Category Archives: Uncategorized

Recognizing Awesome

We launched the initial version of the Army of Awesome page exactly two month ago, but of course that was only the first step. Work on the Army of Awesome page is continuing and William Reynolds was kind enough to write a guest post about our latest release:

Today we’ve updated the Army of Awesome page with some changes to better recognize our awesome contributors. We’ve made it easier for you to choose which tweets to respond to and also added a stats section that features our top tweeters. Check out the biggest changes below and then take a few moments to help some Firefox users.

This week's update focuses on usability and recognizing top tweeters


Each tweet on the page now shows how many replies it has received. This has by far been our top request, since contributors want to responded to tweets that don’t have replies yet. We’ve also used this text area to recognize contributors for being first to respond. Once a tweet receives a reply, the username of the first person to reply is shown on the right side.

You can now see which tweets you've responded to and what you said

As you respond to several tweets at once, you want to keep track of which tweets you’ve replied to and the page now shows you that too. Once you reply to a tweet, the tweet will say “You replied” underneath the timestamp. You can also view replies by clicking on the reply text on the right. [Small caveat: You won't be able to view your own replies until you click on the Refresh button above the list of tweets. This extra step will be removed in a future update.]

Stats + leaders

You can now see how the Army of Awesome is doing and who the top tweeters are

We’re now displaying some high-level statistics about how many tweets we’re responding to as a group. You can see how we’re doing for various time periods — Yesterday, Last Week, Last Month, and Overall (since October).

The page also shows who the top tweeters for each time period are. You’ll see the top 16 contributors and if you hover your cursor over their profile image, you’ll see how many tweets they’ve responded to during that time period.

What’s next

We’re just starting to plan the next release for Army of Awesome, and we’d love your input. Integration with SUMO accounts and localizing the page and signpost messages seem like natural steps. What else would you like to see? Leave a comment with your ideas or add them to the ideas section of the Roadmap.

Finally, I want to give a huge thanks to our SUMO and WebDev teams for making this update happen!

SUMO in Ljubljana

Mozilla Balkans meetup group photo
The beautiful city of Ljubljana, shortened to Lublana by its natives (I wonder why), the capital of Slovenia, was the host to the second Balkans Meeting this year. I had the chance to represent the SUMO team this time, and ended up locked up in a cell in Ljubljana’s military prison. Read on, if you want to know why.

Last weekend was the second installment of the Balkans meeting, and this time it was much more hands-on oriented. We had the full day on Saturday to cover a whole range of subjects from SUMO, product L10n, QA to Add-on development. For SUMO this year was a year of changes in many aspects, and during my talk I used the chance to explain why we did what we did, and how we thought it would bring us closer to support each and every one of our 400 Million users worldwide.

The second half of the day was reserved for sprints and hands-on action. Since we had just released a brand new KB, this was an excellent opportunity to see the KB used in real live, and learn from the feedback. The participants worked mostly on the top 20 articles in the KB, which serve almost 50% of all visitors to the KB and have a really high benefit-cost ratio.

Particularly interesting was the feedback, most of it about the actual localization experience in the editor. Generally it was geared towards making the editor more user friendly (smaller fonts for more text, resizing of the editor window etc) and the localization experience smoother. In the latter case we are looking into a few ways to do that already, for example by providing a Google translated text as the base for the initial translation of the English text.

After a pretty solid 9 hours of work we headed for dinner in a traditional Slovenian Restaurant, with horse meat as a specialty. I didn’t try that, but my meal was delicious. There we also met our surprise guest for the evening, the new Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs, who was adopted as a Balkan member for his Hungarian heritage ;)

Working hard during the SUMO sprint

After the hands-on the day before, Sunday was used for the goal setting process, which involved a review of the goals from the last time and their usefulness. The goal setting itself was pretty great, we had an etherpad where we collected the goals, the document was projected to the big screen then and live edited by a dozen people, which made for interesting discussions.

I’m happy to say that the Balkan communities decided to name the localization of the Top 20 SUMO articles into all Balkan languages as one of those goals, and I think the new KB had quite some influence here. There will be follow up calls to talk about the details of each goal, but all in all they look pretty good, and will surely give everyone enough to work on until the next Balkans meeting (I heard rumors about Athens, but who knows ;)

My cell in Ljubljana

So, how did I end up in a cell? Well, that was thanks to Matjaz, our wonderful host from Slovenia. He organize a hostel for the participants, but not just any hostel, it was a former military prison, taken over by university students and turned into a hostel, with the cells left intact and designed by different architects. It’s considered one of the best hostels worldwide, and I can really recommend spending a night behind bars, it’s unusual to say the least ;)

Big William is watching us

I’d like to thank everyone attending this years Balkan meeting, it was a pleasure to meet and work with you all, and special thanks to our host Mathjaz and the organizers, William and Milos, it was a productive and intense meeting, but with lots of opportunities for informal talks and get-togethers. I really enjoyed it, thanks for putting it all together!

Attention Localizers, big changes ahead for SUMO

If you’re a localizer, the next two weeks are extremely important. Please take a the time to read this post so you can prepare your locale for the new Knowledge Base.

At SUMO we’re taking a huge step forward by finally switching to our all-new Knowledge Base. Most of the work is done and we had an awesome test day last week. We’re currently fixing the last few bugs before the release on November 30th.

A new KB means that we have a lot of new strings in the UI — more than 2000 words in all. You can find the new strings in Verbatim, our new tool for all UI localization. It’s a lot of words, but fear not: up to 50% of the strings were ported over, so if you’ve localized those in the past you don’t have to do it again. When we moved them we marked them as fuzzy, so you can decide for yourself whether you want to accept them or change them.

We need your help, so please start localizing those strings so your locale is ready for the release on November 30th! As always, you can have a look at the new software on our staging server at

Of course we’ll need a little time to port over thousands of articles from our old KB to our new system. In order to do that, we will need a little downtime when it’s not possible to edit articles on the existing site. The freeze date for the KB is November 29th, 1 am PST. Please make sure that you’ve made any edits to your articles by this date. We can’t port over any changes after that. But you can of course continue working on your articles from November 30th on in the new KB. :)

What happens after we’ve switched to the new system?

Since this is a completely new system written from scratch, and the Firefox 4 docs will be ready to be localized soon, we would like to assist you in localizing them on the new system. For that we’ll have a SUMO KB localization sprint on December 2nd. The sprint will start at 6am PST and last till 2pm PST. That’s 3pm to 11pm in Central Europe.

During the sprint we’ll be ready to help out and answer questions in #sumo on IRC. Please try to attend the sprint, since it’s your best chance to get to know the new KB, and collaborate with other localizers who’ll also be in the channel. We’ll have the list of the documents for the sprint ready soon and I’ll of course keep you updated on them.

To summarize:

  • The new KB will be released on November 30th
  • We have the full new UI in Verbatim ready for immediate translation.
  • All work on the articles in the old KB must be done by November 29th, 1 am PST, to be ported over to the new one
  • We’ll have a KB localization sprint on December 2nd, between 6am and 2pm PST, where you’ll find us and other localizers in #sumo for help.

Two very busy weeks ahead for everyone, but it’s really worth the work — or as one localizer put it during the QA day last week: “The new KB is light years ahead of the old one!” Hope to see you all on the other side :)

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 (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 .

Awesome test day for the new SUMO KB

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in the awesome Kitsune KB testday last Friday. It was a lot of fun and really energizing with everyone testing and reporting in the #sumo channel. We were pretty productive too with 30 new bugs filed and nearly 50 worked on in total. A thanks also goes to our developers, James and his team, for fixing bugs live while we filed them! That was pretty amazing, and added to the fun of testing. It’s also a testament to the solidness of our new platform, and a glimpse into the upcoming rapid development that is possible now.

We are getting ready now for a launch on November 30th. And with all the help we got on the test day it will be an awesome experience for the users of our all new support platform. Thanks everyone!

SUMO KB test day today

rows and rows
We’ve been hard at work for quite some time on our new Knowledge Base and this week we went the extra mile to get it feature complete. We have all strings in place and it’s fully usable. Now we need your help to make sure we find and fix all the bugs before the KB is released officially on November 30th.

Join us for a test day today on IRC in #sumo between 8am and 5pm PST, that’s 5pm to 2am in Central Europe. We need to use and search the KB, create, edit, review articles and test the whole localization workflow. The KB is a complex system so we need as many eyes as possible to really catch everything before we release in two weeks.

We prepared a special page with all the important resources here, including a list of already filed bugs and great screencast by Michael, showing you how filing a bug only takes a minute.

Hope to see you soon in #sumo!

Beyond the ordinary: reaching out to Facebook users

Today we are celebrating Firefox’s 6th birthday. We’ve come far in that time with over 400 million people now using Firefox. Of course providing help to 400 Million people means that we have to move beyond the ordinary. Recently we assembled the Army of Awesome to help all of our users on Twitter and since Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet, we’re now adding support there as well.

On Friday we switched on a tab on our Facebook page, called ‘Need Help?‘. That page allows our users on Facebook to search the SUMO Knowledge Base and gives them a way to see a list of the most common support solutions at a glance.

We recognize that just providing great documentation on our site is not enough. We have to reach out to where our users are and provide them with a solution on the spot. The Army of Awesome was the first step in that direction; this is the next. Stay tuned because there’s more to come!

Creating the new SUMO Knowledge Base: From zero to code

When we launched SUMO back in the days of Firefox 2, our TikiWiki based software was a great choice. But by the beginning of 2010 it became clear to us that we’d need something new to be able to keep up with our ever growing community of Firefox users, so we decided to write a completely new support system (named Kitsune) from scratch. Over the spring and summer we released new Contributor Forums, a new Search module and the support Questions App. The next major piece that we’ll release at the end of the month, is our new Knowledge Base.

Designing a new KB from scratch is not easy – especially when it’s a wiki that can be edited and localized by anyone – but you have to start somewhere. We started, way back in April, on a very basic level by defining the users of this new KB; who they are, their importance for us, their goals and the requirements that arise from those goals. Starting by defining our users like this allowed us to have a solid foundation for future decisions. Throughout the whole process we could always ask ourselves, “Does Pascal need this?” or “Would Ellen understand this?” We used these “personas” to build up the story of how we expected people to use the new KB.

Over the summer we worked together with our contributors and our extremely talented designer Chris Howse to take these stories and turn them into the blueprint for the new KB. We took quite some time to create storyboards and detailed mock-ups, so we could get a feel for the interaction of the site before our developers wrote a single line of code. This proved to be really useful and helped us to simplify site navigation and the process of finding solutions to problems. It also helped us to cut down on the necessary steps to edit and localize an article. Iterating over a workflow is much simpler when there are no lines of code involved ;)

Finally we turned to the SUMOdev team, lead by James Socol, to pour our ideas into code and to see what was possible in time for the Firefox 4 release. We wanted move our contributors to the new system so that they could use it to do the majority of the work for Firefox 4. It was clear that it wasn’t possible to implement every feature in the first version and after working through the priorities of the individual features, we agreed with James on a very tight development schedule. Amazingly, James and the rest of the team – Eric, Paul and Ricky – pulled it off and we are on track for our November 30th release. That’s rare in the software world, especially with completely new projects, where much of the stuff is written from scratch. Kudos, guys!

We’re really excited to see this finally come to fruition and next week I’ll post about some of the improvements and changes you can expect in the new KB.

QA day for the new SUMO KB software

For the last six months various groups here at SUMO have been hard at work to design and develop a replacement for our current Knowledge Base software. We call it the Kitsune KB and have blogged about it  already. You can read about the current state here and in a separate blog post coming up shortly.

Very soon, we will finally release Kitsune KB — November 30th is the target release date — but before we can do that we need to make sure that no major bugs remain and that most of the small ones are taken care of. Since a KB is a huge system we need your help. If you are interested, join us in #sumo on November 12th between 8am and 5pm PST, to thoroughly check our new KB while we are on hand to answer all your questions on IRC.

We will have more information up shortly, but don’t forget to mark that day in your calendar. The Kitsune KB will truly be worth the wait!

Community interviews: Tobi Markus (Tobbi)

At Mozilla we have an amazing community, which really makes up the core of the project, but all too often our contributors and their work aren’t visible to the bigger community.  At SUMO we want to change that and ‘inspired’ by Matthew Helmke’s great interview series, we are going to interview different members of our community to give you a glimpse into their life and work. We are starting with Tobbi, a long time SUMO contributor, who has also collected his rewards for important QA work. Without further ado.

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life – name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.
I’m Tobias Markus and 21 years old and male. I’m currently residing in Flensburg, Northern Germany. My current profession is working towards a bachelors degree at university. Apart from being involved with the Mozilla community, my hobbies are singing in a choire, practicing Karate and occasional biking tours.

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Firefox?
I have always been interested in computers, since I got my first computer, which was sometime in 1998. The first Firefox version I installed was 1.0, if I remember correctly. From that day on, I fell in love with this awesome browser and with Mozilla. Soon I started answering Firefox related questions in other forums and found out that I had an answer to most of the questions.

3. When did you become involved in the Mozilla community? What’s your role there?
At the end of 2008 I discovered the Firefox LiveChat on SUMO. I found out, that this was exactly the thing I liked, keeping in mind that this was all about Firefox and that you have direct contact with Firefox users. I got better and better over the time and soon became a Room Monitor, meaning that I was now able to monitor other’s chats and give advice, especially to new support helpers.

Apart from that, my contributions to Mozilla are very diverse. I started translating the SUMO knowledge base into German, my mother tongue. When I started, there were many untranslated articles. But with great help from the other German community members, we quickly managed to translate all the missing articles, which lead us to a 100% coverage in May, 2010.
I’m currently working on translating articles for the Thunderbird Knowledge Base (referred to as “SUMoMo”).

However, SUMO is not all I participate in. I have also taken other translation tasks, like leading the OpenToChoice translation (Mozilla’s information website about the browser ballot screen) in early 2010.

Another field I am always very interested in, is QA. Thus, I have participated in many testdays, where I found bugs others had previously missed. I’ve also done several tasks for WebQA in the past, written Litmus testcases for the Add-ons collector and a couple of MozMill testcases for several scenarios.

Since 2009, I’m also leading the Mozilla UK community website together with Tom Ellins and Leo McArdle where we try to enforce the presence of Mozilla in the United Kingdom. One of my newer tasks is leading the Calendar website on, taking over from Simon Paquet.

4. What version of Firefox do you regularly use? What add-ons? What’s your favorite add-on?
I’m constantly switching between the current final version and a Firefox nightly build, testing the latest features built into those releases. As there are so many add-ons available for Firefox, it is certainly very difficult to name *one* favorite add-on. However, there’re quite a few I could recommend, like Adblock Plus, Firebug (for website development) and DownThemAll! (which is an awesome download manager).

5. What’s your fondest memory from the SUMO community, or from Mozilla overall?
There have been so many good moments with the Mozilla community that picking the fondest is very hard. Amongst other things, I was especially happy when we reached the 100% coverage on SUMO, as I’ve really put much effort in getting the whole Knowledge Base translated. I also had a great time at the Mozilla Summit in Whistler this year where I could finally talk to many of the people I worked with and get to know those a little better.

6. What luck have you had introducing new users to Firefox?
The task of convincing people to use Firefox was not a very difficult one. There are many people who already used Firefox when I asked them about their favorite browser, others were easily convinced after I told them to simply give it a try. And since then, I’m their Firefox / Thunderbird contact person when they have questions.

7. What would you like to see happen with Firefox in the future?
I think the main things I would like to see in future Firefox builds are further speed improvements. Another thing, I’d really like to have incorporated is HTML5 features. Those can really get the experience forward and make things happen that haven’t been possible a couple of years ago. Apart from that, I like the idea of restartless installation of add-ons, so a great thing would be to incorporate the Jetpack SDK into Firefox to support that.

8. If there was one thing you could tell all new Firefox users, what would it be?
Simply try new things out: Install an add-on of your choice and see how you like it and install a theme / persona to make Firefox more stylish.