Do You Want to be a Firefox Test-Pilot?

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Even though the UK lags seriously behind other European countries in its uptake of Firefox, the latter's market-share here is now quite significant. Moreover, if you're reading this blog I'd hazard a guess that you're using it. So you might be interested in joining this new project:

Test Pilot is a platform aimed at collecting structured user feedback from Firefox and other Mozilla Labs experiments. As a Test pilot, not only will you try before anyone else the newest features and coolest user-interface ideas, you could also learn how those test results may contribute to future designs. The goal for this platform is to encourage everyone from all skill levels to improve the Web experience by conducting and participating in these tests.

Obviously, this raises issues of control, security and privacy, and Mozilla is addressing these:

Mozilla takes user privacy very seriously. Being a test pilot means that you will be the one to test the product, and it is not you that will be tested. We are only interested in your feedback on the product features, not information about you. Depending on the particular test, the Test Pilot extension may automatically collect some data about the product being tested, but you have control of deciding whether to submit this data.

Previously, we set out a series of guiding principles to direct our project development. Since then, we have had several rounds of discussions between our own engineers, legal experts, and people in our community from around the word, to form a respectful and controllable process for people to participate in the Test Pilot program without giving up their privacy. This privacy policy explains how information will be collected from participants and how participants have control on their data. We would like to highlight a few:

Participants’ data will be transmitted only when you willingly complete all following actions:

- Sign up for the Test Pilot program by installing the extension.

- Submit your data when the test is finished. You will be able to review all the data before choosing whether or not to submit it.

Your test data will only be stored in anonymous form. None of it will be directly associated with any personally identifiable information about you.

All test data will be aggregated and made available to the general public. That is, the only information made public will be statistical information about the test pilot community as a whole. No data about any individual user will ever be shared.

You may opt out from the Test Pilot program at any time.

Mozilla is very wise to spell out these points: this kind of user feedback scheme will only succeed if participants are absolutely sure about what data is being sent back, and what will happen to it.

Given that, the Test Pilot project sounds like a good opportunity to get an early look at what's might be coming in Firefox 4.0 and beyond, and maybe even influence the final choices.

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