10 days of Mozillians: meet Ben!

Tristan Nitot

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Firefox is turning 10! In order to celebrate, meet 10 Mozillians from all over the world.
They share with us how they feel about Mozilla and the Web : their memories, their daily life as a Mozillian, their expectations for the next 10 years and more.

Benjamin Kerensa

“Mozilla means open because it is moving the Open Web forward and ensuring it is protected and open for all to access and build.”

Ben Kerensa

Hi Benjamin!

First of all would you please introduce yourself in a few words, and give us three keywords that define you?

My name is Benjamin Kerensa and I’m 30. I live in Portland, Oregon and am an IT Consultant. I’m passionate about building communities around open-source projects and moving the Open Web forward. In my spare time, I enjoy hobbies such as photography and soap making. Keywords: Open, Innovation, Community.

How and when did you discover the Web?

I discovered the web in the 1990’s in school where I got an opportunity to use Mosaic, a predecessor to Netscape Navigator, which was my primary browser for a number of years. I would surf the web and use early search engines to find information and learn.

If you had one thing to say to the world about the Internet and its potential, what would it be?

I would say that the possibilities of the Internet are beyond anything we can imagine. The Internet continues to evolve far beyond what anyone had ever imagined and it is important that we protect this resource so its available to everyone.

If you had one word or sentence to describe Mozilla, what would it be?

For me, Mozilla means open because it is moving the Open Web forward and ensuring it is protected and open for all to access and build.

What do you like the most about contributing to Mozilla?

I like the feeling of knowing the work I do will impact millions of people around the world in a positive way. I enjoy knowing that everyone from schoolchildren to world leaders use software that I help build and that software helps them do what they are passionate about.

What would be your best memory with your fellow community members?

My most fond memory is gathering with Mozillians for Summit and being able to be equally excited about how were all working on something so much bigger than ourselves.

What exciting things do you envision for Mozilla in the future?

I truly believe Mozilla’s future is bright and that millions of people around the world will look to Mozilla to be a good steward of the Open Web and help push the open web forward through amazing open-source software and new platforms and tools.

Thanks Ben!

10 days of Mozillians: meet Rami!

Tristan Nitot

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Firefox is turning 10! In order to celebrate, meet 10 Mozillians from all over the world.
They share with us how they feel about Mozilla and the Web : their memories, their daily life as a Mozillian, their expectations for the next 10 years and more.

Rami Khader

“When I started contributing I felt like I lived in a different world, where contributors volunteer to shape a better Web”

Rami Khader
Hi Rami! First would you please shortly introduce yourself?

My name is Rami, I am from Jordan but currently living in the Netherlands. I am working with the Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as Application Programming Officer. I am a passionate, smiley and optimistic guy who is an IT addict, enjoys cooking and playing yoga!

What about you and the Web, when did you discover it?

My first encounter with the Internet was in 1996. I was visiting my uncle and he showed me what the Internet can do. I spent quite some time surfing the Web and reading about it in magazines, then I decided to bring it home and spent more time online and discovered its possibilities. I couldn’t sleep for a few nights!
I still remember how my phone line was always busy, everybody was complaining about that because it was a dial-up line and I was always connected!

If you had one thing to say to the world about the Internet and its potential, what would it be?

I would say Internet = Knowledge = Power.

Tell us about you & Mozilla. If you had one word or sentence to describe Mozilla, what would it be?

A Safe House in the virtual world.

How and why did you start contributing to Mozilla?

I started contributing to Mozilla in 2003, I was in love with the Netscape browser and I wanted an alternative to Internet Explorer.

One day, I read in a magazine about a new browser called Phoenix which was still in version 0.1. I went home, downloaded it and tried it. It was love at first sight and it became my default browser from that moment on.

With version 0.4, I decided to start working on an Arabic-localized version of the browser. In version 0.6.1 of Firebird, the Arabic localization was almost ready, as listed in the release notes.

The 9th of November that year was a big day for me; I walked around asking people to try Firefox and to download it. I still have the Firefox t-shirt and the Firefox stuffed toy that I got with that release. When I was in Jordan I was even looking for the New York Times to see the big ads for Firefox.

Meeting Mitchell Baker in Amman back in 2009 was the moment that changed everything. I received an invitation to the Mozilla Summit in 2010, and after that I established the Arabic community, which is an umbrella for all Mozilla communities in the region.

A first Arabic meetup happened in Amman in 2011 and then a second one in Tunisia the following year. Then I was chosen to be in the first Mozilla Reps Council, and now I focus more on organizing the community, I help localize Firefox OS and I’m mentoring new contributors.

Do you have a Mozilla-related anecdote you’d like to share with us?

“Mozilla changed my life” is the title of my story with Mozilla.

Before I started contributing to Mozilla, I was working as a developer then as a team leader in the private sector and I didn’t know anything about open-source and community work. Company satisfaction was my major goal, secrets and closed-door policy was my favorite policy.

When I started contributing I felt like I lived in a different world, where contributors share their work in an open environment and volunteer to shape a better web, where users have the choice.

I decided to move from the private to the public sector, as I want to impact people both online and in real life. I worked with the United Nations in Amman, and now I’m currently working with another public organization in the Netherlands.

Mozilla changed my career direction, impacted my life and opened my eyes to a different world, so in return I’m trying to change others’ life as much as I can.

Wow, that’s inspiring! Now tell us a bit more about you and your community. Is there something you find particularly interesting that you would like to share with us?

I don’t belong to a single community, I find myself as a member of the Mozilla Jordan community, of the Mozilla Algerian community, of the Mozilla Tunisian community or of the Mozilla Egyptian one.

We share the same language, same culture and we volunteer for the same cause. We are spreading in different country but when we are together, we are as one! Our passion for Mozilla makes us one and makes us best friends.

In short, I am a Mozillian.

Let’s talk about the future! What exciting things do you envision for Mozilla?

I would like Mozilla’s working model to become the dominant one, not just in the IT world but also in other industries.

And what do you wish for the Web?

I wish the Web more freedom and more choice for users.

Thank you Rami!

10 Days of Mozillians: meet Monique!

Tristan Nitot

1

Firefox is turning 10! In order to celebrate, meet 10 Mozillians from all over the world.
They share with us how they feel about Mozilla and the Web : their memories, their daily life as a Mozillian, their expectations for the next 10 years and more.
Monique is the first Mozillian of our Anniversary series, but more portraits will follow ;)

Monique Brunel

“Mozilla gives me the opportunity to contribute to a better Web in a very strong community.”

Monique BrunelHi Monique!

So first things first: may you quickly introduce yourself and tell us more about you in general?

My name is Monique Brunel but I am also known under the nickname “webatou” (on Twitter, IRC …) which is the name of my blog.
I’ve been a librarian in a school for about twenty years, then accessibility consultant for websites.
I live in Mons, Belgium, and I retired some time ago.

Could you please give us 3 keywords that describe you?

Yes! My keywords: Open Web, Web for all, sharing.

Awesome! And how and when did you discover the Web?

I started using a computer in 1989, and a few years later I read articles about the Internet in computer magazines. I finally got a connection in 1999 and I immediately put my first website online (it was for the athletic club of which I was the secretary).

If you had one thing to say to the world about the Internet and its potential, what would it be?

Keep the web open, safe and accessible to all!

Yes! And what about you and Mozilla: how and why did you start contributing to Mozilla?

The first time I contributed to Mozilla was at FOSDEM 2004, I helped hosting the stand with the Mozilla Europe team.

If you had one word or sentence to describe Mozilla, what would it be?

To me, Mozilla is the organisation that guarantees the openness of the Web!

Do you have a Mozilla-related anecdote you’d like to share with us?

In October 2013, I had the chance to meet Vint Cerf (one of the two inventors of the Internet) in Mons… I introduced him to Firefox OS running on the Firefox OS smartphone I had just received from Mozilla Reps!

Monique / Vint

Tell us about something that you find particularly interesting or special about you and/or your local community!

I am proud and happy to have contributed to the creation of Mozilla Belgium with Benoit Leseul, it was at FOSDEM 2011!
Belgium is a small country and there’s not many Mozilla events over there, but we are actively participating in those that take place in France.

What’s your best memory with your fellow community members?

I’m thinking about the first participation of a student, Anthony Maton, to an event in Belgium… and from that day, Anthony became a very active contributor. This makes me proud!

I understand that! Now let’s talk about the 10 years to come: what do you expect from Mozilla in the future?

Mozilla gives me the opportunity to contribute to a better Web in a very strong community.

What exciting things do you envision for Mozilla in the future?

Make the Web a platform with Firefox OS, so that smartphone users can benefit from the open nature of the Web.

And what do you wish for Mozilla and for the Web?

I wish Mozilla to exist for a long time while keeping on enhancing freedom of choice for users. And the Web must always be open and accessible to all!

Thank you Monique for your time and commitment!

We Love Mozfest! Mozilla Communities Newsletter, November 2014

jhalperin

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Community Logo

Mozilla Communities brings you the best new opportunities to help support the open Web.

November 2014

What Can You do for Mozilla Today?

Task 1: Take our community survey!
Task 2: Visit our new Get Involved page!
Task 3: Search for events near you!
Task 4: Sign up for Mozillians.
Task 5: Join the Grow Mozilla Call every Thursday.

Why do you contribute, Leo McArdle?

Last week, Mozilla Communities caught up with Leo McArdle at the fifth annual Mozilla Festival in London, England.Leo started contributing to Mozilla when he was 11 years old. Now 17, he’s a Mozilla Rep and community leader. Leo’s involvement ranges from answering questions for SuMo to Learning and Teaching the WebLeo has attended all four Mozilla Festivals in the UK and has been excited to see how it’s grown as a global tech event. This year’s festival brought together 1700 tech leaders from around the world to hack, play, and learn together at Ravensbourne College.

Leo has “big plans” for the Mozilla UK community, and invites everyone to join them today.

In his words, “MozFest presents a lot of opportunities for doing things which help others and are personally gratifying… we need people with hands-on, on-the ground, experience – and that is what we get [there].”

Keep the spirit of Mozfest alive!

Want to hack, play, and grow in the spirit of MozFest all year long? Check out these awesome opportunities!

  • Hack on BRCK, an application to bring connectivity to more places around the world.

In their own words… Joe Reddington, new Mozillian

hacking

Over 1,600 educators, community-builders, technologists and creators from nearly 50 countries met in London from October 24-26, 2014 for the fifth MozFest.As expected for a mind-blowing alternative tech extravaganza, MozFest featured rousing keynotes and calls to action, demos of amazing hacks of technology for social change and hundreds of sessions on topics from open standards for musicians to building sentient news articles.

As a first time attendee, I was blown away by the interactions on the stairs, in the cafe, or at the demos where you could turn to the person next to you and say “So what’s the cool thing you are doing?” and they’d know!From improving access to medical research, developing a standard for civic tech, or teaching kids to teardown routers, every single person I spoke to was working to make the world better in an open and free way.

Join Joe and 10,500 other Mozillians to…

  • Get into the Mozilla Youth Zone with EPIK.

Teaching kids to code with Mozilla and Coder Dojo!

CoderDojo CEO, Mary Moloney, said in her opening keynote Saturday morning, “if a 9 year old thinks they can change the world, at 11 they’re changing it” – inspiring the crowd of over 1700.

CoderDojo and Mozilla empowers kids around the world to code,the festival featured a joint session between CoderDojo and Mozilla where 20 CoderDojo ninjas showcased what they have learned.

Mozilla is proud to partner with CoderDojo to inspire the next generation of tech leaders.

Pic of the week

MozFest Group Photo

Pic of the week

Mozilla Reps at MozFest

Photos by Christos Bacharakis,Mozilla Rep.

We Couldn’t Do it Without You!

Mozilla Communities is a contributor-led email newsletter that brings you the best in supporting the Open Web. Check out our credits »

Connect with us

Join us on Facebook »

Follow us on Twitter »

Grow Mozilla discussion this Thursday

dboswell

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If you’re interested in helping new people get involved with Mozilla, join us Thursday for an open community building forum.

Grow Mozilla discussion this Thursday

dboswell

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If you’re interested in helping new people get involved with Mozilla, join us Thursday for an open community building forum.

Firefox 33 New Contributors

josh

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With the upcoming release of Firefox 33, we are pleased to welcome the 75 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 64 of whom were brand new volunteers! Special thanks to Sezen Günes for compiling these statistics for this release. Please join us in thanking each of these diligent and enthusiastic individuals, and take a look at their contributions:

A new look for our Community Newsletter

jhalperin

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If you’ve been wondering why you haven’t received the best in Mozilla’s community news in some weeks, it’s because we’ve been busy redesigning our newsletter in order to bring you even more great content.

Non-profit marketing is no easy feat. Even with our team of experts here at Mozilla, we don’t always hit the bar when it comes to open rates, click through rates, and other metrics that measure marketing success. For our community newsletter, I watched our metrics steadily decrease over the six month period since we re-launched the newsletter and started publishing on a regular basis.

It was definitely time for a makeover.

Our community newsletter is a study in pathways and retention: How do we help people who have already expressed interest in contributing get involved and stay involved? What are some easy ways for people to join our community? How can communities come together to write inspiring content for the Web?

At Mozilla, we put out three main newsletters: Firefox and You (currently on a brief hiatus), the Firefox Student Ambassadors newsletter, and our Mozilla Communities Newsletter (formerly called about:Mozilla)

It was important to me to have the newsletter feel authentically like the voice of the community, to help people find their Mozillian way, and to point people in the direction of others who share their interests, opening up participation to a wider audience.

A peer assist with Andrea Wood and Kelli Klein at the Mozilla Foundation helped me articulate what we needed and stay on-target with the newsletter’s goal to “provide the best in contribution opportunities at Mozilla.” Andrea demonstrated to me how the current newsletter was structured for consumption, not action, and directed me toward new features that would engage people with the newsletter’s content and eventually help them join us.

I also took a class with Aspiration Tech on how to write emails that captivate as well as read a lot about non-profit email marketing. While some of it seemed obvious, my research also gave me an overview of the field, which allowed me to redesign the newsletter according to best practices.

Here’s what I learned:

1. According to M & R, who publishes the best (and most hilarious) study of non-profit email campaigns, our metrics were right on track with industry averages. Non-profit marketing emails have a mean open rate of 13% with a 2.5% deviance in either direction. This means that at between 25% and 15% open rate we were actually doing better than other non-profit emails. What worried me was that our open rate rapidly and steadily decreased, signalling a disengagement with the content.

I came up with similar findings for our click through rates– on par with the industry, but steadily decreasing. (From almost 5% on our first newsletter to less than 1.5% on our last, eek!)

2. While I thought that our 70,000 subscribers put us safely in the “large email list” category, I learned that we are actually a small/medium newsletter according to industry averages!  In terms of how we gain subscribers, I’m hoping that an increased social media presence as well as experiments with viral marketing (IE “forward this to a friend!”) will bring in new voices and new people to engage with our community.

3.  “The Five Second Rule” is perhaps the best rule I learned about email marketing. Have you captured the reader in three seconds? Can you open an email and know what it’s trying to ask you in five seconds? If not, you should redesign.

4. Stories that asked people to take action were always the most clicked on stories in our last iteration. This is unsurprising, but “learn more” and “read more” don’t seem to move our readers. “Sign this petition” and “Sign up” were always well-received.

5. There is no statistically “best time” to send an email newsletter. The best time to send an email newsletter is “when it’s ready.” While every two weeks is a good goal for the newsletter, sending it slightly less frequently will not take away from its impact.

6. As M & R writes, “For everything, (churn churn churn) there is a season (churn, churn, churn)…” our churn rate on the newsletter was pretty high (we lost and gained subscribers at a  high rate.) I’m hoping that our new regular features about teaching and learning as well as privacy will highlight what’s great about our community and how to take action.

And now to the redesign!

The first thing you’ll notice is that our newsletter is now called “Mozilla Communities.” We voted on the new name a few weeks ago after the Grow Mozilla call. Thanks to everyone who gave feedback.

Newsletter overview

An overview of the newsletter’s new look.

Mozilla Communities

While the overall feel remains the same and is in line with other Mozilla-branded newsletters, the new look incorporates a few “evergreen” opportunities and actions you can take before the fold as well as features a contributor in their own words. (For the draft of the new design, that contributor is me!) The easy actions on the left hand side will rotate out as needed and increase in commitment level as you read down the page. Also, take a look at the awesome logo!

 

Section 2 of newsletter

The next section presents rotating features on our privacy and educational initiatives. Privacy and education span a variety of functional areas, so this section could be populated by a variety of community endeavors. At the bottom of these sections, there’s a Facebook post and Tweet that you can post to easily take action, promote our communities, and get social to protect the Internet.

 

Gear store story

The next section features a story that engages the reader to take action! (In this case it invites readers into our awesome new gear store…) This story about Mozilla communities will rotate out according to the content that you submit. It will also be action-oriented, easy, and fun.

Last story and Mozillian Moments

This last story is optional and will be rotated in and out according to testing during the first few issues. (Early feedback feared that there were too many stories.) In the draft design, we’re announcing a new contribution area. This will be a place for new community contribution areas, pathways, and opportunities to connect. The new photo section, “Mozillian Moments,” replaces our “Photo of the Week” section from the last iteration.

 

newsletter footer

Finally, the footer reminds the reader that this newsletter is community-created and community-supported. It also invites readers to join us on social media. In the upcoming issues, the newsletter will also link to the new “Guides” forum that will help contributors find mentorship opportunities and connect with their fellow Mozillians.

 

What we need from you:

1. We need writers, coders, social media gurus, copy editors, and designers who are interested in consistently testing and improving the newsletter. The opportunity newsletter is a new contribution area on the October 15th relaunch of the Get Involved page (under the “Writing –> Journalism” drop down choice) and I’m hoping that will engage new contributors as well.

2. A newsletter can’t run without content, and we experimented with lots of ways to collect that content in the last few months. Do you have content for the newsletter? Do you want to be a featured contributor? Reach out to mozilla-communities at mozilla dot com.

3. Feedback requested! I put together an Etherpad that asks specific questions about improving the design. Please put your feedback here or leave it in the comments.

The newsletter is a place for us to showcase our work and connect with each other. We can only continue improving, incorporating best practices, and connecting more deeply and authentically through our platforms. Thank you to everyone who helped in the Mozilla Communities redesign and to all of you who support Mozilla communities every day.

Grow Mozilla discussion this Thursday

dboswell

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If you’re interested in helping new people get involved with Mozilla, join us Thursday for an open community building forum.

Firefox And The Academy

mhoye

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It’s September, so a lot of students are joining us in various Mozilla forums, hoping to make a contribution to an open source project. This is always a challenging time of year for Mozilla, and I’d like to say a few things about it. If you’re a student hoping to get involved or – even better – an educator who would like to involve their classes in open source projects or contribute specifically to Mozilla, I hope this will give you a sense of some of the challenges and pitfalls you may be facing and how we can work together to overcome them.

If you’re a veteran of Usenet from the days when Trumpet Winsock was a thing and dinosaurs roamed the earth, you recognize the particular flavor of Mozilla’s comms channels at this time of year. People who want to make a difference in the world want be a part of Mozilla and we’re always excited to hear from them, but September is a challenging time; we get a lot of requests for “student projects” and “easy bugs” that can be difficult to address, and the dropout rate from new participants grabbing “easy” [good first bug]s at this time of year is frustratingly high.

Part of these challenges are structural, of course, and some of those structures are out of our control – courses that are designed around software and development as a discrete, compartmentalizable thing, rather than a messy, rapidly evolving and organic process aren’t really compatible with the day to day process of shipping software. Likewise the benchmarks that make up a traditional academic evaluation process don’t really make sense in our context, so more often than not the goals and schedules of students and educators aren’t well-aligned with ours.

We’re grateful for any effort put in, large or small, to making Firefox better and supporting a free and open Web. Having said that: there are a few things that make working with Firefox in an academic context challenging and you should be aware of them.

The biggest one is that we can’t promise to accept a patch within a certain time frame. This can become a problem for both students and professors when getting the patch accepted into the main product is part of the criteria for a good grade in the course.

This has happened in the past: a student has done great work on a harder-than-expected bug, but it didn’t make it through our process – including testing, feedback, revision and more testing – by the time grades were assigned. Despite their effort, the student was undeservedly graded poorly.

This is bad for everyone when it happens – the student and professor both get discouraged, the value of their work (and of the course) gets harder to see, and if the student doesn’t stick with the patch long enough to carry it over the line, despite all that, Firefox doesn’t benefit and Mozilla’s engineers feel like they’ve wasted their time.

If you’re involved in shaping your curriculum, a better approach is to combine fixing the bug or delivering the project with a set of reports or presentations about the process. This presentation – maybe even a blog post, because working in the open is important – can be a discussion of what the student is working on and why it’s important, how the work progressed and what the process of getting a patch in looks like, as well as the challenges they’ve faced and what they’ve learned from it.

Making three or four “this is my experience and what I’ve learned so far” reports over the term a more important part of the grading process than the code itself helps enormously, both in terms of keeping everyone involved motivated and in reflecting the open, community-oriented values of the project. There are other options for instructors who are familiar with our processes – breaking up the grade up so that submitting a patch that builds, responding to the first review and so on all count, even if the patch isn’t ultimately accepted, is one possibility.

The second major challenge is finding bugs that are a good fit for their contributors. We’re getting better at that – good first bugs usually tell you what language they rely on ( [lang=c++] in the Bugzilla whiteboard flags, for example) and often have a pretty good outline of what a successful patch would look like and a mentor associated with them. And while we can’t promise to privilege students ahead of any other contributors, we certainly try to hold up our end of the bargain and answer new contributors’ questions promptly.

One thing that takes the edge off there is that class of bug – “good first bugs”, you can search for [good first bug] in the Bugzilla whiteboard – that are a nice, well-defined way to get involved. The idea behind “good first bugs” is that the major challenge of the bug isn’t the code itself, but learning how to get your development environment spun up, participating in development on IRC and Bugzilla, learning how to navigate our patch review and submission process.

It typically takes a few tries for most new contributors to get their patch through. Reviews for code format and quality, suitable tests, that sort of thing can all take an extra week or two to resolve, especially if you’re working on them around other classes. But most of our good first bugs can be resolved within a few weeks, well within a term.

You’ll have to judge for yourself if this is a good fit for your schedule, your students or your institutional goals. On the one hand, though GFBs are generally well-contained, Firefox uses every feature JS and C++ have to offer, so a certain amount of familiarity and comfort with the language is important. On the other, we’ve got a huge variety of Good First Bugs here, ranging from “correct this documentation” to “fix part of a JIT compiler”, so it’s likely that if you want to contribute, we can find a home for your efforts that will make millions of people’s lives just a little bit better.

More generally, if you’re interested in getting people involved with Mozilla in September, get in touch with us in June. Knowing in advance that people will be looking for new bugs or projects gives us time to talk to our team leads and project managers, to let us all find a place to put our efforts that will be helpful and valuable to everyone.

Which is all to say that small first-time bugs are often as inglorious as they are important; while they don’t seem like much, the small patches and first bugs of today come from the Web’s next generation of leaders.

Thank you,

– Mike Hoye – mhoye@mozilla.com