The Year in SUMO

As most readers of this blog are already aware, Mozilla’s community-powered user support project SUMO was launched to address the need for an official and centralized support channel for Firefox that could scale to match the rapidly growing user base. While the ground work started back in 2007, the project really took off in 2008.

Looking back at the achievements we’ve made over the year makes me humble. Here are just some of them:

  • We got first-hand insights about our Firefox users. With a combination of article polls and traditional website metrics like page hits and search & navigation patterns, we now have a deeper understanding of what our users are saying about Firefox. Every week, we provide a list of the most commonly reported Firefox problems, which is very useful information for the Firefox development, QA, and marketing teams.
  • We grew our community. In 2008, the SUMO community doubled in size to over 50 active contributors per week. We still need to grow in order to keep up with the 200+ million user base, but it’s exciting to see that our Mozilla community is starting to understand the importance of user support.
  • SUMO development took off. The SUMO development “team” went from what was essentially a one man show — Nelson Ko from the TikiWiki community — to an actual team of people. We also got a formal development lead: Laura Thomson from Mozilla’s web development team. We got high class QA attention from Stephen Donner. This all enabled us to move forward in a much quicker pace, which was something we were in great need of. In fact, we will need to grow even more to keep up with the ambitious plans for 2009. Interested in hacking on SUMO? Let us know!
  • We launched the Support Forum. To create a support experience where the most common problems can be solved in the Knowledge Base and everything else in user to user support solutions, we launched the Support Forum as the first step to complete what later became known as the support funnel. Today, around 1,500 support questions are answered by our SUMO community every week.
  • We launched Live Chat. Actually, Live Chat had its virgin session exactly one year ago, New Year’s Eve 2007, and it was immediately being picked up by lots of users and helpers, much thanks to some press attention that caught us by (pleasant) surprise.
  • The Knowledge Base became localized. Initially, the Knowledge Base articles were only available in English. This changed in 2008, as we enabled support for multiple languages and got help from our incredible localization communities around the world. Some of the more active locales include French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and German.
  • We moved Firefox’s product help to SUMO. Starting with Firefox 3, the product help is now hosted online. As a result of the effort of moving the content over to SUMO, we engaged with Mozilla’s large localization community. With their help, we were able to translate the updated product help articles into 18 languages before the Firefox 3 launch.
  • Last but not least, we became helpful. The Firefox Support website currently helps roughly 30,000 users every month solving their Firefox problems. Although that is a pretty impressive number in itself, it’s actually very conservative since we’re only counting the users that took the time to let us know that their problem was solved.

I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the SUMO project in 2008. Without your help, we wouldn’t have been where we are today. Thank you!

Of course, the fun doesn’t end on this last day of 2008. We have lots of things planned for 2009, so please stay with us! I’ll blog about our plans for 2009 shortly. Until then: Happy New Year!!


Photos by Eskilstuna photographer & journalist David Naylor.

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