Bug triaging is a largely invisible and often thankless task. But it’s the foundation of quality in our software offerings. Every day, our users file between 30 and 50 bug reports on https://bugs.kde.org, and often up to 100 right after a big release! Many will be duplicates of pre-existing issues and need to be marked as such. Quite a few will be caused by issues outside of KDE’s control and this also needs to be marked as such. Many will be crash reports with missing or useless backtraces, and their reporters need to be asked to add the missing information to make the bug report actionable. And the rest need to be prioritized, moved to the right component, tagged appropriately, and eventually fixed.
All of this sounds pretty boring. And, to be honest, sometimes it is (I’m really selling this, right?). But it’s critically important to everything we do. Because when it’s not done properly:
- Users don’t feel listened to, and start trashing us and our software on social media.
- Critical regressions in new releases get missed and are still visible when reviewers check out the new version, so they also trash it in high-profile tech articles and videos.
- Un-actionable bug reports pile up and obscure real issues, so developers are less likely to notice them and fix them.
- Bugs that occur over and over again don’t accumulate dozens of duplicates, don’t look important enough to prioritize, and therefore don’t get fixed.
- Easy-to-fix bugs don’t get fixed by anyone and it’s pretty embarrassing.
Do you see a pattern? Most of these results end up with KDE software being buggier and KDE’s reputation being damaged. It’s not an accident that KDE’s software is less buggy than ever before that that we enjoy a good reputation today. These positive developments are driven by everyone involved, but they rest upon an invisible foundation of good bug triage. And as KDE software becomes more popular, users file more bug reports. So the need for bug triage constantly grows. Currently it is done by just a few people, and we need help. Your help! And it will truly be helpful! If you are a meticulous, detail-oriented person with some technical inclination but no programming ability, triaging bug reports may just be the best way to help KDE. If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved with, go over to https://community.kde.org/Guidelines_and_HOWTOs/Bug_triaging and give it a read! I would be happy to offer personal bug triaging mentorship, too. Just click the “Contact me” link here or at the top of the page and I’ll help you get started.