Topic on Project talk:WikiProject Bug Squad

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Bug hunters need an advocate authority

11
Badon (talkcontribs)

Who is going to challenge a developer that's trying to humiliate a bug hunter by marking correct bug reports as invalid? I used to make many bug reports. I was accused of vandalism and humiliated because one of my bug reports was invalid, and further accused of not being able to make decent bug reports (bugzilla:33403#c1). Next, I counted my bug reports, and found that at least 75% of them were good bug reports, and posted the information on my user page here. Then, humiliation tactics changed to marking my good bug reports as invalid, even when they're not, so I couldn't keep score anymore (example: bugzilla:33479).

I haven't done anywhere near as much bug hunting for WMF since 2012 because of this. It turns out shooting the messenger is a common problem for bug hunters, because they frequently encounter hostility from a small but significant fraction of developers, throughout the world, not just in WMF projects. Can WMF be progressive in leveling the playing field, discouraging developer hostility, and encouraging bug hunter enthusiasm for their difficult and thankless tasks? At what point do the interests of volunteer bug hunters matter to an authority figure in WMF enough to overrule a developer on a minor issue like marking a bug report as valid so we can keep score of the number of valid bug reports someone has contributed? Who is going to stand up for me, to ensure that I continue to enjoy doing the jobs that nobody else likes to do (without being paid for it)?

How many dedicated volunteer bug hunters are there, anyway? Am I the only one? I'm sure dedicated specialist bug hunters are few in number, even if I'm not the only one. Who is hurt and who is helped when bug hunters stop bug hunting? Could WMF benefit from having more bug hunters? Could WMF benefit if bug hunters were encouraged to count their successful bug reports?

Nemo bis (talkcontribs)

You're not alone. There are some components where I never file bug reports because maintainers just make it a waste of time: it's their loss, not mine. Just ignore them and report bugs in other components.

Nemo bis (talkcontribs)
AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Nemo: Uh, "it seems there may be some extremists advocating for suppression of bugzilla and volunteer bug reporters"? Either link or differentiation welcome. I haven't seen anybody saying "We want no volunteer bug reports at all" yet.

Nemo bis (talkcontribs)

No but I've seen "in case we want them, then"; which, for me, equals advocating there is a chance we don't want them.

AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)

That was probably me argumenting for the needs of reporters and users, as discussion on Product Management Tools was so far mostly focused on needs of developers, maintainers and managers. "In case we want peace on earth" equals advocating a chance of war too, I guess. Interpretation of words in another language; sorry if I created confusion or a wrong impression here.

AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Hi Badon, yeah, I dislike bugzilla:33403#c1 reading that comment, but I have no idea about potential previous tension already at that time (two years ago) as I wasn't around at that time. I understand such comments are demotivating and I appreciate your rationale followup comment! For a few months now we have mw:Bug management/Bugzilla etiquette in place which provides guidelines that everybody in Bugzilla should follow. If you face any hostility again, please notify me so I can take a look. For bugzilla:33479 the term "INVALID" seems to be the problem? I prefer to not have too many bug resolutions that try to cover each potential situation (in this case maybe BUG_ALREADY_FIXED_WHEN_FILED), so there will always be some space left for interpretation that reporters and developers might disagree on, unfortunately. And "bad" bug reports happen to everybody, may they be duplicates or having been fixed already. These reports are not a problem and are still very welcome as they might provide more information and as each reporter's motivation clearly is to help and to make the project better. Decisions should be explained to reporters (as it happened in comment 1 and 3). I'd interpret FIXED as an identifiable code commit that was merged into the code repository after the report was filed, but this is not 100% clear in mw:Bug management/Bug report life cycle either. Anyway, as I wrote above, I don't think we should over-define each resolution and end up coming up with lots of new ones trying to cover each potential situation as I don't see how this would help anybody. I understand the motivation to "keep score of the number of valid bug reports someone has contributed" but I don't think that some "success" ratio should be the main objective here - in the end nearly all bug reports are helpful, whatever resolution they end up with. I'd rather go with general activity in the bugtracker (e.g. helping by commenting to track down an issue also when you're not the reporter of it), which is currently being worked on as part of community metrics. Surely WMF could benefit from having more bug hunters, though I would replace "WMF" by "the Wikimedia community" and I'd expect this to be true for any free and open software project out there. Again, I am sorry that the process of bug handling is sometimes demotivating for some of the involved parties.

Badon (talkcontribs)

Thank you very much for your attention to this issue. Fortunately, serious conflicts like we saw in bugzilla:33403#c1 are very rare, and have not happened again in the last 2 years (maybe partly because I stopped reporting bugs). Most problems are more like the one in bugzilla:33479, where a bug reporter feels like he is experiencing hostility when really there may not be any hostility at all. From the point of view of a bug reporter, to spend much time testing and writing the report, only to have it marked invalid when it clearly is valid, is destined to be (mis)interpreted as an insult. Considering how dead the Bug Squad project is, I think WMF needs to decide either to make volunteer bug hunters a priority, or simply be satisfied with not having any volunteer bug hunters.

In the case of good bug reports being marked invalid - and that being the only status they are eligible for in some cases - constitutes full dismissal of a bug hunter's contributions. Really, it couldn't be any more completely dismissed, unless you want to give me a punch in the nose too. So, if you care about bug reports, something needs to be changed. A problem has been identified.

If you can't measure it, it isn't happening. I began with zero knowledge or experience with MediaWiki, extensions, PHP, JavaScript, etc. Many of my early bug reports were invalid, but by keeping score, I can gauge my progress in producing better bug reports, and becoming more familiar with the architecture of the code I'm studying. I'm exactly the kind of volunteer bug hunter you want to have, simply because I'm trying to improve. Developers can keep score of the bugs they've fixed, so why can't bug reporters do the same thing?

I wanted to start bug hunting again, but I had an unexpected very strong negative reaction to the idea, which is why I started this discussion. I don't have the energy to hunt the bugs, and get treated like a sack of manure too. I'm dissatisfied with my experiences from the current way of doing things, where bug hunters have no value, no importance, and no priority. But, it would be easy to fix with some policy formulations that would also serve to encourage good quality bug reports. It would be especially good if the policies are aimed at neutralizing a developer's natural tendency to feel insulted when a bug hunter triumphantly swaggers in to announce the difficult bug he found - that also happens to be the big bad developer's fault.

Once again, this is essentially a natural phenomenon that can sometimes lead to conflict, when it should lead to cooperation instead. There needs to be SOMETHING in place to shepherd the relationship between bug hunters and developers, and structure them in a way to prevent feelings of conflict. This is especially a problem for developers that answer to no one due to their dominance in some bit of software, like a MediaWiki extension. In other words, bug hunters need to be encouraged to feel pride in their accomplishments, without causing developers to feel like they're being accused or criticized. As it is, the bug hunter's victory is sometimes viewed as the developer's loss, in a zero-sum game.

AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)

You write "only to have it marked invalid when it clearly is valid". I disagree with this (or at least want to say that validity is something very subjective) - the bug was already fixed when it was reported and not existing anymore in the codebase at the moment of reporting it. I know that some bugtrackers use an ALREADYFIXED status for this, looks like this would have been the case here. Nobody stops bug reporters from keeping score, but everybody (also developers) can have interpret words and resolutions differently (if developer A wrote a patch to fix the problem but developer B calls it an ugly hack or workaround you can have the same conflicts about interpretation)...

AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)

"It would be especially good if the policies are aimed at neutralizing a developer's natural tendency to feel insulted when a bug hunter triumphantly swaggers in to announce the difficult bug he found" - where does this strong feeling come from? Any specific examples that "developers feel insulted by bug reports"? If you think that the Bugzilla etiquette misses something, please feel free to discuss on its talk page. Thanks!

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