By Abdoul Karim Coulibaly, Impact Evaluation Specialist at Mozilla
The Mozilla Festival (MozFest) is an annual convening of thinkers and innovators from around the world who seek to build a healthier internet. It is a central piece in Mozilla’s movement-building strategy. MozFest started in 2010 as a small gathering of a few hundred people. Since then, it has grown significantly, with over 2,500 people participating in the 2018 MozFest to connect, share, learn, create and party.
MozFest has also grown in scope. In 2013, the festival focused on web literacy, inviting educators from around the world to craft tools and curricula to teach the web. In 2016, it focused on digital inclusion: unlocking opportunity online. And in 2018, the theme was around data and how one can take control of his/her data.
Last year, Mozilla conducted an evaluation to assess the festival impact, seeking specifically to answering the following questions:
- Does participation in MozFest lead people to develop their network and build productive collaborations?
- Does participation in MozFest inspire participants to take action promoting a healthy internet?
- Does participation in MozFest increase participants’ awareness of and engagement with a healthy internet?
Three sources of data were used to answer these questions:
- MozFest registration data: A MozFest registration survey asked participants about their objectives in attending MozFest and the benefits they received from previous Mozilla Festivals. A total of 2009 people filled out the survey.
- Post MozFest survey: A questionnaire was sent to all participants a week after MozFest, asking for their feedback about the event. Over 60 people filled out the survey.
- Qualitative interviews: Qualitative interviews were conducted via teleconference between November and December 2018. A total of 25 people were identified at the conference and interviewed about their experiences.
Here are the key findings from the evaluation
Does participation in MozFest lead people to develop their network and build productive collaborations?
MozFest is perceived by participants as an incredible collaborative event, a place where people gather to work jointly on projects and build relationships. Most participants (63%) heard about the event from their network (family, friends or colleagues).
MozFest is known for stimulating the “exchange of ideas and debates, discussions about technology,” respondents said. The primary reason to attend mentioned by 32% of attendees is to “meet new people and strengthen my network.” A large majority of attendees (74% from the survey and 92% from the interview) said they achieved their objective.
“Expanding their network and connecting with people” is by far the biggest benefit participants say they’ve got from MozFest. In addition, numerous participants (56%) indicated they made new productive connections at MozFest. Unsurprisingly, “following up on these new connections” was one of the most mentioned MozFest inspired actions in the qualitative study. Finally, as a result of their participation in MozFest, a wide number of participants (71%) said they are now more committed to be part of the internet health movement.
Does participation in MozFest inspire participants to take action in promoting a healthy internet?
84% of respondents from the qualitative interview said MozFest inspired them to take action. Actions range from the most passive ones (reporting back to colleagues, willingness to contribute) to more active ones (contribute to Mozilla work, application of technical learning, reaching out to more people with the learning).
Does participation in MozFest increase participants’ awareness of and engagement with a healthy internet?
MozFest is perceived as an awareness-raising event, providing participants with practical know-how about the internet. The study provides evidence to support participants’ increased awareness as a result of MozFest.
As a result of their participation, people have noticeably increased awareness about Mozilla and the Internet Health issues. It was the second most important mention of MozFest impact in the MozFest registration, after “Networking, collaboration and making friends.”
Important characteristics that differentiate MozFest from other conferences are diversity, inclusivity and safety. Participants said that they felt safe, welcomed and included. This is reflective of Mozilla efforts toward diversity, openness and participation, and was encouraged through the training of volunteers, wranglers and facilitators.
MozFest is somewhat unique by the diversity of people who attend — in regards to geographic, social demographic and professional backgrounds — and also by the diversity of topics covered at the conference addressing both technical and non-technical issues related to the internet. Mozilla provided scholarships to some participants in order to promote diversity.
Despite mention of diversity by the public, the registration data reveal a dominant European audience (70%). In addition, some participants have not been able to attend either because of financial or UK visa issues.
Following their attendance to MozFest, 71% of people said that they are more committed to be part of the Internet Health movement, but only 43% have a better understanding of how to contribute.
The findings indicate that MozFest features diverse topics and people. It has built participants’ awareness of, and engagement with, different internet health issues. By growing participant networks and taking action to address or promote different issues, MozFest is fueling the movement of internet activists.
This year, MozFest will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Mozilla will incorporate the learnings from this evaluation to maintain and increase diversity and create more avenues for people to engage in the internet health movement.
Mozilla would like to thank the participants who took part in the evaluation.