Celebrating our community: 10 years of the Reps Program
Mozilla has always been about community and understanding that the internet is a better place when we work together. Ten years ago, Mozilla created the Reps program to add structure to our regional programs, further building off of our open source foundation. Over the last decade, the program has helped activate local communities in over 50 countries, tested Mozilla products and launches before they were released to the public, and collaborated on some of our biggest projects.
The last decade also has seen big shifts in technology, and it has only made us at Mozilla more thankful for our volunteers and more secure in our belief that community and collaboration are key to making a better internet.
“As the threats to a healthy internet persist, our network of collaborative communities and contributors continues to provide an essential role in helping us make it better,” said Mitchell Baker, CEO and Chairwoman of Mozilla. “These passionate Mozillians give up their time to educate, empower and mobilize others to support Mozilla’s mission and expand the impact of the open source ecosystem – a critical part of making the internet more accessible and better than how they found it.”
Ahead of our 10 year anniversary virtual celebration for the Reps Mozilla program, or ReMo for short, we connected with six of the 205 current reps to talk about their favorite parts of the internet, why community is so important, and where the Reps program can go from here.
Please introduce yourself! What community do you represent and how long have you been in the Mozilla Reps program?
Ioana Chiorean: I am the Reps Module Owner at this time. I am part of Mozilla Romania, but have always been involved in technical communities directly, like QA, Firefox OS and support. My latest roles have been more on the advocacy side as Tech Speaker and building the Reps community. I’ve been in the Reps program since 2011.
Irvin Chen: I’m a Mozilla Rep from Taipei, Taiwan. I’m representing the Mozilla Taiwan Community, one of the oldest Mozilla communities.
Lidya Christina: I’m a Mozilla Reps from Jakarta, Indonesia. I’ve been involved in the Reps program for more than two years now. I am also part of the review and resources team, provide operational support for the Mozilla community space in Jakarta, and a translator for the Mozilla localization project.
Michael Kohler: I have been part of the Reps program since 2012, and I am currently a Reps Peer helping out with strategy-related topics within the Reps program. After organizing events and building the community in Switzerland, I moved to Berlin in 2018 and started to help there. In the past 13 years I have worked on different Mozilla products such as Firefox, Firefox OS and Common Voice.
Pranshu Khanna: I’m Pranshu Khanna, a Reps Council Member for the current term and a Rep from Mozilla Gujarat. I started my journey as a Firefox Student Ambassador from an event in January 2016, where my first contribution was to introduce the world of Open Source to over 150 college students. Since then, I’ve spoken to thousands of people about privacy, open web and open source to people across the world and have been a part of hundreds of events, programs and initiatives.
Robert Sayles: Currently, I reside in Dallas, Texas, and I represent the North American community. I first joined the Mozilla Reps program in 2012, focusing mainly on my volunteer contribution to the Mozilla Festival Volunteer Coordinator 2013.
What part of the internet do you get the most joy from?
Irvin: For me, the most exciting thing about the internet is that no matter who you are or where you are located, you can always find and make some friends on the internet. For example, apart from each other, we could still collaborate online and successfully host the release party of Firefox in early 2000. Mozilla gives us, the local community contributors, the opportunity to participate, contribute and learn from each other on a global scale.
Michael: Nyan Cat is probably the part of the internet that I get most joy from. Kidding aside, for me the best part of the internet is probably the possibility to learn new astonishing facts about things I otherwise would never have looked up. All the knowledge is a few clicks away.
Pranshu: The most joyful moments from the internet have always come from being connected to people. It was 2006, and the ability to be on chat boards on a dial-up modem on 256Kbps to connect with people about anything, and scraping people on Orkut (remember that?). It’s been a ride, and now I speak to my mother everyday through FaceTime who is thousands of miles away and to my colleagues across the world. I would have been a kid in a small town in India who would not have imagined a world this big without the internet. It helped me embrace the idea of open knowledge and learn so much.
Why did you join the Mozilla family?
Lidya: I started in 2016, when I attended an offline localization event at the Mozilla community space in Jakarta for the first time. I have continued to be involved in localization (L10N) events since then, and I also joined the Mozilla Indonesia community to help manage events and the community space in Jakarta.
What makes me really engage with the community is that I appreciate that it is a supportive environment where the opportunities to learn (locally and globally) are wide.
Michael: When I was in high school one of my teachers was a Firefox contributor. At some point he showed us what he is working on and that got me hooked into Mozilla. Already back then I had a big interest in open source, however it hadn’t occurred to me to contribute until that moment. I was mostly impressed by the kindness and willingness to help volunteers to contribute to Mozilla’s mission and products. I didn’t have much in-person contact with the community for the first three years, but the more I got to know many more Mozillians all around the world, the more I felt like I belonged in this community. I have found friends from all over the world due to my involvement with Mozilla!
Pranshu: Roots. Mozilla has its roots in activism since the time the internet was born, and my connection with the Mozilla manifesto was instant. I realized that it wasn’t just marketing fluff since this is a community built with passion like the company is, from a small community of developers working to build not just a browser, but user’s freedom of choice. Mozilla’s community is important to how it started and where it’s being taken, and — if you’re committed to be a part of the journey — shape the future of the internet. I have been a part of protesting Aadhaar for user privacy, building India’s National Privacy Law, mentor Open Source Leaders, and much much more. I’m so grateful for being a part of this family that genuinely wants to help people fall in love with what they are doing.
What is your favorite Mozilla product or Firefox project, and why?
Lidya: Beside the browser, my top favorite project/product are Pontoon (localization tool) and Firefox Monitor to get notified if my account was part of a data breach or not.
Michael: My favorite Mozilla product got to be Firefox. I’ve been a Firefox user for a long time and since 2008 I’ve been using Firefox Nightly (appropriately called “Minefield” back then). Since then I have been an avid advocate for Firefox and suggested Firefox to everyone who wasn’t already using Firefox. Thanks to Firefox my software engineering knowledge grew over time and up to this day has helped me in my career. And all that of course apart from being the window to the online world!
Pranshu: I love Common Voice! If I could use emojis, this would be filled with hearts. Common Voice is such a noble project to help people around the world give a voice. The beauty of the project is how it democratizes locales and gives people across all demographics a voice in the binary technological world.
Robert: I enjoyed working with Firefox Flicks many moons ago; as a Mozilla Rep, I had the privilege of interacting with the many talented creators and exploring how they were able to express themselves; I thought it was fantastic.
Mozilla uses the term “community” quite a bit, and it means different things to different people – what does the Mozilla community mean to you?
Ioana: For me, it literally means the people. Especially those that dedicate their free time to help others, to volunteer. It is the place I grew up as a professional and learned so much about different cultures worldwide.
Pranshu: The Mozilla community is my family. I’ve met so many people across the world who passionately believe in the open web. This is a very different ecosystem than what the world considers a community, we are really close to each other. After all, doing good is a part of all of our code.
Robert: Mozilla community means everyone brings something different to the table; I have witnessed a powerful movement over the years. When everyone gets together and brings their knowledge to the table, we can make a difference in the world.
How has the ReMo program evolved over the past decade, and where do you think the program is headed?
Irvin: The Reps program had played an important role in connecting the isolated local communities. With regular meetups and events, we can meet with each other, receive regular updates from various projects, and collaborate on different efforts. As a community with years of history, we can extend our help beyond local users to foreign Mozillians by sharing our experience, such as experiences on community building, planning events, setting up the local website…etc.
Michael: In the past years Reps continued to provide important knowledge about their regions, such as organizing bug hunting events to test local websites to make sure they work for Firefox Quantum. There would have been quite a few bugs without the volunteers testing local websites that Mozilla employees wouldn’t have been able to test themselves. Additionally, Reps have always been great at coordinating communities and helping out with conflicts in the community.
I see a bright future for the Reps program. Mozilla can do so much more with the help of volunteers. Mozilla Reps is the perfect program to help coordinate, find and grow communities to advance Mozilla’s vision and mission over the coming years to come.
Pranshu: In the last decade the ReMo program has evolved from helping people to read, write and build on the internet to making the ecosystem better through creating leaders and helping users focus on their privacy. The program is headed to create pillars in the society that are committed to catalyse collaboration amongst diverse communities together for the common good, destroying silos that divide people. ReMo has Reps across the world, and I can imagine the community building great things together.