Mozilla Personas Renamed to Background Themes

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 2, 2012
Updated • Apr 20, 2012

And the confusing name changing continues. If you are a Ghacks regular you know that Mozilla made the decision earlier on to rename their email-based login system BrowserID to Mozilla Persona. The issue here was that the name conflicted with Personas, which provided Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey users with the means to change their program's skin easily.

Mozilla therefor made the decision to change the name of Personas as well, to avoid one being mistaken for the other. The new Personas name was announced yesterday on the add-ons blog, and what a surprise, it too may cause confusion.

Personas joins the Firefox themes family and Mozilla will distinguish between background themes (formerly Personas) and complete themes (total conversions). For the most part though, Mozilla will refer to both as themes.

To sum it up:

  • BrowserID renamed to Mozilla Persona
  • Personas renamed to Background Themes
  • Themes are now Complete Themes

The Personas website will be migrated into the Mozilla Add-ons repository to become available in the Themes category there.

When Personas have finished the migration to their new home, they’ll be called themes. Until then, our websites will continue to refer to them as Personas or Persona themes.

The move, according to the blog post, will be finished in the coming months.

Mozilla considered renaming Personas to skins first, as it was the most popular suggestion in the naming poll. Skins came first with 41% of the votes followed by themes with 22%. Skins was rejected because of "negative reactions and associations" and because Mozilla thought it would be less confusing to unify all visual modifications under a single name.

Firefox users can install background themes directly and without installation dialog in the browser. That's different from complete themes that display an installation window and require a restart of the browser. Both background and complete themes require site authorization though before themes can be installed.

What's your take on the new name? Does it add to the confusion or sort everything out nicely?


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  1. Knox Ludick said on March 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Dnt hav a problem wit it…

  2. mma173 said on March 3, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Much better –simple and direct to the point.

  3. Robert Palmar said on March 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Mozilla Persona was a poor name for Firefox themes
    and equally a poor choice for BroswerID which should
    be called BrowerID but “ID” has become a touchy term.

  4. Sid said on March 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    It will cause confusion for quite a few folks who are not keen about mucking about the technical aspects [even if its just a name change!].

    Personally, I think I can live with a name change though.
    I do not like the majority of Personas – it makes text on screen hard to read [I mean on the edges like Menu, Tab titles, etc.] or they’re just too distracting.
    I run 3 personas which I found to my taste. I invested a lot of effort in finding them & have been using them for a long time now. They make the browser more beautiful, without complicating matters.
    Best thing about “Personas” – oh I am sorry, I seem to be forgetting [!!] – best thing about “Background Themes” is, they do not require a browser restart, unlike “Themes.”

  5. Transcontinental said on March 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Would have they named BrowserID as MozID or MozillaID from the start that this sort of semantic chain reaction wouldn’t have taken place. It’s not very important but nowadays anything that lacks professionalism is quickly made fun of. Easy smiles aside nasty minds could point out a lack of brain storming, that which occurs when management is excessively diversified.

  6. YB said on March 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Never used or never plan to use personas. They make Firefox look ugly IMHO

  7. Paul(us) said on March 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    The name change adds to the confusion but I can live with it this because I convinced that the name changing, will not be so quit often like the browser version changes.

  8. ódio said on March 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    i never find a persona, ops, background theme wich looks good on firefox.
    the best one is “black default”, just a plain black.

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