How to properly show that you care about a bug

This post intend to be a guide to users so that they know how to behave when they think that a bug is important and it should be solved as soon as humanly possible. I’m writing this because it seems like too many users don’t think about this in the proper way and just gets on my nerves easily.

I want to start saying that it is important for developers to know how many people care about a bug, as it helps to prioritize the fixes, when you have doubts on what to tackle next.

For this reason, my post does not want to be one of those rants when you get told that you should not try to direct developers toward the most popular fixes or stuff like that. Of course developers can decide not to take care of something until they are bored or just because they have better things to take care of at one time, we’re all volunteer in Gentoo at least, and while paid developers for distributions like Ubuntu and Novell and RedHat usually prioritize popular requests, volunteer developers tend to fix what they care about. Or if they are working for ideals, what they think it’s good to fix first.

Unfortunately, bug trackers are often a PITA to work with, and Bugzilla isn’t exactly the simples one, neither for users nor developers, so we don’t usually implement a more proper workflow on bug handling, even if Bugzilla somehow supports it, because it’s too difficult to actually enact for developers, and users will most likely not collaborate as much as we’d like them to.

At any rate, there are some hints I think it’s a good idea to provide to users, as that might make their life easier, as well as developers’ too.

When you encounter a bug, it’s very unlikely that you’re the only one who happens to trigger it; although this happens, a lot of bugs that normal users encounter are actually common bugs that other people has or will soon encounter. This is true for developers too, I often happen to encounter bugs that someone else already filed a few hours before.

This does not mean that you should assume your bug was already filed by someone else and you can forget about reporting it, it only means you need to check first thing if the bug was already reported. It’s nice not to file duplicate bugs, as they tend to annoy developers and bug wranglers, with enough reason as often the bugs are pretty easy to find in the tracker.

But one of the most common action that is quite often misunderstood by users is what to do when you found the bug you’re interested in. A lot of users think that if you happen to encounter a bug that was already reported, you should leave a comment “yeah me too”.

This is not the case in almost all cases. There are just an handful of cases when a “me too” comment is useful, and it’s mostly when the bug is not confirmed, because the dev said openly that he couldn’t reproduce the bug, or limit the scope of the bug (as in what causes the bug in the first place). If your “me too” is not intended to clarify when the bug applies, your “me too” comment is just going to be junk mail for the developers, and in my case it’s also an irritant. as I tend to jump when I see bug mail, often to find out it’s just a “me too” comment on a well-established bug.

One thing you can do without being too much noisy is simply to add yourself to CC, without saying anything. Developers can then gather by the list of CCed people the priority for the bug.

I wrote before how much I tend to hate users that just are never happy on how developers handle bugs that they care about, but this time I want to make it more clear about those “me too” comments.

So please don’t add extra “me too” comments, and if you see someone who does, please direct him to this post of mine, maybe they’ll understand why they are just irritating developers.

6 thoughts on “How to properly show that you care about a bug

  1. I’ll happily plug the votes feature here as well. It would be great if more people would use their votes for bugs to indicate what they would like to see fixed most.

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  2. Bug-reporting user here.That’s interesting, I had never tought about this one before (although I rarely write “me too” comments), but it makes good sense.All the bug-posting FAQs mention “search before opening new”, most mention “developers are volunteers”, but I never seen this one. You should consider adding it to the gentoo bugzilla FAQ, for greater visibility.

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  3. Yeah, me three :)It’s one of the things you just have to live with, as new users like to jump on these things as it makes them feel involved with the project.

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  4. Yes, votes would be great for this. Unfortunately they are not really used on b.g.o (an Eclipse bug has the most votes on an open bug: 70 votes or 7 users).Maybe this should bugzilla votes should get some love from GWN?

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