What makes people contribute to Mozilla?

Tristan Nitot


Linus Torvalds, maintainer of the Linux Kernel, recently declared to the BBC that “Linux succeeded thanks to selfishness and trust”.

Mozilla, like many other open-source projects, has a lot in common with the Linux Kernel.

Trust is key for the continued health of the Mozilla project. It’s also central to our meritocratic approach, where people are promoted by their peers once they prove they can take care of the various issues we face as we work on improving our products and technologies.

Selfishness is also important. Some Mozillians are Mozilla employees, most are volunteers, some others are paid by third parties. In every case, each individual has something to gain when doing the work, although not necessarily of monetary nature. Reward can come in many shapes: learning how to solve complex problems, getting to know and spend time with like-minded people, practicing English as a foreign language, collaborating on a global project, improving the life of Mozilla users through a piece of software deployed on nearly half a billion machines… We make sure that everyone gets something significant in return for their volunteer work.

But there is something beyond trust and selfishness. For most Mozillians, whether paid or unpaid, there is something extremely significant that comes with Mozilla participation. You could call it a sense of purpose: many of us take very seriously our mission of protecting the Internet, the world’s largest public resource. You often need this when hacking late at night on a particularly complex issue with a tight deadline: serving the Internet is a lot of fun, and it’s fulfilling! Excited by such an opportunity? Don’t be shy, come and join us!

2 responses

  1. autra wrote on :

    But your “sense of pupose” can be seen as another selfish motivation : protecting the Internet is profitable to everyone, including (and maybe above all others) Mozillians.

    1. Tristan Nitot wrote on :

      Absolutely! But protecting the Internet is profitable to everybody, just yourself, so I guess it’s the definition of altruism :-)