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Re: bugzilla triage madness :-/

Nicolas Mailhot wrote:
In conclusion, the open source bug reporting community is very happy
to help projects better their software. However, the people that
produce problem reports are very much inundated with issues that
should be reported. What does this mean to you, the bug handlers? That

we'd like for you to understand that every problem is not going to be
reported in a perfect way, and simply asking reporters to work more on
reports is not a guarantee that they will do it. In fact most of them
will just report their activity to channels where the bar is set
lower, and the cost/benefits ratio is better for them. The only reward
for reporting issues is having them handled. When handling is poor
this ratio gets very bad quickly.

This is sadly true, but its also one of the things that most pointedly indicates lack of real interest in seeing the issues solved by the bug reporter. Often people who report bugs in OSS communities are simply trying to get their own favorite quirky bugs polished because they use that software... little annoying bugs in their email client, browser, file manager. The many pieces of software that do not get solid attention (few bug reports) still have lots of bugs, and often get ignored by these bug reporters. They complain when small bugs don't get attention, or get upset and stop reporting bugs.

Those reporters who decide its simply not worth a little bit of effort to supply good background info to a bug report.. and are unwilling to retest those bugs are 'fair weather testers'. They are generally just using the latest product because they want the new features but really are not spending time to 'test'. They want the bling without the effort (the definition of 'user'). Testing software requires taking time to do things the 'wrong' way and see what happens, to use hidden features or odd workflows, try each new feature, etc. Testing requires *repetition* including coming back to see if the bug still exists across releases.

Lots of people report the little things that annoy them, and have no interest in taking extra time to follow up on the bug, making sure no regressions occur in later updates, checking whether it gets fixed in every major code change upstream. Those are the testers who will cry wolf and run off to report bugs somewhere else with the lower level of effort required. They are also the least effective at making a real impact on the code quality of the projects they are trying to 'help'.

A tester certainly has to filter out what they want to report. There are numerous little things that can be reported in any project, but the time just isn't available. However, any bugs a tester does report should be as thorough as possible, with that extra time given to providing all the information the tester has, and responding to requests for more. You get bugs fixed that way rather than just getting bugs reported.

I'm not saying that all the old bugs which were stale were badly reported; lots of them were well done I'm sure. What I am saying is, a bug reporter needs to realize that a poorly reported bug costs everyone extra time, on both the reporter and the developer side. The reporter needs to realize that a certain level of effort is needed to make an impact, and just going somewhere else where its easier really doesn't solve anything. They need to realize if they have no interest in the followup effort, they probably shouldn't be reporting the issue.

Andrew Farris <lordmorgul gmail com> www.lordmorgul.net
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