My first week (and a half) at Mozilla has been about organizing information. The HR orientation stuff was mostly directions to mozilla.org wiki pages, IRC, and mailing lists, echoing the “Get Involved” path into Mozilla that any volunteer contributor can take. A bunch of the meetings that I joined are public meetings that anyone can attend over IRC, dial-in, video, or Air Mozilla broadcast. Transparency and community inclusion seem to be the default for everything.
I made up stuff for myself to do for the first week, with fairly modest goals. I signed up on the Firefox support forum, which gave me a nifty profile and a list of user questions that need answers. I tried answering a few, and looked at other contributor’s profiles. A hard problem led me to Bugzilla, where I had already created an account. There are hundreds of thousands of bugs listed in bugzilla.mozilla.org and it is now my job to understand what’s going on in there. In the next few weeks I’ll be writing about that! My focus will be not on fixing bugs, but on understanding how to triage them — how to figure out whether they are valid or not, how to mark them up or get and add more information to a valid bug, and how to route the bug to where it needs to go. Rather than zapping, squashing, or stomping the bugs we will tame and herd them!
As part of my path into Bugzilla I picked an active product and component to watch through bugmail. Bugs in bugzilla.mozilla.org, or BMO, is categorized by product, such as Firefox, Firefox for Android, or Thunderbird, then, within those products, categorized by component. In my preferences on the site, under component-watching, I picked Firefox as the product and Untriaged as the component, and turned on email notifications. Whenever something in that component is added or changed, I get bugmail. So far this is around 100 emails per day. I set up filters to route that bugmail into a folder and am watching what happens to those bugs, occasionally trying to triage them myself.
As I navigate all this I will be breaking down bug triage into various workflows and processes. I’m hoping to expose places where we can write tools to help people sort and triage this stuff. Yes, the glamorous life of a bugmaster! Join our cult! Or, at least, our #bugmasters IRC channel!
The Mozillians doing this bug wrangling have a huge amount of expertise. I feel so humbled as I watch the flow of information coming into these systems and see what they’re doing.
As part of coming into an open source project to contribute to it, I have to accept that I know nothing, things are confusing, and it will all come together as I go along. It’s inspiring, and I want to live up to its awesomeness.
Being a contributor to Mozilla is amazing not just for the individual people I’m meeting, but because I’m seeing a huge, organically created, largely self-directed system at work. It has a strange beauty.