For both MDN and Open Web Docs (OWD), transparency is paramount to our missions. With the upcoming launch of MDN Plus, we believe it’s a good time to talk about how our two organizations work together and if there is a financial relationship between us. Here is an overview of how our missions overlap, how they differ, and how a premium subscription service fits all this.
History of our collaboration
MDN and Open Web Docs began working together after the creation of Open Web Docs in 2021. Our organizations were born out of the same ethos, and we constantly collaborate on MDN content, contributing to different parts of MDN and even teaming up for shared projects like the conversion to Markdown. We meet on a weekly basis to discuss content strategies and maintain an open dialogue on our respective roadmaps.
MDN and Open Web Docs are different organizations; while our missions and goals frequently overlap, our work is not identical. Open Web Docs is an open collective, with a mission to contribute content to open source projects that are considered important for the future of the Web. MDN is currently the most significant project that Open Web Docs contributes to.
Separate funding streams, division of labor
Mozilla and Open Web Docs collaborate closely on sustaining the Web Docs part of MDN. The Web Docs part is and will remain free and accessible to all. Each organization shoulders part of the costs of this labor, from our distinct budgets and revenue sources.
- Mozilla covers the cost of infrastructure, development and maintenance of the MDN platform including a team of engineers and its own team of dedicated writers.
- Open Web Docs receives donations from companies like Google, Microsoft, Meta, Coil and others, and from private individuals. These donations pay for Technical Writing staff and help finance Open Web Docs projects. None of the donations that Open Web Docs receive go to MDN or Mozilla; rather they pay for a team of writers to contribute to MDN.
Transparency and dialogue but independent decision-making
Mozilla and OWD have an open dialogue on content related to MDN. Mozilla sits on the Open Web Docs’ Steering Committee, sharing expertise and experience but does not currently sit on the Open Web Docs’ Governing Committee. Mozilla does not provide direct financial support to Open Web Docs and does not participate in making decisions about Open Web Docs’ overall direction, objectives, hiring and budgeting.
MDN Plus: How does it fit into the big picture?
MDN Plus is a new premium subscription service by Mozilla that allows users to customize their MDN experience.
As with so much of our work, our organizations engaged in a transparent dialogue regarding MDN Plus. When requested, Open Web Docs has provided Mozilla with feedback, but it has not been a part of the development of MDN Plus. The resources Open Web Docs has are used only to improve the free offering of MDN.
The existence of a new subscription model will not detract from MDN’s current free Web Docs offering in any way. The current experience of accessing web documentation will not change for users who do not wish to sign up for a premium subscription.
Mozilla’s goal with MDN Plus is to help ensure that MDN’s open source content continues to be supported into the future. While Mozilla has incorporated its partners’ feedback into their vision for the product, MDN Plus has been built only with Mozilla resources. Any revenue generated by MDN Plus will stay within Mozilla. Mozilla is looking into ways to reinvest some of these additional funds into open source projects contributing to MDN but it is still in early stages.
A subscription to MDN Plus gives paying subscribers extra MDN features provided by Mozilla while a donation to Open Web Docs goes to funding writers creating content on MDN Web Docs, and potentially elsewhere. Work produced via OWD will always be publicly available and accessible to all.
Open Web Docs and Mozilla will continue to work closely together on MDN for the best possible web platform documentation for everyone!
Thanks for your continuing feedback and support.
Hermina is Head of Product for MDN, at Mozilla, leading the MDN content, engineering and product teams. She is based in Paris, France.