Mozilla Community Education in 2015

Last year, to research some theories I had about empowering community, I polled numerous open source communities about their experiences as contributors. Some key responses to  “why do you contribute” were:

  • To learn more about a specific technology or project
  • To grow and develop existing skills
  • For challenge and feedback from respected peers.
  • Opportunity to mentor, or be mentored
  • To better learn and understand the philosophy of Open
  • To improve my resume.

The majority of responses identified learning opportunities and mentoring as a key motivators for participation, and (perhaps even more importantly)  continued participation.  So while, yes,  the impact and potential impact of the project is often the vessel we arrive on –  that alone appears unlikely to sustain contribution.   And that’s why I’m so excited that Community Education, and mentorship are core to mobilizing participation goals for 2015.

” At the core of the plan is the assumption that we need to build a virtuous circle between 1) participation that helps our products and programs succeed and2) people getting value from participating in Mozilla.

Mark Surman on Mozilla’s Participation Plan for 2015

I see education as a key connector of value for people and product. For me it’s less like a hypothesis and more like an opportunity to grow what I have, myself, experienced as a contributor and mentor:  that community education and opportunity to learn builds a tenacity and dedication to give back.  Being effective matters to product and person.

” Contributors who received code reviews within 48 hours on their first bug have an exceptionally high rate of returning and contributing.”   –David Eaves survey of Mozilla contributors.

Educational opportunity is also a ‘people-connector’ :  opportunity to give and receive feedback from humans; to know what to what is expected of you,  and what you can expect from others lends traction and speed.   

So what will Community Education look like at Mozilla?  How will it lend to this virtuous circle?   Quite a few ways actually.    I’ll share this in three separate blogs posts this week leading up to our Community Education Working Group Call on Thursday.

Building from our Strength – Remo

Thanks to yet another survey, we have a clear idea idea about what people want to learn, how they want to learn, and some idea of ‘recognition that matters’ looks like.   Most significantly, we have a very successful, strong volunteer leadership platform in the Mozilla Reps, and real examples of community education pushing product success like Mozilla Webmaker and MDN. Remo will be the launchpad for Community Education, and we’ve already started building an education platform, and a base curriculum for mentors.


image credit williamtheaker

The visual of Reps as a launchpad is really important.  It reflects the experience, dedication and power of our community leadership program, our commitment to working collaboratively across the project, and that we intend to pick up speed.

The virtuous circle of participation needs to be visible from space.


Tomorrow:  Functional Area Groups, Pilots/Experiments and Recognition That Matters.


banner image credit: Christopher Michel.