This post will probably end up as a stream of disconnected thoughts more than a well structured analysis, but it’s something that has bothered me for months and it’s quite difficult to choose a starting point and not to get lost in the middle.
The problem is easy: is your local Mozilla community growing? If not, what are you doing to involve new people in the project?
I started contributing to the Italian community at the very beginning of 2004 (the community was just born), trying to help other people as a simple user on the local support forum. Soon I became a moderator and then an administrator of the forum, after that I started working also on localization: first the integrated Firefox help, then web projects (Mozilla Europe, AMO) and now also software products (Firefox and Fennec).
It’s more than five years of active contribution to the Italian community. Why? Since I liked what Mozilla was (is) giving to me for free – Firebird and Mozilla Suite at that time – I wanted to give something back to the project: since I’m not a programmer but an advanced user, fond of my language, I contributed with support and localization.
If that was possible for me and a lot of the current contributors of the Italian community, why is so difficult to involve new people? Not counting that older contributors can stop helping for different reasons (personal, work, change of priorities), while the number of projects to maintain keeps growing.
Here’s a lot of questions, very few answers.
- Is this a specific problem of the Italian community? For what I see on the mailing lists (dev.l10n and dev.l10n.web), I don’t recognize a lot of new names, so I’m thinking that maybe it’s a problem also for other wide communities.
- Is this a specific Mozilla problem? Maybe the Mozilla project, seen from the outside, seems too big or too complex, and people interested in free software and Open Source choose to invest their time in contributing to smaller projects?
- People got used to “having things for free” and don’t even think about contributing?
- They don’t know how to contribute, or even that they can do it?
Honestly, for what I saw in the last year I’m not very confident about the future and that’s why I keep asking to myself: how can we change this trend? Looking forward to discussing these issues during the upcoming community-meeting 🙂
Technorati Tags: local communities