How to Report a Bug

The article How to Effectively Report Bugs by Simon Tatham is an interesting read on the nature of reporting bugs and solving problems in the open source community. The article contains many good points and is a good guide for writing a bug template and for getting general assistance when solving a problem.

The primary points of the article were being thorough and detailed in your report. State what happened, what you expected to happen and if you are confident that they are related any other things that may have contributed. Tatham also emphasized clarity and describing exactly what steps you took as well as not trying to fix it if at all unsure as you are likely to “destroy evidence” so to speak and exacerbated the issue.

I would rate this article a 3 or 4 out of 5. By the nature of it being a blog post, Tatham included some prose and fluff that ocassionally hid the points he was making. I especially enjoyed lines such as “I had a program once whose window curled up into a little ball in the top left corner of the screen, and sat there and sulked.” The way that he made his point about staying within your area of knowledge to avoid complicating the issue was also amusing. He titled that paragraph “I think the tachyon modulation must be wrongly polarised.”

The formatting of the last couple passages are slightly confusing. They both make use of bulleted lists and though they are separated by a title, they still seem to slightly run together. I also feel it was an odd choice to place the disclaimer of specific applications at the end of the article. There is also something to be desired in the formatting to possibly remove the “wall of text” feeling of the article.

After reading this article, I have a few questions which are listed below.

  • why is this not more widely known in the FOSS community?
  • how does one learn to use the information in a bug report made using these guidelines?
  • how do developers deal with language barriers in bug reports?
Written on February 6, 2018