Category Archives: General

The new SUMO is here, let’s put it to the test

We started working on our new SUMO Knowledge Base back in March and now, 9 months later, it’s finally here! We released our new KB to the public last night and it’s working great. Go check it out: http://support.mozilla.com. And come back for a localization sprint tomorrow (more about that below).

We are really excited, exhausted and extremely happy — this was a huge undertaking. After the months of planning and development, we spent the last few weeks testing the migration of thousands of articles to our new system. The good news is that all of that testing payed off. Thanks to everyone who contributed during the QA day, and other times, the migration went smooth, with no catastrophic problems whatsoever. Alas, no matter how much you test, you never catch all the issues. So, we are dedicating the next few days to finding and solving the little bugs we’ve found. Please let us know about any issues in #sumo or #sumodev on IRC or — better yet — file a bug so we can take care of it.

Localization Sprint

A new system always poses a lot of questions, especially for those who need to work with it. So we decided to have a Localization sprint to check our top articles and update or translate articles for Firefox 4. If you are a localizer, this gives you the chance to check your top 20 articles and report any issue to us right away. This way, we can try to solve it on the spot. It will also give you hands-on experience with the new KB for updating or translating articles for Firefox 4. And we’ll be ready on IRC to answer any questions about the syntax, templates (formerly, content blocks) or anything else. And we need your help, even if you’re not a localizer: All those newy imported articles need a search summary to show up on the search results page. Help us add those summaries.

Join us on Thursday, December 2nd. The sprint will start at 6am PST and last until 2pm PST. That’s 3pm to 11pm in Central Europe, or 2pm to 10pm UTC/GMT – yeah, we’re a global project ;)

Looking forward to seeing you all and putting the new KB to the test!

Community interviews: Tom Ellins (TMZ)

At Mozilla we have an amazingly strong community that really makes up the core of the project. However, the incredible work of our core contributors is often not visible to the rest of our community. At SUMO we want to change that. Inspired by Matthew Helmke’s great interview series, we started to interview different members of our SUMO community to give you a glimpse into their life and work. In this installment we will hear from Tom Ellins, also known as tmz on IRC. Tom is a long time contributor, helping countless of Firefox users in live chat sessions. Recently he wrote us an email about how SUMO has impacted his life — here is an excerpt:

I don’t believe I would be studying systems support without the inspiration and effort put in by the SUMO team. Not only have you inspired me to study for a qualification in IT, I have also been able to find a passion helping users and improving the web as a whole.

I can’t tell you how amazing it was to read that, so we thought you should learn more about Tom.

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life.
My name is Tom Ellins and I am located in the United Kingdom studying systems support. I am a keen kayaker and photographer but my main hobby lies within Mozilla.

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Firefox?
Ive been interested in computers for as long as I can remember. One of my best memories is unboxing a Windows 95 PC as the first PC I owned myself. I first downloaded Firefox in 2006 after searching for a faster, more customizable browser.

3. When did you become involved in the Mozilla community? What’s your role there?
I first became involved in the Mozilla community when I accidentally visited SUMO, I followed the get involved links and have never looked back.
Since becoming involved in the Mozilla community almost 2 years ago my roles within it have changed multiple times. I started off helping within live chat and in the forums and quickly progressed to becoming a RM (Room Monitor for Live Chat, ed.) and forum moderator. After a period with SUMO I was invited into the QA and Web QA projects where I have written Selenium automated testcases and Litmus manual testcases alongside helping QA website releases. From QA I progressed onto community sites where I became the co-owner of Mozilla-uk.org (along with Tobias) which led me to my current role as a Calendar website peer. I still continue to contribute to my previous roles when time allows.

4. What version of Firefox do you regularly use? What add-ons? What’s your favorite add-on?
I run the latest 3.6.* public release to enable me to help with website QA and answer the most common questions from users on SUMO. I use too many addons to list but one of my all time favourites is ChatZilla which enables me to communicate with the rest of the Mozilla community via IRC.

5. What’s your fondest memory from the SUMO community, or from Mozilla overall?
That’s a tough question. My fondest memory must be the Firefox 3.6 release day. The whole community and SUMO team worked so hard to answer as many questions as possible and was a great team effort.

6. What luck have you had introducing new users to Firefox?
It’s sad to say that during my time in the Mozilla community I have not introduced many people to using Firefox apart from a few friends and family. Though saying that, I was part of the Mozilla contribute team for some time introducing new contributors to SUMO.

7. What would you like to see happen with Firefox in the future?
I would love to see a plusher UI to match the likes of Google Chrome.

8. If there was one thing you could tell all new Firefox users, what would it be?
It would have to be about all of the fantastic addons hosted over at http://addons.mozilla.org .

Mozilla Summit Video

HD Ogg

The Mozilla Summit was amazing and this video doesn’t do it justice. There were so many cool things – science fair, world expo, dozens of breakout sessions, lightning talks and demos – that I didn’t even attempt to capture because I wanted to experience them. Instead, what I’ve got here is a few moments from the beginning and the end. It doesn’t sum up the full experience but I think it does represent the spirit of sharing and celebration.

Check out mockups for the new Support Forums

The rewrite of the Firefox Support Forums is well underway. Chris Howse, UX designer for the Mozilla websites, has been working over the last couple weeks on making high-fidelity mockups to give us a taste of how the new forums will look and feel.

The first mockup shows how the questions and replies themselves will look. As you can see, users are now given the option to vote that they have a certain problem as well as vote on whether replies are helpful. To make sure that useful replies don’t get lost after other posts, they’re being summarized below the question. We’ve also moved stuff like System information to the sidebar, adding in tags and related questions to help improve navigation between forum questions. This way, if you’re looking for help with something, you can easily find similar threads if the one you’re looking at doesn’t help. Also, if you’re answering this thread, you may find that you also know the answer to a related question.

We’ll also color certain replies differently: The chosen solution is highlighted in green, posts by the original question-asker are blue and other threads are white.

The second mockup shows how the thread listing will look. To make it easier to browse the forum and find questions you can help with, we’ve added tags, the number of “I have this problem” votes and most importantly a short summary to this view. You’re also shown if you’ve contributed to the thread already and what its status is. We’ve kept the filter buttons at the top, letting you view common views (most recent, solved only etc).

Chris Howse has made many more detailed mockups showing various views and button states. You can check them all out in the following two bugs:

We hope you enjoyed this view into the future of the forums. What do you think? We’ll give another update as more development happens, so stay tuned.

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…

Another Forum redesign mockup

Based on some feedback to the last design, we’ve come up with an alternative concept for the forum redesign. While it has many of the same features as the last one (users will still be able to vote on individual posts in a thread as well as have a button to say “I have this issue too” ), there are a few changes:

  • There are no longer two distinct areas for discussion vs solutions. Instead there is a chronological order of posts. (Like a traditional forum.)
  • The most useful post in a thread will be highlighted rather than shifted to the top to prevent breaking up discussions.
  • Posts by the original thread author will also be highlighted.

You can see these in the mockup below:

Here’s the rationale for these changes: When we looked at a sampling of solved threads, we found that the vast majority (30-to-1) were solved in one or two replies. This seemed to suggest that the benefit of bubbling up the top solutions was small since there weren’t many solutions for forum users to sort through. On the other hand, a chronological ordering would simplify the user interface and may promote discussion and community building between contributors.

Please give us your feedback on this design/mockup. What additional features would you like to see, what would you like to see done differently?

The mockup also shows a three-tiered voting system for posts with “this was helpful”, “this was helpful but didn’t fix my problem” and “this wasn’t helpful”. Please let us know what you think of it.

Graphing the impact of Firefox releases on SUMO traffic

For a few days now, we’ve been noting that the Firefox 3.6 release went smoother than 3.5. Now we can quantify it. By looking at the amount of traffic to SUMO, we expect a spike every time there’s a release — especially if there are issues that affect a large number of users.

The following chart shows number of daily unique visitors for release day and 3 days after each release relative to the exact same figure for a week prior. The blue band represents the mean of the data for non-release days ±1 SD.

Support increase by release

As you can see, we got a large increase in traffic from the 2.0>3.0.1 major update and the 3.5 release. (Since 3.0 was the first Firefox version to link to SUMO for help, there was not much SUMO traffic prior to 3.0 and the spike around the 3.0 release was over 500%). However, the recent 3.6 release resulted in a significantly smaller traffic jump. This suggests that there were fewer major issues around the 3.6 release — Firefox 3.6 is definitely the best Firefox yet.

Of course, the baseline daily unique visitor count has increased from 180,000 after the 3.0 release to around 400,000 before 3.5 to over 750,000 before the 3.6 release. So while the Firefox developer, QA, release engineering and support teams have been doing a great job making sure these releases are smoother and smoother, we are still getting a lot of traffic and we can still use your help! Learn how here.

Firefox 3.6 releases Thursday 21 Jan 2010

Firefox 3.6 is coming out tomorrow, which means it is going to be a very busy time for support. As with every major launch, we see a spike in support requests as users get used to features and discover the changes that were made. We would like to get your help giving users of 3.6 the best possible support experience.

You can help in a few different ways.

1) Help users real time over live chat. Live Chat hours will be extended to 6 hours a day. On Thursday the hours will be: 9-11am, 12-2pm, 3-5pm and 8-9pm PST We’ll have lots of support requests and users questions especially during these times.

2) Help users on our support forums. The forums are always open. To find recently asked forum questions that need your help, use our new search engine. Select the Forum tab, change the status to Needs help or Has no replies and select the Firefox forum. For example this search gives recent questions that mention 3.6.

3) Report any popular issues. We will be meeting with the Firefox team everyday to report and discuss any common issues users are having with 3.6. You can report issues as well as stay informed about recent issues in the Contributors forum.

If you have any questions, just ask in the Contributors forum or in the #sumo IRC channel. Thanks in advance for helping out, Firefox 3.6 is going to be a great release!

PS: If you’re helping out, don’t forget to use the BRAND NEW Help > Troubleshooting Information menu item to get info about extensions and stuff from users. This should really make doing support a whole lot easier.

Help the Firefox team

There are a few bugs that the Firefox team is asking for help with. If you’re experiencing any of these bugs or are helping users with these bugs on SUMO, they’d love to get in contact so we can get more information or try workarounds.

  • Crashes with the @_woutput_l signature that have FFTMUFEHelper.dll in the crash stack or the module list. These are probably the TrendMicro Toolbar. We’d like some specific information about the users’ TrendMicro install and put them in touch with TrendMicro so they can figure out what’s causing the crashes. See bug 511756.
  • Crashes for users in Turkey. If any users would like to help in debugging these crashes (the current thinking is they’re related to DNS servers in Turkey, please have them post in bug 508292.
  • Lost or missing downloads. We saw a few reports of downloads in Firefox being deleted as soon as they finished downloading. Now we’re looking for more information. This is most likely do to some kind of security software — we’re just not sure which. Try to get the users’ antivirus software, version and if they’re still getting updates. Please comment in the Contributors’ forum if you find out anything.
  • Firefox closes/quits (no Crash reporter) when closing AOL mail windows. We’re looking in particular for steps to reproduce and also their Firefox version and window/tab settings. Again post in the Contributors’ forum or pass along any contact information. Bug 515679 has more information.
  • Firefox 3.6 has two changes just pushed in beta 3 that affect some users: 1) Third party software in the components directory of the install folder will need to register itself 2) Users who tweaked a preference to disable extension compatibility checking in Firefox will find that it now needs to be set for every version of Firefox.  If you come across legitimate software that is using the components install pathway or websites giving the old compatibility checking advice for 3.6 please let us know in this Contributors’ forum thread.

Getting help on these bugs would go a long way towards improving Firefox and fixing issues. If you’re passing along information from a Firefox user who comes to support, please make sure that you ask their permission and be sure to convey along our thanks for all their help.

KB articles about blocklisted MS add-ons

Over the weekend, there was quite a bit of activity regarding security issues in .NET Framework Assistant and Windows Presentation Foundation.  These are add-ons that were installed via Windows Update for a majority of Windows users. Mike Shaver did a great job of summarizing what happened and why those MS add-ons were temporary blocklisted here.

Given the number of people with these add-ons on their system who would be notified by Firefox, we anticipated that users would come to Firefox Support with questions about the blocklist.
18-10-2009 12-48-59 AM
Indeed, since October 15th, “windows presentation foundation” and “blocklist” are the top recent gaining search terms.

For this issue, we already had an article about the add-ons blocklist, and a mention of the .NET Framework Assistant in an article about uninstalling add-ons. To accommodate the increase in search traffic about the recently blocklisted items, we created 2 new articles (1 for each MS add-on), and expanded the add-ons blocklist article.

If you come across any users asking for more information about these blocklisted items and how to enable or disable them, you can direct him/her to these articles: