Tag Archives: sumo

SUMO in 2013 – Summary

This is the final part of the SUMO in 2013 blog post series — let’s wrap up:

If you read all previous posts, you probably noticed a few overarching themes throughout the series: Mobilization, Advocacy, and Scale.


With mobilization, I mean it in a non-traditional sense of the word: the web is becoming increasingly mobile, and this shift changes our efforts to support our users. We need to become mobile — we need to mobilize!

I’m extremely excited about our plans to create a mobile support experience that no one has built before. Mozilla Support is already insanely cool to use from your mobile phone, but just imagine how awesome it will be once we hook it into your phone’s notification system and utilize some of the new web APIs we’ve worked on as part of making the web itself the app platform for Firefox OS (and, long-term, for apps across all major mobile platforms). With the direction the web itself is taking through efforts like Firefox OS, the opportunities to create awesome experiences are only limited by your imagination.

The closest comparison to what is happening with the web today that I can think of is the introduction of the Sony Walkman in 1979, which revolutionized the way people listened to music. SUMO is heading in the same direction and this will bring lots of new opportunities to help fellow Firefox users no matter where you are — and the karma this will give you will feel more rewarding than listening to your favorite mixtape!


Over the years, we’ve gotten better and better at distilling user feedback from our support channels and reporting it to engineering and QA so they can prioritize their work on fixing the most annoying bugs our users complain about. Cheng played a huge role in kickstarting our efforts already back in 2008, and today we have a dedicated team responsible for this work. In 2013, we’ll institutionalize User Advocacy and partner even more closely with Product Management, UX, Engineering and QA to deliver on Mozilla’s brand promise: Firefox answers to no one but you.

We’ve already built in hooks to Input in Firefox OS so we can ensure high quality user sentiment and feedback reporting for the first handsets once we launch. Of course, our user advocacy efforts will go beyond our internal feedback tools — we’ll also be monitoring press, blogs, forums and social media throughout the product launch to make sure we aren’t missing anything. Our goal here is the same with Firefox OS as it’s been for desktop and Android Firefox: to proactively support our users by making our products better.


This is the glue that will tie it all together — at the end of 2013, our hope is that we’ll be able to look back at a year with significant community growth and where contributions went from just something you could do in front of your computer to something you could do anywhere you are as long as you have your phone with you.

SUMO staff, summer 2012.

We have awesome people in the SUMO community already — people like Alice, feer56, Scoobi, cor-el, Satdav, madperson, iamjayakumars, jscher2000, Tobbi, underpass, Swarnawa, smo, Nukeador, michro, and many many more (this is really just a sample of our incredibly passionate community!). At the end of 2013, I hope that these people will have taken even more ownership in their various areas of our support efforts — and I hope I’ll be able to list even crazier and impossible to pronounce forum nicknames for new people who joined our community this year!

As part of our quest to grow our community, we need to challenge our assumptions and traditions and be open to completely new processes and community governance models to scale our work to Mozilla’s growing product line. I’m envisioning a community where hundreds of people around the world help with everything from writing support articles that are read by tens of thousands of users, to helping users directly where our users are — the forum, social media, and in person. While I’m incredibly proud of the community we’ve been able to build so far around SUMO, I know we can do more.

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 15.46.20

SUMO superhero and his butler — awesome artwork by Sean Martell.

Thanks for reading thus far. If you haven’t already, please join our community and help us shape the future of the mobile web, get more involved with Mozilla, and help our users! It’s dead simple, fun, and can take as little as a few minutes to make an impact to thousands of people around the world.

Congrats, you made it to the end of the blog series about our Mozilla Support goals in 2013!

SUMO in 2013: Firefox OS

You’re reading the second part of the SUMO in 2013 blog series, and this time the focus is Firefox OS!

  • Part 1: Delight our users
  • Part 2: Firefox OS — you’re reading this one right now!
  • Part 3: Firefox Desktop
  • Part 4: Firefox Android
  • Part 5: Summary

So what exactly is Firefox OS? From mozilla.org:

Firefox OS will produce an implementation of new Web standards to free mobile platforms from the encumbrances of the rules and restrictions of existing proprietary platforms.

We’re collaborating with OEMs and carriers directly, giving them more influence to meet the specific needs of their users and market. Users and developers aren’t locked in to one platform, so they can access their info and use apps across multiple devices.

Developers will no longer need to learn and develop against platform-specific native APIs. [...] Consumers who use devices powered by Firefox OS won’t be locked into one specific platform giving them more choice, flexibility and freedom. With Firefox OS, the Web is the platform.

Create best-in-class mobile support experience for Firefox OS v1 launch

firefox-phone2013 is going to be an incredible year for Mozilla since it will be the year when Firefox OS and the open mobile web get into the hands of users around the world. At SUMO, we’re working hard to prepare for this and to ensure we’re ready to support users if they run into any problems.

However, some things will be a little different for us compared to how we’re supporting Firefox users. These Firefox OS phones will be sold in brick and mortar stores, and the user will have actually paid with real money for it. This raises the bar of the kind of support they expect for their device, and we need to be prepared for that.

Partner with carriers & OEMs

Luckily, we’re not the only ones who care deeply about Firefox OS users — since the phones will be sold in stores, we will rely on our partners for the first line of defense in supporting Firefox OS. This is a great start, but we still need to make sure that those who do come to our site get the best possible answers to their questions.

We also want to make sure that our partners have the best possible support material for our product so they can delight their customers just as much as we will. This means we’ll be working on delivering high-quality support documentation and training material as part of writing our knowledge base articles for users. In fact, we’ve already started and would love to see you join the efforts! Contributing to SUMO is a great way to influence the future of Firefox OS and to be a part of this brand new mobile phone experience.

Build localized support forums and communities and supply them with needed tools

Our support forum platform view from a mobile device.

For local communities who don’t already have a support forum and are ready to support Firefox OS users, we will be building the foundations to support localized forums on support.mozilla.org itself. This is actually something we’ve wanted to offer for a long time, so it’s very exciting that it will finally become a reality for the local communities who need it! Note that this foundation will also work for all of our other products like Firefox, but we’re building this primarily to support the Firefox OS v1 launch.

Another thing we did last year in preparation for the Firefox OS launch was to redesign the forum interface to look awesome on small screens. You can check this out today by navigating to support.mozilla.org/questions from your mobile phone.

Ensure excellent first impression by answering all user questions during our initial launch

You only have one chance to give a first impression, and we want ours to be an excellent one. We’ll be making sure that everyone gets an answer to their questions on SUMO, regardless of whether they found our site directly when searching online, or if they were sent our way by our partners.

We’re collaborating with our local communities such as Mozilla Hispano to ensure that we’re all ready for this big launch. Mozilla Hispano have done an amazing job already with preparing their community and website, and they’re just as excited about the launch as we are.

Expand our support offerings to include third-party Apps developers

UI Tests for Firefox OS (by tuuux)

The beauty of Firefox OS is that the platform used to run native apps on it is the web itself, completely unencumbered. This is huge for developers, because it means all they need to know in order to write apps for Firefox OS are the same skills they use to write websites: html5, javascript, and a bit of css. In fact, many developers already write mobile apps using these technologies on other proprietary mobile OS platforms like Android and iOS to make their apps work cross-platform. So the learning curve for developers to include support for Firefox OS will essentially be zero, because with Firefox OS, the web is the platform.

That doesn’t mean that no developer will ever need support, so we will be joining forces with the Developer Engagement team and implement a solution for those needs. This includes both administrative and purely development-related support.

That was an overview of what we’re working on this year around Firefox OS support. It’s all very exciting! In the next part of the series, I’ll present our goals for Firefox on the desktop. Stay tuned for more…

SUMO in Berlin

While we serve millions of Firefox users every week with our support website, it’s sometimes a good change to speak with users face to face about their Firefox questions and our community. I have the chance this week, so this post is being written from the LinuxTag in Berlin. The LinuxTag is one of Europe’s biggest OpenSource events and brings together users and contributors of OpenSource software.

We already had some very interesting questions about Mozilla, how it is different from the competition, Firefox 4 and Firefox Sync in particular.

If you are in Berlin today, please come by and speak with us directly in Hall 7. We can offer you Firefox buttons and Mozilla contributors interested in listening to you. :)

Image: Thanks to Brian King for his awesome photo skills!

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…

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 irc.mozilla.org (#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!

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 irc.mozilla.org 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! www.mozilla.com 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!

Presenting the new Firefox Support start page

After being slightly distracted with other priorities, we were finally able to launch the new and optimized start page for Firefox Support that we designed and tested in June!

Old Firefox Support Start page

The old Firefox Support Start page

The old start page had a number of problems:

  • The bounce rate was relatively high, especially on the in-product start page (although we’ve learned since the start page redesign effort that a big reason for that is the F1 keyboard shortcut that people press by accident)
  • The search box didn’t provide example searches to encourage people to use it
  • The design wasn’t emphasizing on the fact that we are here to help and that we do provide a way to get personal support if the search doesn’t return any useful results.

For a complete list of what changed in the new start page, see the image on Flickr with notes explaining all the differences.

The new and optimized start page

The new and optimized start page

The preliminary site statistics indicate that the impact of the new start page is even bigger than we anticipated based on the A/B test. So far, the start page shows a 3% decrease of bounce rate, which is pretty fantastic.

This translates to an improved user experience for over 400,000 Firefox users (annually)!

We’ve started to work with localizers on how to update the non-English start pages too. There are instructions available for how to do this and some locale leaders have already updated their start pages:

Thanks to everyone who helped with the process of getting this new start page created and implemented!

Help us plan SUMO in 2010!

Following up on my post last week about how the SUMO project developed in 2009, it’s time to repeat the circle for 2010! It’s time to start thinking about where to take the project, which areas to focus on, and ultimately which goals to define for 2010.

To help get the goal discussion started, it’s obviously helpful to know why SUMO exists. In my opinion, there are three main reasons:

  1. To help people have a great Firefox (and by extension web) experience
  2. To provide key user and product insights to the Mozilla community
  3. To strengthen and grow Mozilla’s community

Based on this list, we can create three focus areas, or “buckets” for our 2010 goals:

  • Improve the support experience for users
  • Provide better/more accurate/more detailed metrics and insights for other Mozilla teams and the entire Mozilla community
  • Make the SUMO experience more enjoyable for contributors

In today’s SUMO meeting, we’ll kick off the discussion by spending 15-30 minutes brainstorming ideas. You’re very welcome to call in! That said, if you don’t have time to call in, or would rather share your ideas in writing, there is an active thread in the SUMO contributor forum dedicated for this. Please feel free to post there with thoughts, ideas, or, if you’re feeling particuarly creative, screenshots, mockups or screencasts of what you have in mind.

Of course, if you don’t have a SUMO account and for some reason don’t want to create it, you are welcome to participate by commenting on this blog post too. :)

The SUMO community keeps getting bigger!

Here’s one of those things that make me feel good about being a part of SUMO and Mozilla.

In late 2008, the SUMO team started to collect feedback from the community about what we should focus on in order to make the platform and Firefox Support website a more exciting place to collaborate on. We also added our own ideas about how to improve the experience for both Firefox users visiting the site and contributors helping out. The result of this work is something I called the Vision for SUMO followed by the SUMO 2009 roadmap.

Since then, we’ve worked to make the vision a reality. We’ve improved the quality of our support. We’ve improved our ability to provide user insights and track user trends. We’ve managed to implement many cool and useful features (with lots of help from the amazing web development team at Mozilla) which really made it easier and more fun to contribute on SUMO as well as improved the experience on the website for users. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve had a good time.

All these amazing achievements aside, this is what makes me the most proud:

Growth of SUMO community since October 2008

Growth of SUMO community since October 2008

In a little less than a year, we’ve managed to double the number of active locales, doubled the number of translated articles, and most importantly, more than doubled the number of active SUMO contributors!

As a side note, the survey that was sent out after MozCamp 09 in Prague showed that 30% of the attendees were involved with user support. That’s an amazingly large proportion of our European community actively involved with helping our users having a great experience on the web!

30% of Ludovic Hirlimann's photo, used under CC-BY-NC license

30% of Ludovic Hirlimann's photo of the European community, used under CC-BY-NC license

Even though it’s just October, I’m already blown away by the achievements by everyone in the SUMO community in 2009. And by the way, I’m glad it’s just October: it’s time to start thinking about where to take SUMO in 2010! More on that tomorrow very soon…