announcing the firefox-dev mailing list

For several years now, the Firefox project’s official development discussion forum has been It has served us well, but I don’t really ever recall it being an optimally useful tool for development discussions.

I think there are a few reasons for this. I think the primary reason is that the list does not have a moderation policy. We don’t have one partially because it is hard to do given the tools we are using (a custom mash-up of NNTP, Google Groups and a mailman mailing list), but also partially because Mozilla discussion forums have just not traditionally had them. Given the size and diversity of the Firefox user base and community, no moderation means that inevitably there are posts from users seeking support, abusive posts from people upset with our decisions, or off-topic/bike shed threads that dragged on forever and didn’t end up anywhere useful. The combination of these results in a mailing list with a low signal-to-noise ratio, that many core Firefox contributors either don’t read at all, don’t follow closely, or need to filter aggressively. That’s a poor situation to be in, and often means that some of our development discussion ends up occurring in other less accessible, less reference-able venues (e.g. on IRC, or in video meetings).

Three years ago, the Thunderbird folks saw many of these same issues with their development forum, and came up with a solution in the form of tb-planning. That list and its policies have succeeded in creating a more productive and useful venue for discussion. So I’d like to try the same experiment for Firefox development.

firefox-dev is a new list whose goal is to offer an easy, transparent venue for getting constructive, Firefox-related development work done. Some members of the Firefox development team have already started using the list to that end. Its moderation policy has been shamelessly stolen from tb-planning. For the moment, it will co-exist with It’s a mailing list only (no NNTP mirroring update: there’s an NNTP read-only mirror provided by gmane), but the archives are also available (read-only) via Google Groups.

If you’re interested in following or contributing to our development discussions, please subscribe to the new list!

12 thoughts on “announcing the firefox-dev mailing list

  1. Mook

    Would it be possible to mirror it through something like gmane, which does allow for read-only NNTP? (I assume this means their custom server rejects posting with an error of some sort, but I haven’t managed any lists with them.)

    Of course, it’s your (collectively) list, your rules 😉

  2. Robert Kaiser

    tb-planning has closed a lot of potential contributors out by not having an NNTP gateway, more by the moderation, and even more because people find it overly restricting to communicate in such a closed way. Thunderbird development IMHO also has suffered because of policies like that. I’m sad the same thing is happening to Firefox.

  3. somethingorother

    Could you make SuperStop addon available starting from firefox 19.x.x?

    Noticed today that i couldn’t escape to stop animated gif avatars on twitter anymore, with ff 19.0.2 and got here after from some googling

    Not a good place to ask for this but I couldn’t be bothered registering anywhere else to make a comment.

  4. wsmwk

    > tb-planning has closed a lot of potential contributors out …
    I have not heard from anyone involved in TB, or that wanted to be, that any of the items in this list of issues is true. And the policies in place are no more onerous IMO that what’s in place in BMO.

    Yes, tb-planning doesn’t have the feel of the Wild, Wild West that m.d.a.t had prior to the creation of planning. But that was the whole idea. Development doesn’t seem to have suffered as a result, rather, it seems to be stronger.

  5. gavin Post author

    The change to the Esc behavior didn’t land in Firefox 19, so that’s why SuperStop isn’t compatible with it. If you’re having trouble in 19, it must be some other issue.

  6. Peter Lairo

    > I have not heard from anyone involved in TB, or that wanted to be, that any of the items in this list of issues is true.

    That is an OUTRAGEOUS claim. There was a HUGE stink over the horrible decision to abandon the newsgroup an create a mailing list. I used to be a VERY active supporter, and this debacle was one of the reasons I just lost interest. The stagnation and fall of Thunderbird is in PART due to this (and several other) awful decisions.

    It saddens me to see the Firefox developers making the same bad decision of abandoning the newsgroup.

  7. gavin Post author

    firefox-dev has been active for a while now and it’s been a great success. It has more traffic than and the discussions there are by far more productive and useful.

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