MozillaZine

Official Mozilla Corporation Weblog in the Works

Friday May 11th, 2007

A post on Spread Firefox has announced that an official Mozilla Corporation weblog will soon be launched. A project of the Mozilla marketing team, the new weblog will present the official Mozilla Corporation line on news and developments in the Mozilla ecosystem. The target audience for the weblog will be broad, encompassing users, community members, journalists and weblog authors. It is expected to launch by the end of May.

According to the announcement, the weblog, which does not yet have a name, will include Mozilla news, announcements and commentary. Official Mozilla Corporation position statements and responses to media coverage will also be included. Some weblog entries from Mozilla community members will be cross-posted to the official weblog. There will also be tips and tricks for users.

The announcement states that the weblog will be "authentic, yet humorous" and that "we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously nor be too watered down". When addressing serious issues (security and privacy are explicitly mentioned), the weblog will "temper its voice in accordance with the subject matter". This suggests that the weblog will attempt to emulate the carefully-controlled informality exhibited by many official corporate weblogs.

The content on the weblog will be created by the Mozilla Corporation's Vice President of Marketing and Product Management Chris Beard, Director of Product Marketing Paul Kim, public relations representative Mary Colvig, Public Relations Manager Melissa Shapiro, community coordinator Asa Dotzler and others. Some posts will be attributed to particular authors but official statements will be credited to just "Mozilla". Contributions will be invited from readers but the management team will have the final say on what appears on the weblog.

Though the Mozilla Corporation occasionally issues press releases, it has never had a single, official source of news before. When the Mozilla project first began in 1998, there was virtually no formal public relations effort and important announcements were typically posted to a small audience on newsgroups or MozillaZine (which, contrary to popular belief, has never been an official mouthpiece of the Mozilla project). More recently, major news has increasingly been disseminated by the growing number of weblogs maintained by Mozilla community members. However, this has sometimes led to confusion over whether a weblog post represents an official statement or just one individual's opinion, frustrating both journalists and members of the Mozilla community alike.

By creating an official weblog, the Mozilla Corporation will have the opportunity to improve communication with both its own sprawling community (which has grown to be one of the largest in the open source sphere) and the wider world. However, it will primarily be a marketing and public relations tool, attempting to ensure that news relating to the Mozilla project is seen through a prism favourable to the position of the Mozilla Corporation. "Ultimately," the announcement says, "the blog needs to support the communication of both the Mozilla and Firefox brand story in ways that align with our orientation as an open source project and public benefit organization."


#1 Style points

by mozpkim

Friday May 11th, 2007 8:12 PM

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Hi - Paul Kim from MoCo here. Thanks for posting this. You raised a few points I wanted to respond to.

<blockquote>The announcement states that the weblog will be "authentic, yet humorous" and that "we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously nor be too watered down". When addressing serious issues (security and privacy are explicitly mentioned), the weblog will "temper its voice in accordance with the subject matter". This suggests that the weblog will attempt to emulate the carefully-controlled informality exhibited by many official corporate weblogs.</blockquote>

The tone suggestion you excerpted ("authentic, yet humorous") above reflects what we see as the current reality of how we already communicate amongst ourselves in public meetings, in individual Mozilla community blogs, in newsgroups and forums. "...the weblog will attempt to emulate the carefully-controlled informality exhibited by many official corporate weblogs" implies we're trying to fake people out with some tightly scripted casual attitude.

<blockquote>However, it will primarily be a marketing and public relations tool, attempting to ensure that news relating to the Mozilla project is seen through a prism favourable to the position of the Mozilla Corporation.</blockquote>

This makes us sound like we don't want to hear or share criticism, and that the whole point of this blog is to spin the news. It's a lot more accurate to say that we want to be able to put out information that we think is going to be useful to advance the broader Mozilla Manifesto, to help new users better understand the Mozilla project, and to provide a central point for the press to refer to as the need arises.

Improving "communication with both its own sprawling community ... and the wider world" is absolutely one of our goals for launching the blog. I definitely appreciate the opinions on what we're doing.

#8 Re: Style points

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Thursday May 17th, 2007 5:46 PM

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Hi - Alex Bishop from MozillaZine here.

"The tone suggestion you excerpted ('authentic, yet humorous') above reflects what we see as the current reality of how we already communicate amongst ourselves in public meetings, in individual Mozilla community blogs, in newsgroups and forums. '...the weblog will attempt to emulate the carefully-controlled informality exhibited by many official corporate weblogs' implies we're trying to fake people out with some tightly scripted casual attitude."

I don't doubt that the tone will reflect that of your existing communications. However, the fact that it's mentioned in the Spread Firefox announcement at all suggests that the tone has been considered and will therefore be regulated to some extent. Clearly the posts on the weblog won't be drunken 3:00am ramblings; there will be some control. Obviously, you know more about the final voice than I do but it looks like it's heading for the middle ground of being friendly rather than stuffy to engage the community but not so casual that it appears unprofessional. Many other corporate weblogs also go for that medium; it seems to work well. However, I'm not suggesting that every communication is going to be scrutinised by three levels of management, two language experts and a focus group - though this probably isn't far off what happens with some corporate weblogs (mostly the ones that miss the point and think a weblog is just a page of press releases with an RSS feed).

"This makes us sound like we don't want to hear or share criticism, and that the whole point of this blog is to spin the news."

I doubt that the weblog is going to become a major mechanism for receiving feedback from the community - there are plenty of other channels for that already. I imagine it's primarily going to be a read-only affair from the point of view of most readers. I can't imagine that there will be many bare factual statements; they will surely be backed up with justifications intended to present a particular interpretation of the facts to readers. For example, I imagine announcements of any changes will be accompanied by briefings of the benefits stemming from these changes. I expect criticisms will either be rebuffed or accepted with a "here's what we're going to do to make it better" line. Basically, I don't anticipate that the weblog will contain any bad news (that is, news that damages the reputation of the Mozilla Corporation) without some attempt to present a positive angle.

"It's a lot more accurate to say that we want to be able to put out information that we think is going to be useful to advance the broader Mozilla Manifesto, to help new users better understand the Mozilla project, and to provide a central point for the press to refer to as the need arises."

That's a clear agenda there: it's about getting a particular message across to others. Particularly, the press, whose importance you note.

I await the launch of the weblog with interest. I believe in the basic integrity of the Mozilla Corporation and I don't think you're out to intentionally mislead. I think it's a positive sign that you've admitted up front that the weblog will be run by the marketing team; many other companies would attempt to present such a venture as a purely grassroots from-the-ranks effort. Companies can foster such weblogs (the Mozilla Corporation has some) but most will not risk making their primary high-profile weblog so transparent.

Alex

#12 Re: Re: Style points

by mozpkim

Saturday May 19th, 2007 11:33 AM

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Thanks for the detailed response Alex. I sincerely hope you'll let us know how you think we're doing after we bring this blog live. By the way - everyone is welcome to contact me directly with feedback, if not here on MozillaZine, via email at pkim -at- mozilla -dot- com.

#2 Hmm...

by EyesOnly

Saturday May 12th, 2007 10:19 AM

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When I read this article there were several passages which I had to re-read over again in an attempt to get the "gist" of what was being said and, granted that my caffeine IV hasn't quite taken effect yet to wake me up, I too sort of walked away from this article with a negative feeling. It was especially over that last quote which Mr. Kim made above. I read that and went, "Whoa! wait a minute here!" It woke me up more than my caffeine anyway. ;)

Thanks for coming by and clearing some of this up for readers Mr. Kim. I for one appreciate it!

On a sidenote here: I'm really excited to see the front page here of MozillaZine picking up recently with so much news and reports! This is great and I applaud the person(s) behind the scenes doing all this hard work to bring us this news. This is something else I highly appreciate as well. For the moment the replies have been low, however, I feel this is because there have been so little activity here in the past that people have just sailed on by to get to the meatier forums. Myself, I've always tried to make it a point to keep this page as the MAIN link to get to the forums so as to check on any pertinent news first.

Kudos to those involved in all this work! Please keep it up. "If you make it---they will come." as the old saying goes. ;)

Eyes-Only/"L'Peau-Rouge"

#4 Re: Hmm...

by mozpkim

Saturday May 12th, 2007 1:24 PM

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MozillaZine and everyone in the community who contributes here rock. And please, call me Paul. :-)

#9 Re: Hmm...

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Friday May 18th, 2007 12:07 AM

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"On a sidenote here: I'm really excited to see the front page here of MozillaZine picking up recently with so much news and reports! This is great and I applaud the person(s) behind the scenes doing all this hard work to bring us this news."

That would be me. Thanks.

I'm consciously trying to bring the news level back up after several months (years, really) of not being so great. Right now, I'm aiming for three articles a day as that fits nicely in the box on the mozilla.org homepage. However, I'm aware that there's still so much more we're not covering. I'm not sure if we'll ever reach the heights of 2002 again, when we reported on basically everything of note (though there was much less news then - we could plausibly attempt to report on every third-party Mozilla news article and most Mozilla-based projects, something we could never achieve now).

"For the moment the replies have been low, however, I feel this is because there have been so little activity here in the past that people have just sailed on by to get to the meatier forums."

True but I think the readership is still quite high. We're aggregated in a lot of places. We still seem to be read by quite a few technology journalists; I keep on seeing articles based on content hear popping up around the web and a far number of plain citations (five in the latest free edition of LWN at <http://lwn.net/Articles/232965/> for example).

If the news here isn't enough for you and you don't want to wade through loads of weblogs and newsgroups, I can highly recommend Percy Cabello's Mozilla Links: <http://mozillalinks.org/>

Alex

#3 aren't there enough blogs out there already?

by tsahi

Saturday May 12th, 2007 12:34 PM

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almost every mozilla employee has a blog, including mitchell baker herself. isn't that enough? official statements can be made through the current press release area, that looks official enough for me.

#5 Re: aren't there enough blogs out there already?

by mozpkim

Saturday May 12th, 2007 1:35 PM

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There are a few issues we're trying to fix by having a central MoCo blog, tsahi.

1. Persistence of information Aggregators like planet.mozilla.org and mozillazine feedhouse don't archive, and aren't searchable. We want people to be able to have easy access to a more or less stable archive of Mozilla content. We plan on cross-posting content from many individual Mozilla contributor blogs as well.

2. Digestibility Press releases are useful for some kinds of announcements (new releases of software, partnerships, etc.). But they aren't a good format for other types of information that are important to communicate in a way that has the weight of Mozilla behind it. We're also planning to post content for new Firefox users that isn't suitable for a press release: tips and tutorials, community updates, etc.

3. Ease of publishing Getting a press release ready and pushing it out takes several days, if not weeks, and requires work from MoCo marketing, webdev, and IT folks.

#6 MozillaZine...

by roseman

Monday May 14th, 2007 12:22 PM

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i hope the new blog is as good as MozillaZine :)

#7 Official post crediting

by dmose <dmose@mozilla.org>

Tuesday May 15th, 2007 10:04 AM

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> Official statements will be credited to just "Mozilla".

How about crediting them to MozillaCorp instead? As shaver recently pointed out in a blog post, "Mozilla" is a highly overloaded term and applies to many things besides just MoCo.

Dan

#10 Re: Official post crediting

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Friday May 18th, 2007 12:13 AM

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I agree. It can mean the project, the software, the community and no fewer than three organisations (the past mozilla.org and the present Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation).

I can usually figure out which one it means but I sometimes get stumped by references to plain "Mozilla" as an organisation, a shorthand initiated by the press and increasingly picked up the Foundation/Corporation itself. Does it mean the Foundation or the Corporation? The distinction is sometimes important.

Plus, using the over-arching term "Mozilla" to refer to the Foundation/Corporation does somewhat downgrade the importance of the wider community.

Alex

#11 Re: Re: Official post crediting

by mozpkim

Saturday May 19th, 2007 11:30 AM

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Both fair points of feedback. We'll make sure it's clear that posts authored by "Mozilla" are coming from MoCo.