Filing bugs

Yesterday someone filed a bug against some free software I maintain.

Within 3 months it's the second support request filed, which isn't alot by standards of Commercial or mainstream OpenSource, but it's more than usual. In-fact I'm not sure there has been a bug report prior on this miniscule project, and this software is edging close to being 4 years old.

It's inevitable that if you write software, issues regarding it's existing and potential new use-cases will be raised. You can always refuse to fix issues, but if it's OpenSource then someone else might become motivated to exercise the license, providing the benefits the original author refused to.

In this case, my software is a plugin to a popular OpenSource CMS which uses HTML, CSS, JS to display content to users, but the advice and blog post is to cover any software.

The first bug report was mildly infuriating. No details were provided, other than "doesn't work", but my software had been reported as 3-stars. I reported the review as it was dishonest and I felt had been completed someone who bore no consequence. I'd gone to some effort, although not a professional and polished product to share a thing. It was a vast improvement on the original in terms of styling. This person eventually updated me that they had broken the software my software integrates with, and apologised.

I wish it were easier to be a better software user. I wish we taught children and young adults how to ask for help and report problems. I'm sure some of us intuitively know this stuff, but actually, I've been on the other side of this, and I know adults still on the other-side, unaware of how to change and improve.

  • What does your situation look like?
  • What is your desired outcome?
  • Is your desired outcome documented anywhere?
  • Is there anything you can practically do, or communicate to help move the issue forward as a reporter?

The only bug I ever filed against a web-browser was about deceptive whitespace that confused a user learning how to code.

I filed several issues against other projects where I didn't think enough about my desired outcome, the situation that led to the outcome, or if what I wanted was documented anywhere, and in cases I've been a passenger, or critic, not helping to advance past perceived problems, or wishes for things to be different.