Unicorn.Consulting unicorn.consulting at gmail.com
Fri Nov 16 12:12:36 UTC 2012

On 15/11/2012 7:08 AM, Eric Moore wrote:
> I've been trying to follow the discussion about SwanFox and I didn't 
> get the arguments why adding enterprise support and support for other 
> types of accounts is critical.

Non integration of a calendar and the absence of EMAPI support are both 
things that Thunderbird needs.  Are the critical? No.  Are they needed? 
Yes and badly.

  I seriously doubt having features you don't use is really an issue.  
You get the odd person who gets all steamed up about some feature (the 
current favourite is chat) but seriously Microsoft word users mostly use 
about 10% of the products features.  I really doubt my own Thunderbird 
usage is much more. I certainly don't care if it gets a facebook 
timeline view.  I simply would not use it.

Your "ordinary user" does not use an email client.  The web interface 
provided by their host or chosen free provider meets their needs, and 
avoids the added complication of having mail on a computer when they 
really want it on their phone and iPad.  What is left is a lot of 
refugees from Microsoft Products (the absence of an Outlook client 
licence in Microsoft Office helps) and people running businesses.  From 
what I see in support, many are very small one or two person businesses, 
operated by individuals with little or no technical skills, doing 
everything on the cheap.

Others would be more than prepared to pay for support, if it was timely 
and for the US based at least "came with a phone number". There are also 
many technically challenged that really do need remote desktop support.  
I have no intention of offering it,  but if SwanFox wanted to, I 
certainly would welcome the move. I would like to see a professional 
organisation to whom we could refer these people.

> I get a really uneasy feeling when somebody suggests "Partner 
> certification" and "integrating paid support options provided by 
> SwanFox".
Why?  The door has always been open for people to offer paid "whatever 
your fancy is" contracts to develop and support Thunderbird for the 
enterprise.  The fact is that I can pay a very dubious Thunderbird 
support technician from "answers.com" $AU46 or go over to the official 
support channel and get help for free.  That is now, not at some future 

What is wrong with some people who actually contribute to the project 
making some money from the process if they can? (I don't see that big 
cheque from Answers.com sharing their profits from the exercise in the 
Mozilla financials), at least the SwanFox discussion is talking about 
supporting the project.)

"Partner certification"  is that really anything more than badges on 
steroids?  Mozilla certifies the knowledge of the individual for the 
badge, there is nothing to stop them certifying a business entity, based 
on the badges it's employees hold.

> Nobody seemed to want to talk about whether anybody who would continue 
> to contribute a significant amount of time providing free support or 
> bug fixes for Thunderbird would feel like they're a sucker.
As people are already making money from Thunderbird, in my example 
support, I really fail to see the merit of this view.  So someone else 
starts up, so what?

> It would also seem to marginalize user communities such as GeckoZone 
> and MozillaZine.

GekoZone is dead, as I read it.  I have always failed to understand the 
continuing purpose of MozillaZine as a support provider or as a 
knowledge base. Mozilla provide official support and official knowledge 
base channels, but instead of the community working together, we now 
have two of everything, the only one that suffers is the user, as to get 
the best support they need to go to both places, and ask their question 

> My impression was that in the past the needs of ordinary users were 
> explicitly chosen over the needs of the enterprise, due to potential 
> conflicts of interest and limited development resources. Swanfox seems 
> to be either saying that logic doesn't apply anymore, or that while 
> ordinary users would get the short end of the stick they'd still be 
> better off than the alternatives.

Given that there is no sharing of Mozilla development resources, there 
is nothing here.  If XYZ company is prepared to develop and supply a 
patch to deliver their niche thing, it is simply a matter for the module 
owners to ensure it does not adversely affect your "ordinary user" by 
screwing up their experience.

> I always got the impression that one of the problems with Thunderbird 
> was that the project was essentially herding cats. You accepted the 
> fact that caused some puzzling features to be added or other new 
> features never to be finished. It seems it would be even worse (for 
> ordinary users) if what gets fixed or what new features are added is 
> driven by the needs of specific enterprises.
I really fail to understand your logic.  There is little that the 
enterprise would use that is not relevant to the "ordinary user" Many 
seek support to connect to "work" mail servers.  Others want to get 
their "work calendar"  this is far from unusual, it is fast becoming the 

> Then I read:
>> "dedicated to enhancing Mozilla Thunderbird" is not how I would describe
>> the core mission of Swanfox. Rather, Swanfox is a community that is
>> dedicated to providing income to its members, using means that are
>> consistent with Mozilla values, and working within the general area of
>> internet communications clients beginning with the Mozilla codebase.
> and
>> I like the way that you expressed this question, Gerv - "does Swanfox
>> have a privileged relationship with Mozilla"? The short answer is
>> ideally yes.
> None of the Thunderbird forks (PostBox, Spicebird etc.) seem to be a 
> success. Giving SwanFix a privileged relationship with Mozilla might 
> significantly harm Thunderbird's future, and all for nothing. I'd like 
> to hear why that risk is worthwhile.

As I read this discussion, this "swanfox" is a commercial enterprise 
trying to make money off Thunderbird, it is directly contributing to the 
Thunderbird code base and as such would have a privileged position. 
Postbox et al are hardly making any open source contributions are they 
so there position is far from privileged.
> I had assumed that SwanFox was basically a way of funding improvements 
> for Thunderbird by providing some paid services, mainly for the 
> enterprise. Now it appears that is not its main goal. Will SwanFix be 
> free to ordinary users?
See my comment above.  I don't see this discussion as a Fork, so as 
there will be no "SwanFox email program" the question is moot.

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