Evangel(Mozilla) THE REBIRTH

I assume by the time everyone reads this, the news will have spread to everyone that Netscape is in essence no more, and Mozilla, is somewhat like an 18 year old recruit on the way to war. Barely any training in what lays ahead, a ton of fear, a fire in its heart, and a burning desire to make its parents proud.

As many know, the EvangelMoz project had a slight skirmish with the Mozilla Project a while back, regarding if it should be marketing towards end users. It is apparent this is behind us, and we should move forward as one group, advocating open source software, standards compliancy, and inter-platform consistency. I would hereby like to propose an informal roadmap for the EvangelMoz project, in hopes that others will join in, and make a contribution to Mozilla in whatever form they can, and benefit the project as a whole. Our ultimate goal is to ensure all that I stated above.

Enough formalities and horrific writing that embarrasses my High School English teachers.

Here are my thoughts broken into two:

  • Standards Compliancy Web Badges, for sites that work well in all browsers. The buttons should point to a webpage describing what standards compliancy is for techies, as well as the casual user, and why it is important to each. They should also be shown what browsers can do what (in a method that they can understand). Web users have the right to be educated in their software, and know what their options for enjoying their web experience.
  • Gecko Distribution Aid
  • Mozilla browsers are great for the workplace. But many IT departments are hesitant to trust open source software. I briefly touched on this several months ago, posting an ‘alpha’ of a possible slide show presentation to be given as a “Why switch to Mozilla” presentation.
  • Guide a Mozilla Customization Kit Project. Netscape has had one for Windows for quite some time. The kit should be completely inclusive, and cover support for multiple platforms, as well as Firebird/Thunderbird and possibly Camino on the Mac. Encourage and provide documentation, samples, and resources on how a Gecko browser can be customized for a business (sidebar of company phone directory, special buttons, widgets, etc.).
  • Mozilla is great for home/personal use. Forget about spyware, hijackers, and other dangers of the net. A fast browser, that works well even on older computers. No need to update windows, to get the latest Internet Explorer. Aide Mozilla Distribution channels in distributing towards end users.
  • Consider different methods of providing support for end users of Gecko browsers, perhaps in a Forum, Chat, Mailing list, or email ticket based environment.
  • Perhaps solicit donations for servers, and manpower by gecko lovers.

So I open the floor to public comment at this time.I know it’s a busy and confusing day for everyone. I would like to send my regards to the folks at Netscape, and wish them all the best in whatever road they travel. Hopefully, our soldier Gecko will be marching behind and covering their back.

Please send all comments on this topic to:

evangelmoz (at) mozdev dot org,

in the spirit of sharing information. I would love to email everyone personally, and invite you to feel free to email me (provided it’s not spam), but I can’t handle everyone.

robert (at) accettura dot com

26 replies on “Evangel(Mozilla) THE REBIRTH”

I’m all about promoting Mozilla as well, especially FireBird. I think that the biggest way to promote Firebird is to tell people that it blocks POP-up ads. Communicate that consistantly and lots of people will at least give the Mozilla browser a try.

I think this is a very good start and look forward to seeing it’s progression. And I certainly would like to get involved once the situation has “matured” a bit. I think your No 1 point (about web standards advocacy) whilst very important and intrinsically linked with Mozilla, is beyond the scope of this project really and should be something more closely tied with the W3C, and would suggest if this is your goal to contribute to their projects. Completely agree with your second branch though. I think your (and the communities) efforts should be concentrated on this. I think we also need to be aware first of what the Mozilla Foundations goals in relation to Evangelism are so we are not working at cross purposes or duplicating efforts.

With the Moz team adamant that their products will not bend to support broken webpages I do think it’s very important to try and combine the public awareness of Mozilla with an awareness of standards.

Like is mentioned about, a single page is needed to provide a tech-free explanation of why standards are so important on the web. This should be an official Moz document IMO but this project could undertake it’s creation.

If in some way we could get across that Mozilla isn’t just better because of compliance, but it’s that IE is doing things badly and creating a weaker web.

Anyway, my e-mail address is there, if you need some recruits for this project I’d be happy to lend some free time.

The standards thing is very important, but as suggested maybe its bigger than Mozilla should take on by itself. Another approach would be to form a group of other browser makers and their advocates, such as the Opera, Safari, Konqueror, etc, as well as W3C, to promote standards compliance. The broader the base, the more impact the message will have.

IMHO the evangelism should be focused on the post monolithic era, that is firebird.
That’s where Mozilla is going, that’s, too a lot closer to what many users want, therefore easier to evangelise.
End Users don’t like learning new interfaces, thus having a complete interface change of the project in the middle of your efforts could set you back by a lot, better to start with the new interface as aim right away.

IMHO, Firebird is not ready for being “pushed” to the masses. For most people the first impression is everything (think about the classic “Java is slow”), if we give them Firebird and it crashes, or it doesn’t handle the form auto-completion well enough, we have a damaged reputation. I’d very much prefer to advocate Moz 1.4, that is a marvellous, rock-solid app, and let the user make the transition to Firebird “in the background”, with the future milestone releases.

We could, of course promote the fact that standards compliant sites work well in Google :). That, and they tend to be more accessable to people who are visually impaired – I expect over time governments will be under greater pressure to promote accessable sites to avoid accusations of discrimination.

One thing that Mozilla is missing, which will greatly aid its public acceptance, is an easy install/update/uninstall process. The need to uninstall, then wipe your old profile, and any other files related to the previous version of Mozilla, before you install a newer version is a pain in the neck which requires a fairly solid level of computer understanding (at least on Windows).

I still think that the reason so many people use IE is because it’s already there, sitting on the desktop – no need to download additional software, etc. If the installation of Mozilla isn’t as easy as pie, a vast number of potential users aren’t even going to bother, no matter how good Mozilla’s marketing is.

Once there is an easy update method in place for Mozilla (a la: “There is a new update available for Mozilla. These are some of the major changes… Update now?” then: “Update done!” without the user loosing their currently open tabs, windows, form info, etc…), then all Mozilla needs is for someone like Dell to include Mozilla as the defauly web browser on their PCs, and Bob’s your father’s brother…

Yes, hopefull everything will start up as fast as possible. I think it is important to get mozilla project more popular and even if it’s only that there is a possibile alternative to the internet explorer. Lacava said also a right thing … do not tell the wrong thing, tell them that mozilla is still in development, but is working damn good for it. I am really looking towards some badgets, because I am willed to put one on my webpage. During some news on my site to tell about mozilla, over 20% our visitors use Mozilla and that for a window relating site. It is possible to make mozilla popular…

It would seem to me that the biggest thing is polish. Mozilla (and whatever Fire-/Thunderbird derivatives come from it) needs to be polished up to look and function appealing for end users. The functionality is now rock solid, now there needs to be an effort into making it visually more appealing. I’ve always held that that’s one of the advantages M$ products have. They may not make any improvements and their products may be full of bad code and bugs, but peope rush out to get them because they change it just enough to make it ‘look’ cleaner and more efficient. That covers up bugs rather well.

A new default theme (seems to be coming thanks to Arvid), performance problems with smoothScroll hammered out and turned on by default, speed and usability features in accessing menus (for those non-technically minded folks who don’t want to search through forty different preferences screen to find out how to change their email font–again, something we’ve seen progress with in Firebird), and so on.

I’m a Mozilla contributor and now former Netscape Standards Evangelist for Europe. I am also leading the OpenWebGroup ( ). I am already working on your point #1. I have already a text draft (in french for the moment) that will be published on to explain why standards are important, and why they matter to both the user and the web developer. (I’m the author of the article and preso).

I’d be happy to help in translating/adapting my FR text into english to be used by many sites. Please note that the text will be browser agnostic (and will say good things about Safari and Opera, not only Mozilla), as the focus is Standards-compliance, not Mozilla promotion per se.

Please write me if you are interested:

–Tristan Nitot

I think we should unambiguously, definitively, and finally kill the notion that mozilla, firebird, thunderbird, composer++, et al are not end-user apps. The project will draw much more support if it doesn’t drive end-user away with a stick like it has in the past.

And another thing: make mozilla more attractive to organizations by improving the deployment and management features! Roaming profiles and a half-way decent deployment customization process are STILL not up to par, and some people have even forked over cash for these features.

I signed on for EvangelMoz around the time it first fired up but it quickly became a push to change the browser into something more marketable and some key members of the Mozilla community scorned any efforts to market the product to end-users. About marketing Mozilla, I just have a few points that I probably made some time ago:

1. Developers — not end-users — care about standards. While “Standards Compliance” might be a good buzzword to throw in, an explanation about it is not necessary. Seeing is believing. Screenshots of popular sites through Mozilla vs. others can be enough – perhaps while pointing out that the popup windows in some of those shots are absent in the Mozilla shots. Give people what they want.

2. Keep it nice … keep it positive. I think bolstering Mozilla with its talents is more effective than criticizing other browsers for their failures. I can see the flaws in IE (most peoples’ default browser) but other people probably don’t. I believe it would be better to compare the browsers explicitly (IE. “Internet Explorer and Mozilla are good browsers. With Mozilla you can …”). The contrast is implicit and users are left to draw their own (albeit guided) conclusions.

3. Accept and work with what is available. Mozilla has its shortcomings as all things do. That is an ongoing task for the programmers to tackle. Marketing the product means taking it “as-is”, focusing on its strengths, and making it available to a target audience. That said, I do think it would be good to facilitate communication between evangelists and developers (IE. “A UI that ____ appeals to our users – focus on ____. The product is good at _____ but we’re still working on _____ – focus on ____.”).

4. Identify the target audience and take note of their behavior: what pisses them off, what they take for granted, etc. I think most people continue using the browser that was bundled with their operating system. They don’t consider alternatives and/or are intimidated about downloading and installing one – it’s a scary pain in the *** that they want to avoid. So a reasonable goal might be to bundle Mozilla with other software (including OS’) AND have it set itself up as the default browser automatically. Personally, I hate programs that do that kind of thing but this is one area that I think we need to be aggressive about. I don’t know how to do it, but a version of Mozilla skinned and setup to look and act just like Internet Explorer would be pretty smooth (would it be wrong to have “MSIE” and “Gecko” in the same UA string?). Most people are selectively lazy and ignorant about their computer – most probably wouldn’t notice such a switch or care as long as their activities aren’t interrupted. In the very near future, a self-update capability would help a lot – that’s on my wish list.

5. Communication is key. As mentioned earlier, communication between the different parts that make all this work is incredibly important. A specification outlining what graphic style/elements are to be used, what features are to be pushed, the market being appealed to, etc. – and some way to direct and manage it all.

I don’t think anything can be done to stop designers from making their pages specific to M$ IE. But, one can at least hope to do 90% of web browsing with Phyrebyrd. Speed and tabs are attractive lures. Adapt to the realistic goal that this browser will coexist with IE and Opera 6.x as a complement, not an alternative.

Provide large Mozilla images on the site so they can be printed off and placed on desks at work. I think in certain departments (mostly IT) many people would see the web address (and Mozilla mascot) on your desk and go to the (much better now) website. This may gain more users.

Mozilla needs to be heavily branded and materials need to be provided to it’s devotees to allow them to help promote it. I’d like to get a couple of T-Shirts, a car sticker, mouse mat, mug, poster, etc. This could also be used as a good funding tool to pay for some full time developers?

A lot more can be done to make tech-savvy users aware of Mozilla. A lot of people in the IT dept who I work with don’t know of Mozilla…. and what they are missing out on!

Exponential growth is the key. Get 2 people to start using Mozilla and request them to do the same, if this is achieved by the majority of Mozilla users then we will definately be on our way. We need to think positive! I have got 5 people to use Mozilla as their main browser so far and i ask you to try your best to get your friends and family to move to it.

Moz Evangelist: “You should try this great new browser – its way better than IE.”

90% of end users: “You want to change my computer? Gee, that might break something,… I’m not sure…”

In the early days if you wanted to browse, you had to install a browser when you set up your PPP account. Then MS started bundling IE & people came to believe that browsers are ‘built-in’ to the computer. Such folks live in a state of reverential fear of their PC – “I don’t know how it works, but it gets me stuff I want so I don’t want to change it. It already crashes at random. Surely if I, someone-who-doesn’t-know-what-they’re-doing, start mucking around with it, it can only get worse.”

The only way to convert users like this is to pre-bundle the software.

Focus should be on dell, or HP, or Johnny-sells-a-lot PC assembler. Sell Moz to them with speed, stds, POP-up killing, tabbed-browsing etc. At the end of the day end-users fear more than care, no matter what you say to them.

BTW I’ve just converted to FireBird – my new favourite browser

I agree with RoryG. Many users fear the instalation of new software, particularly when their computer already contains software which “gets” the job done.

My suggestion for evangelizing Moz/Firebird/Thunderbird would be for the Mozilla Foundation to approach various OEMs and work with them to get the Mozilla browser pre-installed on users computers. For many people this will be the most likely way any browser beyond IE will get on their desktop.

As an alternative to getting Moz pre-installed by OEMs, have Mozilla included on the software CDs included when the computer is purchased. One major drawback for getting users to try out Mozilla is the large download over dialup. If Moz is included on a CD provided when the computer is purchased, the obstacle of the large download will disappear.

I am happy this group ia reforming to takle Moz evangelism. I hope Moz can overcome the obstacle of “Moz is not for end users!” srtand which has held back attempts to evangelize the Gecko based browsers.

BTW A new Logo for Moz would help -> maybe we could use the green gecko i saw about a year ago. The logo must be good artwork and pleasing to the eye. Very few logos I have seen used by Mozilla fit. Maybe a contest to produce a quality new logo for all the gecko based browsers could be held.

Given that this page advocates standards compliance, it’s notable that it fails to validate; there are several syntax errors such as bogus tags and failure to follow XHTML syntax rules (given that it uses an XHTML doctype); and, most noticeably, it includes some bogus nonstandard characters (the so-called “smart quotes”, which can validly be inserted with the proper Unicode character references, but in this case are put in as raw 8-bit characters despite the page being advertised as iso-8859-1, which lacks these characters and has control characters at the positions where Microsoft software thinks the “smart quotes” are).

I’ve been a long time user of both IE and Netscape. Now I’m using Mozilla and Firebird. Although I’m a fan of Mozilla and Firebird and have recommended it to friends I do it selectively. Neither Mozilla or Firebird have the stability and easy of use that the average computer user wants.
Look at the bug lists. There are way too many issues to make the Mozilla products acceptable to the average user. And now there is the additional confusion of separate development of Mozilla and Firebird. The add-on extentions also cause a problem. They are not coordinated with releases of Mozilla and Firebird so as new versions are released the extension may or may not work. Until the development team concentrates on and developes bug free, easy to use software I would only recommended it to advanced users.

Currently the version of Mozilla I would recommend someone install for an everyday browser would be 1.4. If you do this, the first page you get tells you it is an old version and to upgrade to the current release. This will confuse a first time user. I think the ‘stable’ releases could better start up on a custom page much as the 1.0 series releases did, or just redirect to

Documentaion of source code can be _very_ useful. There is great programming talent out here, that wants to help and contribute. However, the source code is massive and very difficult to get started with.

Just good README.TECHY.txt files, in every single source code directory, will help people get on board _much_ faster.

The README’s should describe the purpose, and the relationships, between all files and sub-directories, within each directory. That would make it much easier (and cheaper) for us to contribute.

Note: This can be very easy to do. In some cases, it’s just a matter of file names being too short, and non-descriptive, which creates confusion. For modules that implement standards, documenting them can be as easy as pointing to the relevant RFCs etc.

Thanks for Mozilla fellows.

Documentaion of source code can be _very_ useful. There is great programming talent out here, that wants to help and contribute. However, the source code is massive and very difficult to get started with.

Just good README.TECHY.txt files, in every single source code directory, will help people get on board _much_ faster.

The README’s should describe the purpose, and the relationships, between all files and sub-directories, within each directory. That would make it much easier (and cheaper) for us to contribute.

Note: This can be very easy to do. In some cases, it’s just a matter of file names being too short, and non-descriptive, which creates confusion. For modules that implement standards, documenting them can be as easy as pointing to the relevant RFCs etc.

Thanks for Mozilla fellows.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *