The evolution of

Last month we asked for your help in shaping the future of the web site. As Mark Surman explained, we’re working with Mozilla Labs and Mozilla Research to tie Mozilla’s innovation efforts together — including an overhaul of and other Mozilla sites aimed at getting people involved.

More than 180 members of the Drumbeat community participated in our survey, sharing their thoughts on:

  • what’s working with the current site,
  • what’s not working, and
  • where we should focus next.

This post summarizes the survey results. The complete raw survey data is available here (PDF).

How can we amplify Drumbeat’s success online?

Mozilla Drumbeat has been a success. We’ve gathered a great community, demonstrated the value of reaching out to new kinds of audiences, and instilled a participatory, maker-builder spirit through inspiring projects. Drumbeat’s central premise has been proven: we’ve successfully brought together innovators in open web tech with innovators in other spaces like learning and media.

The question going forward is: how can we best support and amplify those successes online, specifically through Mozilla Drumbeat’s web presence?

What you told us about

Here are the high level take-aways:

1) You want easy ways to participate and stay informed.

  • When asked *why* they joined, the overwhelming response from respondents was: to stay informed and get involved in Mozilla projects.

2) The existing site isn’t making that easy enough.

  • isn’t yet fully delivering on that need. 56% of users said they’re “just lurking, waiting for something exciting to happen.”  And over half of all users haven’t logged in to in their recent memory.

3) We need to provide smaller, easier ways to pitch in.

  • The #1 suggestion on how to enable greater community participation was: “Provide small, easy ways for me to pitch in.”

What’s working?

Here’s what survey respondents said is already doing well:

  • Our focus on education & learning. 73% said Mozilla’s community innovation efforts should continue to focus here. And a majority cited education as the most important area for Mozilla to focus on.
  • Reaching out to new kinds of people and projects.
  • Involving the community to make Mozilla grow.

Other direct quotes from respondents on what is doing well:

  • “Having all the projects, people and events in one place to browse.”
  • “Providing a way for web builders to connect.”
  • “Collecting open source projects with a real-world impact.”
  • “Cross-promoting the work of colleagues.”
  • “Reaching out to people *outside* of the current community.”
  • “Offering several ways people  can be involved…whether working on projects or just commenting on them  or just watching and learning…”
  • “Advancing Mozilla’s mission (beyond software) by providing a place/platform  for those that share Mozilla’s ideals and overall goals.”
  • “Letting people from different fields and disciplines meet and share their ideas on what the Internet would and should be.”

What’s not working?

  • Helping a million different projects. Only a small portion of respondents are using the site to support their own project (17%). And those that have posted projects there are not finding the site significantly helpful.
  • We haven’t been able to give all projects the attention and support they need. Many respondents cited the need for greater focus. Narrowing the site to deliver on a single core competency, rather than trying to do too much.
  • Other responses on what could do better:
  • “Add a search functionality to the site!” (+1,000,000)
  • “There’s too many projects.”
  • “Filtering/selecting/presenting new projects better.”
  • “Many projects are not set up to the point where someone can step in and help.”
  • “Make it clear how contributors can help.”
  • “Figuring out how to keep people active and in the loop.”
  • “There needs to be more of an ability to actually connect with projects and people.”
  • “Don’t take on too many diverse projects (as currently). Stay focused on a single mission and walking path per session.”

What should we definitely *not* do with going forward?

A sampling of your responses on what should avoid:

  • “Don’t go too wide.”
  • “Don’t try to do everything.”
  • “Dont loose focus. It happens all too often in web projects.”
  • “Don’t accept ideas from everyone without any form of moderation.”
  • “Don’t make everything go through a moderation process.”
  • “Don’t think that you can be completely hands off about new projects and that the good ones will bubble up to the surface by themselves.”
  • “Don’t be too nice about it. Grow a backbone, get tough.”
  • “Don’t try to be a social network. Really. Don’t do that.”
  • “Don’t get too far down the crowdsourcing path. The site has the right balance right now, and it may make sense to pull back a little bit at this point.”
  • “Don’t ABANDON Drumbeat. It´s an excellent work.”
  • “Don’t give up :p”

Where does that leave us?

Given this feedback, what are we committed to going forward?

  • Expanding participation into Mozilla projects. Making it clearer, easier to get involved and make a difference.
  • Continuing to collaborate with people and projects in areas like education and media. That’s clearly working, and we can scale up community participation here.
  • Shining a brighter light on successful projects. Highlighting a smaller number of projects that are succeeding in attracting participation and momentum, rather than flooding users with a deluge of different projects.
  • Clearer, more focused ways to get support for your project. Mozilla’s new WebFWD initiative, for example, is a way for a small number of promising project ideas to get more direct, hands-on support from Mozilla. Like Y Combinator for the open web.

Things we want to hear from you:

  • How do we strike the right balance between being focused versus being open to all? Many respondents cited the need for greater focus. How do we do that while maintaining the right balance of being as inclusive as possible?
  • How should we pick the projects we passionately support? If we do narrow our focus, what criteria should we use for choosing those projects?
  • What’s the best way to provide smaller, easier ways to pitch in? Given that this is the #1 suggestion for improvement, we’ll need to dig into specifics here together. (We had some useful early conversation about this in today’s Drumbeat call — more on this in subsequent posts.)


  • This is really interesting – sorry I missed the chance to contribute to the survey but it looks like the results synched pretty well with my thoughts.

    I think the ‘Betafarm’ site is already a massive step in the right direction (and the BrowserID login is great) and that the current site lost alot of momentum when it moved from the its original Drupal home – the original site seemed alot more engaging and active.

    I also never liked the idea of seemingly shoving the education focus from year one off to a separate site – always seemed to me that should have been core content even if there was a new focus.

    Focusing on a smaller amount of projects and making it clear how people can get involved would be great (also what kind of help the projects need – coders, users, designers, writers..)

    On a purely selfish note I also miss there being an actual Drumbeat blog – with interviews with & updates from the projects (at least integrate the Planet better?)

    • Hey, Matt. Thanks for this. Trying to summarize your advice:

      * Integrate Planet Drumbeat into the site more effectively. (In my mind, Planet Drumbeat *is* the Drumbeat blog.)

      * Focus on a smaller number of projects.

      * Tag or mark participation opportunities by role to make it easier to get involved: developer, designer, writer, etc.

      * Shelve and just keep all our learning and education projects on the same platform as the rest.

      • Yep – that sums it up nicely 🙂 I do think the ‘participation roles’ could be really useful as there is often an assumption that unless you are a pretty hot developer there is nothing you can add..

        Good luck with this project – I can’t wait to see the outcome of all this great (open) thinking..

  • Matt,

    Thanks for sharing the results. As for the questions, here is my opinion:
    First of all: focus – (as an organization and community) Mozilla should be focused on developing tools that helps the users to take the control over their online life.

    * Projects could enter into Betafarm via challenges/hackhatons and other events open to everyone, short-term programs etc. This would ensure a balance between open and focused. And will also make more people from the community to actively participate in the selection process.

    * In my opinion, all projects should come with more than a coined idea (maybe with an early prototype?) and should be focused on education/media/science & platform. What I like for example at WebFWD is the clear definition of which projects would enter the program (categories, requirements etc.).

    * Best way to provide smaller, easier way to pitch in… that’s hard 😀 (maybe l10n, Q&A for projects, small meet-ups or online design jams ?).

    Those are my 2 cents.

    • Thanks Alina.

      * Focus on developing tools that helps users take the control over their online life.

      * New projects enter Betafarm primarily through design and developers challenges and hackathons.
      ** (I like this — it’s also how projects like Hackasaurus and Open Badges got their start, so it fits with where we’re already experiencing success.)

      * Projects must be more than an *idea* — they need to have the kernel of something already built.
      ** I agree — this was a key insight from Pascal / WebFWD that makes a lot of sense.

      * Defining small, easy ways to pitch in is the hard problem we need to focus on.
      ** We keep coming back to this as the hard problem. Which means we should focus all of our energy here, and make this the #1 thing the site does well.

      • Thanks Matt! Indeed, the “define small, easy ways to pitch in” should be our focus now. We had some brainstorming around this for the Get Involved page in and would be happy to share on the call.

        Also, there are another important things that could be improved:

        * LFW, Festival book, MFW etc. – those should be integrated in the platform. Those may be the success stories – people need to have a bit of background before starting to contribute (as Matt says).

        * Planet integration. That’s another thing that could better communicate what’s happening in Mozilla “innovation” community. Moz Labs planet works pretty well (you can find there prototypes from community, events follow-up, dialogues etc.). Maybe could have something similar (or just integrate w/ the Moz Labs planet?).

        * Last and probably the most important issue is the collaboration between Firefox community and Mozilla Innovation community (Drumbeat and Firefox communities have been a bit separated until now ):
        ** there are lots of things to learn from Mozillians working on Firerfox (from localization to QA);
        ** the tools have to work through the browser (QA, Add-ons community, l10n could help on this);
        ** Engagement (how do we get Mozillians to organize Hackasaurus Hack jams / MoJo meet-ups etc. in their locale / how the stories behind Hackasaurus for example, could engage more the Fx users to Mozilla’s mission?).
        Those are just a few things. Anyway, building a bridge between Mozilla “Innovation” community and Firefox community is probably the most interesting challenge for the new Betafarm.

  • I’m really excited about the direction that Drumbeat is taking. I’ve always planned to get involved in one of the projects here for the longest time and I’ll definitely be doing so quite soon!

    great blog post!

  • Trying to register a new account on drumbeat, after filling out all the fields and going to the next page, or if I later try to log in and it says

    “A link to activate your user account was sent by email to your address MY_EMAIL_HERE. You have to click it before you can log in.
    If you did not receive the confirmation email, make sure your email service did not mark it as “junk mail” or “spam”. If you need to, you can have us resend the confirmation message to your email address mentioned above.

    Then I try to press the Resend link.

    Tested with: Firefox and Chrome, with the same result.
    The e-mail I tried registering with was an account.

    To reproduce: Register a new account at drumbeat, this should reproduce the error.

    Actual results:

    I get sent to the URL:

    Which shows the following:

    Uh-oh. An error has occurred.
    It appears to have been our fault. Sorry about that. Perhaps you would like to file a bug and tell us exactly what you were doing when you got this page?

    Expected results:

    I should have received an verification e-mail in the first place and by pressing the resend link I should have received another one.

    Can u help me?

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