mean" nature – their light weight and lack of "bloat". This significantly increased the importance of extensibility and customizability. Users customize the look and feel of their Mozilla products, modify them and augment them with new functionality. Many new add-ons were developed recently, with many new ones being constantly developed and released. Many companies are also embracing the Mozilla products by developing Mozilla versions of their add-ons to supplement their products.

We are now at a point at which the users can customize their product to look, behave and generally feel exactly the way they want. This degree of extensibility is unique and thus should be seen as a key benefit of the Mozilla products.

In light of these developments, the Mozilla Update Site has become one of the most important resources for the Mozilla community.

Main Services

The Update Web Service should ultimately provide the following services (among others) to its users:

  1. List the most up to date versions of the available add-ons.
  2. Allow the users to easily find the add-ons most useful to them (advanced search), suggest add-ons that might be potentially useful – both automatically and using user and editor reviews.
  3. Provide useful information about every add-on – screenshots, FAQS, tips and tricks, help, developer contact information and add-on home page, version history, release notes, news, knowledge base, forums etc.
  4. Promote the Mozilla products by introducing the most useful, unique, special and interesting add-ons to both the potential and the existing users.
  5. Provide a way for the users to communicate with each other and with the add-on developers to get support, report bugs and problems, express opinions, provide reviews and recommendations and exchange knowledge and ideas.
  6. Provide editorial content – add-on reviews, editorial picks, add-on of the day etc.
  7. Provide content moderation to ensure that the user contributed content is appropriate.

Building a Community

A community enriches the site and greatly contributes to its usability and informativeness. The community can support new users, help with problems, provide reviews and much more. Carefully built community tools can help community members to efficiently communicate with one another, identify the main contributors, provide automatic recommendations etc. Users that are a part of a big and helpful community tend to be more loyal to the product and more willing to try and solve their problems and then help others to overcome similar problems.

Web sites with a well planned and implemented user community infrastructures are among the most successful and useful sites on the net. Among them are,, and many others.

Requirements for Community Tools

  1. Forums, knowledge base (Wiki) – both global and for each individual add-on.
  2. Keep a track of all the user contributions on the site – reviews, comments, forums postings etc.
  3. Allow the users to edit their contributions.
  4. Automatically identify the main community contributors by their activity in the forums, number of submitted reviews etc. Give the reviews and posts submitted by these contributors higher rating than the rest of the postings. Optionally, give those users moderation privileges.
  5. Keep a track of which users have looked at which parts of the content. This can be used for both automatic recommendations to other users ("users that saw this add-on also saw… ") and to indicate to the users which parts of the content they have already covered.
  6. Keep a track of how the user enters the site, navigates through its pages and leaves the site. Can be used for usability analysis, automatic recommendations etc.
  7. Anonymously track which extensions are installed together by analyzing update requests and user downloads. This can be also used for automatic recommendations and ratings.
  8. Create "favorites add-ons" user lists. Users can create "My add-ons" list with their ratings and comments and to post this list publicly. The lists can be browsed and used to calculate various statistics that will allow automatic recommendations.


Scalable Systems for Online Communities by Philip Greenspun [1]

--Iosart 28 Jan 2005