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.