Firefox Add-ons Contributions Pilot

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The Firefox Add-ons community is an amazing source of creativity and innovation for Firefox users all over the world. Thousands of developers create add-ons that foreshadow the future of Web browsers, and until today, developers who wanted some sort of financial support for their development efforts had few options.

Today’s release includes a pilot of a feature we’re calling “Contributions”. This pilot allows developers to request an optional dollar amount for their Firefox Add-on. Along with requesting this amount, we’re helping developers tell their stories with our new “About the Developer” pages, which explain to prospective contributors the motivations for creating an add-on and its future road map. Since contributions are completely optional, users will have ample time to evaluate an add-on to determine whether or not they want to help a developer.

Since this is the first time we’re presenting this opportunity, we’re treating this initial launch as a pilot. Our aim with this pilot is to help support a growing ecosystem by providing our users with the opportunity to support their favorite add-on developers. We’re asking for feedback from our community to drive the future of this pilot and we look forward to learning as much as we can. We’ll be working with PayPal on this pilot to provide a secure and international solution for facilitating payments.

We’re incredibly excited about the potential of Contributions and hope it makes a meaningful difference in the lives of developers and users alike. As always, we’ll be evaluating this pilot as we receive feedback and making changes based on that feedback. Please let us know via the AMO newsgroup if you have ideas or thoughts to share. We’ve also put together this brief FAQ on Contributions:

How will payments work?

We are working with PayPal on this pilot to provide a secure and international solution for facilitating payments. Developers can optionally create a PayPal ID for each of their Firefox Add-ons. Users will be presented with a “Contribute” button that gives them the option of paying the suggested amount or a different amount.

Does Mozilla earn a percentage from Contributions?

For this pilot, Mozilla will not earn a percentage of any contributions made by users. Developers will receive all the proceeds from contributions minus the PayPal transaction fee.

How do I set this up for my Add-on?

In the Developer Tools for your add-on, you will see two new sections for setting up Contributions and your Developer Profile.

I plan on requesting a small amount, what can I do about the transaction fees?

PayPal supports a micropayments fee structure which reduces the transaction fees for payments under $12. You can create a separate PayPal account for any add-ons where the requested amount is under $12. For more, visit PayPal’s Micropayments site.

Are Contributions optional?

Contributions are always optional. Developers have a variety of ways to present the contribution, some of which do include an interstitial page before downloading, but at no point are payments required for a download.

Why did you create multiple options for presenting the “Contribute” button?

Based on feedback from our developer community, we wanted to use this pilot to give developers a choice of ways to present this option to their users. Based on what we learn, we may change or remove some options.

Why did you call this “Contributions” and not “Donations”?

At Mozilla, we use the word “Contributor” for community members who contribute time and energy to our mission of promoting choice and innovation on the Internet. Our goal is that users who contribute money to developers are supporting the future of a particular add-on, as opposed to donating for something already received.

Will international currencies be supported?

For the pilot, all contribution amounts will be specified in USD. However, users worldwide will be able to contribute in local currency via PayPal.

Categories: developers, end users, general, releases

34 responses

  1. SR

    The paypal link on the contributions page goes to https://paypal.com instead of http://www.paypal.com which causes an invalid security certificate warning ;-)

  2. Jerome

    Why PayPal. I’ve seen an generalized distaste for this company and several people refuse to donate because those asking for donations only give PayPal as an option.

    Consider adding more ways to contribute financially.

  3. Mike T.

    This is a fantastic idea. I would (and will) glady donate to the makers of Firebug and the Web Developer Toolbar–these tools have saved me so much time. :)

  4. Bogdan

    Superb idea. Keep up the good work!

    Best regards,
    Bogdan

  5. Milos

    I like the idea, it is hard to make a good add-on, and even harder to came up with some kind of business model for most of the addons. Contributions might be good solution to keep developers interested in developing new features.

    Unfortunately, my country is still not supported by PayPal. :(

  6. matt

    can you enable line breaks on the developer profiles? My story about why the add-on was created would be a better read with some spacing.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/12735/developers

  7. Twist

    This is a great move. I was hoping something like this would eventually come around.

    I realize it’s just the pilot, but it’d be interesting to see a contribute button directly inside of Firefox on the add-ons screens.

    Another place that might be strong would be on the prompt before/after an update to an add-on. The problem with asking for a donation before the user has even used the add-on is that they’d have no reason to (yet). So by prompting after they’ve used it for some time, then perhaps they’d be more inclined.

    The last thing would be making contributing easier by allowing one click contributions. For example, in the iPhone app store, the user enters their payment details once and then every time they buy something, it just asks for their password. Much less effort is required to make that small $1 purchase.

    Looking good guys!

  8. AlfonsoML

    @Mike T:
    If you want to donate, you don’t need anything special. The Web Developer Toolbar has got the donate option since very long ago: http://chrispederick.com/work/web-developer/
    Other extensions also have options to donate if you are really willing to donate. I know that I sent long ago money to the ones that I used.

  9. David

    A good idea but we must open it up to other payment providers apart from PayPal. We’d need at least three other payment provider options to ensure we’re not heading down any perceived vendor lock-in dead-ends. PayPal are not exactly the flavor of the month to put it mildly.

  10. David Shellabarger

    I will also love to contribute to Firebug and the Web Developer Toolbar. I’ve also been thinking about creating a add on and this might just push me to do it. Great idea Mozilla.

  11. Ken Saunders

    Nice job Mozilla.

    I certainly hope that people will make donations. Add-on developers certainly deserve compensation.

  12. lebonga

    I’ll make donations when others payment possibilities will be available.

    I don’t trust paypal. Why not “bank to bank” transfers ?

    A french guy (Sorry for my bad english)

  13. billfranke

    “Jerome says:
    “July 16, 2009 at 6:06 am
    “Why PayPal. I’ve seen an generalized distaste for this company and several people refuse to donate because those asking for donations only give PayPal as an option.

    “Consider adding more ways to contribute financially.”

    I am one of those who finds PayPal distasteful, and I never contribute to anyone who specifies only PayPal and never buy anything that specifies only PayPal.

    There has to be another way. I would like to pay for some of the add-ons that I’ve used. That’s part of what work is about. I don’t work for free.

  14. Milos

    This is very good idea, unfortunately, my country is not supported by PayPal.

  15. Laurent Raufaste

    I’ll donate some small contribution to the extensions I use right now !

  16. Morac

    This is a very good idea. Unfortunately after signing up 4 of my add-ons, only 2 are working. The other 2 just keep stating “The add-on developers have not enabled contributions.”

    I’m not sure why this is because I enabled them all within a short time period and only the 2 I enabled last are working. The 2 I enabled first keep stating they aren’t enabled. Unfortunately the 2 that aren’t working are the two most popular ones.

  17. Morac

    Okay I think they are all working. The caching mechanism needs work though. The addon page updates immediately, but the back-end takes a while to update.

    As such contributions may not work or the suggested amounts may be incorrect.

    Other than that though, it’s a welcome addition.

  18. Manulix

    As such contributions may not work or the suggested amounts may be incorrect.

  19. wangjel

    yes it is great, i am happy to see also the respect of developers are growing………..
    what about reimagine addons “software as service”……..

    am i talkin crazy?

  20. RDL

    I’d be delighted to contribute to many of the extensions I use but I won’t use anything except local cash across the counter paying in methods or perhaps (very similarly) some kind of one-shot anonymous credit voucher system where I can purchase the vouchers locally for cash.

    Looking forward to availability of some such route.

  21. Matt

    I agree with a lot of others with the Paypal dislike. There are a few add-ons I’d of donated to if the option wasn’t Paypal only. I even told one of the creators of a Theme that’s I’d be willing to donate if he’d accept other donations than from Paypal.

  22. shannana

    why dont you put on add ons that people would actually use instead of randoms stuff this is rubbish
    xxx !! :D

  23. Tom

    I know there’s some general distaste for paypal, but why punish add-on developers by not supporting their work because of your own personal dislike for the donation provider? I think the correct channel is to encourage mozilla to support other donation systems, but don’t make addons developers suffer because only paypal is supported.

  24. toto

    the paypal micropayments site is broken for me, here is what i get there (french firefox from france):
    http://free.imr.free.fr//linux/screens/paypal1.png

  25. carolina

    all sounds good… BUT… when I installed the latest Mozilla, it just told me that my Norton add ons are not compatible… WTF,,, why not??? I need them becouse I need to know when a web page is fake or not, sorry but it is my personal opinion and a very respectfull one… and the “new” mozilla does not offers such of things… please…. how I can ammend that?? using another sofware like Microsoft explorer is not a good Idea…
    carolina

  26. dmitriy

    thanx tfor this innovation

  27. onemen

    when i tried to enter contribution account i get an error
    The email or merchant ID specified is invalid

  28. Amanda Shoemaker

    Does anyone happen to know what will be the exact text which pops up to ask for the contribution? Also how much control does the add-on developer have in scripting the pop up text?

  29. Steve Sims

    This is a really good idea and yet another encouragement to use Firefox!

  30. J. Couprie

    The link to micropayments does not work from France.

    To have more addons is good for users because they have more functionalities. It is also good for developers because they have less pressure to develop new functionalities.

    All incentives to the authors are good : from the users it is fame, recognition in every form including money, from the development team it is more suppressing “negative incentives” e.g. defining and documenting hooks, interfaces with the addon, lowering the time needed to check and modify the addons broken by the new monthly update : this means more time to code new addons !

  31. Samuel

    I clicked the donation link for my new and greatly appreciated add-on. At first I was afraid of giving credit card info. Then I felt safe because the info would only go to a large company, except that I remembered having heard something about PayPal. So I checked. My conclusion is that Firefox (Mozilla) should have nothing more to do with PayPal, except to close business with them in an orderly manner. All links from Mozilla that recommend PayPal should be immediately deleted, even without waiting for an alternative. I regret that Mozilla has misled me and others to PayPal, especially as I had such high hopes for the “community-based approach to create world-class open source software and to develop new types of collaborative activities.” (See The Mozilla Manifesto for that quote and basic motives to quit anything like PayPal.)

    The Pilot seeks, as stated above, “to provide a secure and international solution for facilitating payments.” PayPal is not secure, unless just referring to superficial security like SSL or account privacy. PayPal is not a bank, is not regulated as a bank, does not have bank like security, and has been proven to be insecure both in practice and from an operating model standpoint, for both donors and recipients of funds.

    Especially disturbing is the quote above: “We are working with PayPal…” I am not anti-corporate by any stretch, but PayPal is greedy in the biblical sense of sinful, evil, covetous, fraudulent greed. Please evict their Trojan Horse corporate operatives.

    Laughable is the above statement, “Developers will receive all the proceeds from contributions minus the PayPal transaction fee.” Not really. PayPal will receive all proceeds, and may, at its discretion, per its User Agreement that federal judge Fogel ruled as unconscionable, allow developers a portion, after indisputable fees, delays, and fraudulent drain offs.

    Tom asks, “… why punish add-on developers by not supporting their work because of your own personal dislike for the donation provider?” It is not a mere personal dislike. It is a well documented public outcry. I have never seen an Internet company with such a horrible record. It has stayed in business by the brute force of having so much access to funding (i.e. your bank account) that it can afford expensive legal bills, while mainly challenged only by consumers and small business owners who generally cannot afford an attorney.

    http://www.google.com/#q=paypal+problem (66,400,000 results)
    http://www.google.com/#q=paypal+horror (6,800,000 results)
    http://www.google.com/#q=paypal+complaints (1,210,000 results)
    http://www.google.com/#q=paypal+lawsuit (679,000 results)
    http://www.ripoffreport.com/Search/paypal.aspx (1,525 Reports)
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/16/cryptome_paypal/
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/your-money/28haggler.html
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/169843/paypal_adds_fees_sneakily.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PayPal#Criticism_and_limitations

  32. Lee Wilson

    I think Contributions is a great idea, the web developer toolbar I use a lot, when creating websites, I find it a great ‘in betweener’ that is that the plugin is great for quickly editing a site in live mode, then I jump to Coda to make the changes.

    Loads more addons like that, I would happily make a contribution to that and other addons.

  33. Edd James

    @Milos – lucky you. Gotta jump on the paypal hate wagon here. They are a damn nightmare, especially if used for business purposes. Also is this gonna cause me any hassles with FFox as it’s been so buggy recently I had to revert to IE8 for some stuff, and reconfigure Firefox so that it downloaded PDFs rather than open them, as it kept crashing (yes, crashing) the browser… :(

  34. xzer

    I am sorry to ask that why I can’t set up the contribution of my addon, I got a error message as “Account is restricted” of my paypal ID.

    I am sure there is no problem with my paypal account, but I can’t find any explain that why the AMO told me “Account is restricted”.

    I don’t know whether here is a right place to ask this question, but I really just can’t find any words on google search…