Customizing the Mozilla Manifesto

I have mixed feelings about requiring Mozillians to “agree” to the Mozilla Manifesto. I get the impression that many volunteers aren’t fond of “commercial involvement” (9). Firefox development often does not live up to the ideals of absolute security (4) or transparency (8), so we’d be asking new contributors to commit to behavior for which they may have little support.

Meanwhile, the manifesto is oddly silent on two issues that many Mozillians care about deeply. First, it says little about privacy. “Shaping your own experience on the Internet” (5) suggests control over customized ads, but not control over tracking by advertisers or governments.

Second, the manifesto does not adequately address removing barriers to contribution or promoting inclusiveness in community processes. The relevant principles (6, 8) are worded as vague beliefs rather than strong values. Compare with my favorite part of the Ada Initiative FAQ:

“Open technology and culture are shaping the future of global society. If we want that society to be socially just and to serve the interests of all people, [all kinds of people] must be involved in its creation and organization.”

Rather than asking each Mozillian to agree to the entire manifesto, let’s instead encourage everyone to Likert the 10 existing principles and add a few of their own.

Indicating how you feel about each principle is more memorable than clicking “Agree” once. Each Mozillian would have a personal version of the Manifesto to remind them what drives them to contribute. Such a survey could also lead to better understanding of the community and suggest improvements to the Manifesto.

8 Responses to “Customizing the Mozilla Manifesto”

  1. Ludovic Hirlimann (@lhirlimann) Says:

    And the internet get’s often confused with ‘just’ the web.

  2. uɐɯɹǝpnᴚ ǝssǝſ Says:

    They could at least update the Manifesto to version 1.0 before making people agree to it: https://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2013/04/18/mozilla-manifesto-towards-1-0/

  3. Gervase Markham Says:

    The 1.0 version of the manifesto is text-agreed, and it has an explicit reference to privacy. Working documents are https://wiki.mozilla.org/Manifesto/Potential_Changes and the later https://wiki.mozilla.org/Manifesto/1.0_Comparisons .

    I would oppose a reference to “wanting a society to be socially just” in the Mozilla Manifesto – not because I don’t believe in a just society, but because different people have extremely divergent ideas of what that means. Agreement on words with disagreement on meaning is false agreement, and is worse than open disagreement.

    I also don’t believe that it is an absolute requirement that people of generic type A must be involved in the creation or organization of something for that thing to serve people of generic type A well.

  4. Tobbi Says:

    Great. Just great. Another form of control from Mozilla over its contributor base. There’s only a small step from agreeing with the Manifesto to agreeing with everything Mozilla does currently, since this is in accordance to the manifesto.

    What happened to those good ol’ days where community was still allowed to be just a bunch of people who did what they liked to do?

  5. Fred Says:

    Tobbi wrote:
    “What happened to those good ol’ days where community was still allowed to be just a bunch of people who did what they liked to do?”

    Those days, if they were ever here, probably died when 4.x came out. The current Foundation is increasingly obsessed with keeping in lockstep/staying “on message”. Just generally looking at bug comments tells you everything.

    You could probably also blame the paradoxical relationship with Google, and the commercial entanglement only intensifies with every year.

  6. Gervase Markham Says:

    Tobbi: No-one’s stopping you doing what you’d like to do. The possible conflict comes when you want to do it under the Mozilla name, or using Mozilla resources.

    I’m not sure about getting people to actually sign the manifesto, but it’s definitely true that the one thing that unites Mozillians is that we are all working towards the world the Manifesto describes.

  7. William R Says:

    I agree with Gerv that Mozillians are united by a common vision described in the manifesto. The intent in the proposal is to inform people about this common vision.

    I have worked with many Mozillians who did not know about the Mozilla Manifesto even though they have been contributing for years. I myself didn’t know about it until a few months after I started contributing.

    I think adding the manifesto or some similar content to mozillians.org would be valuable for both creating awareness and reminding us how we are united in this vision.

  8. Tobbi Says:

    My question is: What’s the POINT? Do you need to know the bible by heart in order to be a Christian? No. I am baptized and confirmed Christian and I don’t know the bible by heart. I know the general message that comes with it, and I reckon that’s enough to grasp the essence there is.

    And, I have to point this out, until recently I have been doing something else from the core focus areas, and that with good conscience. What’s the problem with that anyway? Who cares? I am still doing something good, and it’s still advancing the manifesto, right? Unless you’re in marketing, the *why* doesn’t matter, does it? It’s the work that matters.

    Let me just make one thing very clear: *WE* as contributors are spending our FREE TIME to help YOU, Mozilla. In return, we expect you to follow the lose rules of sanity that come with being a normal human being. We are not obliged to do anything, and letting contributors accept the manifesto is just insane.

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