Hack 97. Find the Right Forum for Your Issues
Find the right people to discuss the outcomes of your Firefox investigations with.
There are lots of places in the Mozilla community where you can participate. If you walk in blindly, you can accidentally spoil the ambience of the forum you've chosen and raise the ire of the other participants. This hack explains the range of places to go.
Overall, finding a spot to participate depends on several dimensions. One thing to consider is whether you want to acquire information (pull), deliver information (push), or swap information (converse). Another is whether you want to be objective and analytical or subjective and expressive.
9.8.1. Picking Forums for Pulling Information
You can look for information that's feather-light and simple or that's deeper and more technical. Starting with the lightest, here are some suggestions. Overall, there are numerous web pages on the topics of Mozilla and Firefox. Search engines such as Google are your friends. Seek and you will find:
9.8.2. Picking Forums for Pushing Information
Not everyone wants your information. Put it where it counts and where it will be appreciated. From mostly subjective to mostly factual, here's a range of options.
Current trends in Firefox self-promotion require that you build a web site with an actively maintained blog and an RSS feed. Cover your site with Firefox branding. Next, you must form good relationships with other well-known self-promoters in order to cross-market and expand your audience. Having done so, find people less organized or newer than yourself. Demonstrate your expertise to them so that others can observe your power. That consolidates your position. At some point, you must produce content worth reading or using, but that is increasingly less relevant. In short, it's all rather medieval.
There are Mozilla- or Firefox-specific news submission opportunities everywhere. The ones with the greatest focus or greatest exposure for technical Firefox audiences are at http://www.slashdot.org, http://www.spreadfirefox.com, http://www.mozillazine.org, and http://www.mozillanews.org.
Since Firefox is a web browser, web pages that demonstrate feature use, abuse, or failure have a great deal of merit. Construct your demonstration page, and then ask someone else in the community to review it. Perhaps post its location in a forum.
Providing critiques of Firefox is a tricky business. If you are negative about the product, you are unlikely to persuade any useful person of anything. Just as all major software vendors are solution providers, so too must you be. Provide solutions, explanations, or ways forward if possible. If you need to vent frustration, the USENET newsgroup alt.mozilla is safely away from most judgments. Despite the requirement to be positive, there is overall a shortage of quality critiques of Firefox.
If you are still sure that you have discovered a shortcoming or bug in Firefox, do your homework. You should be able to state the problem in a single sentence, followed by a short, accurate description. Log a bug with Mozilla's Bugzilla [Hack #98] . If your issue causes Firefox to crash, submit a talkback dump through the automated dialog boxes that appear on those occasions.
If you are frustrated with the Web, the ultimate recourse is to debate the standards. There are mailing lists at http://www.w3.org and at the newer and more speculative http://www.whatwg.org where public feedback can be left. Do extra homework for these forums.
9.8.3. Picking Forums for Conversations
If you want a conversation, there are also several places to go.
The forums at http://forums.mozillazine.org are a great place to spend idle time. Some members there have consistently posted 10 messages a day for over a year. Choose the most general after dark forums for such purposes. Some of these forums are of more specific use, too.
The irc.mozilla.org chat network (try the Chatzilla extension at http://update.mozilla.org) is a place of mixed fortunes for conversation. Some channels are highly technical, and idle banter, or even insightful end-user remarks, are not welcome. Look for a Firefox channel served by another network if you want small chit-chat.
The news.mozilla.org newsgroup hierarchy is a place to meet Mozilla developers rather than end users. Insightful comments and intellectualized issues are mostly welcome here, but cross-posting is not. These forums are irregularly monitored for spam.
If intellectual rigor excites you, Mozilla's Bugzilla [Hack #98] is the penultimate test of accuracy. Log your bug or enhancement, or buy into an existing debate. It's easy to get burned, so go in with your eyes wide open.
The ultimate conversation about Firefox is a bug fix. Having mastered Bugzilla, CVS, the end-user experience, and numerous other Firefox constraints, submit your first attempt at a bug fix in full expectation that it will be ripped apart by the review process. You can lose your Bugzilla privileges if you spam or otherwise culture-jam the conversations.