I’d like to share some welcome changes that we’ve recently made to https://bugs.kde.org, KDE’s venerable bug tracker. Improving our bug submission process was one of the ideas I submitted to KDE’s 2017 goal setting initiative, and while it wasn’t formally chosen the way the Usability & Productivity goal was, people seemed to think that it was worthwhile to do anyway. The overall task tracking this effort is https://phabricator.kde.org/T6832.
I’m pleased to report the following improvements:
First of all, we changed the names of some statuses:
- UNCONFIRMED -> REPORTED. We observed that users got frustrated when bugs were in the UNCONFIRMED status after months or even years of being open, and would leave comments such as “Why isn’t this confirmed!? X number of people are experiencing it!” Hopefully REPORTED will inspire less frustration.
- WONTFIX -> INTENTIONAL. We observed that the phrase “won’t fix” was rubbing people the wrong way because it was implying that we acknowledged there was a bug, but we just didn’t feel like fixing it, for unknown reasons. In reality, this was meant to communicate “the software is designed this way on purpose.” Hopefully INTENTIONAL will communicate this better.
- INVALID -> NOT A BUG. “INVALID” felt a bit harsh and judgmental. What we wanted to communicate was that the bug was not appropriate to have been reported on the bug tracker because it was a support request, complaint, or something else that isn’t an actionable for fixing. “NOT A BUG” should do a better job of communicating that it’s, well, not a bug. 🙂
We also added a template to the text field you get when you file a new bug:
This should guide people down the path of filing better, more actionable bugs.
Speaking of filing better, more actionable bugs, we also changed the Bug Reporting Instructions link on the top of the page to point to https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved/Bug_Reporting.
Finally, we re-worked the attachment UI to no longer recommend attaching patches to bug reports (because they tend to get missed). Instead, it directs people to submit their patch using Phabricator:.
Hopefully these little improvements will lead to better bugs, fewer hurt feelings, and more patches. We’re already seeing a very good response from the new template in particular, and I’ve noticed that new bugs are being written following the template with Steps To Reproduce and version numbers. Awesome! This makes it easier for bug triagers and increases the likelihood that bugs will actually get fixed.
I’d like to offer a big shout-out to Andrew Crouthamel, who made all of this happen. Great job, Andrew!