Add-ons are often cited as the main reason users love Firefox, and while they offer users substantial benefits, they can also be a cause of slowdowns, instability and other problems. This is the reality of having an open development platform where add-ons are first-class citizens: developers have the tools to create truly excellent and innovative products, but those same tools can be misused and cause grief to the people using them. It can be very difficult for users to realize an add-on is to blame for these problems, and Firefox suffers because of this.
On the Add-ons team, it’s our responsibility to find add-on problems and get them solved, regardless of where the add-on is distributed. The most effective way for us to do that is to ensure our expectations are clearly documented so that problems can be avoided before they even surface. This will empower the community to help us fix add-on problems, and it will give add-on developers an easy guide to follow.
This is why we’re putting forward the Add-on Guidelines, currently in draft form. They are mostly a formalization of what we have already been looking for. The idea behind this document is to make our guidelines clear to everyone, and to have a distinct guide that applies to all add-ons, even those not hosted on addons.mozilla.org. In addition to guidance for developers, these guidelines establish a formal process for users and community contributors to report violations to Mozilla to help us identify problems sooner.
These guidelines have already gone through two rounds of discussion, and now we’d like the community at large to give their input. Once we have reached a finalized version of the document, we will put it up in a more permanent location and make it official.
If you have feedback on the draft, please share it with us in the comments or in the latest newsgroup discussion.