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13 August 2009, 13:17

Mozilla launches "Test Pilot" program

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Mozilla Test Pilot
Mozilla's Test Pilot ready for take off
The developers at the Mozilla Foundation are looking for volunteers to "test pilot" the Firefox browser as they travel the Web. A "Test Pilot" add-on for Firefox allows a user to try the newest features and enhancements for the browser before other users. The add-on collects data about the behaviour of the test pilots who are involved in the tests.

Mozilla says that this data collection is not about finding more out about the users themselves, but to get feedback on new features. Before each test, the "test pilots" are offered the chance to decide whether or not they want to have a new feature installed to participate in a particular test; to help them decide, details of what test data will be gathered and what the test is for are provided. After completing the test, the "test pilots" are given a chance to review the test data collected and decide then if they want to submit it to Mozilla. A user can always cancel a test, or quit the programme entirely.

With the add-on installed, information about operating system used, users location, type of hardware, other web browsers used and what are called "self described survey answers" (such as IT expertise, age, sex and educational attainment) will be requested. In the privacy policy for the "Test Pilot" programme it states that test data will be collected locally on the users PC and only transmitted to Mozilla when it is submitted. Submitted data will be aggregated and not attributable to individual users.

Mozilla has created a site to detail possible future testing. One proposal, for example, for the Ubiquity project could collect data on command usage and how a user's input maps to the final command executed. In the proposal, the plan is to only collect this data for a week.


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