Mozilla Manifesto: FOSDEM raw feedback

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Gervase Markham

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Feb 27, 2007, 11:22:43 AM2/27/07
to Mitchell Baker
We had a very interesting discussion session on the Mozilla Manifesto on
Saturday at FOSDEM (http://www.fosdem.org). I intend to post two
messages relating to it.

The first (this one) is a raw dump of my notes of who said what. The
second will be my attempt to distil that into a smaller number of
repeated points, and to give some idea of the general opinion of the room.

Of course, the ideas stated baldly here may well have been more nuanced
and amplified at the time. So if someone is reported as saying "The
Manifesto is too general", they may well have put it in more
constructive terms :-) If you recognise your comment and feel you have
been misrepresented, over-summarised or even omitted altogether, please
post a correction or expansion.

FOSDEM Mozilla Manifesto Discussion Notes
-----------------------------------------

KaiRo: I am pleased with the process used for developing the Manifesto,
because it has involved steadily widening circles of people and
contributors.

Simon Lucy: What's the point of the Manifesto?

chofmann: To recruit outsiders who don't understand us to our cause.

Simon Lucy: It's unfocussed. "The Mozilla Foundation Pledge" is too general.

Gandalf: Is this supposed to be something that still has relevance in
five or ten years? The document is too fixed to the "here and now".
References to a particular browser name and to the Corporation will date
it. The Corporation is an implementation detail; we don't need to
mention it.

Matt Gertner: Is it just for us, or for a wider audience? And is there a
conflict between the principles and the idea of making money?

Gandalf: The explicit naming of Firefox makes it harder for other
browser makers to sign up to the Manifesto.

biesi: Is this document for the Corporation and Foundation or just the
Foundation? What about people embedding Gecko? Can they sign it? It
seems too formal or "marketing-y", and not concrete enough. What do you
_do_ with it?

timeless: We have an "Annotated MPL". How about an "Annotated
Manifesto"? That way you can keep the document clean, but still explain
how it's relevant to today. The annotations might change over time, but
the Manifesto wouldn't.

Gandalf: The document is too concrete - it focusses too much on what we
are doing now.

Ludo: It seems like the document attempts to fulfil three goals, and
maybe that's too many for one document. From the discussion, I
understand that they are: 1) Clarify the mission of the Foundation. 2)
Get more people from outside to support us. 3) Explain what we are doing
to other Corporations. The purpose of the document is not sufficiently
clear. What are we trying to achieve? Have one document per purpose.

Andreas Otte: Intent should be demonstrated by annotations of a clean
document. In this way you can show strategy and tactics.

Unknown: Perhaps the document should also say what the Mozilla
Foundation explicitly will _not_ do as a result of supporting these
principles.

Gerv: In the newsgroup discussion, I suggested that we look at which
principles would be agreed to by everyone, and therefore may be unnecessary.

Gijs: Principle 3 is unnecessary.

Unknown: Not necessarily. People like it because it's an ethical stand.

Simon Lucy: There is confusion between assertions and aims and goals.
All three are present in the document, intermingled. It also mixes the
language of "promote" with the language of "maintain" - using "maintain"
about things which are not yet true, and "promote" about things which
are already true.

Kai: There should be a stronger commitment to making Foundation software
freely available and usable. (I am not as fanatical about freedom as
some, but the current document does not make a strong enough statement.)

KaiRo: Point 3 is ambiguous. Spyware enriches the lives of some people
(its controllers), after all.

Matt Gertner: Perhaps we need to make that trade-off clear?

Unknown: Points 3, 4 and 5 speak of the individual as the unit. Is this
not a rather Western viewpoint? Other cultures place a much greater
emphasis on community.

chofmann: The "These principles will..." paragraph contains "community"
language. Perhaps the rest of the Manifesto has not yet caught up with it.

Simon Wardley: Point 3 is essential, but perhaps "all human beings"
instead of "individuals". As someone in charge of a company, I would
find the Manifesto as a whole hard to sign up to. Particularly point 10.
It's hard to justify a focus on the public benefit as the owner of a
for-profit company.

Gerv: Not sure if that's a bug or a feature in the Manifesto :-)

Alex: The individual is important.

Gandalf: Principle 3 is important due to potential conflicts with other
things we do. It shows we choose that over money, power etc.

Kai: How about a principle that there should be no bugs?

Gerv: Sure. Kai: would you implement that for us?

CTho: Is there any language to encourage non-evil use of any patents the
Foundation might acquire?

Brian: "Great" is weak in bullet 2 of the Mozilla Foundation Pledge. Can
we do better?

Unknown: "The Mozilla project is a global community" paragraph reads a
bit like "we invented the Internet".

Matt Gertner: Could we make the Mozilla Foundation Pledge general enough
for other companies to pledge the same things?

Simon Lucy: I'm not clear about what it says about closed source
software. Is it a bad thing?

Gerv: Good question. On the one hand, we want to be positive about free
software; on the other hand, we explicitly have a license which allows
proprietary derivatives.

chofmann: We certainly need clarity on this point.

At the end, we also discussed the idea of a "translation get-together",
which was seen to be a good one.

Brian King

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Feb 27, 2007, 1:20:00 PM2/27/07
to gover...@lists.mozilla.org
On 27/02/2007 17:22 (CET), Gervase Markham wrote:

> Brian: "Great" is weak in bullet 2 of the Mozilla Foundation Pledge. Can
> we do better?

"build and deliver great consumer products that support the Manifesto's
principles;"

Just to clarify .... I am a little concerned that 'great' is a relative
term in some ways, and the fact that Mozilla produces great software is
implicit. However, I do see the value in trying to use such adjectives
to get the message across.


--
Brian King
www.mozdev.org - free project hosting for the Mozilla community

swar...@fotango.com

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Mar 1, 2007, 5:08:06 PM3/1/07
to
Hi Gervase,

Actually I said I wouldn't find the manifesto difficult to sign up to,
except possibly for point 10 - it's was a noisy room and I sometimes
mumble :-).

The issue with point 10 is that it states "Magnifying the public
benefit aspects of the Internet is an important goal, worthy of time,
attention and commitment" - which as a company means spending money &
time promoting the public benefit aspects of the internet.

Now whilst we do provide support to the open source community, I'd
have to think whether our role is also to promote the general public
benefit aspects of the internet and what does that mean? Now I can
agree automatically with the sentiments that the public benefit
aspects of the Internet is important and also as an infrastructural
good it needs to be in the public domain. This is the only one which
causes any confusion to me, and just one I have to think carefully on.

The rest of the manifesto I have no problems with in general, however
I've always believed that the Internet should enrich the lives of all
human beings rather than individual ones (point 3).

Kindest

Simon W

Gervase Markham

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Mar 2, 2007, 5:46:25 AM3/2/07
to
swar...@fotango.com wrote:
> Actually I said I wouldn't find the manifesto difficult to sign up to,
> except possibly for point 10 - it's was a noisy room and I sometimes
> mumble :-).

No, I distinctly remember hearing you say that, and even wrote it down.
It seems that my brain and my fingers weren't on the same planet when I
was transcribing. Apologies.

> The issue with point 10 is that it states "Magnifying the public
> benefit aspects of the Internet is an important goal, worthy of time,
> attention and commitment" - which as a company means spending money &
> time promoting the public benefit aspects of the internet.

Weeeelll... you could sign up to it, saying "it's worthy of the time,
attention and commitment of other people", but I agree that would be a
bit weaselly.

Gerv

swar...@fotango.com

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Mar 2, 2007, 6:48:40 PM3/2/07
to
Hi Gerv,

No problem, there are so many ways communication can get misunderstood
- I assumed I just mumbled.

I agree with the weasily point, you don't want to change the manifesto
to something which says its worth the efforts of other people. The
test of something like this is always to use the "flip" example. If
the internet was a propriatory system controlled by a small number of
self interested groups, would a company be willing to promote the
opening up of the internet as an infrastructual good for the greater
good of society.

The answer to this for me is yes. As a company I depend upon the
openess of the internet. So on reflection, my views on point 10 are
wrong. It's a very good manifesto.

Iang

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Mar 5, 2007, 10:59:06 AM3/5/07
to swar...@fotango.com, gover...@lists.mozilla.org
swar...@fotango.com wrote:

> The issue with point 10 is that it states "Magnifying the public
> benefit aspects of the Internet is an important goal, worthy of time,
> attention and commitment" - which as a company means spending money &
> time promoting the public benefit aspects of the internet.


This is what I too thought the Manifesto was about,
initially, in that I assumed it was a governance tool to
direct how Mozo spends its money.

But it's not, and I've been corrected on that point. It's
more of a declaration of shared ideals, and an invitation
for other like-minded people to also declare themselves.

http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/mitchell/archives/2007/02/introducing_the_mozilla_manife.html

There is no implication there that Mozo will consider
themselves bound to only spend money within the listed
principles.

In this sense, the Manifesto should be viewed as a marketing
or public relations tool, not a governance tool. It is
outwards-facing, not inwards.

(Which leaves the governance debate still-born, as far as I
can tell. But that's another thread.)

iang

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