Governance and Release Model updates

Kent James kent at
Wed Nov 14 17:42:11 UTC 2012

On 11/14/2012 2:33 AM, acelists at wrote:
> I think this is an important point. Who decides what gets upstreamed? The module owners (for now). They will largely not be Mozilla employees. What if they become Swanfox employees? Then they can push anything Swanfox needs. I understand that then Mozilla would not be happy to have such a uncontrollable product under its brand.
> On the other hand of Mozilla has any control of the module owners (or they are independent as today), how can Swanfox really provide any services or even contracts? There is no guarantee the Swanfox code gets upstream. They can push addons or a forked release (but not Mozilla branded).
> Looks like a weird situation. Do I miss anything?
The issues that would arise do not typically involve code-level 
decisions, but business, branding, and strategy-level decisions. It is 
more akin to the question "Do we ship Dropbox as a default option for 
big files?" rather than "Do we add another default filter action?". The 
first type of question has not traditionally been decided by module 
owners. No responsible module owner or peer would accept code that 
raised issues of that nature without referring to appropriate 
authorities first. As for code hooks, it has never been a problem to get 
backend hooks added to the Thunderbird base code that are need for 
specialized applications or extensions, and I don't expect that will 
change in the future.

Conflicts of interest will occur, though, and already do. Fallen is 
supported by Linagora. I understand that Sid0 will be working for 
Facebook. One of our overall module owners now is David Bienvenu, who 
works for Google. Even within Mozilla, squib and asuth now work on the 
Gaia email product, which is at least somewhat competitive with 
Thunderbird. All of these are potential conflicts of interest that we 
navigate already.

One of the keys to managing conflicts of interest is disclosure. There 
is no shame in having conflicting interests, but there is shame in 
hiding your biases. That is one of the reasons that I am constantly 
asking for people to disclose their organizational affiliations, 
including whether they are paid by Mozilla, and if so for what.

Yet even with these comments, your concerns and the concerns of other 
people in your position are valid. We don't have much experience with 
symbiotic relationships between independent organizations, and we have a 
lot of experience of corporations pushing their narrow interests on the 
rest of us.

So I think a lot about how to design Swanfox to be comfortable to 
Mozilla, and to be comfortable to the Thunderbird key contributors. I 
would hope that Mozilla would view Swanfox as an entity that is 
promoting Mozilla values independently of Mozilla-the-organization, and 
working in the best interest of Mozilla users. For the Thunderbird key 
contributors, I would hope that there is some fluidity of affiliation 
between Swanfox members and Thunderbird key contributors. For example, 
Swanfox members would be expected to contribute to the Mozilla effort, 
and Thunderbird key contributors would view Swanfox as a potential 
career path should they decide that they need to earn some income from 
the skills they have developed in the Thunderbird product.

Aceman, someday your significant other may start to ask why you are 
working so hard and not getting any financial reward for what you are 
doing, when others seem to be paid for doing the same work (Mine 
certainly is!). Wouldn't you like to at least have a viable alternative 
available to you? It would also be great if people like Sid0, squib, 
jcranmer, Benb, bwinton, mconley, RealRaven, paenglab, protz, wsmwk, 
magnus, Matt, Vincent, and I am sure others I have neglected, who have 
developed significant experience around the Thunderbird product, would 
have a viable career option available to them that involves continuing 
to advance that code base, rather than being diverted to other 
companies, or to other areas within Mozilla, or only participating a few 
hours per week.


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