I had applied for being a part of participation leadership cohort and attending various global gatherings in September 2015. It was an involved application process. I should thank Jafar, Abhiram, and Sagar for giving me a shoulder tap each.
I was interested in attending MozFest and Leadership Summit. Here’re the answers I filled in in the online application form.
This page included my name, email address and a link to my mozillians profile
Choose your adventure
1. How many of the global gatherings would you ideally want to attend?
- [ ] one of them
- [x] two of them
- [ ] all three
2. Which of the global gatherings would you like to be considered for?
- [x] MozFest - November 6-8, 2015 - London, UK
- [ ] All Hands - December 7-11, 2015 - Orlando, USA
- [x] Leadership Summit - January 22-24, 2016 - Singapore
3. What is your top choice?
- [x] MozFest - November 6-8, 2015 - London, UK
- [ ] All Hands - December 7-11, 2015 - Orlando, USA
- [ ] Leadership Summit - January 22-24, 2016 - Singapore
1. Why do you want to join this cohort of participation leaders?
Mozilla is a global “community” that loves the open Web. It is in our own best interest for us to invest on that community - by strengthening it, expanding it, and making the best out of it. I want to transform people into Mozillians, and Mozillians into active contributors, and active contributors into participation magnets (who will start this cycle on their own). More such people = a better Mozilla. And I want Mozilla to succeed so that the Web continues to be an open, decentralized, democratic space.
2. Please describe the impact you’ve had over the past 6 to 12 months. Use specific examples. Describe this in terms of the impact you’ve had on Mozilla, our mission, Mozillians and/or our communities.
Feb ‘15: I get serious about Mozilla and start a Firefox Club in my college. http://mmcmedfoxclub.tumblr.com/ We are exploring open learning, OERs in this club.
April ‘15: India’s net neutrality debates flare up. I get on the team behind savetheinternet.in and the Mozilla India ad-hoc team that fought for net neutrality. My main concern for the next months was to educate people about what net neutrality is (because Indians, even Mozillians, are easily confused by corporate mumbo-jumbo).
I worked with Jafar Muhammed to write on Mozilla India blog about the fight. He lead the social media campaign.
Meanwhile, we (Shreyas, Jafar, me, Ankit) were pushing for an official Mozilla stance on zero-rating. There were fruitful discussions on the policy discourse.
In May, during the India task force meet we had to form a policy advocacy task force. Anivar Aravind was made its owner. We started with community calls and blog posts to get Mozillians interested in the topic. We’re now in the process of making teaching kits and organizing events with focus on advocacy. I’ve been documenting these at https://wiki.mozilla.org/India/task_force/Policy_and_Advocacy (because I believe documentation has a crucial role in the entire process)
That’s the same reason I pushed the Mozilla India Documentation task force to form a Telegram group and start discussing projects.
If you know the history of Mozilla Kerala (vs Mozilla India); I (, Shreyas, Jafar) are trying to bridge the MozK, MozIN divide by promoting and participating in healthy interactions.
3. A foundation of participation leadership is something we’re calling Personal Leadership – the ability to reflect on your own abilities and commit to improvement.
In what areas do you want to learn and grow professionally (in general and as a leader) over the next 6 to 12 months? What ideas do you have for how you will accomplish this learning? Please be specific.
I want to learn the art of delegation. As of now, I fail to delegate many tasks. For eg, in my city some of us are converting schools to Edubuntu. We’re trying to involve engineering college volunteers into the process. But, in the last school I went, I installed Edubuntu on many computers myself. I should rather have let the volunteers do it themselves. (The problem here was that the schools would not want to experiment and I was not sure how to make the volunteers do the work properly).
The opposite also happened once. I created Github issues on a FOSS repo with some good beginner bugs and totally let two volunteers solve them. They never even got started on those.
I need to learn how to reach that sweet middle spot where you let others do the work but also make them do the work the way you want. Only by doing this can I build replacements for myself and achieve sustainable growth.
To learn this, I have to learn these:
- Drop the sense of urgency in any task. (This is primarily why I do things on my own)
- Keep people accountable (most often this is just about sending people reminders because we forget things all too often)
Another difficulty I have is in managing time. As of now, I spend too much time on activities like Mozilla. I should learn how to decrease time spent and increase output.
4. Please upload a letter of recommendation from another Mozillian. This should speak to the impact you’ve had in Mozilla and on Mozillians.
I had Deb write me a letter.
By applying to attend MozFest as a participation leader, you are committing to developing and delivering programs that will build the skills (leadership and otherwise) of Mozillians.
This is all about creating amazing online and in-person learning and participation experiences that will help increase the impact of Mozillians (and potential Mozillians) and communities. This might include training sessions and workshops, onboarding, hackathons, meetups/gatherings, mentoring, or other creative participation ideas.
You are highly encouraged to also submit a session proposal that you would like to facilitate in the Mozilla Participation Space at MozFest.
I was co-facilitator for Mozilla India Policy and Advocacy task force’s session on building a global south agenda on net neutrality
1. What specific ideas do you have for programs to build the skills of Mozillians in 2016? (this can include ideas you’ve already run or tested and want to refine or scale)
We can learn something from khanacademy to build up the skills of Mozillians. We should have specific learning pathways for any skill and anyone should be able to start learning things on their own.
For leadership it would be - empathy, self awareness, motivation, and so on.
There must be a website which enables this learning (community education already does this? but maybe we need to put more effort into this)
Another idea I have is to use the Wiki for creating biographies of Mozillians. Just like there’re biographies of living persons on wikipedia, this must be having objective, verifiable information. For example, https://wiki.mozilla.org/Akshay_S_Dinesh should lead to a profile of me that has basic information about my Mozillian life, events I’ve organized, categories I belong to, etc.
There should be citations for sentences in these profile (this’ll encourage everyone to document their efforts).
The difference between these biographies and mozillians profile would be that these biographies would be crowd-sourced whereas one has to update their mozillians profile by themselves.
Mozillians and Wiki biography should link to each other. 1
2. What specific commitments are you ready to make for the first half of 2016? (think about the impact of and types learning activities, # of people you want to reach, community calls that you’ll join, etc)
I’ll be absolutely free for 2 months in the beginning of 2016. Although I’ll get relatively busy after that, I will have enough free time every week to keep working on the plans that we implement.
I’m looking for more of online activities in this period (because I’m less productive in offline events). I look forward to creating content that helps in learning and that changes the lives of people directly. (To compare, various self improvement courses are so impractical that once a person finishes taking these, they end up the same as they were, before. I’d rather share insights and tips than lots of theory.)
I’d be happy if at least 100 people worldwide finish the learning activities I create thus gaining a skill.
I can also join 1 (or maximum 2) community calls every month.
I skipped this page because I was not applying for all hands (I had exams in December, plus I don’t think advocacy team was hosting people)
By applying to attend the Leadership Summit as a participation leader, you are committing to contributing to growing the impact and size of your community (regional, functional or online).
This is all about motivating, recruiting and organizing Mozillians (new and old) to have more impact on our mission. Even if you are an informal leader, this will be about having plans for where you want to take the community (local, regional, online, functional, Reps, or other) that you are part of at Mozilla.
1. Which community or communities do you most identify with?
I forgot to save this answer. I think I wrote “Primarily Mozilla India, and secondarily Mozilla Kerala” or something to that effect
2. Tell us a bit about your track record of leading within your community.
In Mozilla India I’ve been moving things forward inside the policy and advocacy task force - by documentation (so people can see what’s happening and get involved), continuous communication (through community calls, emails, telegram), and by coordination with Mozilla staff through discussions in discourse.
I also push the tech task force to fix bugs early by timely reminders and the documentation task force to think of projects (this is currently in a fix because our wiki has spam problem)
Disclosure: I have not organized any event by myself in my community. I’ve been too much of a perfectionist to start anything.
3. What specific ideas do you have for growing the size and impact of your community (or communities) at Mozilla in 2016?
For Mozilla India, there are some areas which are having very little participation - coding and documentation. What we have is a lot of events (even on coding, bug fixing, etc). But there’s no retention of contributors.
This is because of many things:
1) generally, low level of skills - which is fixable
2) slow response from “leaders”. For example, on the github repositories of Mozilla India, PRs take weeks to be merged (that too only after nagging).2
1) for skills, there need to be ladder-wise learning with mentors assigned at each checkpoint to help people progress.
2) for slowness of response, there needs to be clear guidelines written down on how contributions will be processed. This is helpful for both contributors (to make their submissions standard) and for reviewers (to easily accept/reject). As of now, the problem is that nobody wants to bite the bullet and lay down such strict guidelines (because Mozilla’s seen as a place where all contributions are welcome). There also need to be SOPs for various things like giving author status to someone on the MozIN blog, or sysop privilege on wiki. These SOPs will serve as guides for contributors to do the right things to get those privileges.
There’s also a divide between Mozilla Kerala and Mozilla India which needs some attention. I do not have any specific idea on how to achieve this, other than saying there needs to be a lot of discussions on this, with community leaders.
4. What specific commitments are you ready to make for the first half of 2016? (think about plans you want to put in place, functional/product areas you want to organize your community around, the impact you want to have, specific activities/events you will undertake, how much time you will commit, contributors you might want to recruit, etc)
In the first half of 2016, I want to:
1) Establish through consensus clear SOPs for granting various privileges in Mozilla India projects
2) Create learning pathways (similar to whatcanidoformozilla.org) that allows anyone to learn the skills needed before starting to work on anything.
3) Create/motivate task forces to have designated communication areas where they will document each and every idea that they come up with and each project that they’re working on (like participation-org github)
4) On Policy and Advocacy Task Force I want to get 20 core contributors (= people who’ve written blog post/ made teaching kit / organized major events focused on policy)
In Mozilla Kerala, I want to hold discussions with the community as to what holds them back from collaborating with Mozilla India on various fronts and then take down these hurdles.
I have almost dropped this idea in favour of the need to find better ways to surface the activities of Mozillians ↩
Looking back at this sentence now, it was not totally fair to accuse the tech team of this. ↩