Thunderbird’s Future: the TL;DR Version

Axel Grude axel.grude at
Tue Aug 12 08:09:29 UTC 2014

  Robert wrote:
> Axel Grude schrieb:
>> Am 11/08/2014 um 20:42 schrieb Kent James:
>>> <rant>I have been trying for 2 years to get permission to publish the
>>> available data on Thunderbird usage without success. Yes we have data,
>>> yes Thunderbird usage is growing, but these numbers are only available
>>> to staff, and when shared with me privately they are always stated as
>>> unshareable except in broad statements. Nobody seems to be able to
>>> figure out who has permission to release these numbers publicly. </rant>
>> Ok, this one I really don't understand. What's the point in an open
>> source product when you can't share usage data?
> The concern is and always has been what the press makes of that data. Mozilla has 
> been burned pretty toughly when this "ADU" ("Active Daily Users") data was made 
> public and showed ~160M for Firefox, while a few weeks earlier there had been talks 
> in a press release about how Firefox had ~500M users. The result was press articles 
> about how Firefox "miraculously lost" 2/3 of its users, just because journalists 
> could not distinguish estimated amounts of total users based on market share numbers 
> (the 500M number) from an actual count of daily add-on blocklist update pings that 
> Mozilla Metrics ended badly naming as those "ADU" numbers.
> After that bad press of "losing most of its users", policy was made to 1) rename ADU 
> to "ADI" ("Active Daily Installations"), though I prefer just calling them "(addon) 
> blocklist pings" as that's what they really are, and 2) not making those numbers 
> public anywhere to avoid them being misinterpreted.
> I agree that it's unfortunate we are in this place, but I also understand why we 
> are. We even know that there's some basic flaws in our ADI metrics, from not sending 
> those pings in all cases where we probably should to losing logs of pings on the 
> server side (we are working on a remedy for the latter), and the FHR metrics are 
> much better in answering usage (but I think neither Thunderbird nor any other 
> non-Firefox product has those).
> All that said, being open source and using open processes for development doesn't 
> mean that all data that is collected through metrics and feedback mechanisms has to 
> be open. For privacy reasons, it's even good that not all data sent to us via 
> various mechanisms is public. It's something we need to weight carefully.
> Still, I think overall ADI summary data should be more easily accessible (and when 
> you know where, you can even get to some of it easily, e.g. via crash-stats). 
Okay I get that - an easy to digest published estimate on the front page would be 
helpful, never the less. The last official estimate I heard (about 2 years ago) was 
between 8 to 20 million users, is that anywhere near reality? Also Kent mentioned the 
user numbers increasing, a percentage / year would be good enough as an argument 
against the nay-sayers.

I am also keeping a close eye on the user statistics of my Addons to get a feel for 
whether they are stagnating or making progress. Would it be possible to get a graph 
(like on the Addons statistics) on various metrics for Thunderbird itself? It could 
also show trends on the different languages / Operating Systems and might be helpful 
if we were to do some marketing to grow specific user bases.

*Axel <mailto:axel.grude at>*
Software Developer
Thunderbird Add-ons Developer (QuickFolders, quickFilters, QuickPasswords, Zombie 
Keys, SmartTemplate4)
AMO Editor Get ​ Thunderbird!

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