Affero (project overview & Current System)

Okay so this is post 1 of many where I will be giving you large chunks of the documentation for the Affero project. They build nicely into posts due to the way that the documentation has been written so to be kind on your feed reader and myself, I will give you a daily project update OR documentation extract till I either run out of extracts, or decide that I don’t have anything worth posting about :)

So without anymore pausing for time, here is the project overview (the official one) and explanation of the current systems Affero is designed to compliment/semi-replace.

[Please note that is not an official Mozilla project any might no be implemented on completion. It is an experiment that helps with my coursework for my A-Level studies.]

Project Overview

Mozilla are currently looking for a new way to help people get involved with the community and other aspects of the Mozilla eco-system. They currently have several different systems in place for encouraging, and helping people getting involved. They include things such as: direct contact with people via face to face conversations with existing Mozilla community members/employees; a mailing list for people to send enquiries to and a dedicated group of people volunteering time to respond; a multitude of IRC channels on irc.mozilla.org; the list goes on.

What Mozilla want is a system that will allow for the vast majority of these to be centralized and monitored for trends in enquiries, when they are made, and where they are coming from.

Current system

As previously mentioned there are several methods that Mozilla are using to encourage, and help people to get involved. Bellow each method will be detailed as well as some of its pros and cons. This section can not only be seen as providing information on the current systems in use by Mozilla, but also as problem definitions for each method. A generalised problem definition that gets right to the heart of the issue will follow.

Word of mouth

This system is fairly self explanatory. Members of the Mozilla community, as well as Mozilla�s own employees will often recommend Mozilla products to people, however they will also talk about the other projects that Mozilla runs, and how they benefit people. This provides the listeners with information about areas of Mozilla that they could be involved with, and, when asked, the Mozilla representative will usually either know enough about how people can get involved or know someone who can provide this information, or even direct the user to one of the other systems Mozilla uses to help people get involved.

Pros

  • It allows for direct interaction with people who gain a more involved feeling due to the face-to-face interaction. They are therefore more likely to continue on and get involved in one of the many areas of Mozilla
  • It allows for the Mozilla representative to get direct feedback on people’s opinions and this can then be relayed onto the rest of community for consideration in marketing campaigns and future outreach.

Cons

  • The Mozilla representative may not know the information the listener is after, or requires to get involved.
  • The Mozilla representative may know the information however some of it may be incorrect or out dated.

Contribution Mailing List

There is also a contribution mailing list where a team of volunteers accept enquiries about how to get involved with the community. It has an email address as well as a form on the main Mozilla.org website on the “Get Involved” page that allows ease of submission to this list.

Pros

  • Allows for easy use by the end user.
  • Is globally accessible by both end users and volunteers helping answer enquiries.
  • Gets some expected content from the user that helps the volunteers provide good feedback to the user.

Cons

  • The system allows for a reasonable amount of spam / trolling. Some of this can be unintentional such as asking questions about support with Mozilla products rather than how to get involved.
  • People often do not provide enough in the way of their interests for volunteers to provide help tailored to the needs of the user.
  • The back end is not very user friendly and can result in unintended flooding of emails to the volunteers. This can lead to legitimate enquiries being overlooked or missed.

Internet Relay Chat

Mozilla has a large number of IRC channels as well as afore mentioned methods of communication between the end users and their volunteers. There are a number of channels on their IRC servers which people can join to get involved.

Pros

  • There are a large number of volunteers that use the IRC network to communicate with each other.
  • It is synchronous, so help can be proved immediately whenever possible.

Cons

  • There is more than one channel to join to get involved, too many channels can confuse people looking to get involved.
  • There is no guarantee that the user will get the help they need, as there is no record of their enquiry if there is no one immediately available to help.

Get Involved Pages

Get Involved Pages

Mozilla has tried to solve this problem using get involved pages on multiple different sites as well. These pages aggregate information on how people can get involved with the project or a specific area of the project, and then provide a way for people to get in contact with someone about getting involved if desired.

Pros

  • They detail how to get involved, no need to read between the lines.
  • They are relatively easy to find on a given website.
  • Content can be customized based on the theme of the particular site the page is on.

Cons

  • Information can become stale if not updated frequently.
  • With such a large number of get involved pages it can be difficult of the end users to get to the page most relevant for them or even know which one is most relevant.