Hello all, as a part of Community speaks, we recently started- “Breaking the stereotypes”. Through this initiative, we try to break the stereotype that people have-Mozilla is all about code. We try to showcase contributors/staffs, who don’t contribute through code.
If you’ve missed out on the first one, here is the link.
We’re lucky to have Rebecca Billings for this session of Community Speaks.
Rebecca is a Senior QA Engineer on Mozilla’s Web QA team and also a certified homeopath.
Q. How would you describe your journey from being a certified homeopath to contributing to one of the biggest organization that advocates for an Open Web?
R: I’ve worked in software for many years now- I had my first QA job in the mid-90’s. I didn’t begin studying homeopathy until much later. I have worked as a homeopathy the entire time I’ve been at Mozilla. It’s an interesting question because my journey was never from one to the other- it’s more that I’ve developed parallel interests!
Q. “Technology and Medicine go hand in hand”. Thoughts?
R: I’m not familiar with that expression, but it makes sense. Technology is a branch of science – as is medicine. There is no question that technology brings opportunities for new tools for greater understanding of medicine and the human body.
Q. Is there anything you feel similar between Homeopathy and Mozilla?
R: I was wondering if you’d ask me that! Homeopathy is open source medicine in my opinion. There aren’t patents on the medications which keeps it affordable and available to everyone. The goal is greater freedom in health. Mozilla’s goals are about freedom of the web and being open to everyone. In that sense they are similar, but there aren’t any solid overlaps between the two.
Q. Were there any difficulties when you first started contributing? If yes, how did you overcome those?
R: Starting at Mozilla always involves the “firehose” of information. There is a lot to learn! Not only how to do things, but how to find them and who to ask for what. That’s something that I try to help contributors with, as I know it can be confusing. There weren’t any real difficulties as I found everyone in the community to be very helpful.
Q. Something we ask all the SuperWomen out there: How do you manage time between work, consulting and family?
R: It is a challenge. Balancing work and home is a common problem in this day and age- and having more than one job makes it more complicated. Having two jobs that have very flexible hours is the only way I can make it work- going from one to the other and back again. I have also set limits on how much time I am willing to work in the evening or on weekends. Ultimately it’s my choice to be this busy, and it’s for things I love to do – so that makes it easier to make it work.
Q. How crucial do you think is the QA and Testing in Mozilla? What would be your advice to new contributors in QA?
R: I’m obviously biased, but I believe QA is crucial to any technological project. It doesn’t have to be done 100% by QA Engineers, but people need to have a QA mindset for testing- that’s the only way to really use the product as a User would, and to make sure it does what it’s supposed to do. Everyone in a project has their own priority for getting the project done well and on time, and I think QA sees from the User Advocate point of view. My advice to new contributors is to be willing to learn, and to be persistent. It can be frustrating to learn how teams do things, and to figure out how best to help- so keep trying! Getting to know the team on IRC also helps a lot.
Q. Could you tell us more about “One and Done” ? What is Mozilla’s vision on the same and what could we expect to see in those in the future?
R: The idea behind One and Done is to have one place to direct new contributors to. All of the people who want to help, but don’t know where to begin. You can see a variety of QA tasks that need to be done. They cover all of the QA teams, all of the products, all of the types of testing. It’s a good place to try new things and learn what you like to do. Coming up soon we’ll have a new version that will include more content, with some design and usability improvements. We want to make it fun and easy to use.
Q. Being with a community like Mozilla would certainly have its perks. Could you List out 5 things that you like at Mozilla?
The number one thing is the people! All of the people who make up the Mozilla community. It’s filled with smart interesting people from all over the world, who all have different skills and talents.
Number two would be innovation. There are so many projects and ideas at Mozilla. Everything moves really fast, and everyone is really busy- so it’s fun to work at, and never boring.
Number three would be Community. I know I said people were the number one thing, but this merits another slot. I love working on community building- watching people get to know each other, learn new things and grow their skills with contributions. It’s really cool! Helping people get started is one of my favorite parts of the job.
Number four is learning. You never stop learning in this job! We work on new projects, new tools, new languages, new styles of development. To stay here is to build your skills and career, and I really appreciate that.
Number five is working with a mission statement. I really believe in. You don’t always get to work for a place that shares your personal values, and I feel really lucky to be here. I have a deep appreciation for the Mozilla value of openness- accessibility, transparency, valuing privacy. It’s hard to limit the perks to just five! I’ve worked here for four years now and am still glad to be here, and I know how rare that is!
Q. We’re sure that you would serve as one of the best examples of contributors who don’t contribute to code. How important do you think is the role of such contributors to Mozilla?
R: I do actually contribute to code by doing test automation – but it isn’t what I spend the majority of my time on. Doing work with SUMO and in community building I’ve had a lot of experience working with contributors who don’t add code. They are invaluable! Mozilla relies heavily on contributors to help with L10N translation – for websites, documents, help questions, test events and more. There are the people who do UX and other design work- like those who design badges. We have contributors who do project management. There are people who help primarily with community building and communication- no code is required! Mentoring is another area where the help you give is all one-to-one. Participating in IRC or mailing lists, doing One and Done tasks, taking charge of projects. And all of this is in addition to one of the main QA activities- manual testing! All of these things are extremely important, and the people who make these contributions help Mozilla every single day.
Q. Do you think it is important to show that Mozilla is not all about coding? What would be your advice to such Mozillians?
R: Mozilla is about a lot more than coding- just read the manifesto [http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/manifesto/]! It’s about openness, innovation and opportunity. I really believe that. For anyone who wants to help there is a place for you, regardless of your coding ability. Being a Mozillian is about believing in Mozilla and what we do, and helping advance Mozilla’s goals. The trick is being willing to get involved, meet new people and do new things.
Thanks a lot Rebecca for taking time to chat with us. We really appreciate your thoughts.
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