#5 State of Mozilla Support: 2018 Mid-year Update – Part 5

Hello, present and future Mozillians!

We are happy to share with you the final post of the series, which started with two external research report analyses, moved on to sharing updates and plans for support forums, social support, and localization, and now is about to conclude with our strategic summary.

The presentation that is the source of this post can be accessed here. The document is meant to be a set of recommendations for the Marketing team’s leadership as to the state and direction of Support (the Support team being a part of Marketing as of mid-2018).

An important disclaimer before we dive into the summary: as it is customary with projects and ideas, everything described below as a future move or plan is not set in stone and may not happen or can significantly change in nature or details, depending on many factors. That said, this summary should give you a general idea on where we are coming from and where we are headed to as Mozilla’s Support.

The recommendations are a result of external research, data analysis, and recent experiments. In general, we learned that:

  • Our site is not delivering optimal support the way it could (when compared to other support sites)
  • Our approach should probably be more tuned to specific product requirements (not a “one-size-fits-all” way of doing things)
  • Our community is stretched to its limits and needs more support and growth
  • We need to look into alternative approaches and experimental methods that may contradict our “old ways”
  • We can and should participate in shaping product development through the insights our community and users provide

Thus, the Support vision within Mozilla is evolving from “Partner with the Mozilla community to maximize user success and happiness.” into “People seek out support when they have a problem while using our products. We need to be there for them in ways they expect and in unexpected ways that will delight. We deliver product support that earns user’s trust, helps them take control, and empowers them to do more online.”

There is no reason for alarm due to the “Mozilla community” part missing from the updated vision. Just like all of Mozilla, Support happens in a huge part thanks to the tireless engagement of hundreds of people around the world. Going forward, the community should not be its only engine and driver. Meanwhile, the focus on the user through many different means (sometimes experimental) is at the core of Support’s vision for 2018 and beyond.

Further integration of Support into Mozilla’s overall product strategy means consciously diversifying between solid support for our flagship product (Firefox) while being agile and flexible about new and challenging projects coming from different parts of Mozilla that require support – be it Knowledge Base, Social, support forums, 1:1 or any other format.

For Firefox support, this means focusing on what we already know works and making it work better. For new products, we may want to try new ways of delivering support that step outside of what we have been doing so far. These new, experimental ways may be later expanded into Firefox support. On both fronts, Support will also focus on delivering interesting and impactful insights that shape what the future of Mozilla’s products.

The above is broken down into five separate recommendations, described in more detail below.

Securing the foundation

With a huge number of users visiting the Support site every day for quality help powered by a small group of core contributors, we do not have a stable and solid foundation at the moment.

To avoid running into a one-way street and not delivering support to our users, we want to develop and redesign our community approach with the help of the Open Innovation team. This will come through a series of research explorations and experiments taking place in 2018.

The platform itself should also receive a few tweaks thanks to a more streamlined support from the Marketing Developer team.

Some of the options considered for this segment are:

  • Contextual recognition and unobtrusive gamification for our existing core contributors.
  • Prototyping a DIY learning program and experimenting with changing community communication channels.
  • Combining community coordination with Mission Driven Mozillians and the core Localization team.
  • Experimenting with pay-per-use services as backups.
  • Investing time and resources into pushing Social support to a new level.

Improving user experience

The Support site has not been reviewed or streamlined for user experience in the recent years, resulting in its current design being dated and hard to navigate. With site search hobbled by technical challenges and lack of development, the old information architecture is not enough to help users find the information they need.

Researching the site’s usability and reworking its visual appeal are key to changing the current state. For this to happen, we need to have technical and visual experts within Mozilla make the experience both modern and in-tune with Mozilla’s new aesthetics and back-end requirements.

As is the case in the most recent years around the web, mobile formats keep being an important part of the user experience, so improving site performance for those on mobile devices is definitely a priority in the coming months.

Improving search (both within the site and as SEO for popular 3rd party search engines out there) is also a priority, although we are doing moderately well when it comes to content discovery on the Support site from the wider web.

An interesting direction of experimentation is the idea of having separate product support sites that may all fall under the Support umbrella, but with different content organization and presentation. This is in very early stages of discussion, so at the moment we can’t offer any more details.

The entire process should be as transparent and agile as we can make it, but ultimately it will involve some tough calls on what we need to change that may be outside of the hands of the community. We hope you trust us enough to make the site better based on the data and research available during the redesign period.

Delivering insights, mapping impact

Over the years, we have amassed quite a big stash of data that (if used with the right focus and purpose) could help us make the Support site itself much better, but also help the teams working on Mozilla’s products make well-informed decisions about development and patching priorities.

What we are finding challenging without additional resources is surfacing and organizing all of this data into a coherent set of insights.

For this to happen, we first could prototype improving internal reporting and automate as much of it as possible if the prototype reports prove useful.

Reworking some of our key metrics (for example through adding Customer Satisfaction measurement in all places where Support happens) and improving the technical side of reporting (through deployment of new community dashboards based on Bitergia) is another set of potential developments in this area.

All of the insights gathered and forwarded to either the developers or community members should help us connect the influence Support activities and resources with user retention or other relevant product metrics.

For the above to happen, we need to work on identifying product metrics that the Product teams need from us and then expand the existing dashboards with additional data or representation methods.

Experimenting with new methods

At this moment, the only way support.mozilla.org stays active and useful is through the tireless and humbling engagement by our community members, who easily belong among the most ardent fans of Mozilla’s vision of the web.

This tried and tested method of providing support is not going away – but in order to adapt to the new directions Mozilla wants to explore, Support needs to flex a bit and get out of its “comfort zone”. New challenges mean new approaches, so there is a lot of space for trying things out (and succeeding or failing – we want to be ready for both options!).

What could some of those brave new worlds we want to explore be? The Google App Store experiment worked out quite well, so going further down that road is definitely on the table as an option.

Getting a friendly robotic mind to help out from time to time is also in tune with the future. Automated (but friendly!) support options could include email queues or chatbots. But code is not our only ally out there – we can also consider stepping outside of support.mozilla.org and reaching out with more resources to external communities (for example Reddit’s /r/firefox).

Finally, another area to explore, albeit quite costly from the perspective of time and resource investments, can be found on YouTube, where many people look for instructional or “useful tips” content.

Since these new areas need a lot of preparation, the rest of 2018 is an exploratory and brainstorming period in that respect, with more to come in 2019, especially through collaboration with Open Innovation on participation systems and alternative approaches.

Customizing product support

You could say that Firefox is the flagship product of Mozilla at this moment – and you would not be wrong at all. Even so, it has many faces and aspects that very often require slightly different approaches. But Firefox is not everything that Mozilla plans to offer in the (near) future. New products may benefit more from support solutions that have not been used on support.mozilla.org yet.

With the upcoming new flavours of Firefox and products beyond that, we might want to consider creating customized support strategies and tools for communities (but not only) to get involved through.

Giving new tools and new approaches a chance requires a very good understanding of where we are and where we could easily get without overinvesting time and energy in a complete overhaul of Support. It also means partnering much closers with Product teams on their needs and engagement with Support in the future.

As this is yet another area we are hoping to boldly go into (but have little experience as of now), it’s targeted mostly for next year, rather than 2018.

What are we NOT planning on doing?

Now that you know a bit more and you may start wondering “how could all this possible happen?” (don’t worry, you’re not the only one asking that question), it is good to make sure that we make clear what is not going to happen in the near future.

We are not planning to significantly redesign the current contribution experience and tools on support.mozilla.org (the idea is rather to expand or synthesize it).

We are also not going to invest time and effort into replacing the current support platform, since we have not fully explored its potential yet.

…and more

Being a part of Mozilla is exciting and challenging at all times – and the future is not going to bring anything less ;-) In 2018 and afterwards, the Support site is going to be involved in and impacted by the changes to Firefox as a brand (and as a bundle of interconnected products and services that are not only the browser itself), as well as the continuous integration of Pocket into Mozilla (which means expanding its available locales). Our platform will need to be revised and updated accordingly to match the requirements of the road ahead.

Whatever future steps we take or directions we look into, we want you to be a part of that journey. Together, we have gone through quite a few bumpy moments, and not having you as part of our community would make reaching new horizons harder and less fun. As always, we want to thank you for being there for users worldwide and for making Mozilla (and its Support) happen.

Onwards, towards the exciting unknown! :-)

State of Mozilla Support: 2018 Mid-year Update – Part 4

The San Francisco 2018 All Hands flew by and so did the last two months. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have been able to attend this event.

If I were to look back on some of the highlights, they would be pretty nitty gritty detailed. But I will share with you a few of them.

Meeting jscher2000 in person was quite an amazing experience. He is one of the contributors around the Mozilla Support Community present for over 10 years. He is certainly a people person, cares so much about helping the user with the easiest course of action to a better Firefox experience and continues to enjoy being a part of the community. Aside from him only being able to attend one day of the week, the interactions between him and the other contributors that were invited to attend were priceless. Many conversations that you may read from behind your computer on [https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/forums/contributors this webpage] came to life during that one day.

My second favorite highlight was meeting some of the French community – Pascal and Christophe. They showed me a lot of the content that they bring to events around France and the world to talk about Firefox VR development, Firefox FR support on social networks, and many other open source projects around the French community. Did you know they have had their own forum since before SUMO? (I hear some chuckles in the background) I also learned a lot about their culture and that many of their users are regular users just like you and me. (Compared to some of the power user communities out there) It opened my eyes to the many different communities all over the internet that provide help to Firefox users.

My third and final was talking to Cynthia and Noah about the upcoming motivations for the SUMO community and the engagement in the social program. During that hour we came up with different ideas on how to engage more people in the program and some of the ideas that they wanted to see happen as more contributors joined the program. (I know we have it on a post-it somewhere.)

(Also, don’t forget some of you went to In-n-Out for the first time! And I heard that some people tried riding electric bikes across the Golden Gate bridge on a nice brisk day! I am so happy that community members had this bonding experience!)

1: 1 SUMO help right now:

If you ever get an invitation to an All Hands, please go if you can. Witnessing the CIID research drive the SUMO team with Open Innovation to help prioritize experiments and projects for the second half of this year side by side with the community was amazing.  These experiments are what is driving the community discussions right now.  I would highly recommend you check them out as a member of the Mozilla Support Community. Please subscribe to them so you never miss an update.

At the SF All Hands, decisions were also made and are currently in the works. The projects that were prioritized in these discussions help these three SUMO objectives: improve community self-sufficiency, deliver support models for new products and support channels, increase returning user satisfaction when asking for user support.

So you may see the CSAT survey on the sumo site start to work again. You may see discussions around top user issue and see more reports around product releases. You may see a second experiment around Google Play Store reviews and you may see support channels for these new products become part of the support conversations on IRC or in the forums. New contributors are being recruited to help with mobile support, as well as helping monitor new experiments on social media and in the forums. The support is expanding beyond desktop, but also focusing on satisfying users with quality answers to encourage their return and continuous use of Firefox.

Mozilla and Marketing are focused on keeping the Firefox Desktop User, and enriching new mobile use experiences and visiting other planets. SF All Hands MoCo Plenary Session – June 12, 2018 (Watch the recap to understand “the other planets” reference)

What does that mean for user support forums?

The support.mozilla.org questions forums will still be the main official place for support. Even though it is mainly in English, content translated from English articles still support the majority of users that come to the site looking for help in a different language. There are also the Spanish, Czech, Finish, Hungarian, Indonesian(Rocket etc), Portuguese, Slovenian, Sebian and Turkish questions forums, with some being more active than others. There is not too much change on that front. But did you notice the new Firefox for Enterprise forum?

Trending user issues in the forum come from internal and external discussions around Mozilla’s products. (Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn to name a few) However, what is being reported on The first are the continuous reports of top user issues around each of the releases since Quantum.

The team aspires to have a frequent top issues report for each release to communicate to the Product Project Managers and to continue those conversations for more ongoing user input for product decisions. Roland’s wiki pages, the community’s reported discussion threads from each release, and filed bugs from within the community and SUMO staff all contribute to this reporting effort. THANK YOU for helping giving a voice to the user from the SUMO support channels.

Please join in the latest: discussions here as we search for long term solutions for fixing dashboards and user issue dashboards mentioned in the previous blog post.

Ongoing, the Firefox for Desktop and Mobile browsers are starting to include more Shield studies for users that have opted in to provide feedback. Telemetry data help directly influence product decisions. So if you are using it, they are keeping it.

So what is next? Well, there are new products, like Firefox Reality, a new Firefox for Android, (known as Fenix) and a number of other mobile experiences like Scout, Notes, and a DNS for HTTPs coming to the Mozilla portfolio. So expect some new support strategies and potentially new support channels.

(Did you catch the Google Play Store Review Global Sprint?  Remember that new tool?)

Does that mean there are going to be new platforms for support? No, but the current one is getting a facelift. The developer Statement of Work for the SUMO redesign was planned to get the site up to Mozilla’s global brand standards. This is way overdue, if you remember, the new design was back in July 2017, we just had a new brand announcement at the end of July as well. Check out the designs, aren’t they beautiful? https://dev.sumo.moz.works/en-US/ 

When it comes to more ”day to day” business, it’s mostly ”same old, same old”. We keep helping open source product users with the issues they encounter. We want to get more organized and more self sufficient, though. Can you imagine running the whole site on your own? ME TOO!

So what would you need a community manager for? Ideally day to day functionality on the site. Notifications, the site being up and making sure no bots or spam push the site off the network (darn DoS attacks!)

Never fear, you are not alone on this mission to support Firefox users. Isolation does not a community make. But just in case, one of the action items from our recent explorations was to have an emergency response plan for the community when something does go wrong. Remember “Contributors have ownership without agency” – that is where you come in!

What does that mean for Social Support?

In case you missed it…. See Mozilla Social Support and the next steps after the SF All Hands

Featured in our next blog post (Top issues and what an emergency response team can do about it) Want to write a blog post for SUMO? send a pm to an admin on the forums!

State of Mozilla Support: 2018 Mid-year Update – Part 3

Hello, present and future Mozillians!

We are continuing our series of mid-year posts regarding the state and future of Mozilla Support. If you missed the previous posts, part one and part two are still online. This time we are going to talk a bit more about (Support) Localization and the plans for the second half of the year.

Over the years, localizer activity on the Support site went up and down, influenced by Firefox popularity, new released on different platforms, and general localization needs across Mozilla. Peaking at over 200 people around three years ago, it is now oscillating at 40-50% of that number.

While Mozilla keep continuously shipping new Firefox releases and experimenting with new ideas, the global audience will keep increasing in numbers and languages – and we want to make sure that the site stays relevant and informative to as many users out there as possible.

Design update of the site

The Support site has long been overdue to get a facelift that would make it on par with the modern and clean look of mozilla.org. Recently, we have seen the first (preview & github issue) steps towards that.

At the moment, the preview is not fully localized, but once the updated English wording and new layout are finalized, we will be promoting

You could argue that this is only tangentially related to localization, but it may actually have a significant impact on the site’s usability for speakers of different languages. Therefore, reporting any issues found on the non-English versions of the site is very important for a successful visual refresh of support.mozilla.org. We will also keep tracking site usage and interactions by users around the globe to make sure the changes have not negatively impacted site traffic.

Knowledge Base clean-up

With over 700 individual pieces of content in the Knowledge Base at the moment of writing, it is one of the biggest repositories of useful product information around Mozilla – and probably the most useful one for users of Firefox (and not only) around the world.

Changes to Mozilla’s product strategy and line-up have naturally affected the Knowledge Base and its localization profile over time. Experiments or projects become products, products become obsolete, etc. – and the content we present to the users should be displayed accordingly and evolve with the changes.

This means you can expect (or have already seen) some content going away into the archive (we do our best never to delete anything) – and new products or projects popping up as well. One of the bigger near future additions to the Knowledge Base, for example, will be the Pocket support content, at the moment hosted here.

Locale clean-up

Similarly to products, languages come and go, by popularity. While we do aim to maintain as many languages available as possible, very often the amount of content to be localized across Mozilla is already a big challenge for smaller communities around the world. You can read more about the idea and reasons behind it here. As of the writing of this post:

Locales with a “Top 100” goal before the end of 2018

Bengali
Hindi
Gujarati
Bosnian
Slovak
Arabic
Tamil
Telugu

Locales that need wider community support to not be archived before the end of 2018

Albanian
Greek
Thai
Yoruba

Locales that will be archived before the end of 2018

Hebrew
Estonian
Croatian
Kazakh
Norwegian
Romanian
Vietnamese
Serbian
Sorbian (Lower/Upper)
Euskara
Gaelic
Lithuanian
Malay
Swahili

Localization request & community communication optimization

At the moment, because of the distributed nature of product development, marketing, and support, almost all of the requests for each of those separate areas come separately and are not reviewed or prioritized as a unified part of internationalization efforts at Mozilla.

This localization “request firehose” may work for separate teams or tools, but definitely does not make it easier for localization coordinators and localizers in distributed communities. Missing a single “source of truth” for localization needs for each bigger release or project introduces confusion, false expectations, and difficulties in organizing local communities around localization sprints.

Optimizing the way localization requests are filed (including new or updated Support content) through a unified process should, in turn, make it easier for localization coordinators to message contributors around the world using a single, reliable channel (for example, the Localization blog). This could also influence the way resources for organizing localization events are requested (making it easier for everyone to track and handle such requests), and have a positive impact on transparency, expectations, and timely content localization.

In short, less should be more. Less noise and confusion = more fun and better results.

Conversely, it may also mean that in some cases, the localization work for the Support site might be contracted through paid localization agencies in order to expedite the process – but we will never close contribution options for Mozillians around the world.

As all localization coordinators around Mozilla are increasingly working together on streamlining the process, we will be announcing smaller and bigger tweaks to the way localization happens at Mozilla.

The “daily stuff” and the “unplanned future”

Other that the points made above, there is quite a lot of the daily and mundane that will be happening, depending on timing, community engagement and developer support. To name a few:

Support-specific & common resources for localizers

Learning materials for new localizers, global locale style guides, best practices, cool tricks, tweaks to existing tools… and the list can go on. We already have some of these in place, while others still need to be identified, defined, discussed, and experimented with.

Modernized metrics dashboards for Support

Together with the Open Innovation team, we hope to set up an easy to maintain collection of dashboards for the Support site, using Bitergia’s open source software. If the project takes places (pending resource and timing allocation, just like anything else around Mozilla), localization will definitely be a part of it.

Recognition of your work

Always a hot topic across Mozilla, it is no different for localization. Swag goes only so far (and some of you don’t necessarily like t-shirts or stickers, which we can absolutely understand), so a bit of experimentation and soul-searching on our side may be required to make sure we show how much we appreciate your involvement in all the languages that Mozilla speaks, thanks to you.

That’s it, then (more or less)! Please, stay tuned for more updates from the world of Support and localization – and remember that your work to make Mozilla happen in so many languages does not pass unnoticed. Thank you for being there for the millions of users who can experience the internet in an open source way thanks to you all :)

State of Mozilla Support: 2018 Mid-year Update – Part 2

Hello, present and future Mozillians!

Last time we had a closer look at a metrics-based report analysis from the Analysen & Tal agency that took a deep dive into support.mozilla.org’s historical data.

Today, we are going to continue sharing external insights into our community and support model with a summary of the comparative study conducted for us by a team of the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design from Denmark. While we were not exactly looking for the essence of hygge, we found quite a few interesting nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that we’d like to share with you below. You can find the presentation here.

(Please note: this content has already been shared with the Support contributors on our forums, but now we are making it more public through this post).

The study’s goals were to help the Support team and community understand how Mozilla’s approach to helping users compares to other similar organizations, and what possible future approaches could help meeting the increasing demand for high quality help.

The methodology for the study was a mix of a series of interviews, case studies, and design explorations. The people interviewed came from external organizations and groups, as well as from Mozilla’s support community. The three entities chosen for the comparative study were the user communities around WordPress.org, Arduino, and Kaggle.

WordPress.org

In general, when compared to our Support community, WordPress.org’s is more centralized and controlled, even if on average among the three case studies it resembles our own structures the most.

The contribution forums and Slack channels are used to discuss and escalate important issues. Similarly to /r/firefox, there is also an active subreddit for WordPress that’s self-moderated and open to non-support content, if necessary. Slack seems to be a place for fruitful conversations, so we may be exploring this idea in the near future for more engaged contributors.

Another interesting aspect is that the support site, apart from community-owned-and-driven support, offers full time employees of Automattic/Wordpress.com a chance to do rotations in the open source community. This, while tried by us in the past, has not been something we have considered as a long-standing project, but it could drive more engagement and knowledge share on all levels.

The primary incentives for contribution seem to be status and connecting with others, which we understand to be also present in our own community. However, we still need to get better at identifying the incentives for joining and staying as a long-term Support contributors to continue delivering community-driven support at scale.

Arduino

Arduino’s support community, focusing on a plethora of open source software and hardware uses “in the wild”, is definitely way more decentralized and ad hoc in its practices than Mozilla’s Support.

The nature of the environment in which the community operates makes a concentrated and concerted support effort much harder, but the main activity happens across the official community forum, a StackExchange Q&A forum, and Arduino’s main Project Hub.

At the time of the study, the community forum show little conscious effort in organization from Arduino’s staff, serving a more social function with its open nature. On the other hand, the StackExchange based support forum has a well developed peer-driven reputation system, with the community moderators being voted in and gaining access and privileges based on their long-standing contributions. The StackExchange model is by far more successful and useful for support in Arduino’s case.

Finally, the Project Hub is a content creation and maintenance space that centers support-related content (for example documentation and instructables) around specific projects. Quality content is encouraged by official contests and rewards for contributors. Additionally, language and interactions presented on the site encourage a positive and inclusive community approach. As a result and thanks to the self-learning and guided aspect of using Arduino products, quality content is easier to find and produce.

Kaggle

Kaggle’s community model is an unusual hybrid of competitiveness and collaboration, fueled by commercially supported projects. With the community being the core and the product of Kaggle’s business model, the platform it lives on is highly sophisticated and the interactions within it appear to be meticulously engineered.

To this end, gamification of competing and collaborating is one of the main driving forces behind, encouraging high quality contributions and teamwork. The design of the community environment shows sharp focus on its key functions. The community is not directed to activities not considered core. That said, a large part of community engagement and motivation is happening outside of official forums, within self-created and user-governing communities. What’s interesting, many returning contributors consider their voluntary involvement a stepping stone towards their own professional careers.

Insights and Observations

The CIID researchers, based on their study of external support models listed above and .interviews with various members of different communities, gathered a set of recommendations or paths to explore for our community’s consideration.

Structured communities always leak

Simple explanation: Whatever we define as “Mozilla Support” will always see activity or interest outside of what we think is the “main” place where it happens.

Regardless of the community setup at the core of the experience, there will always be engagement and involvement taking place outside of centrally defined features or tasks. There is an opportunity in allowing bottom-up organization of people, while keeping the support tasks clear and accessible for everyone willing to participate. The Support site should still be the main place where supporting Mozilla’s users happens, but it should not be rigorously the only one out there.

The main challenge here is distributing our knowledge and expertise in an accessible way to other places on the web where users look for support.

Gamed incentives are valves, not pipes

Simple explanation: Gamification is a tool to improve or guide working contribution mechanisms, not to create new contribution mechanisms.

Any attempts at gamification should be modelled to embrace and enhance existing behaviours and interactions – not to create completely new ones. It is also better when it focuses on quality rather than quantity. Rewarding expertise over volume drives engagement from or creates opportunities for subject matter experts.

Here, the main challenge is to encourage positive behaviours and interactions at scale and in real time, as much as possible. This may mean looking into “high touch automation” (like bots or scripts) or rolling out a focused education/certification offering to increase quality contributions.

Contributors have ownership without agency

Simple explanation: Support contributors have great impact on how users perceive Firefox (as a browser and brand), but this is not clearly shown in the way Firefox is improved or marketed to users.

While our community is at the front line in receiving feedback from the users (and acting upon it), we do not have comparable impact on what is going on in the product world, mostly through lack of a strong enough feedback loop into the product organization, but also a lack of connection and understanding of what it is that we do from the creators and promoters of Firefox.

It would be hard to prove the impact of continuous support efforts without transparent and meaningful metrics at hand, so finding a way to collate and present such data is key for this concept to work. With our community’s work validated and acknowledged, it should be much easier to incorporate our feedback into the development and marketing process of Firefox.

Contributors aren’t born – they’re made

Simple explanation: New contributors can be found in more places than just among Mozillians not already contributing to Support

Many people decide to contribute to Mozilla’s mission based on their own strong beliefs in the future of the web – but many others get on board because they have received support from our community and would like to give back to Mozilla and its other users through activities that they can easily participate in. Supporting others very often proves to be just that (when compared to coding or web development, for example).

Encouraging casual users or those looking for help to give a try to helping others (or get involved with Mozilla’s mission in other ways) could be key to growing our community over all upcoming releases and finding new core contributors among the many people who already chose to use Firefox on a daily basis.

Support the supporters

Simple explanation: Community members should have access to knowledge and tools that allow them to work together and support each other regardless of administrator presence and support.

As the admin team for Support is quite small and each of its members specializes in a different aspect of the site, sometimes contributor questions or emergency escalations may go unnoticed for a while. This increases community fragility and pressure on single points of failure.

In order to address that, our community could consider developing a simple (but complete) escalation and reaction system that is transparent for everyone involved in supporting users. This could increase the resilience and cohesiveness of the Support community, regardless of personal experience or community roles held by various community members involved in escalating or responding to support requests.

Leverage the properties of each channel

Simple explanation: Each tool or resource should have a clear and defined role and purpose. The community needs useful tools, rather than access to all tools used by everyone else for other reasons.

With several places that our community uses for communication and support purposes, it is important to keep the roles and methods of using these separate tools clear and focused. We sometimes tend to “hop on the bandwagon” and try to be everywhere and use everything to be more in line with other teams at Mozilla.

This may not be the best use of everyone’s energy and time, so reviewing the tools we have and the ways they are used is an important step towards empowering contributors and streamlining processes that at this moment may not be working as optimal as possible.

Workshop Outcomes

As part of the working session, we sat all together and invested a few hours into a collaborative synthesis workshop, based on the data and research presented by our external partners. The output of the workshop was a series of project ideas that could influence the future Support strategy. The goal of these ideas is to improve what’s out there already and make Support ready for Mozilla’s future needs.

After a ton of small team work, three projects emerged:

Support Propaganda

General goal: increase awareness and impact of Support across Mozilla.

Methods:

  • Opening up participation in Support to all Mozillians (especially new hires for any position at Mozilla)
  • Creating a deeper connection between Support, Product, and Marketing through highlighting what Support does to help Product and Marketing deliver quality to users (data driven insights)

Switchboard Operator

General goal: High-touch targetted support for Mozilla’s software users across the web

Methods:

  • Gathering information and insights about all major locations where conversations are happening about Firefox (within the context of support)
  • Reaching the users with the right support information wherever they are

Alchemist’s Journey

General goal: Quality self-directed learning resources and trainings for future generations of casual or core contributors

Methods:

  • First wave trial resources developed in collaboration with existing core contributors
  • Second wave researched resources developed based on experiences from the first wave and input from external online education experts

Next Steps

There are more updates to come that should show you how the above work is influencing what direction we think the future of Support at Mozilla should look like.

We will keep working together with Open Innovation (closely and directly) and CIID (for future research projects) and informing you of what is up with Support at Mozilla.

We will also keep you informed (and engaged) in the future of Support at Mozilla.

Thank you for being a vital part of Mozilla’s mission for an open and helpful web!

State of Mozilla Support: 2018 Mid-year Update – Part 1

Hello, present and future Mozillians!

As you may have heard, Mozilla held one of its All Hands biannual meetings, this time in San Francisco. The support.mozilla.org Admin team was there as well, along with several members of the support community.

The All Hands meetings are meant to be gatherings summarizing the work done and the challenges ahead. San Francisco was no different from that model. The four days of the All Hands were full of things to experience and participate in. Aside from all the plenary and “big stage” sessions – most of which you should be able to find at Air Mozilla soon – we also took part in many smaller (formal and informal) meetings, workshops, and chats.

By the way, if you watch Denelle’s presentation, you may hear something about Mozillians being awesome through helping users ;-).

This is the first in a series of posts summarizing what we talked about regarding support.mozilla.org, together with many (maaaaaany) pages of source content we have been working on and receiving from our research partners over the last few months.

We will begin with the summary of quite a heap of metrics, as delivered to us in by the analytics and research consultancy from Copenhagen – Analyse & Tal (Analysis & Numbers). You can find all the (105!) pages here but you can also read the summary below, which captures the most important information.

The A&T team used descriptive statistics (to tell a story using numbers) and network analysis (emphasizing interconnectedness and correlations), taking information from the 11 years of data available in Kitsune’s databases and 1 year of Google Analytics data.

Almost all perspectives of the analysis brought to the spotlight the amount of work contributed and the dedication of numerous Mozillians over many years. It’s hard to overstate the importance of that for Mozilla’s mission and continuous presence and support for the millions of users of open source software who want an open web. We are all equally proud and humbled that we can share this voyage with you.

As you can imagine, analyzing a project as complex and stretched in time as Mozilla’s Support site is quite challenging and we could not have done it without cooperation with Open Innovation and our external partners.

Key Takeaways

  • In the 2010-2017 period, only 124 contributors were responsible for 63% of all contributions. Given that there are hundreds of thousands of registered accounts in the system, there is a lot of work to do for us to make contributions easier and more fun.
  • There are quite a few returning contributors who contribute steadily over several years.
  • There are several hundreds of contributors who are active within a short timeframe and even more very occasional helpers. In both cases, making sure long-term contributing is appealing to them.
  • While our community has not shown to be worryingly fragile, we have to make sure we understand better how and why contributions happen and what can be done to ensure a steady future for Mozilla’s community-powered Support.
  • The Q&A support forums on the site are the most popular place for contributions, with the core and most engaged contributors present mostly there.
  • On the other hand, the Knowledge Base, even if it has fewer contributors, sees more long-term commitment from returning contributors.
  • Contributors through Twitter are a separate group, usually not engaged in other support channels and focusing on this external platform.
  • Firefox is the most active product across all channels, but Thunderbird sees a lot of action as well. Many regular contributors are active supporting both products.
  • Among other Firefox related products, Firefox for Android is the most established one.
  • The top 15 locales amount to 76 percent of the overall revisions in the Knowledge Base, with the vast majority of contributions coming from core contributors mostly.
  • Based on network analysis, Russian, Spanish, Czech, and Japanese localization efforts are the most vulnerable to changes in sustainability.

What’s Next?

Most of the findings in the report support many anecdotal observations we have had, giving us a very powerful set of perspectives grounded in over 7 years’ worth of data. Based on the analysis, we are able to create future plans for our community that are more realistic and based on facts.

The A&T team provided us with a list of their recommendations:

  • Understanding the motivations for contributing and how highly dedicated contributors were motivated to start contributing should be a high priority for further strategic decisions.
  • Our metrics should be strategically expanded and used through interactive dashboards and real time measurements. The ongoing evolution of the support community could be better understood and observed thanks to dynamic definitions of more detailed contributor segments and localization, as well as community sustainability scores.
  • A better understanding of visitors and how they use the support pages (more detailed behaviour and opinions) would be helpful for understanding where to guide contributors to ensure a both a better user experience and an enhanced level of satisfaction among contributors.

Taking our own interpretation of the data analysis and the A&T recommendations into account, over the next few weeks we will be outlining more plans for the second half of the year, focusing on areas like:

  • Contributor onboarding and motivation insights
  • A review of metrics and tools used to obtain them
  • Recruitment and learning experiments
  • Backup and contingency plans for emergency gaps in community coverage
  • Tailoring support options for new products

As always, thank you for your patience and ongoing support of Mozilla’s mission. Stay tuned for more post-All Hands mid-year summaries and updates coming your way soon – and discuss them in the Contributors or Discourse forum threads.