Or, How I got involved with Mozilla

I’m a newcomer to Mozilla, but in some ways that’s a surprise. I’ve known Beltzner since university. Through him I met people like Shaver, Madhava and Johnath. I visited the Toronto office, attended the odd launch party and got to know the people and culture pretty well. My wife even works here, for crying out loud. But through all that, I never thought I’d end up contributing to the project — not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t know I could.

Like Sheppy, I’m something of an open source skeptic. I think Firefox is an amazing product and Mozilla has done — and continues to do — fantastic work for users and the Web, but I’m not sure about open source on the whole or just for the sake of it. It also took me quite some time to even start using Firefox (embarrassing, right?), even as I got to know more and more people working here. I was using Safari, which seemed good enough for my needs, and I didn’t understand how anything could be better or why it mattered. I’m also not big on change, so I wasn’t too keen on learning to use something new. Now please get off my lawn.

Eventually I caved saw the light and made the switch. I was working in advertising at that point, and while I thought it would be fun to work with my friends, especially on a product that I was growing to love very much, I didn’t see a place for me at Mozilla. I consider myself pretty Web and tech savvy, but I don’t know much about code or… whatever it is you need to make a browser (see what I mean?). So that, I thought, was that.

Then “that” changed.

Now that I’m here, I can see that involving the community in marketing generally and writing specifically could be — even has been — very useful and beneficial. Yet I’m still not sure the best way to attract volunteer writers, how to let them know they can get involved or how best to on-board and integrate them into what we do. So as much as this is my story about getting involved with Mozilla, I’d also like to ask for suggestions about bringing volunteer writers on board. How do we better communicate that there are ways to contribute beyond “tech” help? What kinds of projects would be best for volunteers to get involved with?

In my case, if it weren’t for familiarity and being in the right place at the right time (the right place being “frustrated with my old job” and the right time “when Mozilla was looking for a copywriter”), I probably never would have gotten involved with Mozilla — and that, I think, would have been a shame.