Discussion on the Future of Mozilla Tech Evangelism
This note is intended to jump start a discussion of where Mozilla Tech Evangelism stands today, and what we can do to make it more effective in the future.
Mozilla Tech Evangelism is an effort designed to help increase support for Mozilla and its related browsers on the web and inside of corporations.
The graphs at <http://www.mozilla.org/projects/tech-evangelism/site/status-graphs.html> show that while we have seen positive movement in terms of resolved issues with sites we continue to have an ever increasing number of Tech Evangelism bugs with a decreasing effort being applied to contacting sites. Today there are over 2500 open Tech Evangelism bugs out of almost 38000 open bugs in all of Bugzilla.
Evangelism is a thankless task that has few rewards. I would like to publicly thank everyone who has reported or triaged a Tech Evangelism bug or contacted a site with an Evangelism problem. None the less, we have seen a decrease in the numbers of people who have been actively contacting sites and need to recruit more people to help, make their efforts more efficient and drive the number of open Evangelism issues down to Zarro.
What is the goal of the Mozilla Tech Evangelism effort? I believe it is to make the use of Mozilla and other Gecko-based browsers relatively easy for anyone who chooses to use it. In order to accomplish this goal we must convince web site and web application business owners, administrators, and developers that it is in their best interest to support Mozilla and Gecko. Simply evangelizing Standards is insufficient if the site can not economically justify the costs involved in updating their content.
What tactics can we use?
I. Increase market share (and pressure) of Mozilla and other Gecko-based browsers
Sites and developers will not expend the resources necessary to support Mozilla/Gecko if they do not see the potential loss of customers or income. We need to get Mozilla/Gecko's share above the current 2-5% in order to get their attention.
A related need is to get web site analytic software to report total Gecko percentages and not just specific branded versions of Gecko. By splitting our reported percentages across the multitude of browsers based upon Gecko we artificially decrease our reported market share.
In the past we have relied upon the Tech Evangelism effort to contact sites, to educate them concerning the error of their ways and convince them to update their content to support us. This reliance on a small group of people to accomplish this has not been as effective as we might have wished.
A more effective course of action would be for large numbers of customers to complain to sites/developers regarding their products. We have continually seen responses from sites where they say "We do not support Mozilla. It is not used by a significant percentage of our users." They may say this to the first, second or tenth person to complain however after the hundredth or thousandth complaint they might change their position. We need to leverage our users to contact sites and complain while we dedicate our evangelism resources to more productive efforts of helping organizations support Mozilla/Gecko. How can we do this?
I believe that most of the people who are likely to adopt Mozilla or other Gecko-based browsers without effort on our part have done so. In order to increase the share of Gecko-based browsers we must be proactive in reaching out to new users.
New demographic targets for Mozilla/Gecko are high schools, colleges/universities, corporations and governments world-wide. Mozilla and Gecko have many advantages for these potential users such as the ability to run on a variety of operating systems, customization, localization and security.
By promoting alternative operating systems such as Linux we also promote Mozilla and Gecko as the premier browser on those platforms. How would we approach the effort of demonstrating to schools, corporations and governments thecost effectiveness of adopting free, open source operating systems where we have dominance?
By providing the means for customizing Mozilla for distribution to specific target audiences we provide a another potential benefit of adopting Mozilla in an organization. The Client Customization Kit (CCK) has much potential to help distribute Mozilla to internal users of schools, corporations and governments. The CCK needs to be improved and extended to work in other operating systems than Windows. How can we get the work on the CCK moving?
We need to ease the transition from content designed for fourth generation browsers. While the focus for many of us is the promotion of the use of standards, we can not expect organizations to expend significant resources to adapt their existing content in these difficult economic times. Development of compatibility libraries which would allow sites to continue to use existing web applications with little modification would help to convince them that standardizing on Mozilla/Gecko is economically viable. For example, can we contribute to http://layeremu.mozdev.org/?
If an organization wishes to transition from using Netscape Communicator 4.x to Mozilla/Gecko what guidance can we give them? What are the issues these organizations face related to Email/Profile migration issues, Plugin compatibility issues, Security, etc. What organizations can we use as examples and case studies for the migration from Netscape Communicator 4.x (or even Internet Explorer) to Mozilla/Gecko?
Many organizations will not consider switching to Mozilla or other Gecko based browsers without some level of technical support available. What can we do about providing support? Are there reliable, respected organizations which can take advantage of this business opportunity?
II. Develop support oriented documentation
Once a site, developer or organization decides to support Mozilla and Gecko we need to have the documentation resources they need available for them to use. This includes guides to developing modern standards based web applications, technical notes on specific issues in various releases of Mozilla/Gecko, guides to adopting Mozilla/Gecko in organizations etc.
I tried to get an effort started for using existing Tech Evangelism bugs as sources for identifying issues which could be documented as technical notes which would help web developers. David Baron agreed that these technical notes could be hosted inside of the docs/web-developer directory inside of a technotes subdirectory. Although I began identifying potential technotes and formats for them, I failed to follow through with the idea and it has stagnated. One of the common objections I received was the lack of a means of organizing and searching technotes. I still believe the development of a "knowledge base" for our web developers is a good idea. How do we go about getting this effort off the ground?
How can Tech Evangelism and the Documentation projects work together to identify and produce the documentation that our web developers need?
III. Tech Evangelism Bugs
Tech Evangelism Components are currently organized by language/region and are geared towards triaging reported issues, contacting sites and convincing them to update their content. Many of the original owners and qa assignees for Tech Evangelism bugs are no longer available to handle these bugs. The current situation is summarized in <http://www.mozilla.org/projects/tech-evangelism/components.html>.
Is this organization appropriate? Should we combine components? Add new components? Who is available to take over the components in need of owners and qa assignees?
IV. Cooperation, Communication and Management
The Tech Evangelism effort does not exist in a vacuum. It involves coordinating work between the Tech Evangelism project, the Documentation project, the Mozilla University project, developers and others. How can we work together to achieve our goal of making Mozilla/Gecko the premier browser on the web?
Who can take on the responsibilities for managing and leading the Tech Evangelism project?
This note outlines some of the ideas I have concerning Tech Evangelism. I hope that you will reply and help refine these ideas, volunteer to help implement them and get involved in the Tech Evangelism project. Please reply to this email in netscape.public.mozilla.general and come to #evangelism on irc.mozilla.org if you wish to discuss this in real time.
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