Be sure to Follow Bug Reporting Guidelines

Wednesday October 13th, 1999

Eli Goldberg of the Mozilla QA team has a request for everyone submitting bugs for M10:

"While a number of these bug reports have been fantastic, we're seeing a lot of new bug reporters who haven't yet learned how to submit Good Mozilla Bugs. Correspondingly, easily 20% of them have been tossed out as INVALID or WORKSFORME on the spot. (!) Almost none of the M10 bugs have followed the Bug Writing Guidelines, or used the Bug Template. In some cases, the bugs turned out to be valid --- but we didn't know, since the reporter didn't provide sufficient clues for an investigation."

Also be sure to check out the "Most Frequent Bugs" page before submitting a bug. Duplicate bugs need to be weeded out by the QA team - time that could be much better spent.

#1 Unlikely.

by MattyT

Wednesday October 13th, 1999 7:59 PM

I think you're preaching to the converted. While I don't use the template, I generally consider everything in it.

This is mainly due to new people who just want to submit bugs and don't want too much hassle. When they realise they don't get handled, they will change, but then a new group of people come along.

In my opinion bad bug reports could be reduced though, for example with such a simple thing as changing the warning in enter_bug.cgi to bold, and emphasising that this gets results quicker, on that page. When I've said something similar before noone seemed interested.

The people can either complain and nothing will change or keep trying to improve the situation at the point of the problem.

#2 Bug reporting process: incomprehensible

by leafdigital

Thursday October 14th, 1999 6:34 AM

I'm a developer mys'elf and have used bug tracking systems before; even those (while difficult to understand) have been nowhere near as actively user-hostile as the bugzilla system.

What I'm saying is, it would be better if there were "simpler" forms for use by external testers aka Normal People, while keeping the complex, fully-featured forms for Mozilla developers / advanced users.

Example, simpler search; should allow selection of product (default to browser) and subarea (e.g. "HTML form components", there's an existing list). That should be the only options to select, then a standard keyword search (enter list of keywords, choose to AND, OR, or phrase search, or else use altavista syntax - cf any web search engine). While a few people might want to use the current forbidding, advanced interface, sure - they still can. Most people could make do with that simpler interface and get results much more effectively.

Reporting a bug could include the same two dropdowns plus the info QA people need (machine OS, version etc), then the URL/attachment, summary and full description... that's it. But with a detailed, simple explanation on the actual page of how to fill in each section, without needing to reference extra pages.

IMO this would increase the number of bug reports, and reduce the proportion of duplicates / bad bug reports. Writing guidelines as to the use of truly horrible software might help, but fixing the software to give it a better UI should be a far more successful solution.


ps I developed a custom web-based bugsystem for use here, (though it was for a far smaller/simpler project), so I do have some experience in this stuff :) I wouldn't have the first clue about bugzilla code though, so unfortunately I can't offer to make the changes... am certainly willing to give UI advice though ;)

#3 Or an alternative..

by leafdigital

Thursday October 14th, 1999 6:36 AM

as a cheap alternative which I just thought of (sorry), it would be possible to have a simple web forum for reporting bugs, where ordinary users can just give bug descriptions any old how. then some expert 3rd-party volunteers who understand the code, could read the forum, take that lousy information and make it into actual bug reports.

alternatively mozilla could entirely give up on bug reports from non-experts (which is the way it feels now really, but they could be honest about it :).

#4 It's not that bad

by asa

Thursday October 14th, 1999 10:11 AM

>alternatively mozilla could entirely give up on bug reports from non-experts (which is the way it feels now really, but they could be honest about it :).

I'm definitely a non-expert and I feel very good about the developer responses to bugs that I've submitted and tracked. I think that bugzilla could be made more user-friendly but I've had no problems using it (and the newsgroups and IRC) to keep track of my 'pet' bugs.

#5 Bug reporting process: incomprehensible

by elig

Friday October 15th, 1999 3:33 PM

I agree 100%! Bugzilla could use substantial usability work from experienced usability design, especially for more casual users.

Unfortunately, it comes down to there being nobody at Netscape paid to do it, and nobody on the net who has volunteered to do so. If you know any volunteers... ;)

In this case, the primary area of improvement in bug reports that most of us in Mozilla QA are seeking is to improve the quality of the content of the Bug Description, by applying the Bug Template and Bug Writing Guidelines. IMHO, this should be possible to improve even with Bugzilla's UI being...umm...hacker-oriented.

#6 Bug #11328

by MattyT

Friday October 15th, 1999 8:27 PM

You might be interested in bug #11328, it's an RFE to separate the query page into one that is is simpler than it is now, and one that is more advanced than it is now.

#7 An easy way to make follow the guidelines

by luch

Friday October 15th, 1999 9:47 PM

In the bugs I've reported, I copied-pasted the guidelines directly from the guideline's help page... Wouldn't it be easier to put directly the guidelines AS THE DEFAULT TEXT of the full description input box? And if a bug reporter doesn't want to use it, well CTRL+A - DELETE and the job's done!

In answer to leafdigital, I didn't find the bug reporting system too difficult to understand, and I can't say that I'm a pro. It's just that some of the input boxes are unclear, like QA contact or whiteboard status, I mean WTF?!?


#8 An easy way to make follow the guidelines

by elig

Monday October 18th, 1999 10:14 AM

I agree. This has been requested many times by many people (myself included) over many months, and has declined to do so.

For a summary of the reason provided, please see bug #4456.

Feel free to let hear your thoughts if you think the bug template should be pre-populated.