Army of Awesome’s Retirement and Mozilla Social Support’s Participation Outreach

Twitter is a social network used by millions of users around the world for many reasons – and this include helping Firefox users when they need it. If you have a Twitter account, you like to help people, you like to share your knowledge, and want to be a Social Support member of Firefox – join us!

We aim to have the engine that has been powering Army of Awesome (AoA) officially disabled before the end of 2017. To continue with the incredible work that has been accomplished for several years, we plan a new approach to supporting users on Twitter using TweetDeck.

TweetDeck is a web tool made available by Twitter allowing you to post to your timeline and manage your user profile within the social network, additionally boasting several features and filters to improve the general experience.

Through the application of filters in TweetDeck you can view comments, questions, and problems of Firefox users. Utilizing simple, but at the same time rather advanced tools, we can offer quality support to the users right where they are.

If you are interested, please take a look at the guidelines of the project, that take careful note of the successes and failures of past programs. Once you are filled with amazing-ness of the guidelines, fill out this form with your email and we will send you more information about everything you need to know about the program’s mutual purpose. After completing the form you can start configuring TweetDeck to display the issues to be answered and users to be helped.

We are sure you will have an incredible experience for all of you who are passionate about Mozilla and Twitter – and we can hardly wait to see the great results of your actions!

Important Platform Update

Hello, SUMO Mozillians!

We have an important update regarding our site to share with you, so grab something cold/hot to drink (depending on your climate), sit down, and give us your attention for the next few minutes.

As you know, we have been hard at work for quite some time now migrating the site over to a new platform. You were a part of the process from day one (since we knew we needed to find a replacement for Kitsune) and we would like to once more thank you for your participation throughout that challenging and demanding period. Many of you have given us feedback or lent a hand with testing, checking, cleaning up, and generally supporting our small team before, during, and after the migration.

Over time and due to technical difficulties beyond our team’s direct control, we decided to ‘roll back’ to Kitsune to better support the upcoming releases of Firefox and related Mozilla products.

The date of ‘rolling forward’ to Lithium was to be decided based on the outcome of leadership negotiations of contract terms and the solving of technical issues (such as redirects, content display, and localization flows, for example) by teams from both sides working together.

In the meantime, we have been using Kitsune to serve content to users and provide forum support.

We would like to inform you that a decision has been made on Mozilla’s side to keep using Kitsune for the foreseeable future. Our team will investigate alternative options to improve and update Mozilla’s support for our users and ways to empower your contributions in that area.

What are the reasons behind this decision?

  1. Technical challenges in shaping Lithium’s platform to meet all of Mozilla’s user support needs.
  2. The contributor community’s feedback and requirements for contributing comfortably.
  3. The upcoming major releases for Firefox (and related products) requiring a smooth and uninterrupted user experience while accessing support resources.

What are the immediate implications of this decision?

  1. Mozilla will not be proceeding with a full ‘roll forward’ of SUMO to Lithium at this time. All open Lithium-related Bugzilla requests will be re-evaluated and may be closed as part of our next sprint (after the San Francisco All Hands).
  2. SUMO is going to remain on Kitsune for both support forum and knowledge base needs for now. Social support will continue on Respond.
  3. The SUMO team is going to kick off a reevaluation process for Kitsune’s technical status and requirements with the help of Mozilla’s IT team. This will include evaluating options of using Kitsune in combination with other tools/platforms to provide support for our users and contribution opportunities for Mozillians.

If you have questions about this update or want to discuss it, please use our community forums.

We are, as always, relying on your time and effort in successfully supporting millions of Mozilla’s software users and fans around the world. Thank you for your ongoing participation in making the open web better!

Sincerely yours,

The SUMO team

P.S. Watch the video from the first day of the SFO All Hands if you want to see us discuss the above (and not only).

 

Event Report: SUMO Community Meeting – Abidjan (3-4 June 2017)

Hey there, SUMO Nation!

You may remember Abbackar’s previous post about meetings in Ivory Coast. I am very happy to inform you that the community there is going strong and keeps support Mozilla’s mission. Read Abbackar’s report from the recent meeting in Abidjan below.

On the weekend of 3rd and 4th of June, the community members of Côte d’Ivoire met in Abidjan for a SUMO Community Meetup. The event was attended by 21 people, six of who were new contributors, interested in participating in Mozilla’s mission through SUMO.

The Saturday meeting started at 9 and went on for six hours, with a small lunch break. During that time we talked about the state of SUMO and the Mozilla updates that had an influence for our community over the past months.

We also introduced new contributors to the website and the philosophy of SUMO – as well as the Respond social support tool. New contributors had a chance to see both sites in action, learn how they worked and discuss their future contributions.

After that, we had a practical session in Respond, allowing existing and new contributors to exchange knowledge and experiences.

An important fact to mention is that the computer we used for the event is a “Jerry” – a computer in a can – made from recycled materials and recycled by our community members.

After the training and a session of answering questions, we ended the first day of the meetup.

Sunday started with the analysis of the 2016 balance sheet and a discussion of our community’s roadmap for 2017. We talked about ways of increasing our community engagement in SUMO in 2017. Several solutions were discussed at length, allowing us to share and assign tasks to people present at the event.

We decided to train together on a single theme each month to increase focus. We also acknowledged the cancellation of our Nouchi localization project, due to the difficulties with creating a new technical vocabulary within that language. Our localization efforts will be focused on French from now on.

The Sunday lunch had in a great atmosphere as we shared a local dish called garba. The meeting ended with a Q&A session focused on addressing the concerns and doubts of the new contributors.

The meeting in Abidjan was a great opportunity to catch up, discuss the most recent updates, motivate existing contributors and recruit new ones for Mozilla’s mission. We ended the whole event with a family photo of all the people present.

We are all looking forward to the second session in the Bouake, in the center of Côte d’Ivoire.

We are humbled and grateful for the effort and passion of the community in Ivory Coast. Thank you for your inspiring report and local leadership, Abbackar :-) Onwards and forwards, to Bouake!

Platform update & Q&A

Hey there, SUMO Nation!

As you may have noticed, we are (for the time being) back to the previous engine powering the support site at support.mozilla.org

You can follow the latest updates and participate in the discussion about this here.

We are definitely present and following this discussion, noting your concerns and questions. We can provide you with answers and reassurance, even if we do not have ready-made solutions to some of the issues you are highlighting.

Since some of you may not be frequently visiting the forums, we would also like to make sure you can find the answers to some of the more burning questions asked across our community here, on our blog.

Q: Why is Mozilla no longer interested in using Kitsune, its own support platform?

The software engineers and project managers developing Kitsune were shifted to work on critical development needs in the Firefox browser. Kitsune also had only a handful of contributors to the code base. After calculating the time and money requirements for maintaining our own platform, which were considerable and might have entailed a major overhaul, Mozilla decided that using an third-party solution was a better investment for the long term future of Mozilla’s support needs. (To be honest, it was one of the hardest decisions we have made.) We also considered that Lithium has significant ongoing software development which we think will lead to faster feature improvements than we might have achieved internally with Kitsune.

Q: Why is the new support platform still not providing all the functionality available in Kitsune?

Kitsune had been customized and hand-crafted from scratch by Mozillians and for Mozillians over a period of eight years.

No other platform in the market can offer the same level of compatibility with Mozilla’s mission and contribution methods without a serious investment of time and development power.

We have been working with Lithium for an extended period of time on matching the core functionality of Kitsune. This is a complex, lengthy, and ongoing process.

Due to technical differences in development and deployment of features between both platforms, complete feature parity may not be possible. We promise that over time we will push aggressively to close the feature gap and even to develop useful new features that were not present in Kitsune. We understand that many in the community feel that Kitsune is a better option and there are many things we love about Kitsune. We are hopeful that Lithium will grow on you and ultimately surpass Kitsune.

Q: How will you ensure that Mozilla’s image is not negatively influenced by issues with the support site now and in the future?

We will do our very best to provide the best support site and the best workflows we can for the budget that we are allocated for support technology and tools. We are extremely serious about maintaining Mozilla’s good image and working with our community and users to ensure that Mozilla is viewed positively. We realize that changes in software and workflows may not work equally well for everyone but we will do our best to help. We always have and always will appreciate the contributions from you, our community – and that users choose to browse on Firefox.

Q: What can the community members do to help any of the above now and in the future?

First of all, please continue to contribute your time and hard work answering user questions. It’s the most valuable contribution you can make and one we greatly appreciate. Thank you.

Second, your ideas on how to improve the Mozilla support platform are something we always listen closely to, as you are in the system as much as we are. These can be new features or improvements to existing features (or adding back in older features), including improvements to the Lithium platform. We can’t promise that we will be able to include all requests in our roadmap but the community does drive our priorities and inform our decisions.

Please add these requests into the Platform meeting notes or file feature requests through Bugzilla (and make sure they are assigned to us.) Please note that we already have several feature improvements lined up for development and deployment by Lithium. We will do what we can to keep the information flowing back and forth in a clear and organized manner.

As always, thank you for your continuous presence and support of Mozilla’s mission. We can’t make it happen without you.

All the best to you all!

The SUMO Team on behalf of Mozilla

Guest post: “That Bug about Mobile Bookmarks”

Hi, SUMO Nation!

Time for a guest blog post by Seburo – one of our “regulars”, who wanted to share a very personal story about Firefox with all of you. He originally posted in on Mozilla’s Discourse, but the more people it reaches, the better. Thank you for sharing, Seburo! (As always, if you want to post something to our blog about your Mozilla and/or SUMO adventures and experiences, let us know.)

Here we go…

 

As a Mozillian I like to set myself goals and targets. It helps me to plan what I would like to do and to ensure that I am constantly focusing on activities that help Mozilla as well as maintain a level of contribution. But under these “public” goals are a number of things that are more long term, that are possible and have been done by many Mozillians, but for me just seem a little out of reach. If you were to see the list, it may seem a little odd and possibly a little egotistical, even laughable, but however impossible some of them are, they serve as a reminder of what I may be able to achieve.

This blog entry is about me achieving one of them…

In the time leading up to the London All-Hands, I had been invited by a fellow SUMO contributor to attend a breakfast meeting to learn more about the plans around Nightly. This clashed with another breakfast meeting between SUMO and Sync to continue to work to improve our support for this great and useful feature of Firefox. Not wanting to upset anyone, I went with the first invite, but hoped to catch up with members of the Sync team during the week.

Having spent the morning better understanding how SUMO fits into the larger corporate structure, I made use of the open time in the schedule to visit the Firefox Homeroom which was based in a basement meeting room, home for the week to all the alchemists and magicians that bring Mozilla software to life. It was on the way back up the stairs that I bumped into Mark from the Firefox Desktop team. Expecting to arrange some time for later in the week, Mark was free to have a chat there and then.

Sync is straightforward when used to connect desktop and mobile versions of Firefox but I wanted to better understand how it would work if a third device was included. It was at the end of the conversation that one of us mentioned about how the bookmarks coming to desktop Firefox could be seen in the Mobile Bookmarks folder in the bookmark drop down menus. But it is not there, which can make it look like your bookmarks have disappeared. Sure, you can open the bookmark library, but this is extra mouse clicks to open a separate tool. Mark suggested that this could be easy to fix and that I should file a bug, a task that duly went in the list of things to do on returning from the week.

A key goal for contributors at an All-Hands is to come back with a number of ways to build upon your ability to contribute in the future and I came back with a long list that took time to work through. The bug was also delayed in filing due to natural pessimism about its chances of success. But I realised…what if we all thought like that? All things that we have done started with someone having an idea that was put forward knowing that other ideas had failed, but they still went ahead regardless.

So I wrote a bug and submitted it and nothing much happened. But after a while there was a spark of activity. Thom from the Sync team had decided to resolve it and seemed to fully understand how this could work. The bug was assigned various flags and it soon became clear to me that work was being done on it. Not having any coding ability, I was not able to provide any real help to Thom aside from positive feedback to an early mock up of how the user experience would look. But to be honest, I was too nervous to say much more. A number of projects I had come back from MozLondon with had fallen through and I did not say anything much that could “jinx it” and it not proceed.

A few months passed after which I started getting copied in on bugmail about code needing review with links to systems I barely knew existed. And there, partway down a page were two words:

Ship It.

I know that these words are not unusual for many people at Mozilla, indeed their very existence is one of the reasons that many staff turn on their computers (the other is probably cat gifs), but for me it was the culmination of something that I never thought would happen. The sobriety of this moment increased with the release of Nightly 54 – I could actually see and use what Thom and Mark had spent time and effort crafting. If you use version 54 (which is currently Firefox Developer Edition) and use Firefox Sync, you should now see a “Mobile Bookmarks” folder in the drop down from the menu bar and from the toolbar. This folder is an easier way for you to access the bookmarks that you have saved on the bus, in the pub, on the train or during that really boring meeting you thought would never end.

I never thought that I would be able to influence the Firefox end product, and I had in a very small way. Whilst full credit should go to Thom and Mark and the Sync team for building this and those who herded and QA’d the bug (never forget these people, their work is vital), credit should also go to the SUMO team for enabling me to be a position to understand the user perspective to help make Sync work for more users. Sync is a great feature of Firefox and one that I hope can be improved and enhanced further.

I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading this little story, but I hope that you have learned from it and that those learnings will help you as a contributor. In particular:

  • Have goals, however impossible.
  • Contribute your ideas. Nobody else in the world has the same idea as you and imagines it in the same way.
  • Work outside of your own team, build bridges to other areas.
  • Use Nightly and (if you also use a mobile version of Firefox) use it with Firefox Sync.
  • Be respectful of Mozilla staff as they are at work and they are busy people, but also be prepared to be in awe of their awesomeness.

Whilst this was (I have been told) a simple piece of code, the result for me was to see a feature in Firefox that I helped make happen. Along the way, I have broadened my understanding of the effort that goes into Firefox but I can also see that some of the bigger goals I have are achievable.

There is still so much I want to do.