MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

Monday July 26th, 1999

Ben Gertzfield writes, "Get this -- MSNBC is grading different corporations on how good their public bug-tracking systems are.

And, of course, being a MS-run site, they give Netscape an F because they couldn't find bugzilla.

How sad. Netscape is the ONE corp that's good enough to make all of its bugs totally public AND release their bug-tracking software as open source software, and MSNBC has to pull a stunt like this. See the article link for the exact text."

To find out about the quality of a company's bug reporting system, they do a search on "bug".

#1 always good for comedy!

by glo_worm

Monday July 26th, 1999 5:52 PM

in fairness: almost as funny as rating bug-openness by doing a cursory search for "bug" on the main home page (!?) is the following quote in the section where they reviewed microsoft:

-- You'll get 200 hits if you search on "bug" on Microsoft's vast online Knowledge Base, which is like searching the Arctic for snowflakes and finding 200. --

#2 Are they trying to be funny?

by bmetzler

Monday July 26th, 1999 5:58 PM

Where's my barf bag?

This is too unreal. A search on the keyword 'bugs' to determine how a company treats "reporting" of bugs in it's products? Was some reporter bored?

Is MSNBC just turning into 'The Onion'? I thought it was bad enough that MS partnered with them.

#3 They were talking about NETSCAPE. not Mozilla

by zaw

Monday July 26th, 1999 6:56 PM

They didn't mention anything about thought.

Even thought its some what hard to use but its a good bug reporting tool.

#4 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by Anon

Monday July 26th, 1999 7:02 PM

Maybe the reason that "bug" shows up so few times on MS's Knowledge Base is because their products don't have "bugs"; they have "issues". I bet "issues" would show up a few more times.

#5 maybe they are just talking about communicator

by omidk

Monday July 26th, 1999 7:04 PM

I could understand this if they are just talking about communicator. Bugzilla is only for mozilla right??

#24 RE: maybe they are just talking about communicator

by basic

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 10:51 AM

bugzilla only applies to mozilla. I heard that netscape has a similar bug reporting system but it is internal. They should make part of it viewable though.

#6 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by url

Monday July 26th, 1999 7:54 PM

Gee. . .In consideration of this sort of journalism by MSNBC, it makes me wonder how they gather information for other subjects they do stories on.

So, what qualifies for research on a news report about mobsters in America? Renting "The Godfather" from Blockbuster Video? =)

#7 Bug searches ...

by james

Monday July 26th, 1999 8:51 PM

So let me get this straight -- they expect that someone who finds a problem or bug in the software they are using will go to the support section of the vendor's web site and search for "bug" AND expect to find something relevant.

My guess is that the high scoring companies in the review have something like "Bug #nnnn" on the top of each page.

Anyway, how does calling faults in the software bugs rather than problems affect the support anyway? I can see how calling them features might be a problem though :)

#8 Retards...

by Anon

Monday July 26th, 1999 9:53 PM

That's the most moronic fluff peice I've seen in a long time. MSNBC should be ashamed.

If you're gonna do crappy nonstories, at least get some kind of facts first...

#9 Stupidity...

by BehrQattz

Monday July 26th, 1999 10:17 PM

This "article" (notice its a "commentary") is so mind-blowingly moronic that I felt several synapses short out in my brain as I read it. He needs his oxygen licence revoked.

#10 One more low stunt for MS

by Anon

Monday July 26th, 1999 10:42 PM

This sounds like a tipical thing for Microsoft after how many other low stunts they have pulled time after time

#11 vote the article down

by fresh

Monday July 26th, 1999 10:44 PM

go to the article, scroll to the bottom, and vote "1" or so..

best way to be heard, I guess. pffft.

#12 One more low stunt for MS

by Anon

Monday July 26th, 1999 10:59 PM

This sounds like a tipical thing for Microsoft after how many other low stunts they have pulled time after time

#13 Mozilla gives MS bug reporting a Z

by Anon

Monday July 26th, 1999 11:28 PM

Anybody know any lower grade.

M$: It's not a bug, it's an undocumented feature.

#14 What a bunch of bull...

by Anon

Monday July 26th, 1999 11:39 PM

I give MSNBC an 'F' for having bugs in its research procedures...

#15 Onto their little game

by grappler

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 12:30 AM

MSNBC has found an interesting way to take advantage of the "MS" in their name. It's like this:

Say something unflattering about Microsoft, and then note that Microsoft is a partner in MSNBC. The reader, blinded by this incredible display of openness and honesty on the part of the writer, will then eat up anything the article says from that point on.

That is not good enough. Let them know this in the feedback options on the site, but please summon some politeness, even though they may not deserve it.

#16 More FUD

by Anon

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 12:48 AM

It is the same type of thing they did with the Mindcraft benchmarking. But... this has a twist. Since Netscape didn't return as many bugs then Netscape must be less buggy therefore a better product. If you look at it like I do. Well some more of M$ marketing comes to play again. What will they come up with next?

#17 Why is that?

by Anon

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 2:10 AM

They weren't looking hard enough. I must say that althouhg isn't a "bug" -site, finding information there is harder than any other page.

#18 who can find anything on

by Anon

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 3:01 AM

sure it's a stupid article, but seriously, the possibility of finding anything at all on has gone way down since they turned the place into a portal.

#19 look at the poll

by cheekycj

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 6:00 AM

Even though they gave Microsquish a "C-" if look at the user poll it ranks MS the worst in dealing with bugs.


#20 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by Anon

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 6:35 AM

I am curious about this. First, the author is from Bugnet, an organization that gives annual awards for fixing software bugs. This last year no award was given out because they felt no company had done an adequate job of fixing their bugs. The year before (1997) Adobe go the award.

Now, they rank some of the biggest names in the industry and nearly all get an "f". Yet, Corel which has been hemorraghing money for years gets an "a-". Huh? So the moneymakers get a low grade for not admitting to software bugs and the losers get a good grade? Is there some correlation here? Maybe you shouldn't admit to problems if you want to make money?

Also I can definetely see giving Netscape (not Mozilla - which I didn't see in the whole article) an F. I don't know how many times I have gone to looking for how to overcome/confirm some bug in Communicator only to be thwarted by bad search results (404 results) or poor navigation. Heck, they still haven't updated CSS issues since 4.00 PR3! And this was what, 2.5 years ago?! And it's been moved at least once as I got a 404 error and had to email the webmaster to actually find the piece again. Not exactly encouraging to developers like myself that need that information.

I'll be the first to admit that searching for "bug" is a very questionable mehtod, but I don't see any legitimacy for equating Mozilla to Netscape in that otherwise tawdry article. This looks like a hack piece done by bugnet, which really ruins there reputation in my eyes.

--Luddite (who cannot login to post, but somehow can login and change my user info)

#21 Fuzzy logic...

by Anon

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 6:59 AM

Luddite -

Since when does how much money a company makes an indication of how good they are at bug fixing/acknowledging?

Besides, Corel is back to profitability, and the new version of Wordperfect is light years better than MSO2000.

#26 Fuzzy logic...

by Luddite

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 11:19 AM

Nothing at all. I merely made the point that I found it interesting that those who made the most money were the worst offenders of acknowledging bugs in their software. I guess acknowledging bugs is either bad for business or doesn't really mean anything to users. Otherwise, users would logically be choosing companies other than MS, Adobe, Symantec etc. Get it?

As for Corel, I'll wait and see. I really dug them in the early 90s, but a single profitable quarter doesn't mean they are out of the woods yet. they put all their eggs in the Java basket in the mid-90s and really got burned. Now they are doing virtually the same with Linux.

And you obviosuly aren't referring to WordPerfect on the Mac since it's been dropped. I don't think consumer products like PrintHouse2000 is going to save them in the market. If Adobe and Metacreations can't make it in that market how can Corel?

#22 Maybe Reason

by spacecow

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 8:53 AM

Now before you attack, by my sheer existance at this site, I'm obviously a fan of moz, and like most fans, not to great with microsoft. However, I seriously disagree with those of you who pull microsoft as a conspiracy in an MSNBC news story. MSNBC rates right up there with fox news with me, but just because it has MS in the name doesn't mean microsoft has a hand in it's dealings. Common sense should tell you that MSNBC has editorial rights away from microsoft, and that they probably don't have anyone to answer to there about such decisions as rating a 'c-' or a 'f' to certain companies. Not to mention that it doesn't sound like a particularly intelligent staffer did this, or that a particularly large amount of work went into it. If microsoft does something, we all should know, it's a gala affair with every available resource pulled in. This is just a stupid writer, and it's really silly to bring in the MS part of the thing into this. I'm sure they don't want to ruin their cred, and it doesn't take a brilliant person to make the connection, so I be they stay on their toes for this stuff.

Also, if this were vindiction, wouldn't they be anti-everyone but microsoft, because microsoft is in competition with every single one of those companies.

#23 This is Netscape, not Mozilla

by beastie

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 9:31 AM

"And, of course, being a MS-run site, they give Netscape an F because they couldn't find bugzilla."

No, they couldn't find bugzilla because it's not part of the Netscape site. All this time it's been pushed that is separate from Netscape. The unfortunate thing is that most readers probably will not make this distinction.

#25 Netscape<>Mozilla

by Cynic

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 11:08 AM

Their research methods are certainly questionable. And the article is supposedly about bug REPORTING -- and whilst Netscape at least gives you a talkback form to fill out when it crashes, MS, Adobe, Corel etc products don't. This should have earned a few more points for NS, but thats all IMHO anyway....

And, dammit, you people are FAR too critical of Microsoft! They don't have bugs, they have features. The BSOD, for example -- when you've been slaving over a thesis for three long hours, and click on "save", it's a GOOD THING that a nice calming blue screen comes up to take your mind off work, isn't it =)

-=Yusuf=-, who ranks Win95 as one giant bug...

#27 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by FrodoB

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 12:21 PM

Actually, Corel hasn't necessarily dropped Macintosh as a platform for WordPerfect Office.... They just haven't decided yet whether to provide a new version or not. The latest version of the product, Corel WordPerfect 3.5 Enhancement Pack, will be available for free download for Mac users on August 16. In addition, new consumer graphics programs for Mac are under development. No announcement has been made either way on the possibility of a new WordPerfect for Mac.... They just say that they won't develop on the 3.5 code base anymore (which is a very good thing, as it's antiquated).

#28 FYI

by mozineAdmin

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 1:24 PM

MozillaZine's forums are now threaded, so if you want to respond to a post, click "Reply to this message" in the message's header. That will lead you to a new page with a response submission form.

#31 That's a bug in MozillaZine, actually

by Anon

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 6:58 PM

Let's face it Chris, most of us don't want to be loading umpteen different pages just to read all the comments to a story. And when a reply (like this one) is made to a message, only its title, author and date appears. So another page has to be loaded just to see the reply.

This means, I am almost certain, that most people choose flat mode to read comments.

And what happens when people choose flat mode? That `reply to message' link *doesn't appear*!

See the problem?

So it's a usability bug, Chris. To fix it on a minor level, include the `reply' link in the flat mode as well as the threaded mode. But that's not the ideal solution.

The ideal solution is to change the `threaded' mode to a `nested' mode, where replies are indented after the original, rather than being hidden inside links.

This second option would mean that the current two-column page layout would no longer be a good idea (pages would start horizontally scrolling if there were replies to replies to replies), but hey, if you got rid of the two-column layout for comments, the page would display much faster in Communicator ... :-)

-- mpt

#29 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by FrodoB

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 2:40 PM

I know, but I browse `em in flat mode (I prefer having all the messages on the screen at once), so there's no reply button. :)

#30 Missing the point

by Anon

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 3:15 PM

Everybody seems to have missed the point of the article. It's not talking about bug reporting systems like Bugzilla. It's talking about which companies are willing to use the _word_ "bug" to describe errors in their products and which companies prefer to dance around the "issue." That said, basing the score on a single word is probably misleading as far as determining which companies acknowledge their responsibility for the quality (or lack thereof) of their software.

#32 Missing the point

by brobinson

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 7:05 PM

Is it against the law for a company not to use the word bug? Why not "known issue" (this is the one I'd most expect), "problem", or "flaw"? Doing one search ("bug") is stupid. This article must have taken 5 minutes to slap together. Yes, a bug can be caused by the operating system. Especially ones known for containing a few thousand of them (Win95).

#33 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by zontar

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 7:07 PM

Hmmm, I always use flat mode here and never have any trouble posting.

I will agree with the article on one point: Corel's "issues" listings are very good indeed. I had major problems with one of their products (CorelDraw) on my Windows box, and I was able to find a solution within about 15 minutes of hitting their site.

Otherwise, the story was a complete piece of trash -- when I was in the news biz, if I'd tried to pass something like this off as "research", I'd have been canned in a heartbeat. And rightly so.

#34 When Will Netscape Die?

by Anon

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 7:23 PM

Once MS delivers IE 5 for the Mac and UNIX, Netscape will die. Too bad Netscape is still about a year way :(

#35 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by FrodoB

Tuesday July 27th, 1999 8:57 PM

IE 5 for the Mac won't have a big impact. Mac users are still pretty sore about what Microsoft's done to them over the years (and is now just getting back to doing, according to a article from today).

And don't even start about IE 5 for Unix.... It's got about three features. It installs, it starts, it crashes. :)

And Netscape is about 6 months away, not a year. Beta's due in a month or two, not 6.

#47 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by Anon

Thursday July 29th, 1999 12:12 PM

I abandoned Netscape when it demonstrated its inability to support CSS, despite plenty of time to address the various issues. It still doesn't work well with style sheets. When IE5 for Win95/98 came out, I was sure Netscape was dead. I've only recently discovered the new Mozilla code, and now I see hope again. I've already customized my own skin, and I see tremendous potential in Mozilla as a truly cross platform browser. Bugs or no, good luck to you folks who are involved daily in working with this code. The XUL/Javascript interface was a great idea. On my Mac, I can't even launch IE4.5 any more. It crashes upon startup. So unless Windows remains dominant forever (and it won't) Mozilla has an excellent chance. Keep up the good work!

#36 A Call for Knowledge Base Standards?

by Anon

Wednesday July 28th, 1999 12:01 AM

I see a huge need for industry standards on syntax to be used in software knowledge bases. I don't know that "bug" is the word I'd choose for that particular category of information, but I would like to see a standard adopted, perhaps a "software knowledge base" document type definition for XML/SGML?

Ditto for search engine boolean syntax. It's a pain having to figure it out everywhere you go, and far too few sites offer any explanation. For example, I had to lobby Corel for months to put up a Help link for their knowledge base so casual users would have a clue instead of automatically swamping the newsgroups. They finally put it up a couple of weeks ago, and it's missing half the command set I know works on their search engine! And still no information for newbies on how to search for a particular error message.

#37 Poll Idea

by Cynic

Wednesday July 28th, 1999 10:44 AM


I always use flat mode, I find threaded mode monotonous, slow, and inefficient. It would probably be a good thing to have a poll of how many people actually USE threaded mode, and if it's less than 5% or so (which I suspect it is), lets just get rid of it and move on to flat mode.

-=Yusuf=-, Off-Topic Poster '99

#40 Poll Idea

by mozineAdmin

Wednesday July 28th, 1999 1:58 PM

I'm not going to get rid of the threaded mode (I use it exclusively, and find it extremely useful). I may add a "reply to this message" to the flat mode, so that messages appear properly in threaded mode. I won't be adding a "nested" mode.

#46 Nested Mode

by Jake

Thursday July 29th, 1999 11:47 AM

Personally, I think threaded and flat mode both have their own advantages... threaded is nice because all the replies to a certain topic SHOULD be in the same thread. Flat is nice 'cause you can just click on a link, get a cup of coffee, come back and start scrolling thru the messages (or even read the offline)... downside, everything is all scattered and you have to remember what the different topics were...

The solution: Nested mode... the both of best worlds... if it was availble, I know I'd use it exlusivly... :O) (maybe a spell checker to... lol)

#41 Threaded Rocks

by asa

Wednesday July 28th, 1999 2:46 PM

I quit using flat the day threaded came on line. Please do not kill it.


#44 Poll Idea

by Tanyel

Thursday July 29th, 1999 3:13 AM

I like the threaded mode too. If everybody used it, I wouldn't have had to spend the last 15 minutes scrolling through a single webpage.

#38 MSNBC stories often fail to load properly

by maynard

Wednesday July 28th, 1999 11:43 AM

I find a large number of MSNBC stories often fail to load properly under Linux/Netscape 4.6. Usually what happens is that the top teaser loads, and then it doesn't auto-load the full article underneath those mid-level ads. It's usually Javascript bugs (bugs in their Javascript code) and it seems random... some stories have the problem, others don't. IE always loads the story fine. Feedback to MSNBC never gets anywhere, they don't reply and they don't fix the problem.

Anyone else see this? And if it's deliberate, what to do?

#39 MSNBC stories often fail to load properly

by Anon

Wednesday July 28th, 1999 1:27 PM

Does it under Win95/Netscape 4.6 too. Especially the poll with is a layer under the nav controls.

#42 Splinter in neighbor's eye, plank in yours

by Anon

Wednesday July 28th, 1999 5:03 PM

Has MSNBC taken heed of the above subject? Try searching for "bug" or the hyperlink for the article, and !bang! nothing. This is even with "bug" three times in the title of the article!

#48 Splinter in neighbor's eye, plank in yours

by SomeSmartAss

Thursday July 29th, 1999 2:35 PM

I wonder how many hits you get when searching for the term "Total BS"?

#43 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by zontar

Wednesday July 28th, 1999 11:34 PM

Mr Baggins,

I couldn't find that article you mentioned. You don't have a url handy, do ya?

#50 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by Anon

Friday July 30th, 1999 8:41 AM

here's one -,4,39744,00.html

-Electric Chameleon

#45 MSNBC Gives Netscape Bug Reporting an 'F'

by FrodoB

Thursday July 29th, 1999 7:46 AM

Wish I did, but I deleted the report containing it.... It was about Gates saying that they could easily pound the iMac into the dirt (or something equivalent in meaning)....

#49 I want this guy's job...

by Anon

Thursday July 29th, 1999 5:37 PM

Let's see... The guy spends, at most, an hour visiting a few web sites and does a search on the word "bug." Then he spends maybe 15 minutes writig pithy comments and pulling letter grades out of thin air.

Emails the story to the editor & attaches the following note "Ed- here's the story I've been working on for the past week." Then he gets a nice paycheck.

Sounds like he's got a nice scam going.