Reviewing, the Sandbox, and “missing” add-ons

shaver

44

Though Justin’s first post about the sandbox was several months ago, there is still a fair bit of confusion about the whats and wherefores of the new system. I’ll try to give a relatively concise description of the goals and current operation of the sandbox system here, but please keep in mind that we are rolling out the first version here, and not the last. We have lengthy and detailed discussions about the feedback provided by people even in its pre-release state, and we are grateful for the suggestions and information that people have contributed already.

The goals of the sandbox system, distilled down to the shortest version I can manage, are:

  1. Assist developers and site administrators in making sure that the users of AMO have great experiences with great add-ons.
  2. Expand the review system to allow participation from a much wider cross-section of the Mozilla community.

And the operation of the current review system is described at a shiny new policy page, including a long-long-long-awaited description of how add-ons can become recommended.

It is very, very important to us that unsuspecting users are protected from malicious or careless software when using the AMO site. The previous AMO version(s) relied on a system of roughly-sequential closed-door review by a small group of volunteers to validate the add-ons that were submitted to the site. As the number of add-ons grew, it became extremely difficult for that group of people to keep up with the incoming requests, and the number of specialized (and difficult-to-review) add-ons grew as well. When Firefox had 2 million users, an add-on that was relevant to 1% of those users could be reasonably left to wait a fairly long time for review, but such a “one percenter” add-on is now interested to almost a million people around the world!

Historically, Mozilla has been able to scale to the width of the web by allowing more members of our community to contribute, be it to testing, coding, marketing or dressing up in costumes and walking around downtown. We wanted to bring this increased scale to reviewing and testing add-ons to ensure that they were safe and well-described for our users.

Additionally, as Firefox’s appeal widens to a more mainstream, less computer-savvy audience, we came to realize that we needed to make sure that the add-ons were comprehensible and accessible to people who were not as comfortable working around installation problems or figuring out what an extension did by experimentation. The add-ons that people find through their use of AMO should be inspiring examples of what the extensible web can provide, and should make users’ lives better in every way. We know that the Mozilla community can provide these great experiences, and we want to both incent and reward add-on developers who provide them. We know that the AMO site is an extremely valuable channel for software to reach new users, and we want to use that to promote and strengthen the values that Mozilla stands for. We are raising the bar with Remora for what it takes to get in front of nearly a hundred million of the most savvy, influential and good-looking browser connoisseurs in the world, and we will continue to raise the bar over time as we feel it is in the interests of Mozilla and, most importantly, its users.

So we now have the sandbox, and as you’ve already read it’s where add-ons start their lives. We chose a threshold to start with to seed the public site, and we expect and hope that users of add-ons that they feel belong in the public side of AMO will write informative reviews and help the AMO editors find those gems that we — I, if you want to point a finger more closely — didn’t have in the public site on day 1.

Over time, I expect that we will make the sandbox more visible to new users, as we learn more about how to balance the need to protect unwitting users from add-ons that have not been tested with the desire to match more users up with “niche” add-ons or up-and-coming experiments. We’re already looking, based on just the pre-release feedback, at making direct links to non-public add-ons work with appropriate caveats and warnings. (They would still be hidden from search and browsing.)

I hope this helps to explain what we are trying to achieve with the sandbox system, how the system works, and how you can help make it work better on small or large scale. We’re still hard at work making sure that Remora is good and ready before we put it live, and we know that the first little while after launch will bring the need for refinement in how the system works, but we believe that these changes will work to strengthen the add-ons community and ecosystem, for the benefit of users and developers alike. That is, after all, what we’re all about.

44 responses

  1. Randy wrote on ::

    I just have to leave a comment because I am someone who loves Firefox. I think Firefox is the BEST browser ever. BUT…I can not understand why this change is necessary. People love Firefox because of the way it lets people contribute and share the add ons they decide to spend alot of time on to develope and then share with anyone who is interested in that unique add on. Firefox is the only browser that lets people do this !! That is what made Firefox what it is…really!! Now Firefox has decided that they are “TOO GOOD” to just let anyone post add ons and have chosen a few members to decide which ones that they will “endorse”. THIS WILL DESTROY FIREFOX. You are leaving behind the very core that made Firefox what it is. Now, I cant even explain to my friends how to down load a theme in the “sandbox”, if the link is even there!!! Please dont do this…Firefox is destroying itself…its not the add ons destroying it.

  2. Donald wrote on :

    Perhaps you shouldn’t release Remora until the rewievers have had a chance to go through all the extensions that gained some popularity in the current site. This would result in a lot less pissed off developers and confused users looking for the software they already have used for a while.

    Also, while I appreciate the hard work you guys have done, there were nearly a hundred open bugs for Remora the last time I checked, many of which deserve to be fixed before the release.

  3. Andy wrote on :

    I think we are witnessing, or have just witnessed, an end of an era. Mozilla as we knew it is gone. It has basically gone corporate. The corporate structure is in place, with “executive team” (and a CEO – Mike Shaver, as he himself has clearly pointed out) making their perhaps well-meant and well-meaning, but nevertheless inherently arbitrary decisions. It is sad and painful to read his comments about “promoting and strengthening the values Mozilla stands for”. In reality it is nothing but censorship. Every instance of censorship in history has always been justified by “providing better service, protecting values and ensuring great experiences”. Yes, freedom is risky. Yes, you may get burned once in a while. But the alternative has proven to be much worse. Power corrupts, and there isn’t much else to say.

  4. Sebastian Tschan wrote on ::

    In my opinion, the sandbox might be a benefit if using it and most important – getting there is easy.

    I guess most users don’t bother about reviewing and rating addons which would mean creating an account for addons.mozilla.org – they just want to extend their browser and change it to their liking – this is one of the outstanding advantages of Mozilla Firefox towards other browsers.

    To improve the sandbox system I would recommend to make it more accessible:
    So far accessing the sandbox means creating an account, logging in, clicking on your mail address (which is, by the way, not intuitive), checking a box and saving the changes – this is just too much to get involved.

    I used Firefox extensions a long time and never had an account for addons.mozilla.org until I became an extension developer.

    Sebastian

  5. Ngamer01 wrote on :

    Waaah, waaahh, waaahh. That’s all I’m hearing from people these days. Hey, people? ARE YOU HELPING THE AMO TEAM? ARE YOU PAYING THEM MONEY SO THAT THEY CAN WORK?

    What’s that? No? On both accounts? As the AMO team VOLUNTARY WORKS FOR FREE trying to bring the best possible to Firefox users? Then SHUT UP! You have no right to be chewing out the AMO team since you’re not helping nor are you paying them money. They don’t have to do jack for anyone yanno. They could be like “Eh, these people are mean jerks. Screw ‘em all. Let them find their own ways to share add-ons.”

    But they don’t. They still work trying to fix Remora as quickly as possible and give the best experience they can to Firefox users. BUT THEY ARE ONLY HUMAN. They can only do so much and things are prone to human and technical errors. Come on, tell me you never screwed up using a computer before.

    To get to the point, all I’m saying is for you all to SHUT UP and let AMO do their best. And have some patience! Good things come to those who wait yanno.

  6. Wladimir Palant wrote on ::

    Looking at the comments above, I guess I need to voice my support for this decision. I have said this before and I will say it again – having every single add-on available to public based on the single criterion that it “seems to work” is irresponsible and harms Firefox a lot. There is already much talk about how Firefox is bloated and how it crashes all the time – and people who say that usually don’t realize that these issues are usually caused by extensions. I would estimate that of the few thousand extensions on AMO 95% have serious flaws that will usually only become visible in relatively rare situation and are almost impossible for an average user to trace back to the extension. Around 30% of the extensions introduce more or less severe security issues. And yet most people perceive anything published on AMO as “blessed by Mozilla”. So raising the quality bar is not only necessary, it is long overdue. There must be pressure on developers to fix their bugs and at least try to make sure their extension doesn’t break something (yes, it is sad that fixing bugs cannot be taken for granted). If the developer cannot do that then maybe his add-on is better off in the sandbox until he can.

  7. Andy wrote on :

    @Andy

    I think you got it all wrong. Where’s the censorship? Add-ons have *always* had to be reviewed before they were made available on AMO. The decision rested in the hands of a small number of reviewers. Thanks to the new the new system the approval process is going to become public and the new add-ons will be reviewed by the whole community. The site is going to be *more* open and free, even if the bar is set higher.

    Previously, the review process was closed and not-yet-reviewed add-ons didn’t make it to the site at all. From now on, anyone will be able to participate in the approval process by providing feedback in the Sandbox and add-ons will be available even before they are reviewed. Now tell by what logic is that less free?

  8. Andy wrote on :

    Wladimir – I am sorry, but you are missing the point completely. Nobody is arguing against improving the quality of Firefox. The problem is in the decision-making process. Ever heard the word “transparency”? Was there any kind of discussion as to what is the best way to “raise the quality bar”? Why, for example, the AMO team could not e-mail all developers (all their e-mails are on file, aren’t they?), present them with a few possible solutions, get the feedback, and make transparent decisions based on that? Or they could have declared an open discussion period for all users; there is a number of ways to do such a thing. Instead, they treat the developers as a nuisance (literally “defending” Firefox from them), even though it is the developer community that makes Firefox special (and I guess we should start saying that in the past tense, unfortunately). They “owe” the developers just as much as the developers “owe” them.

  9. Chuck Baker wrote on ::

    I agree with Andy inasmuch as developers need to be kept “in the loop” as far as proposed changes occur. Case in point: when the name of the password file was changed from “signons.txt” to “signons2.txt” during the FX 2.0 rollout, one of my extensions was seriously effected. Apparently, this change caught many developers by surprise.

    A simple solution might be to email a periodic newsletter to all developers describing upcoming changes that could affect their add-ons. Right now, the onus is on the developer to seek out blogs, forums, etc. to discover such changes.

    A certain symbiotic relationship exists between Mozilla and the developers. One cannot exist without the other.

  10. Mark wrote on :

    I certainly see merit in having new extensions go into an area that allows for initial testing by more experienced users, as long as motivated users are made aware of the existence of the Sandbox in a prominent way. The first version of an extension can certainly be buggy or elicit common complaints from users that should be addressed before the extension is released to a wider audience.

    My main concern however, being an author who has an extension already on the site, is with new versions of my extension. I think subjecting every new version to a Sandbox review process is unnecessary and detrimental. Users don’t receive bug fixes and new features in a timely manner, and the developer does not have as much motivation to fix bugs and add new features.

    Specifically, for extensions that have a large number of users who install the extension from the extension’s homepage, with an active user community that tests new versions outside of addons.mozilla.org, the delay in making new versions public on AMO is very unnecessary. I do see a “Trusted Add-on” status listed in the Sandbox diagram, which may be intended to address this. However, I think the criteria for becoming a Trusted Add-on should be listed, and a self-nomination process added. And I think AMO’s policy toward trusted add-ons should be fairly liberal as I know I’m not the only extension developer whose extension follows these patterns. Example criteria could be:

    1. At least X active users
    2. At least X users who download from the extension’s homepage
    3. The extension author warrants that any version uploaded to AMO has been tested for at least 7 days by users who download from the extension’s homepage
    4. A readily available feedback mechanism is provided to users (email, forums, bug tracker)

    My thoughts on this arrived because of what I’ve seen over the past few weeks when the AMO developer control panel has been locked. I’ve lost count of the number of times a users has contacted me to report a minor bug or ask for a certain feature and I’ve had to tell them “The version on addons.mozilla.org is outdated, please download from the homepage”. It is very demotivating to get a bug report or feature request, work hard and quickly to address it, only to have weeks go by where the majority of users (and almost all new users) do not get the benefit of that work.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I do appreciate the work AMO is doing and I very much hope these concerns will be addressed for the good of extension developers and users alike.

  11. DigDug wrote on :

    I think things are getting a bit confusing here. There are now 3 different “Mozilla” sites I know of for people to place addons that are in development. Mozdev, Mozilla Labs, and this new Sandbox. Each seems to have different strengths and weaknesses, but… well I don’t understand why they’re not working together to do this, rather than each building their own stuff from scratch. I’d love to have one place where I can throw a fledgling idea together, post it, and then get both feedback and patches from users and developers wanting to help it along.

  12. Mime Cuvalo wrote on ::

    Whether the new version is good or bad, time will tell. It’s not like it would be impossible to return to the older version of the site if after, say, a couple months of trying the new site on the general public the consensus was that the older way was better. However, there does seem to be a lot of dissent as to this revision of the site – I hope it doesn’t lead to a “fork” of the site where we start getting developers starting up a separate site and migrating to that.

    I’ll agree with a comment made in a previous post that, really, only the tech-savvy kids will be “playing in the sandbox” due to how hard it is to turn it on and get inside. Which, essentially means those tech-savvy kids would mostly be us theme and extension developers – which means it would boil down to being a peer review system. Which, ok, sounds good in theory – but personally, I’m an extension developer and, while I’d love to be part of that process, I simply wouldn’t have the time to spend on reviewing hundreds of new (and probably buggy and, more worrisome to me, possibly even malicious) extensions/themes.

    As far as raising the bar on extensions and trying to making it easier to find useful ones, I’m all for it. But this can be accomplished simply just with sorting the extensions by number of downloads (forget star ratings – I find those to be useless indicator in any site that uses them) or have a threshold where you would need a certain number of downloads before the extension was kosher. I mean, this is how Digg.com works, right? A story starts out with 1 Digg and builds up from there until it’s a headliner story with 4000 diggs.

    If one of the reasons for the new site was the inability to review so many extensions by a small group of volunteer reviewers – why not hire a couple of people to be paid reviewers? It’s not like Mozilla makes no money at all. Add-ons and themes (at least I like to think) are a big part of Firefox’s charm and, essentially, a part of the Firefox product as a whole. Why not invest some money into it?

    In any case and more importantly, my main question (along with I assume everyone else): any target date as to the re-release of the site? My extension could use some updating (on the old site) and everything’s just been frozen for a while.

  13. docwhat wrote on ::

    First off. I am always thankful to the hard workers on the AMO team, and the other teams that helped out with the attempt rollout AMO on the 22nd/23rd. These are hard working people who deserve our thanks.

    There is a vast difference between giving the downloading user an indicator of quality vs. hiding away extensions preventing updates. See Bug #374406

    The fact that no extdev was notified, that the default was to hide everything, and that users are being treated like babies that had to be protected from themselves are signs that the AMO design team didn’t realize that AMO belongs to the USERS and EXTDEVS, not to them.

    If they change the way AMO works in a way that hinders the USERS and EXTDEVS then the USERS and EXTDEVS will **go someplace else**.

    I realize that AMO can improve this and probably will. But if they were to decide that AMO needs to stay like this, then AMO will be “that little site where a few popular extensions are. ” A new site will crop up that maintains the openness that this community demands and will become the new AMO.

    I have a little piddly extension that not many people use (a thousand downloads over 3 months). Yet I get a flood of support from USERS saying that AMO was broken. A bunch were users that hadn’t used my extension yet!

    AMO is not a Mozilla product marketing site. It’s a community. An *open* community. Treat it as such. It only belongs to the AMO team in that they own the hardware and write the software. Everything else belongs to us.

    Once again. Thanks to the hard working AMO team. I, and every one else, appreciate your hard work. The passion of our arguments is because we feel strongly about this community.

    Ciao!

  14. Thomas wrote on :

    I think that there is a MAJOR DANGER for the future of Firefox Addons if the Sandbox remains in place. In the past a LOT of people very really motivated to invent and develope great addons – they sacrificed their spare-time just for one reason:

    to BECOME POPULAR and RESPECTED with their extensions – with their hard work. And why could all this motivation emerge?!

    BECAUSE Mozilla had given them a platform where you can become famous without being hampered. Like on YouTube you could create something really cool and gain respect and happyness as your downloads/views grow…

    now with the new sandbox – you decided to create a 2-CLASS-SOCIETY – the ones who are already famous with their (really cool) extensions – and everybody else!

    WHY should i bother creating an addon if only 1 out of 1000 people will MAYBE actually notice it !? …

    WHY should i build a better ForecastFox or a better AdBlock Plugin, when the existing ones will be downloaded 1000times more often ??????

    you’re really CUTTING OFF INNOVATION here guys …

    … you probably should start to charge people and companies to active their addons for public appearance – that would be the next logical step

    you may argument now, that the review team will publish cool extensions anyway – but keep in mind:

    – the review process is an act of personal taste, not a democratic decision like sorting by the number of downloads

    – the development of a great extension takes much time and even more feedback in early stages

    -> How should a 1person developer be testing his work on all plattforms / circumstances if not by the help of the community – of his users ? … if the idea is a cool one, the users will forgive him for some bugs – maybe even help him to solve them – this is NOT possible if an early stage development is blocked from the public

    – your scentence “appeal widens to a more mainstream, less computer-savvy audience” could also be read as:

    ” sorry, now that we have success the average ffox user is a dumbass and clicks on every crap he sees – we have to protect him from our developers”

    -> remember that with web 2.0 everything has gone BETA … PUBLIC BETA … what you are doing is going to do with AMO is the microsoft way …

    i’m out

  15. Sailfish wrote on ::

    I am very pleased with this implementation, even though it still doesn’t go far enough in my mind in protecting both the users and the Mozilla Foundation.

    The basic problem is that the Mozilla Foundation is not merely providing links to add-ons but also hosting the files. Irrespective of the grayed small print at the bottom of the page, the fact that they host and promote the add-ons means that they are partially open to suit if a malicious add-on were to have corrupted peoples’ computers. In a litigious world, they have a fiduciary responsibility to insure against this type of mishap in addition to a responsibility to users in maintaining the trust in the product.

    Eventually, I would like to see them go even further and perhaps institute a Public QA level structure where a Bronze means functional positive tested only, Silver means functional positive/negative, stress, performance tested and Gold means all the above plus code peer-reviewed, or some such system.

    With that said, I do agree with others that the Sandbox concept needs more visibility and marketing before it is thrust on the users. The way it is now, many (most?) casual users will not know what happened to the add-ons and become frustrated while trying to find them. One suggestion would be to allow all of them to continue to be seen (and searched for) but for access to those in the sandbox, the user must explicitly click a checkbox where doing so is their acknowledgment of the risks involved and agreeing to not hold the Mozilla Foundation liable from any damages.

    Great work!

  16. MASA wrote on :

    Why exactly did addons.mozilla.org need to change?

    I mean, it was perfectly fine the way it was before. Now it’s too complicated. The sandbox v.s. public, with only like 50 extensions publicly. That’s a statement that says, “Yeah these are the ones we might like but everyone else’s is crap”.

    Why have a sandbox if we don’t show the progress of the extensions in it. There are several extensions in there that still aren’t in public. Currently, this is running slower then the old addons site.

    Replies to other comments:
    @docwhat:
    Your line:

    “There is a vast difference between giving the downloading user an indicator of quality vs. hiding away extensions preventing updates.”

    Is extremely true. Now mozilla how about you think about this, the majority of download sites (even microsoft’s own addon site) has something that states that it has not been tested yet and you are putting the risk on you and blah blah blah. They don’t just hide every piece of software that they haven’t tested. If they did that, then download.com wouldn’t be popular.

    And I agree with the fact that it was extremely unfair that none of the extension developers were notified, except for the ones working on this new site (mrtech and others) got their extensions on the website because they are able to skip the sandbox and just place it right there. In other words, self-promoting. This is like a monopoly, as all the little companies are getting controlled by the big corporate giant.

    In the case of one of my extensions, PhishTank SiteChecker, I have to compete against the current anti-phishing extensions because I want more people to use mine. But if something like WOT gets on the site first, then they get an advantage of being the only anti-phishing extension on the site first, which kicks mine and other users extensions. And it’s unfair. Just like how the site is now sorted. People’s extensions that start with A will get more downloads and will be noticed more then those that start with R or something.

    “If they change the way AMO works in a way that hinders the USERS and EXTDEVS then the USERS and EXTDEVS will **go someplace else**.”

    Like extensionsmirror.nl

    @Thomas:
    Yeah, the sandbox really hurts development and release. Most of the time we need a new build out as quickly as possible because the old one will be obsolete soon (like the service it uses changed urls or something was rewrote to be client side). But we got most of our downloaders from addons.mozilla.org, and very rarely does a user go to the homepage of an extension for an update. So, this causes a bunch of users

    And I like your last line:
    “sorry, now that we have success the average ffox user is a dumbass and clicks on every crap he sees – we have to protect him from our developers”

    @Ngamer01:
    I am pretty sure that amo is a part of the corporate mozilla, not the organization. It has the same exact website theme as corporate. Suggesting that they could be paid to do this. I mean, if it’s ran by volunteers, then state so on the homepage. Plus there is no way (atleast it’s no where on the site) to directly donate to AMO, just mozilla itself.

  17. Tom M. wrote on :

    Firstly – I’ve seen several comments complaining about how their extensions won’t get the numbers or huge downloads in the new system, and this will stifle innovation. My question is: when has writing extensions ever been about numbers? Who cares how many users can see your extension. Write it because it matters to YOU, or it’s something that you think is really useful, or is really cool. If the community agrees, it will become popular, whether it’s listed on the addons site at all. If the fact that your extension might not get on the main addons site and get huge numbers convinces you to not develop your extension, then that’s probably exactly the type of extension that Mozilla would not want to promote in the first place.

    Secondly, the sandbox actually sounds like it could help in getting out releases/patches faster now. If I need to get an important bug fix out for my extension, before I would have to wait possibly several days. Now it can show up immediately in a way that users can retrieve it. I don’t think that it would be too hard to direct users to the sandbox site. That’s one of the complaints I see about the new system – the average user won’t know about the sandbox. So let’s educate them! And let’s face it, a typical Firefox user is anything but average. :)

    So I’d just say, let’s all just try the new system out for awhile and see how it goes. In the end, the Mozilla community would stay strong even without the addons site. AMO is a great benefit to developers and users, but certainly not a requirement to develop and use great extensions. Let’s not treat it as such.

  18. Lazar wrote on ::

    I can add two things to this discussion. Putting a warning sign in the sandbox ‘extension may be extremely dangerous to your computer’ is in my opinion not enough! I think that people should be able to download/view a source code without installing it, and after verifying that it is not dangerous, they can install it. There is an option ‘show source’ in development panel, but it is optional, and as far as I could see, not all files are visible!

    I agree with many users above who said that sandbox system is inhibitor of development. I discovered this extension making thing recently, and have developed my first extension, which is almost as simple as hello world example (http://kb.mozillazine.org/Getting_started_with_extension_development), and it just does not make sense that it has to go thru such a tedious procedure before it gets public. It would be much better, in my opinion, if there was additional rating feature saying by how many developers extension has been reviewed, and how experienced/trusted are those developers.

  19. Lazar wrote on ::

    I take bake my first comment! I just remembered that right clicking on the link will download it instead of installing it. ;o)

  20. Lazar wrote on ::

    :(

    I take back (not bake) my second comment too! There has to be some review before extensions go public, as otherwise, people could just put anything on the site, both very good extensions, or very bad/useless/non-functional ones as there may be people who would just like to have links or advertisements or whatever… Yep, I was wrong in both comments I made. (I’m right in these corrections thought! At least I hope so ;O)

  21. Seth Wagoner wrote on ::

    I’m in favor of most of the changes, and the process by which the decisions were arrived at seemed to be reasonably open if one was paying attention.

    On the whole I’m very impressed with the policy document linked to in the post and I wonder how many of the naysayers have actually read it.

    I can understand the disappointment of some addon authors who are no longer publicly featured, but by reading that policy document they should have fairly good guidance as to what is required to meet the new quality bar, and after doing so they will have a real achievement to boast about, and their users will have a better addon.

    I would also add that debugging user problems will be considerably easier if there is a higher quality bar on AMO, since there will be fewer potential extension conflicts. Obviously the major gain to Firefox is that there will be fewer things going wrong that get blamed on the *browser*, and this will benefit all extension developers in time by helping to grow the userbase.

    Remember Principle 4 of the Draft Manifesto for Mozilla:

    “Individuals’ security on the Internet is fundamental and cannot be treated as optional.”

    AMO is directly linked from inside firefox, and it is added to the list of safe/secure sites to download extensions from by default. So the choices seem clear: (a) stop doing that, so AMO becomes just another extensions site, albeit with official sanction, (b) Abandon/change principle 4 of the manifesto, or (c) Raise the quality bar on AMO.

    I’m glad they are doing (c), and I think it will make everyone happier in the long run even if there is some disappointment in the community right now.

  22. docwhat wrote on ::

    Re: Sailfish

    The basic problem is that the Mozilla Foundation is not merely providing links to add-ons but also hosting the files. Irrespective of the grayed small print at the bottom of the page, the fact that they host and promote the add-ons means that they are partially open to suit if a malicious add-on were to have corrupted peoples’ computers. In a litigious world, they have a fiduciary responsibility to insure against this type of mishap in addition to a responsibility to users in maintaining the trust in the product.

    I am not a lawyer and I doubt you are either. That being said…

    If Mozilla performs editorial control over the plugins, then they become resposible for them. This means that it is their problem if something goes wrong. If they are a little responsible then they should QA the extensions themselves to verify that they are ok. To be sure that a developer is less likely to slip in a sneaky trojan, they should get the developers under contract by paying them. In fact, let’s just follow this to its conclusion … Let’s make AMO only a Mozilla paid developer corporate site.

    The reason AMO is successfull is because there is a community of developers and users who participate. The sandbox’s current design limits participation. It makes the community less open. These are things that will stifle a community.

    It’s the community that is the most valuable thing here. The web site, while requiring lots of hard work to set up and maintain, is replacable. I’m not trying to put the AMO team down, but if they did it, so can someone else. Replacing AMO is not like rewriting Firefox from the ground up.

    If AMO sets up nany rules — rules that treat the users and developers like babies — then users and developers will leave.

    Ciao!

  23. docwhat wrote on ::

    Re: Tom M.

    Firstly – I’ve seen several comments complaining about how their extensions won’t get the numbers or huge downloads in the new system, and this will stifle innovation. My question is: when has writing extensions ever been about numbers? Who cares how many users can see your extension. Write it because it matters to YOU, or it’s something that you think is really useful, or is really cool. If the community agrees, it will become popular, whether it’s listed on the addons site at all. If the fact that your extension might not get on the main addons site and get huge numbers convinces you to not develop your extension, then that’s probably exactly the type of extension that Mozilla would not want to promote in the first place.

    I think you misunderstand which “big numbers” we want here. Personally, I want lots of feedback, not download numbers. A high number of downloads gives me a good feeling but feedback helps me make my extension better. This is how it stifles innovation.

    As for “Write it because it matters to YOU.” — Didn’t your mother teach you to share? Sharing makes you feel good. If sharing makes me feel bad, I’m not going to do it. Why don’t I share every little crappy script I write to administrate a system or solve a one-time problem? Because nobody cares and it won’t make me feel good. It’s not worth my time.

    If someone only writes for themselves, then this discussion isn’t for you. You don’t care about sharing anyway, which is what this about; sharing feedback, bug reports, and extensions.

    If you’re interested in sharing your work with others and getting feedback, then the current sandbox implementation has to change.

    Ciao!

  24. chalcedon wrote on :

    Of course we should be thankful to the AMO Team. They spend a lot of effort providing all the extensions.
    But don’t forget, AMO is nothing without the hundreds (or thousands?) of extension developers. They work hard FOR FREE as well and make Firefox so unique and popular! So please respect the wish of the extdevs to be integrated in major decisions or at least to be informed in detail.

    @Ngamer01: All comments mostly come people who try to help AMO and firefox (mainly developers), so please don’t affront them.

    Thanks

  25. chalcedon wrote on :

    one more thing

    @Tom M.: download numbers are important! If you see that thousands of people have downloaded your extension you feel some kind of responsible to create something good and to make it better and better. this brings a lot of motivation.
    (and of course there is some satisfaction for the developer ;) )

  26. Amsterdammer wrote on :

    Please check:
    missing in the categories “privacy and security” link from en-us ( https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/browse/type:1 ) in the translated German version ( https://addons.mozilla.org/de/firefox/browse/type:1 )

  27. Bullpoo spotter wrote on :

    I am saddened to see what Mozilla is becoming before my eyes.
    I shall talk of themes as they are what I develop.

    I read the above article of lies & see this morning on the new site under themes NOT IN THE SANDBOX that the super mario theme is public yet when I go this theme writers deviant art page he has even pulled it there(da) as Mozilla informed them they were in violation of property rights.
    Yet it is here to download.This is essentially ,slapping the developer for a violation ,that they correct by removal(@at da) & the slapper does not remove(from here) what made them slap.I know slapping is abuse ,when the behavior is allowed to continue.

    Along with super mario ,I see redsoxfox ,Broncofox ,KC Chiefs Theme ,Patriotfox ,DawgFox(University of Georgia) ,officefox(with a trademarked windows image in the preview image) Mega Man II ,tuxof(Unreal Tournament) ,Firefox Vista ,Netscape Windows 3.1,Harley Davidson(I know they frown & sue on use of their name)
    so much for ,”Is the add-on free of unlicensed trademarks or copyrights”? from your policy page!

    BlackAK47(BlackJapan Editted to feature the AK47, with a Blood Lining.)
    So family oriented(I thought that was Mozilla policy) & tastefull.
    Would you allow a serial killer theme to be hosted here?

    I see RedShift V2 Beta(I thought beta’s are for the sandbox?)

    I see all of the fiber themes here(yet they have major bug(CONTEXT MENU BUG) with the right click “save as” popup not disappearing.(so that one needs to drag the download dialog out of the way to access it.) Mozillazine states the The author does not have a homepage or email address listed.
    So much for ,”Are you responsive”? from your policy link!

    Many themes are not even complete as in they do not theme the download box ,options boxes ,dom inspector & error console just to name a few areas of incompleteness.

    I see theme makers here ,ask 4 donations here.
    Lion(s) http://franklion.co.uk/BMV2/BMVLion2.html & Hawke(s) are predators IMO!
    IMO themes are not donationware with copyrights & not 4 redistribution warnings.(donation only is selling! IMO & no redistribution is not open.IMO)
    Apparently this is allowed in the license & might just be the future of all themes & extensions if it is not changed & or frowned upon.IMO do not host any work of people that do this(on their personal sites & link here to the donation links).at AMO as other developers could soon follow suit.
    Give developers credit for their work ,but not your credit card info IMO!

    I am not going to get into a debate on “is selling open source allowed by licence.”(it apparently is)
    I just say that it makes me sad & is frowned upon by most creators that do not charge anything and give their hard work efforts away for free .I see all around the internet people profiting off of Mozilla.From people on ebay to people placing a Firefox ad on their site and getting a $1 if someone clicks & downloads it.

    I am sad & mad @ Mozilla & its current villa.

  28. DeadEnd wrote on :

    Simple user here. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to find most of the extensions I’m using, especially the less-used ones but out of the 43 FF extensions I’ve got, only 4 of them are missing and I was able to find author homepages for 3 of them so… it seems that I kind of worried for nothing. ;)
    I dunno if it’s the right place for leaving feedback but I wanted to say I liked the new site very much. IMHO, it’s better organized and much, much clearer for newbies. To me, one of its best features is the very nifty Dictionaries list. Thanks *a lot* for that. The top Search Bar is a lifesaver too.
    Ratings are deeply missed for now but I like the bigger scale. I’m sure it will make some ratings more meaningful. A question tough: once reviews are added, will ratings be displayed on the add-on page or will we have to click on ‘Reviews’?
    I’m also looking forward to seeing whether the discussions will be useful or not. It has a lot of potential but it could turn ugly as well.

  29. klint wrote on :

    Hello

    Is there a place where we can post the various youth issues or questions we may discover/raise on the new AMO (and also about localization errors) ?

    Here are some already :

    Is there a way to have a different theme (using CSS ?) for the sandbox pages ? the pink download button is not enough… I keep going back to the official pages when navigating in the sand box and I’M LOST !!!

    A major issue for Thunberbird extensions, especially with dictionaries : THERE IS NO EXPLANATION FOR A NEWBIE ABOUT HOW INSTALLING THESE THINGS IN TB ! When clicking on the “Install” button, it goes to Firefox extension manager, of course, not to Thunderbird’s one.

    Apart from that and other misc issues, AMO people have done a great job. Thanks !

  30. Adam wrote on ::

    If you are trying to get rid of extensions that cause issues or are questionable, why not just add some sort of icon/warning on the description page stating that it is a new and untested version until it hits X amount of downloads. I think blocking them from public view completely is not really the best idea. I get some of the best feedback from the general public.

    I have now had an extension in the “Sandbox” for several weeks and has over 100 downloads. It cannot be viewed on the preview site or the normal site, so I don’t even know where to look for it. The only way I can view it is if I logon, so I have no clue how others can see it.

  31. DeadEnd wrote on :

    @ Adam
    Users can view the Sandbox extensions if they log in and select “Show me the sandbox” when they edit their profile. The process is not very intuitive but not *that* hard to figure out either. However, I wish these extensions would still appear in the Search results, even if they remain available only in the Sandbox. It seems like a good compromise.

  32. hashi wrote on :

    What about the “Add-on not found!” thing? (It happens when pressing on links of add-ons that were put in the sandbox).
    At least write an explanation about its transfer to the sandbox

  33. klint wrote on :

    @DeadEnd
    And, reverse, it’s not clear to me if the extension versions that are available on the public site do also appear on the sandbox, being flagged in an apparent manner. Either they should not be listed there, or explicitely marked as already validated…
    And again, the sandbox should be more explicitly different form the public one (the header and the “install” button are different, but once you’ve scrolled down, it’s hard to tell where you are actually !!). A different page background colour would help a lot.
    Thanks

  34. DeadEnd wrote on :

    @klint
    If I remember well, public add-ons do not appear on the Sandbox site. Did you see any? I can’t log in right now so I can’t check.
    I’m with you on making the Sandbox part of the site a bit more distinctive.
    I’m also with you on getting instructions back for installing Thunderbird extensions. I mean 0_o.

  35. CP wrote on :

    This is absurd.
    It was a mess the old way, its a mess this way.
    Its a process of improvements, it wont magically get perfect.

  36. Alain wrote on ::

    As many others here, I’d like to express some frustration with the new version of addons.mozilla.org.

    I understand that it was needed to change the reviewing system to deal with the increasing number of extensions. And I appreciate the hard work put into the whole Mozila project in general and into addons.mozilla.org in particular.

    If extension developers are unhappy with the new site, they will just put their extension somewhere else. Please don’t forget that they, too, are unpaid volunteers and deserve some consideration.

    I really don’t like the new system as it is currently implemented. It seems that only registered users can access the Sandbox and they need special actions to enable and then go the Sandbox. I cannot see how my extension will ever get any review with this system, unless I send email to the many happy users I received mails from and ask them to subscribe, enable the Sandbox, find Nostalgy, submit a review. At least with the old system, people felt responsible for accepting/rejecting extensions. Now, nobody is in charge, and the site really gives no incentive to become a reviewer.

    My suggestion would be to allow anyone to see extensions in the Sandbox by default, with no specific action at all. The search engine should return results from the Sandbox, and only display them with a scary theme and tell the users to be careful, to try the extension at their own risk, and *to submit a review if they like/dislike the extension*. Maybe a sandboxed extension could even require the user to be logged in, in order to be downloaded, but please show the description page to everyone!

    Other things I don’t like:

    – broken links to old extension pages: it doesn’t seem so hard to put a page explaining the new Sandbox system instead, does it?

    – comments seems to have been deleted; I really hope they’ll be back. How do you expect new users to try an extension if they cannot even see comments?

    What I really like is the idea of browsing the source code directly from the site. (However, at least for my extension, the javascript sources are not shown.)

  37. Mitch wrote on ::

    You have also broken a lot of Firefox fan sites as well. I don’t even know how many extensions I have posted about in the past are now resolving to a 404 thanks to the new Web site. Having to re-hunt down extensions hosted alternate places isn’t exactly what I wanted to do start my week doing. Bad move all around.

  38. theykilledfirefox wrote on :

    Will they get the hint from all he negative comments?

  39. David McRitchie wrote on ::

    I expect the problems will turn out to be not that bad. I don’t like the idea of having to login and
    hope that will not affect Google searches for extensions and logging in will not be helpful to people who just want to install something.

    I really like the fact that someone can come up with a simple original idea that really works and get it up and available and clearly visible before the copycats hit. Hope that will still be the case.

    Even when an extension becomes obsolete and it’s features are builtin there is still things to be seen in the documentation which is sometimes better, and often was a lot more robust and had more planning than the builtin version by a different developer. I would not like to see such documentation and old extensions actually disappear.

    There has always been different levels of acceptance, and places to find extensions:
    http://addons.mozilla.org the place to be,
    http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/ next best,

    and author sites & blogs with extensions,
    and user informaton webpages (such as mine) & blogs.

    I hope that the ratings within the sandbox do not become popularity contests. You can look at ratings on accepted addons and see that a zero rating by someone who can’t read can really affect ratings, and many negatives are misinterpretations or corrected but the ratings are still affected permanently.

  40. Yasha Karant wrote on :

    I was trying to download the Firefox 2 add-on getmail that more or less restores the Firefox 1 mail widget button to Firefox 2. This add-on is now in the “sandbox” and when I attemtp to get it, I get the message:
    The add-on you’re looking for is in the sandbox, which you do not have enabled in your user preferences.
    but I can find how to enable the sandbox? I looked at the GUI Firefox interface Edit then Preferences, but no sign of any widget that enables searching the sandbox.

  41. Charlie wrote on :

    The folks over at Mozilla neglected to tell Firefox users how to enable the sandbox to see extensions that are in the sandbox. This is how you do it:

    1. Go to https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/
    and click on “Register” to sign up for a Mozilla account and confirm it from your email account.

    2. Click on “Login” to login and then click on “My Account” which will take you to the web page:
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/users/edit

    3. The fifth option in the Firefox Profiles page is “Show sandbox?”. Check this box to enable the sandbox and then click on “Save”

    4. Now you can browse, search and install extensions that are in the Mozilla Extensions Sandbox. Go here to see a list of extensions in the sandbox:

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addons/home/status:1

  42. Xad wrote on :

    When i log in and go to the account setting, the Sandbox setting isn’t there. It just has things about username, password, email but no Sandbox related stuff. Have they changed things around? I’ve been going round in circles looking for ways to get the option to appear on my accounts section, but no luck.

  43. Veg wrote on :

    I agree with Xad, I’ve been running circles trying to find the “sandbox” option. Can someone help me please?

  44. Rich wrote on :

    I am in the same boat as Xad. The only check box on the “My Account” page is “Hide email address.” I’ve been searching all day, and I’ve come up with nothing. Looking through other forums, I see that Xad and I are not alone. SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP!