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Kelli (7455)

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Journal of Kelli (7455)

Wednesday February 21, 2007
11:56 AM

Why is it so hard to submit a bug?

Bug tracking sites that don't do a good job at letting people submit problems don't make sense to me.

Case in point, my experience this morning:

Logging into my favorite messaging client, I found a bug. It was a pretty obscure bug at that.

Knowing that developers like to know of bugs, even when they're small and obscure, I go to the appropriate website and look for the bug system. There was no link clearly marked as "Submit your bug here!", which is fine. I find the appropriate page through the "Support" link.

I tried to search for the problem first, didn't find it in their bug system or in the wiki. It is a pretty obscure thing, so I wasn't really surprised.

When I tried to submit a bug, first I had to create an account. Why oh why do I have to create an account seperately? (Aside: Tabbed browsing is really the only way to go. I don't want to imagine going through this with one browser window.) Then when I tried to create an account, the bug software borked. No "Account Created" confirmation, just Python tracescript.

So I submitted a bug to the bug creator software people, like the page told me to. Luckily, their site let me submit a bug without an account. About 2 hours later, I get a response saying "Sorry, you should report this incident to the administrators of [site I tried to create account on]. This may be a local configuration issue. If not, they'll have the possibility to create a ticket on [bug software site]." I give them credit for the prompt response.

I'd love to submit a bug report to them, but I've already established that I can't create a account to submit a bug! Why couldn't they just forward it to the right system? The site I wanted to submit a bug to was a client and/or user of the bug software. You'd think that they would have the built-in ability reassign the bug to any of their client software systems. Maybe this is too much to ask, but at this point, I'm pretty frustrated.

Bug reporting shouldn't be so intimidating, so confusing, or so difficult.

A more ideal experience would include:

1. When you attempt to submit a bug, it should intelligently search the archives for potential matches, and let you see them. There shouldn't be a seperate step to manually search the bug archives. Integrated bug history and wiki search. Brilliant!
2. A number of fields don't make sense or aren't clear to the casual user. These should be optional and identified as such. Priority? Assigned to? Severity? Give those a default as "Don't know". You may want to take the "Assigned to" field out of the submission process, depending.
3. Post bug submit, if your email address doesn't have an account, offer to create one. Otherwise, let the bug go through as "anonymous", w/ or w/o the email address. Or if you'd rather (to prevent spamming of the bug tracking system), require the person to finish creating an account before the bug is officially submitted. Streamline account creation.

I'll have to take some time this afternoon and figure out who to send appropriate emails to for the now 2 bugs I have encountered. It's now past the point where it's too much trouble to even bother, but I'm going to be stubborn about this.

Note: This was written more as a rant and not as a full-featured "this is what's wrong with bug tracking systems today" commentary.