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Introducing Open Web Docs (opencollective.com)
323 points by kylealden 6 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 73 comments

Wow, was checking out the transactions at https://opencollective.com/open-web-docs/transactions?offset... and I see that Google and Microsoft have collectively contributed $500k.

Happy to see that there is corporate sponsorship for this. Gives me some hope that this will allow MDN to outlast any eventuality that might befall Mozilla.

Or as The Reg called it: “Google, Microsoft pitch in some spare change to keep Mozilla's Web Docs online bible alive. Turns out having coherent API documentation is useful for, well, everyone”


And a small Coil, who you've probably never heard of before, donated 40% of Google's/Microsoft's amount ($100k).

That's pennies to Google/Microsoft. For Coil.com on the other hand...

For the unaware, Coil is a subscription service that you pay a certain amount to, and that amount gets spread through websites you visit that have a WebMonetization tag in the <head> element:

    <meta name="monetization" content="crypto-address-here">
Pretty cool initiative. My personal website earned a total of $1 from it so far.

I've come across this before. In order to receive money, I should just be able to put:

  <meta name="monetization" content="bitcoin:my-bitcoin-address">
Or similar, on my website.

Doesn't work that way though. I have to sign up with somebody like coil.com and put an address they give me on my websites. This is just worse. Much much worse than it needs to be.

That's where the idea started but that means the user has to be able to send Bitcoin. The purpose of Interledger is to abstract away that issue which is why Web Monetization is built on Interledger.

You don't have to sign up with Coil to earn. There are other wallets that are on the Interledger network such as Uphold and Gatehub that can give you a payment pointer to put into your site's HTML. If you want your earnings to be converted to BTC that's possible I think.

I understand that the person paying probably needs an account somewhere, so that payments can be batched together to reduce transaction fees.

However, there's no reason for me to have an account anywhere in order to receive bitcoin. All I need is a bitcoin address.

I don't want to sign up with Coil, Interledger, Uphold, Gatehub, or any other random third party, in order to receive bitcoin. And there is zero reason why I would have to.

Except that Interledger is not a "random third party", it's a protocol: https://interledger.org/

So that you can make payments to someone else regardless of whether they want to use Bitcoin or not.

I believe Interledger is the right level of abstraction for this, in the same way that you wouldn't want your email server to have to know or code against the lower protocols, e.g. Ethernet or WiFi, but only IP, TCP and SMTP. This way your email server can EHLO any email server, regardless of the network topology or underlying protocols.

Interledger does the same for payments.

Ok, so my bitcoin address is "bitcoin:1PQLtWnjUi1itHLG6QCQeHM3Nxua8pRsq1". What tag do I put in my HTML in order to receive payment from this system, without having to sign up anywhere?

You can just put that there - and then you hope that user agents implement this - or you can use interledger.

The documentation for Interledger appears to be for people who want to build software, not for people who want to send or receive money. And it talks about setting up accounts with xpring.io or rafiki.money.

I see no evidence that Interledger can be used for receiving money without having to set up accounts or run software. Plenty of evidence to the contrary.

As I said before, to receive bitcoin from one of these systems, there is nothing I should need to do other than advertise my bitcoin address. Anything more than that, and the system sucks.

> the system sucks


What you want requires support in the user agent (web browser) though.

This is a dream that the lightning network aims to one day fulfill.

What is the idea here? Open a channel with each website that I visit. Lockup the BTC that I will ever send them but only send it to them slowly each time I visit it.

Why wouldn’t you open a single channel with a well-connected routing node, and use it for all your payments?

Yes. In reality, users would have a connection open with one or a small number of routing nodes.

The end result is very cheap and quick funds transfers to any node on the network. This lightning network infrastructure would make micropayments feasible.

Granted, there are still problems to solve. But this is the dream.

bitcoin is not a currency, it's not a "money"

Thank you for your valuable contribution to the conversation.

Same here, I tried it and liked it. I've made a few dollars too, it's early days but it looks very promising. I especially like the fact that the site can know you're paying an unlock articles, hide ads, etc for you, even though you're paying a few pennies per minute.

Honestly, committing 100k to this is probably a more effective marketing spend than many...

Well... this is how I just found out about them. I find coil very interesting! Strongly thinking about becoming a member, but I would like to find out if the websites I follow use the web monetization tag first.

As far as I'm aware, there are two ways of discovering that:

1. Start a one month subscription and browse your websites. The add-on changes colour depending on whether the current site is monetized or not.

2. Try to find them here: https://coil.com/explore. If you click on "blogs", there's a search bar that you can use.

There's also a Twitter bot that tracks how many websites have it (https://twitter.com/WebMotized). Currently at 1400, with about a dozen of sites added weekly.

Finally someone seems to have done this right. Subscribed now, lets see how it goes!

so did they actually donate or did they pay the monetization amount that their algorithm determined MDN should have?

Not sure if this is ironical. Either way, it is a donation as the MDN pages do not have a <meta name="monetization" ...> tag and the payment wouldn't go through OpenCollective which does not seem to support Web Monetization.

This was a straight donation. A thriving Web ecosystem of independent developers and creators building and hosting their own content is what gets us out of bed in the morning.

Credit to Ali Spivak who kicked this all off and helped us realise what a crucial role good platform documentation plays and how important it is to fund good knowledgeable writers.

Click on the parent link, filter by $5k or more, scroll to the bottom. They actually donated. MDN doesn't seem to have that meta tag.

Pretty sure they donated, no need to doubt the donation like that.

Ok, I wasn't necessarily doubting the donation. I thought though that if they didn't donate but gave the money that their algorithm determined that it would be an interesting thing for several reasons:

1. would show coil is getting quite a bit of money.

2. would show importance of MDN.

Ah, yeah, I don't think that many people have the extension installed yet, but I can see them not requiring big sites to add a monetization header and just sending the money to them instead.

We're working to make the Web Monetization API a standard that browsers can adopt natively: https://webmonetization.org

The extension helps us bootstrap the ecosystem but a native integration is far superior. Check out Puma browser for an example of the integrated experience for mobile.

Not much to be happy about here. The "Living standard" ensures that independent browser implementation from scratch is impossible. Even not from scratch, see MS Edge.

Sounds like they have yet to implement the proverbial last 20% of features which is going to take 80% of development time.

> Well, it can render and interact with Gmail quite well. It’s pretty much perfect on a few sites we’ve targeted as focuses during development, but it struggles with many others.

How does the standard disallow independent browser implementations?

Same as Microsoft's OOXML standard. There are independent implementations but not one is 100% compatible. Even if that complexity wasn't deliberate on MS's part, it's surely a welcome feature.

And AFAIK OOXML isn't currently evolving as much as this Open Web.

Microsoft's description of the project [1]:

> Open Web Docs, a new collective which is dedicated to sustainably supporting high-quality, browser-agnostic, community-driven web developer documentation. Open Web Docs employs full-time writing staff to support the development and maintenance of web developer documentation, independent of any one vendor or organization.

[1] https://blogs.windows.com/msedgedev/2021/01/25/welcome-open-...

Had to click through a few links to get real info. From https://opencollective.com/open-web-docs/updates/introducing...

> Questions and answers

> Q: Is this a new docs platform?

> A: No, we are working closely together with existing platforms, and our current priority is contributions to MDN Web Docs.

> Q: Is this a competitor/replacement for MDN Web Docs?

> A: No. Open Web Docs writers contribute to important developer documentation resources, including MDN. Mozilla is a part of Open Web Docs and a member of its Steering Committee.

> Q: How is Open Web Docs funded?

> A: Open Web Docs is funded by contributions from our founding sponsors Coil, Google and Microsoft, and contributors from the wider developer community such as Igalia. We welcome more backers who want to ensure support for long-term maintenance of web platform technology documentation.

This comment was originally a reply to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25913083, but because the article it links to is clearly the more informative one, we merged that thread into this submission. Thanks for pointing that out!

Hmm, can someone TLDR what this is supposed to be? I did read the article but I didn't understand what this is trying to do. It just mentions something about the "collective health of something".

I can try to clear this up (full disclosure: I work on the MDN team at Mozilla).

Last year our team was downsized by a little below 50%. Most of the losses were in the writer's team. We only lost one engineer.

As a result, our writing output was considerably smaller. To mitigate this, we did two things:

1. Mozilla hired some contractors to help keep the continuous web platform documentation updates happening, so MDN does not become out of date.

2. Mozilla plus Google, Microsoft, Samsung, W3C, Coil, and other supporters worked together to create Open Web Docs, which provides funding to hire more full-time writing staff to help MDN content keep getting better.

Step 1 was really just getting MDN out of trouble, and back to stability. Step 2 is about letting us go further and start evolving MDN's content.

MDN is staying inside Mozilla; we still contribute a lot to MDN in terms of engineering, infrastructure, and writing costs. It is just that we now have OWD contributing to writing costs as well, to help safeguard the content.

This is a good thing — it allows all the interested orgs to get together and agree on future content directions for MDN together, rather than just working away on it in our own little pockets. And we'll be developing a shared process to follow to make sure that all work is going in the right direction.

it's a separate legal entity, independent of Mozilla intended to document the web.

It seems like they're going to 'own' MDN from a funding perspective among other future proejcts

my short summary is: Mozilla is spinning-off MDN into a separate entity

that separate entity may attracting funding and donations that wouldn't normally contribute to Mozilla for various reasons in the same amounts

>Mozilla is spinning-off MDN into a separate entity

They should have just put this as headline instead. Sigh.

it's ambiguous, because technically Mozilla could retain ownership of MDN but delegate maintenance to this new entity.

I didn’t get it either at first. But MDN Web Docs is Mozilla’s (very good, IMHO) web developer documentation site. Open Web Docs is apparently some kind of foundation/organization to collaborate on web documentation with other industry folks so it’s not held in just one company’s hands.

(Take this with a grain of salt. I’m still only half-sure I get it.)

ETA: hayksaakian succeeded in saying what I was trying but failing to say. :)

This comment was originally posted to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25913083, where the article was more of a press release. We merged that thread hither.

Apple and Amazon are unsurprisingly absent: For Apple the web is a nuisance at best, and Amazon just never contributes back.

That is great news! Thank you Florian, Robert, and everybody involved.

I hope the actual documentation contains a comment section (so we can discuss the material where it makes sense, and not e.g. on stackoverflow instead).

Yes comments about the content should be solicited, and also questions like "then how can I do this...". In other words a FAQ section for each page would be great. Curated of course.

Remind me of webplatform.org another documentation project supported by multiple industry players. In the end everyone just went back to MDN.

> This is not a new docs platform: Open Web Docs is instead working closely with existing platforms, and its current priority is contributions to MDN Web Docs.


Disclosure: I work on web.dev

I don't understand why Mozilla cannot see that MDN should be part of their core mission. I can understand spinning off Thunderbird and Sunbird, but this really seems a big step in the wrong direction.

Today their Mission webpage[1] states :

"Our mission is to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all."

According to the Wayback Machine, 8 years ago that page[2] said:

"Our mission is to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Internet."

Surely documenting open standards and educating developers is part of both the current mission just as much as the almost decade old mission?

Along with the "Internet Society" (.org) I can't think any of any other organizations that are, in my opinion, so misguided as they are critically important to the future of the free internet.

[1] https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/mission/

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20120331122341/https://www.mozil...

MDN is awesome; it's the Mozilla "product" that I use most often (though I do use Firefox as a secondary browser and Firefox focus as a junk content blocker) and I definitely include it in the "best of Mozilla" category.

Because apparently MDN web docs can exist just fine without Mozilla being the primary funding source?

Web platform docs are surely important, but maintaining MDN is just a matter of funding at this point. If these new funding sources work just as well, what exactly is the problem?

Like it or not, Mozilla's continued existence hinges on Firefox's market share bringing in search engine deals. With their market share falling, the only things they can afford to spend their money on are 1) making their browser more competitive, and 2) building alternative revenue sources.

MDN docs maintenance is neither. It's certainly an asset to end users, but it's a cost center for Mozilla. It's good that other companies are stepping up to fund this. Somebody has to pay for our nice things.

Can you explain what makes this seem to be out of sync with this mission focus as you've emphasized? My read of this is their interest in expanding the existing effort somehow, focused initially on MDN. Separate from this doc effort I've wondered why Mozilla hasn't emphasized business opportunities around communications like VPN services, etc until recently as it overlaps with their mission, expertise and appears to be a legitimate business opportunity at scale. It's not my area of knowledge, only a speculation from some observation.

I kinda feel like there ought to be some coherent effort to archive all this documentation, beyond archive.org (perhaps in collaboration with?).

Good developer docs have source code, and are often interactive (you can play with code in a sandbox). Much of that stuff is either on personal web sites and blogs (often with unknown licensing) or behind corporate paywalls.

There ought to be a place this stuff goes, and is forever archived, searchable, and usable.

I'd actually extend that beyond software too. Educational materials. Service manuals for my car or vacuum cleaner. There's lots of stuff which ought to live forever for the benefit of humanity. And perhaps software itself. I ought to be able to pull up Netscape 2.0 or Flash and run it in a sandbox.

Archive.org is designed to archive everything on the web. I'm thinking something thoughtful and deliberate where people (even paying for it) stick content into a permanent archive. If I'm running a startup, and I'd like to give you a guarantee of long-term support, I stick my support materials there, and they can outlast me.

Hmmm... That was a bit rambling and not too crisp, but perhaps someone can think of ways to make it crisp?

I suspect this is part of Mozilla pulling what Netscape did at the end of their life.

Spinning off all their valuable products so they'll remain after their gone.

Does this give me a tool I can use to write my own documentation?


What most annoys me about Mozilla is literally the quantity of advertising.

- They open front pages to advertise about privacy and how much they respect it,

- And when you’ve closed all of that, they do advertising (last one was for MLK) in new tabs,

- And they’ll even pursue you by email to tell you how good they are, even though I specifically untick subscribe boxes everywhere I can.

It is literally Big Brother going through every channel to tell you how much Big Brother cares about you !

Hey, I respect your preference and mean the following question in good faith: Why do you care for this?

I can understand not wanting Facebook to watch your every step (specifically because they build your shadow profile and that can be uncomfortable), but not wanting to share anonymised data with developers, and with such a passion? I'd love someone to explain this to me.

This comment isn't really relevant to this topic though, I don't think it's a good idea to bring every single Mozilla related gripe you have into a thread that is only semi-relevant.

Is there currently a "modern" browser that does that?

I believe Watefox and Tor Browser both have this functionality removed from the Firefox codebase.

I am not sure about Pale Moon or Basilisk, but I suspect they may also have less telemetry.

Compile Firefox yourself and remove that functionality?

Great stuff but honestly I think this is a mistake:

> Q: Is this a new docs platform?

> A: No, we are working closely together with existing platforms, and our current priority is contributions to MDN Web Docs.

The web needs another platform for this, Mozilla can't be trusted.

> The web needs another platform for this, Mozilla can't be trusted.

You don't have to trust Mozilla. All written MDN content is licensed as CC-BY-SA-2.5, and all code snippets are either CC0 or, for snippets over a decade old, MIT.

And it's all in Git: https://github.com/mdn/content

So if the Web as a whole ever completely loses faith in Mozilla's ability to sustain the MDN platform, all of the content is licensed in such a way as to make it trivial to fork.

There was even an attempt at spinning out the docs ~8 years ago (https://webplatform.org/), which ultimately collapsed back into MDN.

It retracts from the credibility of a documentation platform that the blog post announcing it makes one of the most basic mistakes of writing text online; line length should be kept to 60-80 characters to make it readable. It can be stretched a bit up to 100 chars depending on font-size, line-height, etc, but this blog post features a whooping 163!

> that the blog post announcing it makes one of the most basic mistakes of writing text online

Your comment is a valid criticism of the Open Collective website (if you at all feel like it, please send it directly to them — see the bottom of the webpage), but it's not the fault of the "Open Web Docs" project. They probably have little more influence on the design of the website than somebody using indiegogo, patreon or kickstarter has on the respective platforms.

Hi - Pia from Open Collective here. Thanks for the ping on this. We deployed a quick fix to reduce the width and we'll look at it with more time.

From the wording, naming and UI I thought that Open Collective itself was introducing this project!

Hi Francisco - Pia from Open Collective here. Thanks for the ping on this. We deployed a quick fix to reduce the width and we'll look at it with more time.

That's much better and more readable! Thanks for the super-quick fix!

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