Mozilla Still Good After 32 Days
Saturday July 27th, 2002
Timothy Dyck began using Mozilla about a month ago and he hasn't looked back since. In an opinion piece, the eWEEK journalist describes his favourite features and outlines some improvements he'd like to see in future versions.
#1 What does mozilla.org think of this?
by onelists <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Saturday July 27th, 2002 11:56 AM
Often in discussion about Mozilla on irc or mozilla oriented mailing lists I often find mozilla people being very adament that mozilla was not intended for end users and that specific advocacy of mozilla to end users should not be done. Indeed a mozdev project for advocacy had serious damage done to it early on for this very reason. So why do we constantly see reports on mozilla being used without also seeing complaints form mozilla about this?
Personally I _do_ want to see mozilla used by end users. I wants to see mozilla advocacy. But I would like the issue cleared up. Do mozilla.org actually want to prevent end use of mozilla? With Netscape/Beonex/Chimera.. etc used instead?
#2 Re: Yeah, but what happened to 1.0.1?
Saturday July 27th, 2002 12:06 PM
> Do mozilla.org actually want to prevent end use of mozilla? With Netscape/Beonex/Chimera.. etc used instead?
I think that depends on what the end users are expecting. Nothing stops them from using mozilla. However, if they are expecting end user support, they better go for Netscape/Beonex/etc... Mozilla.org simply do not have the resources for that.
#3 Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Saturday July 27th, 2002 12:09 PM
ummm... strange... the title has changed...
#4 Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Saturday July 27th, 2002 1:07 PM
"Do mozilla.org actually want to prevent end use of mozilla? With Netscape/Beonex/Chimera.. etc used instead?"
Do you want to see Mozilla developers, testers and project organizers so swamped in end user noise that they stop getting work done? Have you seen what end users did to the Mozilla developer newsgroups? Have you seen what end users did to IRC? You can hardly find a discussion of code in either of those forums (although IRC isn't as bad as the newsgroups because developers can easily take their discussion private, and do).
Do you want to see Mozilla developers, testers and project organizers stop developing, testing and organizing and instead focus their efforts on marketing and distribution? Should mozilla.org spend their time worrying about getting included on some magazine CD or trying to get banner and pop-up ads on major web sites?
The point is that end users cost. Getting them and holding on to them costs time and other resources that mozilla.org would rather devote to making the code better. Netscape, Beonex (not Chimera, which is another mozilla development project) IBM, RedHat and others offer support to end users of Mozilla-based products. They have the resources to handle that noise. They have marketing departments with marketing budgets. They have distribution avenues and advertising mechanisms and third party co-branding and OEM agreements. They are offering to pay the cost of end users and I, for one, think that's great.
If some end user wants to pick up Mozilla and drop IE I think to myself "great!" But the minute their testing value is outweighed by the time they cost in support and maintenance I change my mind and I no longer think "great!"
Many have argued that end users shouldn't cost developers and project organizers anything. "You just have to set up user forums and write FAQs and recruit volunteers to keep them out of the developer forums and you just have to help volunteers get started marketing and make some distribution arrangements with other open source projects and do what <insert random open source project here> does." the argument goes. But all of this is work. All of this requires organizing, funding, maintenance. mozilla.org simply doesn't have the resources. You mentioned the mozdeve evangelism project. I missed that completely but, with no real knowledge about what it intended to be, I'm glad that we don't have a seriously organized effort to get a lot of end users when we don't have a seriously organized effort to support those end users. I don't think I'd have anything negative to say about a mozdev project to organize, fund, set up and maintain an end user support system. Something like that is already desperately needed with the small (relative) numbers of end users we already have.
One last note so that it's clear what I'm not saying. If you contribute more back to the project than you take away (mozilla's team of 25,000+ bug reporters would qualify) then I encourage you to use Mozilla and I'll even spend some time to help you with Mozilla problems (including regular user questions). But the moment you start giving more than you take you cease to be an end user and you become a participant. mozilla.org does want more participants. mozilla.org doesn't want more people lowering the signal to noise ratio in the newsgroups and otherwise diminishing the amount of work that developers, testers, and project organizers can accomplish.
Think of mozilla as a technology organization. Remember that 3M commercial? "We don't make the things you buy. We make the things you buy better."
#8 Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Saturday July 27th, 2002 7:27 PM
<q>We don't make the things you buy. We make the things you buy better.</q> is from those <acronym lang="de" title="Badische Anilin- & Soda-Fabrik AG">BASF</acronym> commercials.
#9 Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Sunday July 28th, 2002 7:39 AM
> But the moment you start giving more than you take you cease to be > an end user and you become a participant. mozilla.org does want > more participants.
But most people start as end users and then gradually become participants as they get integrated into the culture. I myself started out looking for an alternative browser, ended up filing bugs, downloading nightlies, learning xul, making skins, and becoming a standards advocate.
We can't throw end users away, since they are the pool from which participants come from. It is by using Mozilla that they discover Mozilla and what it stands for.
The important thing is to strengthen the culture so that we would influence newcomers to the community rather than they diluting it.
#10 Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Sunday July 28th, 2002 7:52 AM
I agree that you have to put a limit on how much you meddle with the end-user, but how do the developers stop themselves from only listening to the opinions of other developers instead of actually hearing what the user wants?
Another question: mozilla.org tries to make the browser suite better, okay, but better for who? If it's for everyone, you need to get the opinion from everyone. Why isn't there an opt-in list of users who get sent emails pointing to themes to try accompanied by questionnaires to answer regarding those themes (fully automated ofcourse), so all those "shall we go with A or with B?" UI questions finally get a conclusive answer?
The thing I would however like mozilla.org to do first however is to realise that they ARE making the end-product, whether they like it or not. Look at netscape, look at beonex. Are those radically different from mozilla? No, not at all. Mozilla.org has the responsability for making a good end-user product, because, frankly, nobody else is.
#12 Re: Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Sunday July 28th, 2002 10:08 AM
"Mozilla.org has the responsability for making a good end-user product, because, frankly, nobody else is. "
Ignoring the faulty logic, you're entitled to your opinion but it's just that, an opinion. mozilla.org does not have the responsibility for making a good end-user product. mozilla.org has a responsibility to it's developers, testers and the vendors releasing Mozilla-based products and that's it. The side-effect of facilitating developers, testers and vendors is that our technologies are good enough without significant changes for most end-users. That is a side-effect, not a driving force and anyone who doesn't understand that doesn't understand this project well enough to tell mozilla.org what its responsibilities are.
The part you don't seem to get is that "good end-user product" goes well beyond making a great client application. It requres packaging, distribution and support. mozilla.org is not in this business and doesn't have the resources right now to even try. Vendors like Netscape, RedHat and IBM do have the resources and they are putting those resources into action to make their Mozilla distribution a great end-user product.
#13 Re: Re: Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of thi
Sunday July 28th, 2002 3:14 PM
"Ignoring the faulty logic"
Mozilla.org has the responsability for making a good end-user product, because, frankly, nobody else is making one. Is that more logical? (Sorry for my bad grammar earlier on, english is not my native tongue) Note what I said, not obligation, responsability. Netscape is too busy trying to make a version of mozilla that sucks, and all the other mozilla-based browsers don't offer enough above and beyond baseline mozilla. If mozilla.org doesn't do it, who will?
"It requires packaging, distribution and support. mozilla.org is not in this business and doesn't have the resources right now to even try."
Make the browser good enough, and you won't need support. IE doesn't have support, not free support anyway, and it gets along just fine. What is the whole support argument anyway? They might see mozilla.org doesn't offer support and refuse to use mozilla? So what? They're not using mozilla now anyway. The only way to go from here is up.
As for packaging and distribution, mozilla.org's already in that game. On the right side of the mozilla.org site there are links to packages being distributed. That mozilla can only be downloaded and not bought in a shrinkwrapped box is no reason for claiming mozilla.org's not a distributor. After all, IE isn't sold separately either.
"Vendors like Netscape, RedHat and IBM do have the resources and they are putting those resources into action to make their Mozilla distribution a great end-user product."
Redhat could be making the best browser ever built, and it still wouldn't matter the slightest bit because it would be bundled. Who cares if it's the greatest browser in the world if nobody but redhat users can use it? The same goes for IBM's OS/2 browser, by the way. And my distaste for Netscape's version I believe I already covered.
#15 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of
Sunday July 28th, 2002 5:34 PM
"Mozilla.org has the responsability for making a good end-user product, because, frankly, nobody else is making one. Is that more logical?"
No. It does not follow that mozilla.org has any responsibility for anything because of the failings of others.
#11 Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Sunday July 28th, 2002 8:56 AM
fullack! The problem are NOT the users, that just use Mozilla and report bugs they find by doing this and read FAQs if they have a problem, the problem are people, who think Bugzilla is a support database or a big FAQ, people asking "when will this be fixed?" on TE bugs or who flood IRC and Newsgroups with questions link "how to do this or that". 3 of the last 4 Questions in #mozilla: <***> what's the status on support for ActiveX controls in Mozilla? <****> are there any themes for mozilla 1.0 people would recommend. I want something nice and compact? <****> where can I get lofi?
Netscape/WhatEverCompany makes a product based on Mozilla and provides support. That's nice for end users... in theory. How many end users do you know actually call/email to their vendor about their problem? Most people I know would just rant about how program X sucks and then uninstall it. All other people will post a message on a public forum. But know *nobody* who actually calls the product's vendor for support.
#17 Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Sunday July 28th, 2002 8:38 PM
you point out a number of legitimate problems that have arisen due to increased numbers of end-users. however, i would contend that these problems arise mainly because end-users are passively allowed to use methods and forums that they really shouldn't. if bugzilla, irc, or the newsgroups are being flooded by unneeded end-user spam, then lock them out. if you don't provide an accessible forum for end-user support, the end users will go away.
of course, this would defeat the open source objective. the fact of the matter is, a large number of mozilla developers, particularly those donating their services, were end-users first. and in many cases, their intent in aiding the project is to develop a better product for direct use, not a platform for third-party development. by actively discouraging use by the "average" internet citizen, we risk alienating potential developers along with discouraging current developers who are aiding the project for personal use.
mozilla will be used by non-developers as long as it remains an open source project - this is regardless of whether there is active marketing, packaging, and support. and as for marketing and support, mozilla.org may not have the resources to officially provide these services, but with web sites and faqs and splash screens and the lot, it's being all but officially provided anyway. and all the time and effort spent on developing an official chrome (even though third-party developers will develop their own anyway) proves mozilla.org *is* interested in the packaging of the product. with all the pieces in play already, it would be a lot more useful to stop denying that mozilla is an end-user application and instead start encouraging end-users - who could be tomorrow's developers, marketers, or support "staff" - by pointing them in the right direction.
that, or mozilla.org should close the "open source" nature of mozilla with the 1.0 release, and should instead restrict further development to qualified developers only. keep the riff-raff out. although i imagine that sorting through applications would be a pain.
#19 Re: Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Monday July 29th, 2002 12:17 AM
"a large number of mozilla developers, particularly those donating their services, were end-users first."
This is a fine and dandy statement but it's wrong. They were more than end-users. Trying to attact and support end-users means people, the overwhelming majority of whom will never contribute anything significant back to the project. People (like me) who were not developers and came to the Mozilla projects from using and reporting bugs on Mozilla were never classic browser application end-users. There are hundreds of millions of people on-line right now and the number of people with any interest in contributing to open source is only a fraction of a percent of those hundreds of millions of end-users. Trying to attract the hundreds of millions in order to get the handful who will contribute anything significant to Mozilla is a silly approach that will be a waste of more resources than it gains.
"actively discouraging use by the "average" internet citizen, we risk alienating potential developers along with discouraging current developers who are aiding the project for personal use. "
Actively recruiting the "average" internet citizen (if that is a synonym for the average "end-user") is silly. My mom is the average internet citezen and with all the time I spend answering her Mozilla questions, she already costs the project considerably more than she returns to it. If you honestly believe that the best way to target and attract developers is to seek millions of "average interenet citizens" then you're just naieve.
"mozilla will be used by non-developers as long as it remains an open source project - this is regardless of whether there is active marketing, packaging, and support."
The people with enough interst to seek it out on their own (without mozilla.org and the Mozilla community targeting them) will find it and they will be more likely to contribute something back than those you "sell" mozilla to. Chasing end-users will cost more than it gains. Chasing developers and those with an interest in participating in open-source development is an entirely different matter and I'm happy to support most efforts that target potential contributors but targeting the general end-user is a waste of resources. Let the companies with the resources and the experience in that area do that work.
#18 Re: What does mozilla.org think of thi
Monday July 29th, 2002 12:13 AM
>> If some end user wants to pick up Mozilla and drop IE I think to myself "great!" But the minute their testing value is outweighed by the time they cost in support and maintenance I change my mind and I no longer think "great!" [...] Think of mozilla as a technology organization. Remember that 3M commercial? "We don't make the things you buy. We make the things you buy better." <<
I look at this slightly differently - I do NOT expect end-user support for Mozilla; what I'm more concerned about - as a Mozilla user - is that Mozilla continue to exist in its current basic form, as a browser/mail/etc client.
The Mozilla browser is described as an "Internet technology demonstration" or something like that, whose only purpose is to showcase the technology. That wording worries me. What if the developers decide that an on-line Internet game platform with IRC chat and scoring pages served up via HTML is a better "technology demonstration" than a browser? Will they throw away the Mozilla Browser?
The only "support" I'm interested in as an end-user is a commitment to continue to produce a browser with this technology. Not a 100% guarantee or anything - just a general understanding that Mozilla-the-Browser will not be cavalierly discarded in favor of some other implementation of the technology, leaving those who do use it as their primary browser out in the cold.
#20 Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of thi
Monday July 29th, 2002 12:29 AM
"What if the developers decide that an on-line Internet game platform with IRC chat and scoring pages served up via HTML is a better "technology demonstration" than a browser? Will they throw away the Mozilla Browser? "
Yes, if all of the developers (even a majority or a very strong minority) decide that an on-line game platform with IRC chat and scoring pages served up as HTML is a better technology demonstration than a browser they certainly are free, and are likely, to stop work on the browser and start work on the more interesting project. If that happened and no picked up the slack then the browser would probably quickly fall apart and that would be that. That's how it works. It's called open source. If that happens and you don't like it then you're free to use the last working version of the browser and you're free to continue development of the browser if you've got the knowhow or the resources. What you're not free to do is demand support (and continuing development on a project constitutes support) for Mozilla. Support was never promised and if you feel you're getting sufficient support now that's just fortune smiling on you.
"The only "support" I'm interested in as an end-user is a commitment to continue to produce a browser with this technology."
Don't count on it. Technologies evolve, change and are discarded. Projects evolve, change and are discarded. People move on. If you're looking for a commitment you're out of luck. And that's not specific to this project or even to open source. If Microsoft decides to unsupport you or break compatability then you're out of luck. It's my understanding that just about every commercial software product on the planet comes with an end user license agreement which says something to the effect of "no warrantee or guarantee of any kind". At least with open source you can always grab the code and support yourself if the project or product goes in a direction that you're not pleased with.
#22 Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
by stvb <email@example.com>
Monday July 29th, 2002 7:41 AM
IMHO Mozilla.org already does provide support. We find bugs - developers (when they can) fix 'em. I agree with Asa on one point that it isn't Mozilla.org's function to provide the level of support that IBM or Netscape does to it's customers. But Mozilla.org does provide releases with features and fixes requested by the community due to the all the people who contribute and we are very grateful for that!
#27 Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Monday July 29th, 2002 9:05 PM
> If you contribute more back to the project than you > take away (mozilla's team of 25,000+ bug reporters > would qualify) then I encourage you to use Mozilla > and I'll even spend some time to help you with Mozilla > problems (including regular user questions). But > the moment you start giving more than you take you > cease to be an end user and you become a participant.
Bandwith - I download binaries almost weekly (or sometimes more often, if there's something specific to track). This is something like a hundred downloads during the two years I've been using Mozilla. This is someting in the order of 1800 MB of bandwidth costs I've inflicted upon mozilla.org servers.
Report Bugs - maybe eleven. Four of them were duplicates, so that's not helping. QA - found the duplicates of maybe twenty bugs. Lines of code - less than a hundred. End-user questions answered - maybe one.
Can one really say that I give more to from mozilla.org than I take? I don't know how much 1800 MB of bandwidth costs, but it's probably lots.
#28 Re: Re: Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Monday July 29th, 2002 10:27 PM
If you reported bugs and those bugs got fixed then you may have saved millions of users (Netscape's got millions, mozilla.org probably has hundreds of thousands) from experiencing those problems. That's the kind of value that makes our open process a success.
List for a 44.736 Mbps (5.592 MBps) DS3 from Sprint as of 1/2002: $32,400 per month
2592000 seconds in a month. $0.0125 per second.
Assuming you had access to the full pipe, the 1800 MB of Mozilla could be transmitted in 321.89 seconds.
The total cost to support your Mozilla habit thus far has been $4.02 (or just about, ignoring hardware costs and the salaries and dental plans of the network admins :)
If mozilla.org has to pay 5-6 cents per line of code, I think they probably received good value from your participation.
#5 Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Saturday July 27th, 2002 2:01 PM
> Indeed a mozdev project for advocacy had serious damage done to it early on for this very reason.
How can "damage" be done to a project? I hope you're not talking about what I (or anyone else) said - I certainly wouldn't call that "damage." I explained the reasons why I thought it was not a good idea, but I did not (nor could I) forbid the project leaders from carrying on with the project.
#21 Re: What does mozilla.org think of this?
Monday July 29th, 2002 5:58 AM
I've been using Mozilla since release v1.0. Much better than Netscape 6.2. Also, much more faster than IE6 when browsing pages with lots of text in tables (mysqladmin dumps mysql table with binary items).
I really dont see any reason why somebody would think that Mozilla is used solely as a base for a Netscape (and others). I don't think NetCaptor is preventing end use of IE?
Netcaptor:IE != Netscape:Mozilla. IE is a productized package - it's got the end-user oriented stuff that Asa is talking about (Knowledge Base articles, for instance, which are very much not the same thing as Bugzilla bugs).
I wonder if any of the folks clamoring for Mozilla to be marketed as an end-user oriented product have ever actually done that kind of marketing? If you had, you'd know the kind of resources that are necessary to do it right.
I think the real problem here is not with Mozilla, but with the productized versions derived from it: you should be telling the end-user product vendors that you want their product to be more like Mozilla, rather than asking Mozilla to act more like a end-user product vendor. Ultimately the average end-user should prefer the productized version, because it is giving them more value. If it isn't giving more value, then there's a product design problem that needs to be addressed.
(I'm speaking here as an end-user; I'm not affiliated with Mozilla.org or any of the related organizations.)
PS: I think the real problem, ultimately, is with a particular 6.0 product that came out some time ago. Right now Mozilla users are comparing Mozilla to that product, and finding Mozilla really superior. It should be: years of work have gone into improving it since then! Perhaps it's worthwhile to look at the 7.0 release of the product in question before bugging Mozilla.org about marketing, etc.
#25 Re: Re: Products and Demonstrations
by SubtleRebel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Monday July 29th, 2002 3:20 PM
"Perhaps it's worthwhile to look at the 7.0 release of the product in question before bugging Mozilla.org about marketing, etc."
Actually, they should not bother Mozilla.org about marketing even after looking over Netscape 7.0 PR1. ;)
Otherwise I agree with you.
If an end user is happy with Mozilla then that is great, but if they are unhappy with it then they either need to provide constructive assistance with Mozilla (ie valid bug reports, programming, sponsorship, etc) or get an end user product like Netscape or IE. End users would benefit more from bugging Netscape about Netscape issues than trying to convince Mozilla.org to establish a support structure that is not feasible.
#26 Re: The problem is with the productized versions
Monday July 29th, 2002 5:04 PM
"I think the real problem here is not with Mozilla, but with the productized versions derived from it: you should be telling the end-user product vendors that you want their product to be more like Mozilla, rather than asking Mozilla to act more like a end-user product vendor. Ultimately the average end-user should prefer the productized version, because it is giving them more value. If it isn't giving more value, then there's a product design problem that needs to be addressed."
Now there's a thought! My Dad is seriously fed up with his NS 4.79 (for obvious reasons) and has started using IE more, so I gave him NS 6.2.2 (he's still using 4.79's messenger). If I remember correctly, it nagged us to register during startup, planted AIM everywhere, had unnecessary buttons taking up screen space which I couldn't get rid off easily and lacked tabbed browsing and "annoyances off" (popup windows, mainly) features.
These, I guess, are some of the reasons why Asa preferred to install Mozilla for his mom, and it's what I would have done for my dad had I known there is a German version available.
I do see why Netscape doesn't want us to switch off popups, I do see there's a necessity for them to make money off of this somehow and I do see why their releases take longer than mozilla.org's do. But me understanding all this doesn't make my dad (or me even) want to use the new Netscape. We do not perceive the overall experience as superior to IE. Mozilla's clearly is, though. Because of the little things that it lacks (shopping buttons, unnerving AIM, ...) and has (tabbed browsing, "annoyances off" options) in comparison to NS and IE -- it's just perfect.
I don't think AOL is doing itself a favour, because these things really do matter and they keep people from falling in love with an otherwise awesome product and that in turn keeps them from spreading the word (which they do for mozilla). It's why you see articles encouraging end users to use Mozilla rather than Netscape, it's the reason why all the Linux vendors bundle Mozilla rather than Netscape (as the other guy likes to point out).
If someone takes the time to download and install Netscape (s)he should be rewarded with the best imaginable browser rather than a crippled advertising pillar.
They can still nag users on machines bundled with NS and count on those users generally not even thinking about getting an alternative. But those end users "daring enough" to download and install an alternative, curious as to how it will feel compared to IE, actively evaluating the product? They deserve better!!
Whom at Netscape do I have to tell? ;)
#6 Re: Re: Mozilla Still Good After 32 Days
Saturday July 27th, 2002 2:42 PM
yay! He linked to my bookmarks page :]