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Re: Forwarding bugs upstream

On Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 02:46:35PM +0000, Ian Jackson wrote:
> Anecdote: while I was employed by Canonical I had to dissuade some of
> my colleagues from implementing and deploying, without consent from
> Debian, a feature in Launchpad that would automatically file
> corresponding bug reports in the Debian BTS.  I expressed the view
> that doing so would be considered abuse by the Debian BTS admins and
> would probably result in some emergency ad-hoc wholesale blocking of
> Launchpad's access to Debian infrastructure.  Not to mention an
> absolutely enormous flamewar.
> To all of us that would obviously have been a really bad idea.  
> Let us be careful not to do to our upstreams what we don't want our
> downstreams to do to us.

Right, it's a sane principle.

By the same principle, I'm sure that we in Debian would not appreciate
if Ubuntu developers would ask their users to submit _packaging_ bugs to
Debian no matter what, instead of filing them to Launchpad first. By
doing so, they would risk that a bug apparently due to Debian is in fact
induced---in some non obvious [1] way---by some other Ubuntu change.

The example can easily be transposed from the Ubuntu<->Debian border to
the Debian<->Upstream border. If we ask users to submit bug report
upstream no matter what, we risk of upsetting upstreams if, repeatedly,
they'll start getting bug reports which users believe to be upstream
whereas they are Debian's "fault", in some non obvious way.

The only conclusions I can make from the above are:

a) Getting upset for *specific* bug reports is pointless: there are
   always going to be bug reports filed at wrong targets which are
   someone-else's "fault". Getting upset for them won't make them less
   likely in the future and will just worsen relationships between the
   corresponding upstream (resp. downstream). The best we can do is
   devise practices that reduce the *overall* risk of shooting bugs at
   the wrong target.

b) To reduce that risk, the best we can do is teach users guidelines
   about where to report bugs. The driving principle could be something

     "if you feel confident in judging that and if you think the bug
      belongs upstream then please report it upstream directly; doing
      otherwise will just increase communication overhead"

   Note that our *current* policy [2] is exactly dual to that; we
   explicitly ask users to report the bug to Debian even if the user
   thinks it belong upstream. Clearly, the current policy err on the
   cautious side; this thread might lead to consensus in empowering
   users more with that decision. (Then, if we reach it, we should
   document it properly in various places, including that page and
   reportbug---discussing it only among devs without informing users
   will be quite useless.)

   Note that, even with that policy, there will be users reporting to
   Debian (because they don't read the doc, because they don't know how
   to report upstream, because they can't make the judgement, etc.).


[1] "obvious" here is in user's opinion, as when a bug report is filed
    there are only users who can judge that
[2] http://www.debian.org/Bugs/Reporting

Stefano Zacchiroli -o- PhD in Computer Science \ PostDoc @ Univ. Paris 7
zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} -<>- http://upsilon.cc/zack/
Quando anche i santi ti voltano le spalle, |  .  |. I've fans everywhere
ti resta John Fante -- V. Capossela .......| ..: |.......... -- C. Adams

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