Intent to de-support: traditional add-ons

Eyal Rozenberg eyalroz at technion.ac.il
Fri Nov 1 23:29:24 UTC 2019


On 01/11/2019 23:56, Andrei Hajdukewycz wrote:
>> 3. 1-2% annual user base growth is more of a stagnation than growth a
>> slight waning of the user base; the population in countries in which TB
>> is popular is growing at a higher rate than that, I would guess. I'm not
>> saying that's a bad thing considering the objective circumstances,
>> 4. There is a huge difference between the part of the user base who use
>> Thunderbird because they made a decision to do so, and people who have
>> had Thunderbird pre-installed on their machine for some reason (e.g.
>> because they're in some organization with wise IT people). Making claims
>> regarding whether people tend to use or not use extensions, whether we
>> have growth or decline etc. should really be treating those two
>> categories of users separately - even if we can't place users in these
>> categories explicitly.
> True, but irrelevant. 

That's not what I argued. If 50% of users only have Thunderbird at work, 
where they didn't choose to install it (which is a guess, but 
considering the weekend installations drop, is perhaps not completely 
bogus) - the statistics for extension use should possibly be measured 
for the other 50% ("weekend installations"), which are almost entirely 
people who installed voluntarily. Which means that, except for 
lightning, extension used is double. Of course my numbers are not sound, 
I was just demonstrating the principle.

>> 6. "the 5-10% of users who even install and use add-ons that aren't
>> Lightning." - that's a bold statement, that seems to contradict even
>> Christopher's partial numbers. Show your stats on this please.
>>
>> Eyal
>>
> In what way does it contradict them? > Keep in mind that user counts for
> each add-on count the same users many times, because you are counted 
> repeatedly for each add-on you have installed.
> 
> Even assuming the overall average is 2 add-ons per user, if you sum the 
> add-ons that aren't Lightning you get 3.2M daily users, divided by 2 for 
> multiple counts, which would be ~16%.

16% is not 5%, and that was my point. Only some users are counted "many 
times". Not to mention the fact that some people install an extension, 
use it, then disable it when they don't use it (like my removedupes).

Also, I suspect there's quite a bit of under-counting going on. It seems 
strange that so many extension authors continue to update their 
extensions despite supposedly having no users. And that numerous 
extensions have dozens of daily downloads despite having no users at 
all, or a number of users under half an order of magnitude of the daily 
downloads. I wonder whether some of it isn't a 
"use-and-disable-when-done" pattern.

 > Add-ons have never, and will never drive user growth. They may help in
 > small ways with user retention.
 >
> However, users are heavily concentrated in the top 10-20 add-ons,

These two sentences are an example of the myopia I was talking about. 
Take my less-popular extension for example: BiDi Mail UI. It is all but 
necessary if you want to read or write email in a right-to-left 
language. But - it's only the 103'rd most popular extension. Why? 
Because the vast majority of people in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and 
Hebrew-speaking countries simply do not know about Thunderbird. They 
haven't tried it, haven't heard of it. (And yes, computer use is 
significantly lower in those countries on average than in Europe and the 
US, but not as low as some might think.)

So add-ons do and will drive user base growth in countries using these 
languages. Which means among 400 Million people or so. That is, when 
growth is not prevented by other factors.

Now, mine is just one example - I'm sure there are others.

 > many
> of which either should be redundant with core, or part of core in some 
> way(ImportExportTools, Provider, Manually Sort Folders) or are already 
> on their way to core(Enigmail).
 > If you sum outside of the top 10,
 > there's 1.78M add-on users, again divided by 2 to account for multiple
 > users, and you're already below 10%. Provider and ImportExportTools
 > together account for 23% of all add-on users by themselves.

That's an unacceptable argument. Of course if you put add-ons into the 
core you have less need of those add-ons. But if this divide-and-conquer 
strategy is what's going to be adopted, then the result will not be 
Thunderbird, but - a non-extensible mail client. Extension developers 
care about TB because it's extensible; these kinds of choices (couple 
with this rationale) suggest the direction is just that.

If that's true, then stop wasting your time and ours with this wild 
goose chase of extension maintenance.

Eyal


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