What Does ‘Mozillian’ Mean?

Six Summit sessions (2 in each location) tried to determine “What does ‘Mozillian’ mean?”. (For the tl;dr, skip to the bottom.) This blog post explains what the groups in Brussels came up with[0].

The proposed session plan tried to get the group to come up with statements about what does, or does not, make someone a Mozillian. The planned output was one, two or three bullet points under each of four headings – Task/Role, Opinions, Character and Actions. Here is the output from the two Brussels sessions, which I facilitated; I have tried to align similar ideas across the two columns.

Category Brussels 1 Brussels 2
Task/Role Must promote Mozilla values regularly  
  Job title does not have to include “Mozilla“ Must be unrelated to employment
    Must be unrelated to technical skills
Opinions Must share Mozilla values Must believe in open web.
  Must believe that users should be in control of their online presence  
Character Must be open-minded Must be respectful to people of different opinions.
  Must be a team-worker Should be conscious of and interact with community.
  Must not want all the credit  
Actions Try not to exclude groups out of Mozilla
  Must have contributed to a Mozilla project in any way Should proactively benefit the mission.
    Should share and/or use open source.

(Table by Tableizer)

It seems to me (and this is borne out by reading the more freeform Etherpads from Toronto) is that participants felt that a Mozillian has three major characteristics. Firstly, they have to believe in the Mozilla mission. Secondly, they have to actually do something to further that mission. People were willing to be generous about what that might be – it didn’t have to be technical and a potential Mozillian certainly didn’t have to be employed – but they had to do something. Further follow-up work might investigate what counts as something; important cases on the edge here are people who simply make a donation, and people who simply use the software – and the answer may be different for Release, Beta, Aurora or Nightly. But thirdly, the answers of both groups assumed (“must be a team worker”, “should interact with community”) that the person is actually part of a Mozillian community. Which would mean that donators, and people who simply ran the software (without e.g. filing any bug reports) would not be Mozillians.

One of the categories was “Character”. An interesting question which only crystallized itself during the session is this: “if someone does not exhibit a particular desirable character trait, does that make them not a Mozillian, or just a flawed human being (as we all are)?” This issue was discussed in groups when talking about points like “must not want all the credit”. Another interesting follow-up might be to explore whether there are any character flaws so severe, or actions so heinous, that they disqualify someone entirely from consideration.

Another key follow-up question, which we also didn’t have time to explore, is: “If someone in the Mozilla community is not a Mozillian by our new definition (e.g. someone who is paid to work on Mozilla, but does not believe in the mission), how do we treat them? Is it any different?”

But, to try and summarise, I think the Brussels groups felt that a Mozillian was someone who:

  1. believed in the Mozilla mission
  2. took action in support of that mission
  3. was an interacting part of the Mozilla community

So how do we produce a million Mozillians like that? :-)

[0] The Santa Clara sessions have not (yet) provided any session notes, and the Toronto sessions did not use the same session plan as the Brussels sessions and so did not have comparable outputs. The six session note Etherpads can be found linked from the master session Etherpad.

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