2016 Mozilla Work Week II: The SUMO Story

Aloha, SUMO Nation!

We wanted to share with you the most important “SUMO things” (but not only) from the second Work Week we had this year.

The Work Weeks are Mozilla-wide meetings of all the core teams and as many community contributors as we can successfully invite over. This is not always easy or possible, due to many limitations and problems with international travel… There was a rumour that the Work Weeks in 2020 will be done fully in WebVR, to make it possible for everyone with the right hardware to attend – hopefully from inside of your favourite browser ;-) Good bye, giant carbon footprint!

Work Weeks happen every six months and are usually full of retrospectives, introspectives, and mapping out the future of “all things Mozilla”. They usually are places (and times) of the highest “density of Mozillian per square meter” throughout the year.

What you find below is a summary and explanation of what happened during the most recent Work Week, together with several useful (and fun) links. Unfortunately, the layout and setup of the meeting spaces did not create an environment suited for recordings, so we had to give up on that idea.

Day 0: Monday

Everyone got a bit of time to get settled, unpack, and prepare for the busy week ahead. We managed to not get lost in the ever-growing and shifting crowd and find each other in the evening for a small welcoming reception with everyone else who made it to the venue on time.

Day 1: Tuesday

The conference proper started with a big plenary session that included the speakers at the heart of Mozilla – the people we usually treat as our Northern Star when plotting the course across the whole community, also for SUMO. You can hear their thoughts on Air Mozilla, using the links below (it may require you to log in first):

After a good and energetic kick off, we got together in the Marketing space to talk about the road behind us and the road ahead. The “Unconference” was a medley of mini-projects to address some of the key areas on which the Marketing team has been (or should be) working. We split into several large groups and worked face-to-face with people we usually see only on screens – this definitely got the creative juices flowing, and you can expect positive changes in the way our larger team functions in the coming year.

We also had a chance to look back and review some of the biggest hurdles and achievements of our last 12 months. SUMO, while definitely not central to the larger team’s efforts (since we all work on making Mozilla and the web better, not just our little corners of it), got an honest applause from everyone, mostly for the great work that all of you are doing for the benefit of the users around the world.

Also, this was the first (and possibly last) day for grabbing a fresh sticker or two. They were disappearing and reappearing on laptops, phones, and other objects at an astounding rate.

Day 2: Wednesday

The Marketing talks and mini-sessions continued, and we managed to carve out a healthy chunk of time for SUMO stuff. with a walkthrough of the upcoming localization flow on Lithium, and a session on the Internet Awareness (slides) (notes) – probably our biggest new project for the upcoming year, for which your input and energy are indispensable.

This was also the first day for the “elective” sessions (where you could choose from a long list of presentations and chats on very focused topics). This idea worked out amazingly well, because we were all there to share and learn from each other. This very often meant getting a bit outside of our “comfort area” – and going beyond what we would usually do for Mozilla’s mission. This included a multitude of interesting and thought-provoking topics. A bit of fun was included as well.

All this talking (and listening!) was definitely getting us somewhere, even if at a terrible price… But we had great (and soft) support to keep us going above and beyond.

Day 3: Thursday

The rain kept going, but so did we. We even had a small tsunami alert popping up for about 30 minutes, but luckily we avoided getting wetter than absolutely necessary (AKA showering). You can’t stop the ‘zilla!

For SUMO, we had Madalina and Patrick walk us through a session on Lithium as our new platform, summarising where we were and what were the next steps for us. If you’re curious about that part of SUMO’s operations, you can always take a look at the documents we’ve kept using so far: your feedback and the Platform meeting notes.

Right after lunch, Chris Beard joined the whole Marketing team for a bit of Q&A – and while the . We also had an extra helping of the “elective” sessions – some of which were daringly ambitious and we can’t wait to see what the next year brings as their result!

Also, as with any other Mozilla-related thing, ever – we had a fair share of bugs ;-)

Day 4: Friday

This was the final day, and it held many a highlight for the whole crew, primarily thanks to those who delivered their “SUMO Show & Tell” mini-talks. We had the pleasure of listening to:

If you have any questions about the topics above, please contact them directly – the user profile pages offer a way to do so easily for logged in users through Private Messages.

We also continued chats and explorations within Marketing from the previous days, while trying to get some “daily” work done (not easy, but not impossible).

Just like with Chris the day before, afternoon had Mitchell Baker visiting us for a very honest and down-to-earth Q&A session.

So, by Friday we were all in great spirits, even if a bit tired. Many things have been said and heard – some rather serious, others not so much. And even if some of us were in a rather defiant mood, all good things come to an end. After the wrap up meetings and sessions, we all gathered for the final act of the Work Week – a well-deserved party!

Key Takeaways for SUMO

  • 2016 was not an easy year, but we did well for the resources and options we had available. It was a year of (sometimes forced) change and experimentation.
  • None of the really big things that we all have done or will do can happen without you, the contributors.
  • There are many other places outside of SUMO that offer help to users of Mozilla’s software (in many languages), and we have to make sure we work with them to create a healthy and useful support ecosystem without stepping on each other’s toes.
  • While there is a large variety of tools and methods across Mozilla to get different things done, the organization is heading towards standardizing the key elements of contributing; we do want to keep the innovation mindset, but we also want to make participation easier and faster, wherever reasonably possible.
  • The diversity in participation many of us take for granted takes a lot of effort and hard work to maintain; we will do our best to include and support everyone through our contributions.
  • 2017 will be a challenging year, as we work on keeping the site active and useful on a completely new platform; we also want to preserve the legacy of Kitsune in a meaningful way, making its code available to everyone interested in tinkering with it.
  • In 2017 we will expand our involvement within Mozilla’s Marketing and Social efforts. We are planning for a year of growth, big bets, and nurturing excellence for the benefit of our community and users.

Each and every time a large number of Mozillians get together, there is a bit of chaos, a bit of drama, a lot of ideas, many mini and maxi brainstorms, and heaps of good energy flowing around. This time was no different and the general attitude was that what we all do together for the web and its users will never be easy… but we will never stop and we’ll try to make it as much fun as possible. We hope you join us along for this bumpy, exciting, and fulfilling ride. Mahalo!

With #mozlove,

Your SUMO Team

P.S. In the interest of the page loading faster on slower connections, we decided to not post a lot of graphics and/or photos in this post. Below, you can find Mozillians’ group effort at documenting the whole event: