Contributions." The program will allow the developers of Firefox extensions, aka "add-ons," to solicit a dollar amount of their choosing for their work. For end users, the choice about whether or not to donate will be completely optional, so it's not like the Add-on site will become a marketplace where extensions are offered for sale. For developers, the financial support provided by the program will help them continue their efforts in delivering quality work. Hopefully, it will lead to fewer abandoned extensions, too - a problem that has plagued Firefox users for quite some time.Today the Mozilla Corporation announced the pilot release of a new program they're calling "
How Contributions Will Work
PayPal to provide the developers with a secure way to facilitate international payments. Developers will be able to include a "Contribute" button on their add-on's page that displays a suggested amount. Users will be able to contribute either that amount or one of their own choosing. The developers will also have the option to create different PayPal IDs for each of their Firefox add-ons.According to a post on the Mozilla blog, the company will be working with
Because many developers may choose to only solicit a small amount for the add-on, Mozilla encourages them to look into using PayPal's micropayments fee structure, a system which reduces the transaction fees for payments under $12 (US).
As far as the donations themselves, the entire donated amount will go to the developers - Mozilla will not be taking a cut...at least for now. In carefully worded text, Mozilla responds in the Contributions FAQ that "for this pilot, Mozilla will not earn a percentage..." , which seemingly leaves the door open for a little skimming off the top at a later date.
Mozilla says they're calling the Contributions program a "pilot" because they want to solicit feedback from the community to shape the future of the program going forward.
New Developer Pages
Along with the pilot program, Mozilla is also launching "About the Developer" pages to accompany the add-on pages. Here, developers will be able to tell their stories, their motivations for creating the add-on, and can spell out what's ahead on the add-on's future roadmap. These new informational pages should help end users determine whether or not the add-on is worth supporting via a financial contribution.
Benefits to Firefox Users
As any regular Firefox user knows, one of the worst things about the Firefox upgrade cycle is that sinking feeling you get when you discover that your favorite extension no longer works with the most recent update to the browser. Unfortunately, this problem is far too common since unpaid developers often don't have the time or energy to continue upgrading their code with each new browser release. This leads to slews of abandoned extensions, forcing users to search for alternatives or give up on having that particular functionality entirely. Sadly, many extensions in the ecosystem are one-of-a-kind, so when one is no longer updated, there just isn't a suitable replacement to be found. Hopefully the new influx of financial support for the developer community will make this less of a problem in the future.
Not only is the Contributions program good for the developers and the end users, it's good for Mozilla, too - especially in this new age of browser wars. The company knows that, for many users, the main reason they run Firefox instead of one of the other browsers out there is for the extensions they've become attached to. If those extensions were to become out-of-date and abandoned, users would have less reason to stick around. At the end of the day, Contributions looks like a win-win-win...except, of course, for the cheap users who will now have to suffer a little twinge of guilt when downloading a new add-on.