How to kill a community

04. February 2016 Mozilla 11
How to kill a community

Personal blog post, views are my own, and all that shit.

Let’s put it this way. Imagine that you have spent years putting your heart, soul and sweat into a product that you so much believed in its mission and cared about its success.
The next thing you know is your employer killing that product and asking everyone to stop working on it like it’s no one’s business. Frustrating right? That employee must be having hard times accepting the fact that his baby is being shot at one limb at a time and he’s forced to just watch.
Now imagine the same case while you replace the word “employee” with “contributor”. A contributor who, of course, is not being paid to stick around, with the same passion and love to that product, its mission and vision. Now prefix that “contributor” with “a one hundred”. At this point you’re not only killing a product, you are killing a community.

I personally spent hundreds of hours working on it both as a contribution and professionally, trying to make it fit for the Middle East and North Africa market through code, and was very proud that we shipped to Tunisia and Egypt, and during the launch I was talking about Firefox OS as if it’s my own child whom I see walk for the first time. And was even more proud that we had the absolute best RTL experience between all the other comptetitor mobile OSes, later on Apple followed up and did the same for iOS (but that doesn’t matter right?).

After all these years, one develops a, kind of, emotional relation to the project so it’s not easy for many to see it fade away just like that, especially after the promises that were given about it not going away.

11 thoughts on “How to kill a community”

  • 1
    Eman Alzubaidi on February 4, 2016 Reply


  • 2
    Marwen on February 4, 2016 Reply

    It’s the worst decision

  • 3
    Matt B on February 4, 2016 Reply

    Sorry for your pain, you’re still a part of the greater community of Mozilla. Reach out if you want to talk.

  • 4
    Robert Kaiser on February 4, 2016 Reply

    I was told that “nobody” liked and wanted this project. I always thought that this meant that my name was “nobody”. Seems like it might have been you, though, or are there two with that name?

    • 5
      Atique Ahmed Ziad on February 5, 2016 Reply

      I’m “nobody” too

  • 6
    Jarno on February 5, 2016 Reply

    I’m not a contributor, only a FirefoxOS phone user, and I’m deeply sad your works seems useless because of Mozilla stupid decision.
    And I feel a bit stupid myself as I was telling everyone that FirefoxOS was the only trustful Phone OS. I meant it, but I didn’t know at this time that Mozilla was not anymore 🙁

  • 7
    Safwan Erooth on February 5, 2016 Reply

    I have spoke to so many mobile manufacturer and retail chain trying to convince why they should invest early on in Firefox OS. I had spend many many painful time by force a basic zen phone running FFOS as my primary phone to understand how it can be improved. Some manifacturer started to respond and I hear this news. It’s so much demotivating and I would think twice before doing the same for something from Mozilla again.

  • 8
    Ken Saunders on February 8, 2016 Reply

    It’s even harder to live with and watch your “baby” go through extremely hard times and take hits from everyone everywhere and see it go through so many changes and be changed so much that you’re afraid that you soon won’t recognize it after investing as a “contributor”, and being a loyal consumer of, and surrounding yourself with it on a daily basis for 10+ years.

    Aside from walking away, the only decent way to deal with such things is to find another part of the (Mozilla) project to contribute to.
    The overall cause is still good. Very good.

    As far as Firefox OS specifically, I am extremely disappointed, saddened, and a little pissed off that it is going where it is and not going where it was supposed to go.

    I feel your feel your pain.

  • 9
    olivvv on February 8, 2016 Reply

    I am probably one of the few pure users of it, I owned a peak and now a revolution.
    I have no idea of the feasibility, but I strongly hope that there will be a community fork, that will deliver a simple strong Mobile OS, open-source, on which it is easy to install floss apps.
    No playing catch-up with ios and android, no marketplace, the linux of phones. I dont know for the masses, but that target of mozilla has never been of interest to me. There is other people interested in simple stuff :

    Please if there is a community forming where this is happening, lead me there.

  • 10
    Ken Saunders on February 11, 2016 Reply

    What is the phone in the photo?
    It looks great for people with disabilities, less than perfect eyesight, and the elderly.

  • 11
    olivvv on February 11, 2016 Reply

    @ken I found that here :
    after a quick google “eldery cell phone”. My mum created something similar for my granpa 10y ago. Great teaching of what usability really is.

    My point is that there is other needs than those covered by android/iOS, some of there features are even anti-features in some context. Playing catchup is not a must imo.

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