Planet should be technical

I ask every new Mozilla person to follow planet Mozilla. It’s the only easiest way to keep an eye on what is going on in Mozilla. Because it is the single most useful source of mozilla news, it irritates me to no end to see funny pictures of cats mixed in with useful posts at a 9:1 ratio. It’s like the funny pictures, personal agenda people are taking the rest of us hostage. I understand that the official planet policy encourages personal noise, but policies can evolve.

There are multiple proposals on how to fix this situation. IMHO the most correct one is to have planet refocus on relevant content and add noise.mozilla.org for everything else. People who like noise can subscribe to that. Polite people with personal blogs already syndicate moz-tech-only parts of the blogs to planet, others have personal blogs. Arguments on marriage, definition of hate speech, far leftyness, funny cats, other memes really drain the will to live when I want to get work done.

I do think we could use a better code of conduct for people deeply involved in the community. Open source is a bit too good with letting assholes get away with being assholes.

24 comments

  1. I think maybe “technical” is the wrong word to use. A lot of things that are unquestionably Mozilla-(work-)related are non-technical these days.

  2. Gavin, yeah I agree. Problem was that ‘relevant’ was too vague and I can’t think of a better word than technical that encompasses the stuff that we do. “part of our mission” is too vague.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with what Taras wrote.

    Gavin, I actually find myself wading through a lot of non-technical Mozilla-related fluff, for example many, many, many efforts to get people involved in the community, which is pointless to Planet readers, who are already in the community.

    I suppose a case could be made for having a bunch of sub-Planets with a bunch of different Mozilla-related themes (e.g. hacking, web standards, community, …) but I don’t know if that’s practical.

  4. @bastiaan that’s a good point too. I would prefer a purely technical view of Mozilla happenings even if I see value in other aspects of what we do. Perhaps a planet.mozilla + a fixed set of tags is the way to go.

  5. Totally agree. noise.mozilla.org is a brilliant name for the assholes’ planet.

  6. The “noise” thing seems fine, but I would strongly encourage whoever implements it to put it under a domain that is NOT mozilla.org or mozilla.com. Think about this from the users’ point of view: stuff that shows up under a Mozilla domain implies endorsement, even if we’d prefer them to understand that it’s just an aggregator.

    I would really prefer a domain with a name that doesn’t look like “Mozilla” at all. friendsoffoxes.org or whatever (which is probably already a domain). It can say somewhere that “this is an aggregator for the blogs of people in the Mozilla community”, but it should be obvious that it’s an informal project that isn’t endorsed by Mozilla-the-company or Mozilla-the-project.

  7. It’s a bit worrying to see people referring to non-technical posts as “fluff” and “noise”.

    I assumed that people that worked for Mozilla were there for the bigger picture, not just for the money or the technical challenge. You should be interested in what the non-technical teams are doing because it’s important.

  8. @Dan. I’m referring to pictures of cats, political discussions, etc as noise. Those do not further the mozilla mission in any way.

  9. @raccettura that seems to be missing a lot(most?) of useful stuff.

  10. And no more talking about not-work related things in IRC. I tell all new employees to go there because that’s where the real work of the Mozilla project happens but I continually see off-topic comments and random URLs and other things being shared on IRC.

    And no more not-work related talk at the physical Mozilla offices. That’s a place for work to happen. Stop socializing. It will not be tolerated.

  11. Nicholas Nethercote

    I don’t recall ever seeing a picture of a funny cat on Planet…

  12. So should my posts on, e.g., discovering that the loader assumes you’re using platform calling-convention not show up on Planet Mozilla?

    One view I saw was to create a “Planet Mozilla for only Mozilla-specific postings”, with Planet Mozilla itself remaining the firehose (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=733657). This effort, I think I support.

    I never subscribed to Planet Mozilla since I already scribe to half the blogs manually anyways (35, although some duplicates may be in there). Since it already is a firehose, I don’t think too much about posting the odd small rant or random discovery; if people aren’t interested, they just don’t read it.

    As someone who posted on of the things you recently found objectionable, let me defend my decision to do so: due to the current firestorm concerning the-post-that-shall-not-be-ne-named, and in particular a very provocative post in response to that one, I felt that its contents are temporarily germane to the Mozilla community as a whole. And no, I haven’t gotten much work done today :-)

  13. Dolske apparently posted at least one funny cat picture which likely made Planet, with a somewhat attenuated connection to Mozilla. (I have no particular memory of it showing up there, but that was a pretty long time ago, of course.)

    There are too many different threads of discussion in flight on this matter at the moment, and I’m increasingly unsure where to say anything any more. :-\

  14. Totally agree, with Gavin’s correction. Let’s say: Planet Mozilla should be Mozilla-focused.

  15. Taras, I agree, the signal to noise ratio on Planet is pretty bad and getting worse. I used to read most Planet posts, now I am reading less than 5% of them. But I am not sure whether the problem can be solved by your proposal – a large part of it is Mozilla projects that I simply don’t care about, posts that are completely unrelated to Mozilla are less of a problem. Mozilla is simply getting broader and people who care about all of its projects are a rare exception. I am currently filtering out 15 blogs that serve content entirely irrelevant to me and I should probably add more. So while I would love to see more people separate private and Mozilla-related content, I’m not sure whether enforcing it via policy would serve a purpose.

    @Nicholas: I think that Taras alludes to Asa and his cats. Asa removed his blog from Planet years ago because people complained.

  16. Asa, the difference between IRC and Planet is too big for your example to be convincing. The expectations are different, and so is the target audience. Also, I don’t think that exposing one’s personal life/views on a blog counts as socializing.

  17. Benoit, the target audience is not different. Both Planet and IRC were built for and target the Mozilla community. And I disagree on your definition of socializing.

  18. Wladamir, it’s been a very long time and my memory isn’t always accurate, but I’m pretty sure I removed my blog from Planet because it was added to planet without my consent and was being selectively syndicated. I made the decision that if I could not control which parts of my feed were and were not published on Planet that I had no interest in Planet syndicating any of my content.

    – A

  19. I find it disturbing and inappropriate that people don’t post their whole blog to Planet Mozilla, and I therefore miss a lot of info about the people in this community that I would like to see.

    If you want a sterile work-only aggregator, feel free to maintain a work.m.o or whatever site, as long as I don’t have to subscribe to it and can read about the full spectrum of the community including the work-related but also the personal and political stuff on usual planet.

  20. Hi, Mozilla fan here. I don’t know, “work” and “noise” seems too binary, at least provide a “firehose” option that gets you essentially everything. Also, the problem with turning planet into a dedicated technical feed would be curation.

    I say flip it on its head. Start a new blog, “Mozilla Engineering” that selectively promotes good technical posts from the existing planet with a slight delay.

  21. Asa, your irc analogy is bollocks. IRC is neither a reliable source of news, nor does it force you to wade though piles of crap to get something relevant out of it. It’s easy to /part or create new channels. Planet is very rigid and given the insane signal/noise ratio atm, it is actively turning people off from reading it. So in effect, by prompting planet as a platform for free speech you are destroying the usefulness of it as a platform for distributing useful information.

    Regarding work.mozilla.org: Planet Mozilla has never been about work for me. I would’ve read the (assuming a better signal/noise ratio) planet as a hobby even if I was employed at some deadend job. I stopped following planet kde/gnome because they are so full of noise and have lost any educational value they used to have. I got inspired to blog by planet classpath, planet lisp, (old planet kde), but the new “look at picture of my dog” planetary shift is destroying the inspirational utility of planets.

    There are benefits to free speech and there are benefits to curating useful content…you can’t combine the two on a large scale.

  22. Thats right:

    “Open source is a bit too good with letting assholes get away with being assholes.”

    Like some of those “devs” that do nothing but make mockups and suggest removing the status bar and further dumbing down the user by not insisting on meaningful changes. Mozilla needs to get a committee that focuses on producing initiative ideas and reviewing features that are currently in the product and striping out the ones that are meaningless.

    Like for example how about **NO** addon is installed **AT ALL** without the users excessive permission. AND I MEAN they cannot use Firefox at all until they make a decision weather to allow the addon that snook in or to not allow it to install AT ALL. And I don’t mean disabled, I mean not installed at all. But no, the current settings just make it disabled if the user didn’t know about it.

  23. what is technical?

    The fallacy is the belief that there is one degree of technical, and by extension that all developers want that one level in one blog.

    Technical-vs-non-technical is not a binary choice; it’s a continuum. Any one blog will try to choose one point in that continuum. Some readers will feel overwhelmed, and others overwhelmed by that choice.

    Alternatively, Mozilla should (and does) publish a large number of blogs, each with a different technical level. For instance, I don’t care for Planet. However, I like to read Nick Nethercote, Taras, David Mandelin’s blogs. They discuss technical issues in terms of high-level goals, provide experimental results to defend their (re-)designs, and link to the bug tracker for further details. Great stuff for a software engineering nerd like myself.

    Planet should make it easier for readers to find the blogs which match their tech level. The readers will subscribe to what they want to read.