A Stroll Through Planet Mozilla History


This is NOT the Planet’s module owner and peers’ official position on today’s events; I worked very hard with my esteemed colleagues to write that post. And I’m proud of our words. Below are some additional thoughts, which are entirely my own.

If it wasn’t for me, planet.mozilla.org might not be an official Mozilla project module.

That’s a tall claim, so allow me tell a story: see, planet used to be managed by a single person.

It was a thankless job that, apparently, no one else wanted. As was that individual’s purview, content filtering and feed handling decisions were made solely by him. The community wasn’t involved, and there was little-to-no transparency.

This bothered me.

Mozilla was starting other governance initiatives at the time, and this seemed like a perfect example of something to transition to this new system. Asa was the first module owner.

I, being That GuyTM who opened his big fat mouth, became a peer.

We’ve made what I believe to be the most critically important changes to how Planet is operated: more transparent, with a clear policies to facilitate the community function Planet serves.

And so I’m personally very proud of what raising my voice, via that post in 2007, has achieved: a Planet that, through our work together, has better served the Mozilla community.

Today, some advocated a return to the pre-module days.

They wanted a particular post they personally disagreed with removed.

They wanted feeds changed, so such content would never appear on Planet again.

They wanted a Mozilla community member’s1 voice quietly silenced.

And as a Planet module peer, that is not something I will advocate for or be a party to.


I want to make one thing very perfectly clear: I cannot express the degree to which I disagree with Gerv on this particular issue. But Planet, in its current role, has been a completely unmoderated, open forum for Mozilla community members to express themselves, and I will defend his right to say it, despite vehement disagreement with him.

But let us also be clear: advocating a particular political position in a civil tone is not “hate speech.”

It is not a “safe space” violation2.

And the absolute worst thing anyone making such a claim or disagreeing with the position can do is try to censor the discourse.

History, including Planet’s own, has shown time and again: education, empathy, and understanding are not served by the use of “administrative”3 methods to silence an opinion some find unapaltable. And there is an important distinction to be made between defending such opinions and endorsing them.

Fundamentally, today’s events have raised the question about Planet’s role and purpose within the Mozilla community. That’s a fine (and necessary) discussion to have. But it wasn’t a conversation anyone today proposed having.

To anyone in the Mozilla Community who feels “unsafe and unwelcome,” I encourage you to raise your own voice and speak your own position4.

I’ll be right here, standing for your right to say it on Planet and in the Mozilla community, too.

1 And I would certainly like to hear an argument that Gerv is not a Mozilla community member
2 Unless, of course, you consider “safe space” to mean “a space where ideas-I-don’t like are prevented from occurring,” in which case, no: Planet is not a “safe space.” And neither is “The Open Web…”
3 Or harsher
4 Mozilla has, in fact, been surprisingly silent on this particular issue