Over the last couple of weeks, 80 community members in India have received invitation for the MozCamp Beta, to be hosted in Bangalore from June 20-22, 2014. Those who have been invited to the MozCamp Beta, congrats! We are glad that you have agreed to take on larger responsibilities in community building. Those who did not get the invitation this time, don’t be sad. We have more in store for you.
The invitation criteria for the MozCamp Beta was initially proposed during the MozCamp Planning Session in San Francisco in April, 2014. It was polished later on and the current version can be found at MozCamps_2014/FAQ in the Mozilla wiki.
To set the tone right, the MozCamp Beta is all about training existing community members to engage more contributors in contribution pathways related to Firefox OS. Those who were invited are known to have made sincere contributions to those pathways and have been successful in community building around those pathways.
There are some relatively new faces in the invitation list as well. They are the ones whom the community feels will be great assets for community expansion in near future.
Community building needs sustainable efforts. If someone has the skills but not the time, it never works out well. Recruiting a new contributor involves guiding him/her through contribution pathways, listening to his/her problems and sorting them out. This requires significant investment of time from the community builder. Add to that, when a community builder keeps traveling to places to talk at events and engage more people, it increases the time requirements even further.
This is the reason why the first criteria was to check if the community builder is willing to devote significant time to the cause, and is willing to carry on the task with deep commitment.
It never helps to be a lone ranger. A contributor can have really good contributions to a particular project. But, if that contributor does not interact with other members in their region and helps other local members learn and grow, then that person’s learnings and experience does not reach out to others. One of the basic qualities of a community builder is to help others learn whatever he/she knows himself/herself.
If we plan to expand the community, we need members who can lead others, guide them and introduce newcomers to the community. These can be done through events or through one-on-one mentoring. As such, good leadership skills are key to becoming a successful community builder.
The invitation criteria was built keeping in mind that expanding the community beyond its current scale needs a combination of skills in a community builder. That person definitely needs to have good communication skills to engage new people. But that is not enough. A community builder should also be experienced in the pathway where he/she tries to recruit new contributors.
This means, any person who tries to guide others, should have good idea of how the pathway works. However, it is also very important to be an active contributor. Unless someone actively participates in or contributes to a project, he/she won’t know the latest happenings in that project. Without the knowledge of what is happening in a contribution pathway, a community builder will not know where a new contributor may contribute to. Hence, active involvement with a pathway is very much essential to community building.
We could not invite every good contributor from the Indian community to the MozCamp Beta event. There were multiple reasons for that.
We have a good number of developers, localizers, webmakers and support guys in the Mozilla India community, and we are proud of that. We value this diversity very much. We love it when members from other countries or a Mozilla staff say that the Indian community is one of the strongest communities throughout Mozilla! We would love to retain these varied level of contributions.
While building and expanding the community aligns with the core goals of Mozilla, we definitely do not want all our active contributors to start with community building. That will dilute their focus. Also, for most active developers and localizers, community building will be very unattractive. So, it does not make sense to divert the attention of these strong contributors from their functional areas where they do so well.
This event is very important in the Indian context owing to the activities around Firefox OS. But, this will be the first full-blown test of the new format that MozCamp is evolving to. This is why it is named “Beta”. So, there are some restrain in resources available for this event. So, we had to put a hard limit on the number of participants to keep the cost in check.
MozCamp is getting converted into a distributed events model. This means, there will more of such events where community builders will be invited to get trained in expanding the community. There are plans for organizing MozCamps in Asia, EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) and Latin America in the next one year. Notably, MozCamp Asia will have more number of contributors, across Asia. All of these events will have an application process, giving community members greater scope of participation and more transparency.
Not getting an invitation to the beta MozCamp does not mean that you are not deserving enough, compared to someone else in the community. It simply means that we are helping the first batch of the next-gen community builders in India. If you find what we do at MozCamp Beta to be interesting, you can definitely join hands with us later on. This is just the beginning. We have an adventurous journey up ahead, and we need all your help to scale up to the goals of Mozilla.