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Bug reporting

Bug reporting

Posted Aug 10, 2006 9:12 UTC (Thu) by shane (subscriber, #3335)
Parent article: Google's project hosting service

Google has also made is simpler to submit a bug report. Stein says, "Today a user is typically faced with a crazy set of drop-downs and fields covering everything from priority, to software components, to the target milestones." Stein asks the logical question: "How is the user supposed to know any of this? They just wanted to use that screaming mp3 server, and have no idea whether the affected component is Foo or Bar."

Now that sounds like an improvement! In my last company, I rejected exposing our Bugzilla to the public for this very reason. Instead, we just accepted e-mail with bug reports and our engineers created the appropriate Bugzilla entries.

I know I have avoided submitting bug reports for simple things because of the pain of having to figure out the details of the report. Sure, it's a "bad thing", but I'm lazy and have other things to do with my life other than figure out whether "priority" or "severity" means it's a minor issue. :)

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Posted Aug 17, 2006 18:27 UTC (Thu) by j1m+5n0w (guest, #20285) [Link]

Nothing says "go away" quite like bugzilla. Let's look at the firefox bugzilla for a wonderful example of how to prevent users from filing bugs, shall we?
There are four crucial steps that you should follow before filing your first bug report:

1. Use the latest nightly build of Firefox with a new profile

Translation: We don't care about bugs in the version of firefox people are actually using. We also don't care about new versions trashing an old profile.
2. Check if you can reproduce the bug in Mozilla (Application Suite)
Translation: After we just asked you to install one extra web browser aside from the one you actually use, we're going to ask you to install another. (Notice we were nice enough not to ask you to do a binary search to find the first version wherein your bug first appears, which would have required log(N) browser installations.)
3. Check if the bug is already filed
Translation: It's your job as a user to be able to navigate our database of thousands of bugs and find the one just like yours, if it exists.
4. Finally, read the official Bug Writing Guidelines
This step at least seems reasonable.

Oh, and by the way, we'll ask for your email address and then post it publicly for all to see.

Perhaps I'm being cynical, but last time I filed a firefox bug, bugzilla seemed rather more like a challenge to be overcome than a hospitable friend welcoming me into the firefox developer community.

I can understand that the Firefox developers don't wan't to read bug reports like "MY INTERNETS ARE BROKE PLZ FIX", and good reports make bug fixing easier. However, if users are deterred by the process, the developers might not ever find out when they break things.

I think that one of the biggest problems for the open source community right now is poor communication between developers and users (and many users are probably too polite to complain about broken things that they didn't pay for). Open source developers should be actively encouraging their users to complain whenever they see something about the software they don't like, no matter how frivolous.

It looks like Google is doing a good job of making user-developer communication easy, by keeping the interface simple. Requiring a gmail account to post a comment seems a bit onerous, but I guess I can't really blame them for that.


Posted Aug 17, 2006 22:39 UTC (Thu) by gstein (guest, #3612) [Link]

Thanks, but one clarification: you only need a Google Account to file a bug or post a comment. A Google Account can be associated with any email address.

To be an Owner or Member a project, however, you'll need a Gmail account.


Posted Aug 18, 2006 6:55 UTC (Fri) by j1m+5n0w (guest, #20285) [Link]

Thanks for the clarification, I didn't realize those were separate things.

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