inessential by Brent Simmons

The war on bugs

I’ve written before about writing effective bug reports.

Whenever I go through the online bug tracker for MarsEdit and NetNewsWire, I get lots of great bug reports.

But I also get a few bug reports that go something like this: “Support for tags is broken.”

(This is a made-up example, but it’s no more terse and non-specific than some actual bug reports.)

What can I do with these? I mark them as closed and make a note about not having enough information. Still, it gets me that there’s some reason the report was made, and I wish I knew what it was.

It may or may not be a bug in the code—it could be a user interface design flaw, or a mistake in the Help book, for instance.

Or it might be that the user expectation doesn’t match the application. (Example: sometimes we get bug reports that NetNewsWire can’t connect to such-and-such Usenet server.)

But it could as easily be a real bug in the code. Without details, how could I know?

Also see Joel Spolsky on Painless Bug Tracking.