Mozilla Participation Plan (draft)

Mozilla needs a more creative and radical approach to participation in order to succeed. That is clear. And, I think, pretty widely agreed upon across Mozilla at this stage. What’s less clear: what practical steps do we take to supercharge participation at Mozilla? And what does this more creative and radical approach to participation look like in the everyday work and lives of people involved Mozilla?

Mozilla and participation

This post outlines what we’ve done to begin answering these questions and, importantly, it’s a call to action for your involvement. So read on.

Over the past two months, we’ve written a first draft Mozilla Participation Plan. This plan is focused on increasing the impact of participation efforts already underway across Mozilla and on building new methods for involving people in Mozilla’s mission. It also calls for the creation of new infrastructure and ways of working that will help Mozilla scale its participation efforts. Importantly, this plan is meant to amplify, accelerate and complement the many great community-driven initiatives that already exist at Mozilla (e.g. SuMo, MDN, Webmaker, community marketing, etc.) — it’s not a replacement for any of these efforts.

At the core of the plan is the assumption that we need to build a virtuous circle between 1) participation that helps our products and programs succeed and 2) people getting value from participating in Mozilla. Something like this:

Virtuous circle of participation

This is a key point for me: we have to simultaneously pay attention to the value participation brings to our core work and to the value that participating provides to our community. Over the last couple of years, many of our efforts have looked at just one side or the other of this circle. We can only succeed if we’re constantly looking in both directions.

With this in mind, the first steps we will take in 2015 include: 1) investing in the ReMo platform and the success of our regional communities and 2) better connecting our volunteer communities to the goals and needs of product teams. At the same time, we will: 3) start a Task Force, with broad involvement from the community, to identify and test new approaches to participation for Mozilla.

Participation Plan

The belief is that these activities will inject the energy needed to strengthen the virtuous circle reasonably quickly. We’ll know we’re succeeding if a) participation activities are helping teams across Mozilla measurably advance product and program goals and b) volunteers are getting more value out of their participation out of Mozilla. These are key metrics we’re looking at for 2015.

Over the longer run, there are bigger ambitions: an approach to participation that is at once massive and diverse, local and global. There will be many more people working effectively and creatively on Mozilla activities than we can imagine today, without the need for centralized control. This will result in a different and better, more diverse and resilient Mozilla — an organization that can consistently have massive positive impact on the web and on people’s lives over the long haul.

Making this happen means involvement and creativity from people across Mozilla and our community. However, a core team is needed to drive this work. In order to get things rolling, we are creating a small set of dedicated Participation Teams:

  1. A newly formed Community Development Team that will focus on strengthening ReMo and tying regional communities into the work of product and program groups.
  2. A participation ‘task force’ that will drive a broad conversation and set of experiments on what new approaches could look like.
  3. And, eventually, a Participation Systems Team will build out new infrastructure and business processes that support these new approaches across the organization.

For the time being, these teams will report to Mitchell and me. We will likely create an executive level position later in the year to lead these teams.

As you’ll see in the plan itself, we’re taking very practical and action oriented steps, while also focusing on and experimenting with longer-term questions. The Community Development Team is working on initiatives that are concrete and can have impact soon. But overall we’re just at the beginning of figuring out ‘radical participation’.

This means there is still a great deal of scope for you to get involved — the plans  are still evolving and your insights will improve our process and the plan. We’ll come out with information soon on more structured ways to engage with what we’re calling the ‘task force’. In the meantime, we strongly encourage your ideas right away on ways the participation teams could be working with products and programs. Just comment here on this post or reach out to Mitchell or me.

PS. I promised a follow up on my What is radical participation? post, drawing on comments people made. This is not that. Follow up post on that topic still coming.


  1. Albert replied on | Reply

    Reblogged this on sonofbluerobot.

  2. Some Mozillian replied on | Reply

    Yay for writing a participation plan in private without soliciting the community’s feedback along the way!

  3. msurman replied on | Reply

    Hey some Mozillan: there is still a ton to be written here — including a whole strategy for where we go next. I’d love to get you involved.

  4. Someone who wants to get involved replied on | Reply

    Hi there,

    I’ve seen you talking @Mozilla Weekly Project Meeting.
    I was looking for some entry point to get involved and found which needs me to choose between programmer and web developer…

    First: I would like to see what kind of things I could contribute with my Java/JavaScript/… skills and then choose what type of involvement I can add. I have no overview over mozilla applications, mozilla teams and what has the most need for manpower.

    I would like to see: where is the strongest need for developers, look at the code and say: ok, I understand the topic and code and I can contribute something. I could fix some bugs and make pull requests or help to implement some new features.

    Such projects would need some good architecture and coding guidelines, and very good description about what is planned and what benefit it has for whom (there need to be some need first I guess).

    I haven’t found anything like that. Maybe if you could provide some link.

    BTW: I have seen, but there was no explanation. What is webmaker? The text in “our mission” is very inexpressive. I would expect it to tell me really concrete, what it is about.

    (after clicking some links I think I found out what’s the purpose: teaching people web-development to get them gain more web/internet/openness knowledge. But I’m still unsure.)



    1. Chris Double replied on | Reply

      There’s that can help if you’re looking for something to get involved in.

  5. Jean replied on | Reply

    There is a little-known revolution going on across the US. In October of 2013 the FCC opened a window for low power FM radio stations. In the last year over 1600 organizations have been granted construction permits. A station can get on the air for about $10,000. Snake Nation Press has 103.5 on the dial. We sit right in the middle of Valdosta, GA, which has a population of 50,000. Hyper-local, with approximately a 3.5 mile radius, the possibilities are amazing.
    Perhaps the old and the new can come together in some shape or form. It would be interesting how Mozilla might support this movement.

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