community, extend, flock

Extensions Strategy Feedback Request

We’re considering several approaches to publishing Flock extensions, and I want to get a feel for what the community thinks of the various approaches. There are two major considerations that pull in opposite directions:

  1. Quality. In order to maintain a high-quality brand going forward, it might pay to limit what extensions we bless and associate with our brand. This approach guarantees for users that the extensions we feature are of high quality and provide a unified experience. The approach is exclusive, however, as many useful extensions might not pass muster from an experience perspective. For example, a neat extension produced by someone with limited UI experience or graphics resources might not make the cut. If we take this approach, it will be especially important that we work to provide resources that help developers produce high-quality extensions. If we limit what we feature, we should empower developers to stand a better chance of having their extensions make the cut. If we raise the bar by limiting what extensions we list, we raise the bar for extensions development, which ultimately benefits everybody.
  2. Trust. Installing extensions from unknown sources can be dangerous, so it’s important to have an authoritative list of extensions that have been verified to work and not to be malicious. This approach serves the larger user base and supports extensions that are valuable despite a lack of UI polish (for example), but it does so at a potential cost to user experience and thus dilutes the experience we’re working toward providing within Flock.

This is kind of tricky to talk about, incidentally, as it’s definitely not our intention to denigrate the efforts of community developers. It’s just a reality that some developers are better developers than UI designers (and vice versa). We’re juggling here whether to try to enhance the overall experience of using Flock by listing only the best of the best extensions and whether to enhance the extensibility for a broader user base by listing everything under the sky that works with Flock.

It seems to me that there are several reasonable approaches:

  1. Feature only the best of the best, period. The community can provide and vet other sites to list extensions, but Flock officially endorses only the best as chosen by the Flock crew.
  2. List everything we know of and allow users to drill down and search for all extensions, but emphasize very heavily the best of the best as chosen by the Flock crew.
  3. List everything we know of and allow users to drill down and search for all extensions, but emphasize very heavily the best of the best as chosen by the community through ratings, etc.
  4. Blend approaches 2 and 3, allowing the community to bubble extensions up but also allowing the Flock crew to emphasize what we consider the best fits based on quality, branding, etc.
  5. Just list everything, singling out at most things like recent and most downloaded.

There may be other reasonable approaches as well. This seems to cover most of the continuum, though. So, what do you think? Is raising the bar for extensions development worth possibly alienating some developers (my big concern)? Or is it more important to establish trust, making it easy for users to confidently install any extension that’s known to be safe and to work with Flock? I’d love to hear from both users and developers on this matter. I have a meeting on this stuff on Thursday.

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16 thoughts on “Extensions Strategy Feedback Request

  1. Keil Wilson says:

    I would think that you would not want to discourage extension development by excluding extensions. I certainly see your point about wanting to emphasize quality extensions though. One problem I see with excluding extensions is that you may have someone who releases an extension that’s a diamond in the rough. Once it’s released, though, it may attract the attention of just the right person to take it from it’s rough state to an awesome enhancement. That’s where I see a number 4 type of solution. Why not maintain a Flock Featured Extensions list that is essentially your gold standard extensions, but allow the community to see all extensions by community rating, newest, most downloads, etc.? As an aside, I think it would be a good idea for you to reserve the right to eliminate any extension that you determine to be unsafe for any reason.

  2. I am most interested in a community driven Extension Catalog.

    The challenge with a large catalog is having a good user experience. If I saw a design that really worked, then I would be excited!

    When I select extensions or software, most often I look at what are the most downloaded. It is a popularity context. The most downloaded software gives me trust in quality, possibly false, because of the number of eyes on it. It usually means that their are people out there to help me. Also, there should be plenty of feedback to allow the author, or someone else, to make it even better.

    I am also interested in staff/community/developer picks based on detailed reviews.

    Cheers,
    Lloyd D Budd
    Flock QA (Qommunity and quality Assurance)
    http://flock.com

  3. #3 is the best choice, heres what you should do:

    Make all of the “best” extentions ‘big and brignt’ on the main extentions page

    All of he high quality extentions should be on the following pages after “best”

    All of the lower quality should be on the site in a sub-page called “other extentions”

    This way, users that need that one extention that they cant live with out, they will have it with out having to move back to firefox

  4. I’m a fan of #2–or #3 if a good system is found to display them all. #3 sounds similar to Mozilla’s back when I used to use their system. However, I lost interest in finding good extensions that I might use because they either did not work but were downloaded a lot, or hard to find among the mess.

    If there was a group of community members, or frequent extension developers that could serve as an addendum to the “flock crew” in number two, that might help incorporate those outside flock itself. Perhaps a #2.5.

    Thanks for the opportunity to give some input :).

  5. I like the combo of 2 & 3. There is no need to be flocking fascists when it comes to extensions. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

    I think something should be improved in the extension user rating system. I think it is too easy for extensions to receive a high vote. Maybe require users to register to vote or maybe have a flock of extension reviewers. So you would have optional official flock sanction and rating by the official non-offical flock reviewers.

  6. Pingback: miahz » Re: Extensions Strategy Feedback Request

  7. @miahz post brings up important areas of discussion about submission and update practises that for a large catalog require significant time and energy. If Flock with the community does not have the resources, then the decision is made for us.

    Cheers,
    Lloyd D Budd
    Flock QA (Qommunity and quality Assurance)
    http://flock.com

  8. I think that the community should be in charge of testing and mantaining a proper (and even supported) extensions site, and of course when an extension reaches a point of perfection, it should be featured or sponsored by Flock.

    I’ve already sent a response to the discussion list, and I hope I can help..

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  10. I vote for # 4 because:

    I think it is an even medium between maintaining a solid product and also larger support for the far reaches of the internet galaxy. In short, encouraging community efforts allthewhile maintaining solidarity is what I see as the best model.

    Peace.

  11. Pingback: Daryl’s Flock Blog » Amo Flock

  12. Pingback: Daryl’s Flock Blog » Extensions Ratings Feedback Request

  13. I would vote for alternative #2. That would give users many alternatives but a clear identification from Flock’s staff of which extensions are considered “The Best”. In my case, I would follow your recommendation, since you are the creators of Flock’s code. If you feel an extension is good, but requires furter tweaking before it is recommended, then the extension’s author must make the necessary improvements before obtaining your final approval.

    This approach has been adoopted by many corporation that have experience in Total Quality Management. They only approve, those items that pass a certain quality procedure. If an item is rejected, it will need to be improved until a new testing is done. This will give Flock absolute credibility in the Web browsing community.

    Cheers,

    Omar Upegui R.
    Epiac’s Place

  14. Pingback: Daryl’s Flock Blog » Extend

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