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I haven't been thrilled with Mozilla's direction for a while now. Bloating Firefox by embedding Pocket and Hello into it, speeding up Firefox's release frequency just because Chrome does it that way, wasting resources on Firefox-OS, and firing an employee just for donating to a political cause.

If they are not careful, they are going to run Mozilla into the ground.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10513701 and marked it off-topic.


(I don't need answers directly, but perhaps a FAQ would help. ...)

1) It's good to see threads managed more agressively; thanks. I can think of another benefit from higher quality discussions: I see a few Mozillians here and of course they aren't the only vendors to participate; perhaps more would come and be more engaged if there was less nonsense. And that would attract more people who are interested in valuable, informative interaction, which would attract more vendors, which would ... etc.

2) "marked it off-topic": What does this mean in practice?

3) While the issue with Eich is off-topic, so is the issue with Pocket and many other threads and subthreads. I don't understand the distinction, unless that the former is more inflamatory, more outdated, and more tired. Yawn.

Re #2: "marking off-topic" penalizes the subthread so it falls lower on the page. That's the purpose of detaching it as well.

Re #3: we marked that subthread off-topic because a user emailed to complain about it. Didn't see the other ones.

General note: we started doing this as an experiment and it's clear by now that it has improved thread quality, so we're probably going to write code to support it, and let the community mostly manage it, probably by generalizing the flagging mechanism.

I don't quite understand 'bloating' in this context, especially with the example of 'Hello'. My understanding is that this is really merely a link. A bookmark, if you will. To a website/service that will use WebRTC, tech that was meant to be implemented by browsers.

What do you consider bloat here? The 'Hello' button/promotion? Or the full WebRTC stack?

And how can you decide that efforts spent to build FxOS are 'wasted'?

They didn't "fire" Brendan Eich, they just acknowledged that his personal values were at odd with Mozilla's mission and overall sentiment across the organization, basically demoting him from the CEO role. Eich then resigned.

Look, I don't agree with him, I also voted against Prop 8, but it still feels that this was an infraction on his freedom of speech (as Citizens United ruling said that money = speech :).

It's not as he was CEO of LGBT organization or he was running for a public office. Mozilla is not a political organization, his opinions in this matter should make no difference whatsoever.

This move was basically infringing on rights to have his personal beliefs.

How would it looks like if it was the reverse? Someone pro LGBT made a contribution against prop 8 and then was told 6 years later that his personal values did not match the company's even though the company has nothing to do with LGBT and his opinion has no impact.

This move was is simply discrimination. It should matter whether he is republican or democrat, christian/muslim/atheist or fire worshiper, whether he's pro guns or against. Mozilla is a technology company, neither of that should matter in what they do.

As someone who cares about politics, I would be furious if my employer told me that my personal beliefs are wrong. That infringes on my rights as a citizen and voter.

I repeatedly fail to understand this 'Freedom of Speech' notion - and certainly do here. Mozilla is a company. They certainly can pick roles based on the statements of an individual. If you apply for a job there and can't stop cursing like a madman, or if you happen to add juicy details about your personal homophobic beliefs to the interview, you might not get the job. Free speech? Doesn't matter.

Now, I do admit that I didn't like the whole 'we dug up this stuff in his past' part of the story. Nor the pitchfork wielding crowds on the net. I, personally, would've considered him misguided and stuck in the past in this regard, but I wasn't calling for (or expecting) consequences. Mozilla decided (or was pressured) to distance itself from the person and his statements. That might be correct or might be unfair, depending on your stance.

But it's not about free speech.

I guess I was not clear, the first amendment is not for individual companies. If a company tells me that I cannot talk about for internal technology that is used (NDA) then I better won't because no first amendment will protect me.

What I mean is that by telling me that my vote or contribution toward specific cause is not aligned with company's goals essentially forces me to vote in a specific way which does affect my freedom of speech.

If Mozilla would be an LGBT organization and I joined and was told that my contribution don't agree with company's values. Then I'm totally at fault and should look for job somewhere else if this matter to me, but company like Mozilla has no obvious political affiliations and in fact they should not have any.

Could Focus on the Family fire a CEO if they found out he's an atheist?

Mozilla didn't tell him to do anything. It just responded to what he did.

People have freedom of speech, not freedom from consequences.

> People have freedom of speech, not freedom from consequences.

This definition of a "right" is so loose as to be basically meaningless. Accordingly, I have the freedom to murder anyone, just not the freedom from its consequences. People in North Korea are free to speak whatever they want, but aren't free to remain living if the government doesn't like what they said.

If you make the other cliched argument that the first amendment only applies to government suppression of speech, that's true, but the US Constitution doesn't have a monopoly on what "freedom of expression" means. It's only a legal lower bound, and in one country.

> What I mean is that by telling me that my vote or contribution toward specific cause is not aligned with company's goals essentially forces me to vote in a specific way which does affect my freedom of speech.

They don't say that though. The problem wasn't that he did something, the problem is that what he did prevented him from performing his role as CEO. And CEO is not just another employee. They are the public face of the company. They are the leader. And I don't think you'll find anyone that would argue that when he was made CEO, there was a backlash which caused problems both internally and externally for his role as CEO.

And that's why the board and he decided he would not be able to fill the role of CEO and he stepped down. Not because of his political affiliations, but because he couldn't fulfill the role they needed him to fulfill.

If the civil rights movement has taught us anything, we know that there is a difference between legal right and moral right.

This action of Mozilla's doesn't peal back the first amendment. But it does chill the free exchange of ideas. That's what the first amendment was for. Shouldn't we be concerned when someone finds a way around the safeguards we put in place to protect free society?

The "free exchange of ideas" like "I gave money to people that think you're subhuman?" (Hardly an exaggeration either. The ads from the group Eich directly supported are still available on youtube, and are downright disgusting.)

Let's not mince words here. This was never about "speech", this was about action, and his complete unwillingness to own up to that action. For a CEO, that's a pretty big failure of leadership.

> They certainly can pick roles based on the statements of an individual.

Technically, in California, they can't if the statements are part of the political process. Or at least they will get a pretty nominal fine if they do. See http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=lab&gr...

Your two examples, of course, are not political activity per se, so wouldn't fall under these regulations.

> It's not as he was CEO of LGBT organization or he was running for a public office. Mozilla is not a political organization, his opinions in this matter should make no difference whatsoever.

Mozilla is explicitly political. That's like their entire shtick: they want a more open web that respects user freedom and privacy. That's a political stance.

And Mozilla has LGBT employees. They'd like leadership that isn't going to make them feel unwelcome.

This move was basically infringing on rights to have his personal beliefs.

Everyone has a right to believe whatever they want. Nobody has a right to be CEO of Mozilla.

Mozilla does, however, have the right to choose their CEO.

Honestly? I don't care. I just pointed out that he wasn't "fired" in any real meaning of the term. He lost control of his own troops and decided to go. That's not "getting fired" in my book.

That's usually called constructive dismissal.

I'm curious why people singled out Eich vs say Ed Catmull. If I understand correctly Catmull is a practicing Mormon which means he gives 10% of his gross income to a church that has been strongly anti LGBT rights. I haven't noticed a big movement trying to get him to resign from Pixar or to boycott Pixar or Disney.

Do I have my facts wrong?

Is there something that makes Eich's situation different than Catmull's?

If I understood the difference I feel like I'd be more enlightened.

There could be many reasons for this.

1. Pixar is a private for-profit company, while Mozilla is at least in part a political nonprofit. For obvious reasons, people are more concerned about the political positions in such a case.

2. I suspect that many people would find the act of donating to a religious body, which holds a wide-ranging diversity of opinions on many subject (not all of which an individual may agree with) as distinct from the explicit act of making a donation for one specific political aim.

Because the mob doesn't actually care about the actual people or even the issue. They just want to see someone, anyone lynched.

You do realize that the U.S. Constitution only prohibits the _government_ from infringing on right to free speech? The Mozilla Foundation is not a governmental entity, thus they can take whatever actions they want when employee says something they don't like. Also, while there are laws prohibiting private employment discrimination based on e.g., race, sex, religion, or other protected classes of people, there are (afaik) no laws against discriminating against people on the basis of political affiliation or gun-rights beliefs. Heck, in many states it's still legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_employment_discrimination...

> there are (afaik) no laws against discriminating against people on the basis of political affiliation

There are in California, actually. See California labor code sections 1101-1102 http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=lab&gr... , which say:

1101: No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy (a) Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office. b) Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees.

1102: No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.

etc. So in California (where Mozilla is headquartered and where Brendan lives) it is in fact illegal to fire someone for a political donation they make.

Now the actual punishment is a slap on the wrist in practice (see section 1103; it's a $5k maximum fine for the corporation if the employer is a corporation).

Thanks for the example of California. I expect there may be more. However, the main thing I wanted to point out in my post was OP's confusion, shared by many, regarding what entities are prohibited from infringing on constitutional rights. Only government (or in some cases quasi-government) entities are prohibited from infringing constitutional rights. Private entities can in most cases do whatever they want, unless a statutory law (i.e., a non-constitutional law) has been enacted prohibiting their action.

Also, I don't know much about the CA law you quote, though I wonder whether it prohibits political discrimination in the _hiring_ of employees at all. Section 1102 definitely prohibits firing based on political activity. I don't see anything that says you can't discriminate on a political basis in _hiring_. Perhaps that is in a different section. I tend to think, e.g., that the Democratic Party organization would not be forced to consider hiring Republicans equally with Democrats, not sure how that's dealt with.

>... but it still feels that this was an infraction on his freedom of speech



> How would you feel as an out direct report to Eich?

You could try asking some of the "out" people who work at Mozilla who blogged about it at the time (they were not direct reports, but were certainly working at Mozilla) and supported him being CEO.

> and Mozilla is free to respond as they see fit

Please have a read of the first two sections of http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=lab&gr...


We banned this account for repeatedly breaking the HN guidelines. If you don't want it to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com.

I'm a founder of Mozilla and defined its mission with other founders. That mission never included anything about marriage. You're full of beans.

Your "basically demoting" story is a new one. What's your source on that?

Hey Brendan, it's a honour (am serious).

I'm just going by media reports and the answers the Mozilla leadership gave at the time. It was clear the pressure was on and without you stepping out voluntarily (which was the right gesture, from all points of view), something would have happened which would have damaged the project more -- in that sense, it would have been at odd with the project's aims. I expect you share the same view, or you wouldn't have stepped down in the first place.

I was just pointing out that you weren't fired and you likely would have not been fired in any case; at worst, you would have been moved to a different role; hence "demoted", since most people see the CEO as the pinnacle of a pyramid.

Would you agree that this is a fairer representation of the historical truth, from your point of view, than "Eich was fired"?

No, I would not agree. Guess I'll have to write the book in a year and a half.


Other people are too polite to phrase their questions bluntly, I suppose.

You and Mozilla both claim you were not fired and that you chose to step down. Had there not been political pressure from a certain group, would you still have stepped down?

When people hear about your story - it sounds more like being smoked out of your own house. A group wants you ousted due to a donation they disagree with and will be disruptive, give bad PR, or straight up quit developing for Mozilla until and unless you leave. At that point it is within Mozilla's and your best interests for you to step down.

So if you stepped down for entirely unrelated reasons than the rabble rabble going on by a certain group of people - why then? I don't think I've ever seen that answered.

And if you did step down because of the rabble rabble going on - that is what so many people have a problem with. Even if you necessarily don't.

Please do. That would make for very interesting reading, imho.

The liberal mob will have its way. But it's of course not anything like any other tyrannies and controlling mobs. It's different of course. I don't necessarily agree with his donation either, but what he does with his own money should be up to him within the realm of the legal framework. You don't just smother dissenting opinions. You are no different than that which you feel yourself superior to.

What would you consider the line to be? What if he had donated to a organization against interracial marriage? What if he had donated to a Neo-Nazi group? There are many consider causes against same-sex marriage to be equally morally repugnant (to the first one, anyway).

The fact that my rather legitimate and rational and fundamentally American point is being down-voted kind of makes my point. To be honest, I really don't think that no matter how repugnant that I may think one or the other organization or movement may be that it be smothered, banned, or hidden, let alone controlled. Unfortunately, and this is something that many in the liberal mob don't quite comprehend about themselves, is that they are quite a bit more like the very things and people they wish to shame than not. Just because you have the power and dominance to control the issue, doesn't mean you should abuse that power to stifle other people's beliefs and freedom of speech and expression.

What is the difference between lynch-mobbing someone because they don't support {fill in your individual preferences or proclivities} and lynch-mobbing someone because they do support {fill in your individual preferences or proclivities}. There is absolutely nothing different than the perspective. Everyone should have the right to express their opinions, even if you don't like them and they are not your favorite thing (to invoke Louis CK) and then a conversation may lead to a debate and that is how better ideas come about.

The process that society is going through right now is really nothing but a hardening of positions, a "liberal" form of tyranny if you will; the overbearing imposition of a particular perspective upon others. Ironically, that is the very thing the "liberal" side claims is done by the "right/conservatives".

What the current state of civilization in the west shares is an apparent inherent stupidity and irrationality that is quite stunning. Up is right, left is forward, down is blue, billion dollar valuations for what is essentially marketing middle-ware, people maintain their own personal state surveillance dossiers on themselves. It's like the world has gone god damn ape shit mad.

Perhaps the line is somewhere beyond donating money, regardless of cause. Maybe the line is throwing bricks through windows or chasing people with a bat.

I really didn't want to get involved but your argument is specious. If I don't get my hands dirty, but I financially support organisations that do (and lots of right-wing groups are not exactly squeaky clean in that regard), it's all well and good?

> what he does with his own money should be up to him within the realm of the legal framework

But what a private foundation and/or company promotes or demotes isn't up to its members?

Sounds like a double standard to me.

It is. He is not saying that they should not be able to fire him. The fact that they can fire him does not mean that they should.

So it's a position against California's at-will employment rules? I can sympathize, but it seems like a weird case to use to make that point, considering that both the board and Eich himself deny he was fired.

He worked to destroy some peoples marriages. Then some people worked to get him fired. What is the difference? Which is worse? I'm not asking a rhetorical question here, I'm genuinely interested in why you think the one thing is OK and the other not?

I'm much more concerned with the next version of Firefox permanently breaking a lot of important extensions like Pentadactyl and Tree Style Tabs.[1][2][3]

[1] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10097630

[2] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9840647

[3] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10120773

Small quibble, Eich's departure was characterized both by Mozilla, and by him, as a voluntary stepping down, not a firing.


So.. where's that evidence? Both the company involved and the guy involved say it's "X", and you say it's "Y". I'd say you have the burden of proof.

Saying "X" usually means "Y" is not proof that it means such in this case.

Well I for one love the rapid release cycle, am glad about Firefox Hello because it is advancing the state of WebRTC and don't mind the Pocket integration because the client-side code is developed by Mozilla and doesn't consume resources unless you actually use it. And I've been a Chrome user and switched back to Firefox because I think they are doing good work lately.

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