The evolution of Drumbeat.org
August 25, 2011 § 15 Comments
Last month we asked for your help in shaping the future of the Drumbeat.org web site. As Mark Surman explained, we’re working with Mozilla Labs and Mozilla Research to tie Mozilla’s innovation efforts together — including an overhaul of drumbeat.org and other Mozilla sites aimed at getting people involved.
More than 180 members of the Drumbeat community participated in our survey, sharing their thoughts on:
- what’s working with the current drumbeat.org site,
- what’s not working, and
- where we should focus next.
This post summarizes the survey results. The complete raw survey data is available here (PDF).
How can we amplify Drumbeat’s success online?
Mozilla Drumbeat has been a success. We’ve gathered a great community, demonstrated the value of reaching out to new kinds of audiences, and instilled a participatory, maker-builder spirit through inspiring projects. Drumbeat’s central premise has been proven: we’ve successfully brought together innovators in open web tech with innovators in other spaces like learning and media.
The question going forward is: how can we best support and amplify those successes online, specifically through Mozilla Drumbeat’s web presence?
What you told us about Drumbeat.org
Here are the high level take-aways:
1) You want easy ways to participate and stay informed.
- When asked *why* they joined Drumbeat.org, the overwhelming response from respondents was: to stay informed and get involved in Mozilla projects.
2) The existing Drumbeat.org site isn’t making that easy enough.
- Drumbeat.org isn’t yet fully delivering on that need. 56% of users said they’re “just lurking, waiting for something exciting to happen.” And over half of all users haven’t logged in to Drumbeat.org in their recent memory.
3) We need to provide smaller, easier ways to pitch in.
- The #1 suggestion on how to enable greater community participation was: “Provide small, easy ways for me to pitch in.”
Here’s what survey respondents said Drumbeat.org is already doing well:
- Our focus on education & learning. 73% said Mozilla’s community innovation efforts should continue to focus here. And a majority cited education as the most important area for Mozilla to focus on.
- Reaching out to new kinds of people and projects.
- Involving the community to make Mozilla grow.
Other direct quotes from respondents on what Drumbeat.org is doing well:
- “Having all the projects, people and events in one place to browse.”
- “Providing a way for web builders to connect.”
- “Collecting open source projects with a real-world impact.”
- “Cross-promoting the work of colleagues.”
- “Reaching out to people *outside* of the current community.”
- “Offering several ways people can be involved…whether working on projects or just commenting on them or just watching and learning…”
- “Advancing Mozilla’s mission (beyond software) by providing a place/platform for those that share Mozilla’s ideals and overall goals.”
- “Letting people from different fields and disciplines meet and share their ideas on what the Internet would and should be.”
What’s not working?
- Helping a million different projects. Only a small portion of respondents are using the site to support their own project (17%). And those that have posted projects there are not finding the site significantly helpful.
- We haven’t been able to give all projects the attention and support they need. Many respondents cited the need for greater focus. Narrowing the site to deliver on a single core competency, rather than trying to do too much.
- Other responses on what Drumbeat.org could do better:
- “Add a search functionality to the site!” (+1,000,000)
- “There’s too many projects.”
- “Filtering/selecting/presenting new projects better.”
- “Many projects are not set up to the point where someone can step in and help.”
- “Make it clear how contributors can help.”
- “Figuring out how to keep people active and in the loop.”
- “There needs to be more of an ability to actually connect with projects and people.”
- “Don’t take on too many diverse projects (as currently). Stay focused on a single mission and walking path per session.”
What should we definitely *not* do with Drumbeat.org going forward?
A sampling of your responses on what Drumbeat.org should avoid:
- “Don’t go too wide.”
- “Don’t try to do everything.”
- “Dont loose focus. It happens all too often in web projects.”
- “Don’t accept ideas from everyone without any form of moderation.”
- “Don’t make everything go through a moderation process.”
- “Don’t think that you can be completely hands off about new projects and that the good ones will bubble up to the surface by themselves.”
- “Don’t be too nice about it. Grow a backbone, get tough.”
- “Don’t try to be a social network. Really. Don’t do that.”
- “Don’t get too far down the crowdsourcing path. The site has the right balance right now, and it may make sense to pull back a little bit at this point.”
- “Don’t ABANDON Drumbeat. It´s an excellent work.”
- “Don’t give up :p”
Where does that leave us?
Given this feedback, what are we committed to going forward?
- Expanding participation into Mozilla projects. Making it clearer, easier to get involved and make a difference.
- Continuing to collaborate with people and projects in areas like education and media. That’s clearly working, and we can scale up community participation here.
- Shining a brighter light on successful projects. Highlighting a smaller number of projects that are succeeding in attracting participation and momentum, rather than flooding users with a deluge of different projects.
- Clearer, more focused ways to get support for your project. Mozilla’s new WebFWD initiative, for example, is a way for a small number of promising project ideas to get more direct, hands-on support from Mozilla. Like Y Combinator for the open web.
Things we want to hear from you:
- How do we strike the right balance between being focused versus being open to all? Many respondents cited the need for greater focus. How do we do that while maintaining the right balance of being as inclusive as possible?
- How should we pick the projects we passionately support? If we do narrow our focus, what criteria should we use for choosing those projects?
- What’s the best way to provide smaller, easier ways to pitch in? Given that this is the #1 suggestion for improvement, we’ll need to dig into specifics here together. (We had some useful early conversation about this in today’s Drumbeat call — more on this in subsequent posts.)