Tuesday, 18 May 2010

If you're filing bugs: please don't be selfish!


If you're filing bugs, I understand that you feel strongly about the issues you're seeing, and that you feel like your problem is important and deserves immediate attention. I also want "my" bugs to be dealt with as soon as possible, and as a Ubuntu contributor I also want *your* bugs to be fixed in a timely manner. However, you usually should not just add information to an existing bug because the symptoms are vaguely similar.

My point is, if you're seeing that something is wrong with your hardware (because this type of issue is quite frequent with hardware-related bugs), please don't hesitate to open a new bug. Developers will often be quite pleased that you did, and will be happy to mark something as a duplicate of another bug for you. Other bug reporters will also be happier, because it allows their own, often unrelated issue to be dealt with rapidly. Your own bug will also likely be fixed earlier, since developers need to sift through less information related to a specific issue: they then need to decide whether a specific attachment or comment is relevant in far fewer cases.

It just helps making the experience more enjoyable to everyone.

Also, if you're suggesting in a bug report against a specific package to use another package, you're not being helpful. Sure, you help the reporter by fixing their immediate problem, but you're not helping the underlying issues being resolved. What we want is to have all projects improve and squash their bugs, which cannot be done if you, say, suggest using Wicd in a bug against NetworkManager for a broken wifi driver.

I like both of these projects, I want both to succeed equally, which means that bugs need to be reported and respected so that we can fix the issues that arise and deliver a better user experience to everyone; while allowing all projects to grow and improve. This is what suggesting that project X is a failure (that's usually not the words used, but you get the idea), and that project Y is better (because it doesn't have that specific issue), will never achieve.

It all boils down to being nice to others. Nice to other bug reporters, because everyone has the same chance of getting their bugs fixed, and nice to other projects because they all get their share of bugs and success stories.



Unknown said...

Hugely seconded. Being polite, civil and providing details about your problem helps a lot.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Duping in launchpad (and most bug trackers) is cheap. Splitting out your bug from someone else's is hard; most of the time no one will do it, with the result that your problem won't be investigated. So don't 'me-too'.

I often notice bug reporters can be put into one of two groups: Those who wish to help make the product better, and those who simply want to get their machine fixed and really are just looking for free tech support.

The first category is helpful and their work makes all of our lives better. People in the second category are just drains on developer energy, like people who go to the hospital's emergency room for minor issues.

Ubuntu *does* have people who provide free (and paid) technical support, but they generally don't hang out in the bug tracker.