maemo.org: SNAFU ;-)

The last two weeks were a bit… stressful.

First of all some Nokia-internal changes with regard to Error Management, then maemo.org Bugzilla moving to a new server. Unexpected side effect was data loss. Spent part of last Monday restoring what I still had in my bugmail. Still it leads to confusion and mistrust (“Why was my account deleted?” – “You probably created it in that data loss time frame?” – “Ah.”).

Then we had the Maemo5 PR1.1 release on Thursday (with a nice ChangeLog) and some problems on Saturday and Sunday, hence bugmail (change notifications) was not delivered.

Sharing other thoughts on broader issues that are currently on my mind:

Before writing the very first bug report (maybe even of your life) it’s recommended that reporters take a look at the How-To. Good bug reports save everybody’s time and issues get fixed faster. We should put this information on the first Bugzilla page to avoid frustration on both sides.

Also the number of incoming reports is constantly high, hence I am sometimes short with my comments (as I also have to take a look at the internal comments for public tickets, verify some reported issues in newer internal versions, keep stuff in sync, and other stuff). Depending on cultural backgrounds some of my comments might be misinterpreted as unfriendlyness.

For the high workload Ubuntu has a nice approach called 5 A Day which is asking community members to triage five bug reports a day. I’d be happy with any number though. ;-)
On a related note, for some reasons I expect more Nokians to be around in maemo.org Bugzilla after the next feature release (PR1.2) has been published. Looking forward to it.

Another problem is that many normal users don’t understand the difference between a bug report and a forum (I’ve blogged about this before, anyway). That’s predictable if you’ve never seen a bugtracker before, but if everybody wants Nokia to be more present in maemo.org Bugzilla and folks actually reading bugmail and responding, please reduce adding comments on what is helpful and avoid unneeded fullquotes or answering above the quote.
Especially if instructions how to provide further information have been posted already adding just another “I have this problem too” comment is unhelpful and creates bugmail noise in everybody’s inbox. Bug reports with hundreds of comments, mixing up issues with similar outcome but different reasons quickly become unreadable so the same questions or comments get reposted plus subscribed people tend to ignore new comments. Of course this is also a question of providing better information on how to provide logs etc – should spend time on this in the next weeks.

In general of course reading before posting is required, but people are lazy. “If this is RESOLVED FIXED, then why do I still see that issue here?” It’s explained that FIXED does not mean PUBLISHED, but we could consider renaming FIXED after having Bugzilla 3.4 in place, as it confuses many people. Red Hat for example calls an internal fix “RESOLVED ON_QA” in their Bugzilla until the fix is really available for public.

So that’s the reason why I educate people ask people to please “behave”. Sometimes I scare some people or maybe have less friends at the end of the day, sometimes people are fine with what I’m doing.
In any way it’s necessary, I just felt a need to explain my intentions in public after a bit of negative feedback in the last days.

12 Responses to “maemo.org: SNAFU ;-)”

  1. reaper says:

    Too bad there isn’t a HowTo for the people who have bugtrackers.
    #1 rule should be “Don’t require me to make an account”

    If you use OpenID, that’s debatable. I will provide my details if I want to, otherwise you just lost a possibly helpful bug report.

    I’ll glady take 10 bugs I have to close for lack of info if the reporter didn’t leave any info over the one guy who didn’t report one because he couldn’t be fussed to make an account. If I care enought to make a bug report you can count on me checking this page in the next time for feedback. Or I leave an email address.
    Not more accounts. end of rant.

  2. aklapper says:

    @reaper: Single-SignOn for maemo.org is being worked on, this also covers Bugzilla. For OpenId support see https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=294608 .
    I disagree with “Don’t require me to make an account at all”. I agree with “Don’t require me to make three accounts to use all services on maemo.org”.

  3. Ryan Abel says:

    reaper, I’m mildly interested to know how many bugs you triage a day.

  4. I think you’re awesome Andre!

    Anyhow, I’m just thinking out loud here, but if you want to 1) Prevent unwanted bugmail 2) Keep the commentary clean and relevant; then besides trying to educate folks there may also be a few technological counter-measures one could implement. Namely:

    1) A moderation system (now hear me out ;) — Comments from new members should be held in moderation where moderators could decide to:

    a) Allow the comment
    b) Allow the comment (and any future comments from this user)
    c) Allow the comment (but do not send bugmail)
    d) Deny the comment
    e) Deny the comment (and ban the user)

    This is similar to the moderation system for Google Groups (which I use for all, though low volume, mailing lists I moderate).

    2) A karma and rating (up/down vote) system where the moderators would would be explicitly designated (just as people are given triaging rights). Comments that are downvoted will collapse. If a users karma drops below a certain level then their comments will automatically collapse and also no longer generate bugmail.

    What do you think?

  5. reaper says:

    Ryan, it’s not my job – so I’m not doing it daily.
    But when I do it, it’s more than 20 per session.

    And there’s no registration on the bugtracker I’m using – just provide email adress and captcha in the same form, I don’t see how that hinders the *developers* from working on the bugs. If the reporter isn’t interested in feedback, he will simply click the “ignore further mails” in the notification mails (like KDE sends them) or just delete the mails.

    So there’s no benefit. Just a hurdle for people who encounter a bug, but don’t want to make an account.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Zuissi, Knut. Knut said: N900 News: maemo.org: SNAFU ;-) http://url4.eu/19ojQ […]

  7. Bruno A says:

    Thanks for this post, the community needs to know there’s a face at Nokia caring!

    Bugzilla is very unfriendly to non-coders, I personally believe there’s a need for a better bug tracker…

    +1 for the karma and moderation suggestions!

  8. aklapper says:

    @Bruno A: No changes planned to switching to another platform. Bugzilla 3.4 will make a few things easier though by hiding complexity to average users.

  9. You are doing a great job :)
    A lot of people are too lazy to search a little, or to read all the comments in a bug report.
    Lanuchpad also has this problems(gazillion of “me to” comments). I think “affects me” button is a great way to combat this problem.
    Bugtracker should be simple as possible(hide all advanced options). There should be a nice, short, simple guide about bugtracker on a visible place.

  10. Ryan Abel says:

    reaper, it’s not my job, and I am. The volume of bugs we’re getting from registered users is difficult enough to keep up with. Adding in spam from unregistered assholes isn’t going to make things more productive, and really isn’t worthwhile for the extra 1 in 20 real bug you’re going to get. Not when you’ll have to process so much more spam and clutter to get to it (which affect the processing of other real bugs).

    Taking 30 seconds to register an account aint gonna kill anybody.

  11. Josh says:

    Having interacted with you many times in the Maemo community and bugtracker, I think you do an extraordinary job.

  12. Texrat says:

    Nice write-up Andre, thanks!