Updating Planet Mozilla Policy

September 23rd, 2011 by raccettura

We on the Planet team have spent quite some time figuring out what direction we want to take Planet to make sure it’s the best resource we can give to the community. We’ve taken polls, discussed amongst ourselves and observed quite a bit. We’re now going to take some actions we feel will serve the community best.

In addition to the existing criteria of having “some demonstrated involvement with the Mozilla project or community” we’re going to limit inclusion to Planet Mozilla to individuals both going forward and retroactively. To expand on that the following criteria will be our guide:

  • Being a singular human, or humanoid (we’re robot friendly) with a singular name behind the blog.
  • An occasional “Guest post” is perfectly fine, so is bragging about your project, announcing what you and your team is working on. Planet is about discussion and sharing. We just want to get away from the press release style posts seen on product blogs. Planet is about the people and the great work they do, not the products directly (indirectly, absolutely).
  • Notable exceptions may be made for the Mozilla blog, and Planet blog. These would be very rare in nature for overarching things. The Planet team will be responsible for making this decision when
    necessary.

We aren’t in the business of censoring content. We just want people, discussion, insight and value to be the focus, not team/product speak and announcements. There is a place for those other things, but planet isn’t it. We’ll be looking very closely at creating a planet for teams/groups/announcements and would love feedback on the idea.

This puts us in line with planet aggregators for other projects/communities.

We’ll be making this change in the upcoming weeks. We just wanted to do this in a transparent and clear manner. There will be some grey area here and the planet team will address those cases individually as warranted.

The Planet team is always open to feedback. We’re dedicated to facilitating discussion and sharing in the community. We’re just starting to discuss other things we can do to help Planet Mozilla scale to the larger community and encourage more great discussion.

raccettura (on behalf of Planet team)

13 Responses to “Updating Planet Mozilla Policy”

  1. Mike Kaply Says:

    Please be very specific about the blogs you are removing so that people can subscribe to them separately.

  2. Lozzy Says:

    Thank you for the warning, and I concur with Mike Kaply’s sentiment; if there’s going to be a blog I’m missing out on I would much like to know about it :)

  3. raccettura Says:

    We don’t have exact plans on how that process will be done just yet, but the plan is to make it transparent. So rest assured.

  4. Florian Quèze Says:

    I think before saying what you are going to remove, you should ensure that the discussion about where that content could be best placed is visible to the interested people. And also, please check that these places do actually exist before proceeding with the actual removals :-).

    Also, while I totally agree that planet is abused these days, especially with very poorly formated meeting minutes or with duplicated content, causing it to be painful to read, I’m not sure a policy change is the best way to address the issue. Would it be possible to just identify the few feeds that are annoying and talk to the people controlling them to significantly improve the content that get syndicated?

  5. mccr8 Says:

    I’d find a second feed for the kind of blogs you are getting rid of to be quite useful.

  6. mccr8 Says:

    Also, as a side note, your footer says “Create a new blog and join in the fun!” but then the link says “Registration has been disabled”, so you should remove the link to avoid getting people’s hope’s up, if possible. ;)

  7. Justin Scott (fligtar) Says:

    I agree that there are some blogs that have templatized content week after week that clutters up Planet, but I don’t think the answer to that is removing all team/product blogs. Doing so will just leave the community surprised when they miss announcements and calls for discussions normally posted on such blogs, and will cause a lot of frustration that there’s no place to subscribe to get all Mozilla content firsthand instead of just the highlights of a few items in about:mozilla.

    If the Planet team thinks this is an important use case, a separate planet should be spun up for just opinions and personal commentary. Changing the purpose of the main planet is going to leave a lot of people confused and frustrated.

  8. Janet Swisher Says:

    I concur with fligtar. I think this move is likely to discourage people from posting to team/group/project blogs, with the result that important information will be more distributed than ever. When a person thinks about whether to post something to their personal blog or their team’s blog, wanting to have it appear in Planet will bias them towards posting to their personal blog.

    While one can obviously keep up if one is subscribed to Planet, it will be harder to find all the posts related to a particular project or topic. (Yes, there is [pick your favorite search engine], but that’s not as convenient or reliable as a group blog with appropriate tagging.

    How about requiring that group blogs have bylines on posts, and comments enabled? That would help foster conversation among real people, without shutting group blogs out entirely.

  9. raccettura Says:

    We’re looking at creating a separate planet for projects/teams.

    No other open source project AFAIK attempts to integrate everything with an RSS feed into planet. Given Mozilla’s size (larger than most) at this point it’s virtually impossible to follow and this is the primary source of complaints for a long time now… and it’s gotten much worse since.

    That’s why we’re adopting the policies everyone else seems to use which is limiting to people.

    For those who want to follow the PR/project blogs, we’ll likely setup a separate planet which will be dedicated to what teams are working on. For those who want this, it’s simply another feed to follow.

    This isn’t about bylines or comments being enabled. This is about getting planet to be about the community again and not being an announcement repository.

    If a project/group/team really needs to use the community as bait to get eyeballs looking at what they are doing, they have other issues that need to be addressed. That is a symptom not the cause of the problem. Truthfully, I suspect that’s not really the case for 99% of those blogs.

    This isn’t changing the purpose of planet… it’s clarifying it’s original focus. This is what it always was intended to be before we became lax.

    Planet was never the right place for this stuff. We do need to find the right place, and that is a priority but we shouldn’t hold the community hostage.

  10. Asa Dotzler Says:

    When I adopted Planet Mozilla many years ago, my primary motivation was to help Planet Mozilla return to its roots — the voices of the people of Mozilla.

    The previous maintainer was excluding people and posts that were not specifically about Mozilla. Planet Mozilla was turning into “Mozilla News” rather than “the voices of the people of Mozilla.”

    We fixed some of the problem by removing the censoring filters and encouraging our community to syndicate their entire blogs rather than just limiting it to their Mozilla-specific posts.

    But I think we didn’t fix enough of it because Planet Mozilla is being overwhelmed by the same problem. Today it’s dominated by project and planning updates, news, and announcements.

    I care quite a bit about making sure we can all easily access and digest project and planning updates, news, and announcements. I think we need to find a good highly-visible home for that content but I don’t think it’s Planet Mozilla’s default feed.

  11. Mike Kaply Says:

    @Asa

    Then why isn’t your blog syndicated on planet? :)

  12. Michael Lefevre Says:

    Asa: “I care quite a bit about making sure we can all easily access and digest project and planning updates, news, and announcements.”

    It’s nice that you care “quite a bit”, but this announcement suggests that the priority is to kick this stuff off planet, and making it findable again will be a project for undefined people at an undefined point in the future.

    Is it really that hard to set up another feed _before_ making these changes, so that there could be (for those reading) an easy transition from one to the other, rather than having a gap where hundreds of people have to try and find their own solutions…

  13. raccettura Says:

    @Michael: You’re making stuff up. Nowhere does it say we have decided to do anything “_before_” finding a new home for these feeds. I did specifically note “We’ll be making this change in the upcoming weeks.”, that’s about as close as we’ve come to a timeline.

    I’m not saying for certain we’ll have made a decision prior, but despite your comment, we haven’t decided to the contrary.