'Is Thunderbird dead and other FAQ'

Eric Moore emoore at fastmail.fm
Fri Mar 24 02:07:55 UTC 2017

I wrote that sticky thread. I last updated it a few months ago. I was 
waiting for the next major release to update it again. I've gotten some 
mail stating several people suggested that title should be renamed 
"Thunderbird is Alive and Well! and other FAQ", and asked if I thought 
that was a good idea.


I do not believe Thunderbird is "Alive and Well!". I think its in 
intensive care. We don't even have a working import wizard for Outlook, 
Eudora and Apple Mail anymore. Even worse, nobody seems to be making a 
fuss about it despite how many years?


Anybody who notices that sticky thread not only managed to find the 
MozillaZine web site but is probably using Thunderbird. They're not who 
you should care about.

(1) The last post to https://blog.mozilla.org/thunderbird/ was Dec 15, 
2015. Why isn't it being updated? Planet Thunderbird is updated, but 
that is not written for ordinary Thunderbird users.

(2) We need to decide on a new home for Thunderbird, survive the 
transition to our own infrastructure and have some sort of a long term 
plan to deal with XUL being deprecated etc. . Until that happens any 
media campaign is basically saying we're not dead yet no matter how 
pollyannish it gets.


(3) Mozilla started the bad PR by essentially declaring Thunderbird is 
dead in the July 2012 post. When we have something significant to talk 
about (such as shifting to a new home), we should try to get them to 
provide some good PR.

(4) Its hard for somebody who doesn't regularly read this mailing list 
to figure out whether Thunderbird has a real future. There should be a 
wiki that documents major issues (such as threats to Thunderbird's 
future) and what is being considered as a solution. For example, what to 
do about XUL... I'm not suggesting it has to have answers, just reflect 
the current thinking on important issues. Then have links to it from 
prominent locations such as SUMO and the Thunderbird blog.

(5) Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

a) I've been trying to follow the discussion about "get a new account" 
in the new account wizard. We're not poor. It seems to contribute little 
money, causes great confusion, and doesn't appear to be in our user's 
best interest. Yet nobody seems to suggest getting rid of that feature. 
Just tweaking the wording.

Yes, some users who don't understand what a email client is expect 
Thunderbird to provide them an account. But whats being offered does a 
terrible job of dealing with that. I'd argue that if we really think 
that we need to provide an existing account in Thunderbird than we 
should find some way of automating getting a free webmail account with 
major free email providers such as gmail, outlook, gmx and zoho, 
transparently setting any required settings such as "allow less secure 
apps" and then let it leverage the remainder of the new account wizard 
to add the POP/IMAP account.

Messy. Hard to maintain. Obvious issues. But it would add real value.

b) There are some parts of our culture that I think are dysfunctional. 
For example the insistence on expecting users that develop add-ons for 
free to discover and deal with Thunderbird breaking APIs that they 
depend upon, with no notice, assistance or suggested workarounds. If 
that happened once in a great while, that's life. But the attitude seems 
to be that its okay to do that anytime.

There is no evangelist . There is nobody who seems to be speaking or 
looking out for the interests of users that write free add-ons, without 
expecting to make any money from that. Instead there have been several 
statements that we need to make it easier for somebody to make a living 
developing software for Thunderbird. There needs to be a better balance 
between those two ways of thinking.

There was a lot of talk about a user coop. If we do something like that 
the culture needs to change. Otherwise we're just Mozilla Thunderbird 
with new management.

6) There are a lot of posts recently about pet peeves but there doesn't 
appear to be any mention of resuming talks with the p≡p Foundation . If 
something significant is agreed upon that is a game changer. More money, 
actively working with another group, a vision, and something a lot more 
viable for non-technical users than Enigmail. Ditto if we ally with Myk 
and qbrt to try to move forward a gecko-based desktop app environment. 
(message 1 from R Kent James, vol. 86 issue 10)

7) The Thunderbird section of Mozilla add-ons is littered with many 
add-ons that claim to be unusable with Thunderbird, a search always 
searches Firefox add-ons too despite the user specifying Thunderbird, 
and not every add-on on that web site is also available from tools -> 
add-ons -> get add-ons in Thunderbird.  If we can't even manage our own 
add-ons store what does that say about how viable our organization is?

Eric Moore

On 3/23/2017 4:59 PM, tb-planning-request at mozilla.org wrote:
> Subject: AW: Re: Outreach to end users
> from the posting on support in this list:
>> then there is this forum: http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewforum.php?f=39
> The top post in that forum is called 'Is Thunderbird dead and other FAQ'. It is dated Jan., 2016 and locked.
> Doesn't that proove to anybody seeing this post that TB is truely dead? It is a year old and no update.
> We need posts and PR with the subject line: 'Thunderbird is alive'.
> If I tell my child: 'don't stumble', it will stumble - the mind catches the concept of stumbling, not the concept of 'not'. All public posts discussing 'not being dead' bring the concept of 'TB and dead' into the readers mind.
> Klaus B

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