Tag Archives: sumo

Dreaming of lizards, too

Following up on my brief blog post the other day, I am currently in Mountain View to work from Mozilla’s main office. The main reason for this is that we had the pleasure of hiring Kadir Topal as the SUMO community manager. The plan is to get him properly introduced to all the people he’s going to work with remotely. So far, the plan has really played out well, but it’s definitely been an intense first day for him!

Of course, traveling nine hours back in time also means fighting a pretty intense jet lag. The first night is always toughest (although I was pretty excited about one particular dream I had of holding the jaw of a huge lizard with one hand and petting it with the other… it’s a shame I had to wake up while I was running through the forest to get my camera!), so I’m confident that both Kadir and I will be more energized tomorrow.

Let's create that ideal world together!

John Slater recently hosted a brown bag about how to improve Mozilla’s web sites by making a clearer distinction between Mozilla, the non-profit organization, and Firefox, one of its products (and, of course, the most popular since it happens to be the best browser in the world!). He also posted a blog post about the topic, and David Boswell then followed up by providing his thoughts from the point of view of the Mozilla Foundation.

As I’ve said before, my vision for SUMO goes beyond Firefox: SUMO is a vibrant community of people who want to help others with their web experience. It’s also a support website platform for products like Firefox, mobile Firefox and Thunderbird.

The URL for Firefox Support, the largest SUMO-powered support site, is currently support.mozilla.com. While I don’t think URLs are that important in the first place (the navigation and structure of websites are far more important), this particular URL is a bit unfortunate because the support site is indeed about Firefox, and not Mozilla as a whole. A URL like support.firefox.com would make more sense, and would also send a clearer message to everyone what the focus of the site is.

In the ideal world, there would be a central place for support on mozilla.org where users of all products could find easy access to the support offerings per product. In other words, something like mozilla.org/support, which already exists today (although I would also make sure that support.mozilla.org worked).

Then, each product would have its own support site hosted on the product domains, e.g. support.firefox.com, support.thunderbird.com, and support.seamonkey-project.org. Of course, these sites would also link to all the amazing community-hosted support websites around the world — just like they do today.

So, what stops us from creating this ideal world? Well, nothing, really. But we’re an incredibly big community and support is just one piece of the big puzzle, so I encourage you to participate in the discussion!

Improve your karma: Help some Firefox users today!

Today, Firefox 3.6 will be released. From a support perspective, the big highlights of 3.6 are

  1. Less crashes
  2. Automatic plug-in update notifications
  3. More win

It’s certainly a time for celebration (perhaps I’ll even have a beer despite the fact that it’s only Thursday!) — but it’s also an opportunity to help the many people that will try Firefox for the first time today, or the even higher number of people who will upgrade from older versions of Firefox.

Do you think you know more about Firefox than the average user? (Hint: if you’re reading Planet Mozilla or my blog, the answer is most probably yes.) Then you can make a huge difference to a lot of people by helping them have a better experience on the web!

All it takes is a few minutes in our Firefox support forum. Simply browse through the questions asked by users of Firefox and see if you know the answer to some of them. If you do, make someone’s day by posting the answer!

On behalf of Mozilla and the 350 million Firefox users out there: Thank you.

žomg it's a small community!

There is an old saying that we live in a small world. It turns out that this is true for the Mozilla community as well — and definitely in that same good way!

Matjaž with his excellent taste

Matjaž with his excellent taste

Matjaž Horvat is a perfect example: I’ve seen the guy at various Mozilla events such as MozCamp Barcelona, MozCamp Prague, and the Mozilla Summit in Whistler, and I’ve always admired his great taste of fashion.

But it wasn’t until today during a chat with him about how we could kickstart Slovenian SUMO localization that I finally realized it: this guy with the same unbelievably stylish Diesel sneakers as I was wearing in Barcelona actually worked with me on Firebird Help way back in 2003! Indeed, Matjaž was the Slovenian translator of the site, and his excellent work is still up for public viewing in the Internet Archive — only with a little bit less style.

Just for the record, Matjaž reminded me today that we actually talked about this in Whistler, and I apparently managed to completely forget that… Not sure what to say in defense other than the fact that I’ve never met as many new faces before as I did in Whistler.

Sometimes the Mozilla community is just so cool. Or as Matjaž said during our chat: “it’s amazing how good this community feels!”

I can’t wait to work with you on Firefox support again, Matjaž!

I have four words for you

Meeting fellow Mozillians at events like MozCamp is very much like meeting old friends: it’s familiar, energizing, and fun. MozCamp 2009 in Prague was no exception and left me with a lot of extra enthusiasm about being part of Mozilla.

This event was extra special from a SUMO point of view, because for the first time, we were able to invite a number of non-localization contributors of SUMO. I was very pleased to finally meet European Live Chat experts Tobbi and mzz in real life (to be fair, we did invite many more SUMO community members, but unfortunately most of them were unable to join). You can chat with both Tobbi and mzz in the #sumo channel of irc.mozilla.org.

Another SUMO contributor I had never met before is Milos from Mozilla Serbia. He is an incredibly multi-talented contributor helping out with things like Serbian localization, QA of new SUMO features, web QA, market share analysis and many other things. As always during events like this, time really flies and I wish I had more time to hang out with Tobbi, mzz, and Milos.

Of course, it was also great to meet long-time SUMO contributors Simone from Mozilla Italia, and Thomas from Mozilla Germany again. I had really productive chats with them about which things to improve with SUMO l10n and I’m hoping we can get these fixes in early in 2010. More on that soon.

My photos from the event can be found on Flickr. Some random things I liked about MozCamp 2009 in Prague:

One of the absolute highlights of the event was something I had been fantasizing about for almost two years. The idea actually formed at FOSDEM 2008, when Seth and I had a brief moment of genius (or just a strong hangover) and started to play with the idea of having Chris Hofmann come up on stage and do the Ballmer dance, Mozilla-style. When I blogged last year about the almost painful laughs during the Sunday dinner with Seth, Mark Finkle, Mic and  Zbigniew, this idea of “I love this community” was the primary reason for the pain. :)

So it was with pure joy, pride and excitement that I finally got to experience it for real — it felt like giving birth to a child (or not even close; what do I know?). Thanks Seth and chofmann for making it happen!

I really do love this community.

Update: A blog post about MozCamp 2009 without acknowledging the incredible work by the people who organized it is not cool. William, Irina and the track leaders Patrick Finch, Marcia Knous, Paul Rouget, Gandalf and Brian King all did an amazing job. Thank you!

Marc Laporte coming to town

As many people already know, SUMO as a support web platform is built around open source software. For the knowledge base and forum, we use TikiWiki, an open-source PHP-based content management system. What fewer people might know is that SUMO is currently based on TikiWiki 1.10, which is almost two years old today. The latest version of TikiWiki is 3.1 and in only a couple of months 4.0 will be released.

This week, TikiWiki community lead/member Marc Laporte is paying me a quick visit in Eskilstuna, Sweden to discuss our current situation and to figure out what to do with SUMO. We have identified three potential plans:

  • Plan A: upgrade SUMO to TikiWiki 4.x. This is what I’m hoping we’ll be able to achieve. The question is how much work it means to get to 4.x and how much better things will be once we’re there.
  • Plan B: fork our current codebase and continue to add our own features on top of it. This is essentially what we’re doing today, and it’s not exactly ideal since we end up doing work in parallel with TikiWiki, and we’re wasting precious resources.
  • Plan C: migrade our content to another CMS, e.g. Drupal. By far the most costly effort in the short term, and not clear whether the benefits outweighs the investment cost.

Now that Marc and I have the opportunity to spend two full days working face to face, I’m hopeful that we can not only pick Plan A, but come up with a solid plan for the first few steps to make the plan a reality.

If you’re part of the SUMO or TikiWiki community, I would love to hear what you think and if you think there are things we should focus on discussing!

I fell in love with Geneva

It’s Midsummer Eve in Sweden and I finally got some time to reflect on the fantastic weekend I had in Geneva together with other members of the Mozilla community. I was there to lead a discussion about SUMO and community support, with a focus on sharing experiences between the five local communities represented: Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Mozilla Italia on SUMO

The discussion started with Mozilla Italia sharing their experiences with community support, where they explained why they recently decided to switch entirely to SUMO. It was really insightful to hear their main reasons for using SUMO today. Among other things, they said that:

  • Outdated content is worse than lack of content
  • If your documentation isn’t easy to find or badly structured, there’s no point in having it
  • Good documentation requires consistency, quality, and precision

This is absolutely true and we are constantly working on those three points on SUMO, so I was glad to see that these values were shared with Mozilla Italia. I was very impressed that they took the time and energy to share these experiences with the other communities, who are all handling community support in different ways.

After the presentation, the floor was open for questions and discussions, after which Simone, Francesco and Giuliano passed on the torch to me to hold a discussion/presentation combo about SUMO in general. Among other things, I showed the many new features in SUMO — both implemented and still in the works. In total, the SUMO discussions went on for over an hour, and many interesting ideas came out of it.

Discussions

For example, we were discussing the best way to indicate in the search results that some of the content is only available in English. Should these English results be mixed together with the localized content, or should it be separated? Should we add labels specifying the language of the article? Should the behavior differ depending on locale? For example, in Germany, mixing English and German content isn’t as common as mixing Swedish and English content is in Sweden. Kadir pointed out that in Germany, the existence of English content on a German website can even lead to mistrust of the quality of the website.

GenevaAfter almost nine hours of discussions and presentations, it was time for us to explore Geneva and have dinner. I have to say that I fell in love with Geneva. It wasn’t just the nice weather or the beautiful buildings — there was something with the atmosphere that made walking around in the old town at night taking photos together with fellow Mozillians really, really enjoyable. I think everyone felt extra proud of being part of the Mozilla community that night.

In retrospect, I think that this inter-community meetup was one of the most successful Mozilla events I’ve attended to so far. The focus was on exchanging experiences and discussing, rather than passively watching other people’s presentations. It really worked very well to have a smaller group of people, as that made discussing various topics much easier. Also, William’s “no laptop rule” helped everyone stay focused on the purpose of the day rather than escaping into the wonderful world of bug filing, blogging, tweeting, and coding. :)

A huge thanks has to go to William for ensuring that the day was a true success. Big thumbs up from me, William! I would also like to thank Simone Lando, Giuliano Masseroni, and Francesco Lodolo from Mozilla Italia, for so openly sharing their experiences, pros, and cons about SUMO. It was incredibly helpful!