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teaching users how to submit good bug reports

On Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 05:26:52AM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> Having followed the Ubuntu bugs for many of my packages for several years
> now, I think Debian's bug system is considerably more user-friendly than
> Launchpad.  It may not be as *pretty*, and it's not as easy to submit a
> bug, but when you submit a bug to Debian, the chances are fairly good that
> someone will look at it and reply with a detailed understanding of both
> your bug and the package (at least unless you're reporting a bug to one of
> the packages that notoriously gets more bugs than anyone could ever deal
> with, usually about other software, like the kernel or the desktop
> metapackages).

I mostly agree with this and I've an interesting recent experience to
share. I've been taking with a long time Debian user (10 years) which
has never used the Debian BTS and didn't know about reportbug.
There are at least two important observations about that:

1) I've been teaching him how to use reportbug and he found it
   impressively easy and well-designed. All in all, even though my
   friend was not a n00b, I found reportbug quite n00b friendly.
   TBH I've used the console version of reportbug, hence assuming a n00b
   level which is at least aware of the existence of a console; but I've
   no reason to believe that the graphical reportbug front-end is any

   So, point 1: reportbug rocks.

2) I've been impressed by the fact that that friend of mine didn't
   *know* about reportbug and I'm talking about a person which knows
   pretty well free software principles and the Debian community too. He
   simply didn't know what was the appropriate tool to report bugs in
   Debian as a user.

   So, point 2: are we *advertising* reportbug enough to our users?
   In particular, I'm thinking about advertising in "push mode" rather
   then in "pull mode".

   reportbug is priority standard, sure, but have we have ever
   considered other avenues to teach our users about it? (Don't know:
   having it in desktop tooltips that show up at the first login
   post-installation, having a launcher icon by default together with a
   mini bug reporting guide, etc.)

Maybe all this stuff is there already, but then we should ask ourselves
what is not working. After all, quality in FOSS starts from bug reports,
if we are not good enough in teaching our users how to report bugs, our
quality will suffer.


Stefano Zacchiroli -o- PhD in Computer Science \ PostDoc @ Univ. Paris 7
zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} -<>- http://upsilon.cc/zack/
Dietro un grande uomo c'è ..|  .  |. Et ne m'en veux pas si je te tutoie
sempre uno zaino ...........| ..: |.... Je dis tu à tous ceux que j'aime

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