Author Archives: David Tenser

The SUMO team is hiring!

Are you interested in making a big impact on the mobile Firefox experience for millions of users around the world?

We’re looking for an exceptional Mobile Support Coordinator to join the SUMO team and help us bring top quality support to our mobile Firefox users. As an integral part of Mozilla, the Mobile Support Coordinator will lead the mobile support efforts, including redefining what this experience looks like, analyzing metrics and user feedback to determine what support content is needed, and reporting metrics and support insights back to the product, engineering and QA teams. Other tasks include engaging directly with users in need of support and working together with our volunteer community across the world to ensure that we give users the help they need to enjoy their Firefox experience.

The Mobile Support Coordinator is also eager to look at the bigger picture: Are there areas that need more support coverage? Do users interact with the website the way we intended them to? Is it well integrated with mobile Firefox itself? This involves working closely with Mozilla’s analytics, product and engineering teams to continuously optimize the support experience.

The Mobile Support Coordinator is someone who loves to work across multiple teams to ensure we’re always making the right priorities, who thrives in fast-paced environments where things are in a constant state of flux, and who is genuinely helpful — not just to Firefox users, but also to fellow SUMO community members assisting with the support effort.

Since the SUMO team is geographically distributed across the United States (from east to west) and Europe, we believe the successful candidate could work from any of these time zones. Of course, working with an online team means that the Mobile Support Coordinator is flexible, hard working, and a true team player who communicates proactively both verbally and in writing.


  • Lead Mozilla’s mobile Firefox support efforts
  • Drive continuous optimizations of the mobile support content
  • Analyze and report weekly support metrics to the mobile product and engineering teams
  • Work with SUMO, metrics, and mobile teams to continuously optimize the support experience for mobile users
  • Respond to incoming Firefox support requests, including letters, email and voicemail, with an emphasis on questions about mobile Firefox


  • Experience with professional or volunteer technical customer support
  • Experience with mobile technologies, services and/or websites
  • Proven track record for driving multiple project simultaneously and successfully
  • Outstanding planning, research and analytical skills
  • Ability to think, plan and execute resourcefully, with minimal supervision
  • Ability to work with a geographically distributed team
  • Excellent and proactive communication skills (both written and verbal)
  • Ability to learn quickly and adapt in a fast-paced start-up environment

Skills Desired:

  • Experience with website optimization and/or web analytics
  • Strong desire to help others solve their problems and improve their web experience
  • Passionate about Firefox, Mozilla, mobile, and open technologies
  • Participating and contributing to open source projects a huge plus
  • Knowledge of a second language is a plus

In summary, this job is about making the mobile internet life better for millions of people around the world. Sounds like a dream job? We think so too.

Go ahead and apply!

Minutes of SUMO meeting 2010-05-24


  • Kadir and Chris are enjoying a public holiday today
  • Balkans Meetup update:
    • Three presentations:
      • How to get started with SUMO
      • About the future of Support
      • Why support is important and it’s position at Mozilla
    • All Balkan communities got a chance to put a face to our names and we to theirs. We had lively discussions about improvements to the KB with some great ideas. Everyone should have a good idea about why support is important and how to get started.
    • Martin wants to localize or select a community member for localization of SUMO within the Bulgarian community.
    • Edo wants to localize all SUMO articles into Croatian by the end of the year.
    • Aleksander wants to localize the top articles into Bosnian as soon as he has free time from school.
    • Pierros became the lead localizer for Greek and wants to localize the top articles.
    • Gorjan became the lead localizer for Mazedonian and started localizing already.
    • None of our new localizers had been product localizers before.
  • Weekly metrics
    • Missing critical metrics due to end of support of Omniture before we were done migrating to Web Trends. Working with metrics team to sort this out.

Sumo development update

  • Met with Chris Howse
  • Began creating Workflows
  • The new guys are getting up to speed
  • Outage last Friday due to Google Pac Man. James has a nice writeup of what happened.
    • Thanks to Dave Miller, Jeremy Orem and Paul C for their help getting this fixed!

Knowledge Base New and updated Articles

Help one user per day in the Firefox support forum!

If everyone reading Planet Mozilla helped just one person in the Firefox support forum per day, there wouldn’t be a single user with their question left unanswered. And answering one question generally takes less than two minutes!

It’s actually very simple to help people, too. But just to be on the safe side, we’ve prepared some instructions for how to get you started.

How to make one Firefox user happy per day:

  1. Set aside two minutes of your time. Some tips for how to do that:
    • Stay away from pointless activities like Farmville or Mafia Wars (and avoid Facebook in general).
    • Skip reading that “fun” e-mail one of your colleagues just sent.
    • Don’t click this link. It’s not worth it, and no, you can’t even interact with the cat.
  2. If you haven’t already, get a SUMO account by filling out the form on the registration page.
  3. Scan the list of unanswered forum threads (btw, that’s a great page to bookmark) for a question you think you know the answer to. Click it and respond. That’s it!

Don’t even have two minutes to spare? Try looking for a question that has an obvious answer, like AOL hijacked my start page, posted earlier today (the solution is already documented).

Need help answering a question? No problem. We have a page of tips and resources that may be useful, or you can ask in the Contributors forum. Feel like taking a break? That’s cool, too. Go introduce yourself in the Off-Topic forum and hang out with your fellow Firefox contributors.

By the way, we’re currently working on a brand new forum system that will be faster, sexier and easier to use. Stay tuned for more details…

Help us update the Firefox manual to 3.6!

As you might remember, the SUMO and FLOSS Manuals communities worked together last spring to write a complete manual for Firefox.  Our friend Janet Swisher from FLOSS Manuals wrote to tell us that on Sunday, it’s time to upgrade it for Firefox 3.6! To quote Janet’s post in the SUMO contributors forum:

I’m putting together a mini-sprint to update the book for Firefox 3.6. The face-to-face part of the sprint will be held in Austin, Texas, the day after the Texas Linux Fest, on Sunday, April 11th, from 11am to 4pm Central US time (OTC-6). Sorry for the short notice — this was a last-minute idea.

Remote contributors are welcome and encouraged. So please join us if you have time and interest, whatever time you can spare. We’ll be on #flossmanuals (This channel is embedded in the flossmanuals site, but you can use any IRC client you like.)

How to help:

  1. Register for a FLOSS Manuals login, if you don’t already have one.
  2. Go to the Write section for Firefox.
  3. Pick a chapter that you want to update and click the “edit” link.

Please let me know if you’re planning to join in. If you’re able to join us physically in Austin, contact me and I’ll let you know where to find us.

If you have some time to spare, please help make this manual updated and ready for 3.6!

Introducing the fabulous SUMO Content Manager

After months of hunting, we’re very excited to announce that we’ve found our new Support Content Manager. Starting this week, Michael Verdi joins the SUMO team full time and will primarily focus on improving our support documentation to make it easier to understand, more consistent, and more engaging.

As co-author of the book Secrets of Videoblogging and the creator of the Freevlog tutorials, Michael has a lot of experience with writing software documentation that is easy to understand for “normal people” (with that, I mean people who, unlike me, don’t spend 12+ hours per day in front of a computer). He also has a passion for videos and screencasts, which will be very useful in our efforts to make our help documentation engaging and friendly for the millions of Firefox users out there. His unique skillset will be critical in establishing writing style guidelines and best practices together with our amazing volunteer community of support content writers on SUMO.

Michael Verdi

Michael Verdi, former nuclear submarine mechanical operator.

Aside from writing books, running video blogs, training for a triathlon, and doing robot talk shows — you know, the normal stuff — Michael has also been working as a mechanical operator on a nuclear submarine, been a member of a theater company for nearly 20 years, taught graphic design in a high school, and run a media program for teens. We haven’t yet figured out how we can best use all of his work experience, but there’s certainly no shortage of “been there! done that!” here. Michael also tells me that he’s been married for almost 19 years and that they have two daughters, Dylan, 16 and Lauren, 13. And yes, this is apparently all possible in just one lifetime.

If you want to get in touch with Michael, go visit one of his blogs, or send him a message: he is michaelverdi on (#sumo) and michaelverdi on Twitter. Also, check out his own blog post about his new job: I’m joining the support team at Mozilla.

Welcome to the team, Michael!

Minutes of SUMO meeting 2010-03-29


  • Welcome to the team, Michael Verdi!
  • Q2 (public) SUMO goals:
    • Increase support localization reach by 5% (mostly Kadir)
    • Increase helpfulness of SUMO articles by 2% (djst, cilias, michaelverdi; shared with Metrics team)
    • Implement new support forum (sumodev, Cww)
    • Implement new discussion forums (sumodev)
  • Other noteworthy (internal) Q2 goals:
    • Establish support presence on Twitter (Kadir, zzxc)
    • Incorporate Twitter metrics to our weekly common issues reporting (Cww)
    • Establish weekly reports of mobile Firefox support metrics (Cww)
    • Finalize PRD for new KB (cilias, Kadir, michaelverdi?)
  • Weekly metrics
    • Kadir to reach out to Estonian localizer who has been active the last 3 weeks

Knowledge Base

Live Chat

  • Crashes went up last week
  • More upset Firefox users than normal, both in live chat, mail. Cww and zzxc to synchronize after this meeting to discuss next steps.

Social Media

  • Twitter experiment started this week. Primary objectives for social media support:
    • Reach out to Firefox users in need of help even if they haven’t found our support website
    • Extract useful support metrics for SUMO
    • Use the viral nature of social networks to spread the message about our community-powered support


  • Unicode wiki page name collisions. Decision made to reach out to effected localizers (Kadir) and make sure collisions are solved before the end of this week.

Minutes of SUMO meeting 2010-03-15


  • Weekly metrics
    • Not a major bump from the 3.6 update. Maybe we’ll see more in next week’s traffic.
    • About 70% of the people who use the “None of the above” option when responding to a forum thread actually are giving help, but they are just using the wrong UI option. This means that we should include 70% of those replies in the “Answer rate” metric (line 64 in the weekly metrics)
  • Last week’s weekly support issues
    • Highlight: When you switch from 3.5 to 3.6 and you have an non-standard DPI, Firefox makes all pages really small. cww to investigate.
  • Should we bother trying to remove Mobile module from product help start page? –cilias
    • Yes! (And thanks for spotting this…) cilias to file a bug unless this is possible to configure in the module.

Knowledge Base

  • No new articles this week
  • Test for article titles as questions has begun.
    • All en-US users are diverted 50/50 between the specialized start page and the normal in-product start page
    • cilias to verify with Blake that the test is indeed running.
  • The “Help > For Internet Explorer Users” A/B test done
    • The test shows that the Windows start page is better tailored towards new Firefox users coming from IE
    • djst to file bug to replace forieusers to permanently point to the specialized for all Windows builds (and not just the EU ballot builds)
  • New locale: Bulgarian


Live Chat

  • zzxc is having exams today; no update.


  • Social media outreach
    • We want to start an experiment next week to reach out to users in need of Firefox help on Twitter
    • Long-term objectives:
      1. Monitor Social networks and reach out to users who need help, using small snippets that could solve their problems.
      2. Monitor social networks to get a better understanding of the current perception of Firefox and the biggest problems users experience
      3. Prevent issues from becoming viral by intercepting and channeling to SUMO if help is not possible in the social network.
  • Back to factory defaults — Would it make sense to expand the Troubleshooting Information into a sub-menu with something like “Restore to factory default” or “Restart Firefox in Safe Mode”
    • There is a bug about something similar to this already; cww to dig it up and cc people
    • More generally, we need to take a closer look at what such a solution would do for support, and what the best solution would be

Minutes of SUMO meeting 2010-03-08


  • Weekly metrics
    • Forum contributor participation is going down. Cww to verify that the metrics are correct
    • cilias to talk to metrics team about getting a heat map for the Windows start page, in addition to adding the bounce rate to the weekly metrics doc
    • Still working on getting day-by-day KB Helpfulness numbers.
      • Cww and cilias worked on getting a graph up: [1]
      • Need to backfill with more data to identify trends. cilias is on it.
  • Last week’s weekly support issues

Knowledge Base

Live Chat

  • For the first time since 3.6 was released, a majority of live chats were marked ‘solved’
    • Rise in confirmed solved chats seems to be driven by increased traffic from bug 548945 (13% of all chats)

Welcome to the SUMO team, Kadir!

We’re very excited to announce that Kadir Topal of German Mozilla community fame is joining the SUMO team today full time as our Support Community Manager. His primary responsibility will be to energize, strengthen, and grow Mozilla’s support community so we can reach out to even more users in need of help on the web.

For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Kadir, he has been around in the community since 2002, when he started the German localization of Phoenix just a few weeks after milestone 0.1 was released. Since then, he has lead and helped grow the German Firefox community, organized community events, as well as managed the German community website, support forums, and wiki.

Kadir has been studying political science and computational linguistics and is just about to finish his master thesis in applied linguistics. The subject couldn’t be more relevant to his new job on SUMO: Informal Communication in Virtual Teams. For more interesting facts about Kadir, read his own 7 Things about Me.

If you want to get in touch with Kadir (or just say hi!), he is topal on and atopal on Twitter.

Welcome, Kadir!

Update: Kadir just wrote about this on his own blog:

The bright future of the SUMO platform

When the SUMO project started back in 2007, one of the first big questions was what web platform to use as a foundation for the upcoming Firefox support website. The Mozilla web development team started by doing a thorough analysis of the available content management systems (CMS) currently available in order to reach a conclusion. The outcome of that analysis was that TikiWiki was most suitable for our needs. Among other reasons, Tiki was best because of its many bundled features, strong multilingual features and powerful wiki and forum integration.

What followed was some rapid development to get Tiki deployed on our server and adapted to our needs. We received great help from the Tiki community, ensuring that the initial launch of Firefox Support was smooth and successful. Unfortunately, we didn’t really have a plan for how to ensure we remain synchronized with the continuous development of the Tiki platform upstream, so we just kept developing on our local codebase.

Because Firefox is such a popular web browser, we get a lot of visitors on the Firefox Support website. And when we say a lot of visitors, we mean a lot: over 16 million page views per week! is in the top 150 sites in the world, and SUMO naturally gets a good portion of the traffic.

As a result, a significant part of our development focus has been on increasing performance. About two years after the site officially launched, September 2009, we had reached a point where we would be forced to rewrite parts of the underlying infrastructure of Tiki in order to keep up with the increasing traffic to the site.

We had reached a crossroad when we had to decide on what do with the SUMO platform:

  • Should we upgrade to the latest version of Tiki? Remember, we had over two years of local development that hadn’t been upstreamed.
  • Should we continue to patch the Tiki platform locally, i.e. continue with what was essentially a fork of Tiki?
  • Or should we switch to another platform that was better suited to our particular needs?

Abort, Retry, Fail?

Interestingly, in our second analysis of the available platforms in 2009, Tiki still came out as the winner! There simply is no existing CMS that is more suitable for us.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that Tiki is not entirely optimized for our needs. In order to change this, we would have to invest a huge amount of time to rewrite structures and code in Tiki relevant to SUMO, and we would have to take great care to not mess up with all the thousands of other Tiki-powered websites out there.

This led us to the realization that the right path for SUMO is neither of the above options, but to instead do a clean break and work together with the AMO team to develop something new that is optimized exactly for our specific needs: an excellent open source support platform that can handle over 350 million Firefox users.

TikiWiki really is a fantastic CMS — the fact that it still is the best fit for Mozilla among the options available is amazing.

Now our challenge is to build the next generation of the SUMO platform: SUMO 2.0, codenamed Kitsune. More on that soon!