[Techtalk] Projects that respond well to bug reports

Kai MacTane kmactane at gothpunk.com
Tue Feb 13 16:43:08 UTC 2007

Cc:ing to issues on the basis that this conversation might belong 
there. Issues-chix who aren't also techtalkers, the discussion begins at:

At 05:31 AM 2/13/2007, Felicia Berryman wrote:
>That's a really good site.  I just checked it out.  I probably 
>shouldn't rant on techtalk, but how come QA and triage volunteers 
>are not considered developers?

At a quick guess, I'd say for much the same reason that editors and 
proofreaders aren't considered writers.

That is *not* to say that the current "developers are gods, everyone 
else is just along for the ride" mentality in the F/OSS world is 
correct, or should be allowed to remain. I'm simply pointing out that 
finding bugs - finding duplicates, and even corresponding with the 
end-users to get more information and/or keep them abreast of the 
fix's progress - is *not* the same as writing code.

Improve QA people's status? I'm all for it! But calling them 
"developers" is (IMO) not the way to do it.

By the way, it's been my experience that the best developers have 
*great* respect for good bug-finders. It's too bad their attitude 
hasn't trickled down to the rest of developers... in fact, I'd go so 
far as to say that a developer's opinion about, and attitude toward, 
QA people bears a pretty strong correlation with his/her overall 
quality as a developer.

(I'll have to remember that the next time I'm interviewing potential 
candidates at my job.)

>Maybe, just maybe, more linux volunteers would want to do this work 
>if they would get the respect of actually being a key part in the 
>project development - not just some triage worker, but a full member 
>of the development team by being called a developer just like the programmers.

Skipping the "being called a developer" bit and concentrating on the 
preceding, I completely agree. Treating non-developer volunteers like 
full, equal, required and *respected* members of the team would do a 
lot to help encourage more participation.

>Also, I think more people would do QA work if you could actually be 
>a super-worker in this area.  Yes, this means some people will compete.
>Does it matter if inflating egos helps get volunteer involved though?

Hey, leveraging "egoboo" is one of the things that's gotten F/OSS so 
far. :) I think ESR mentions that somewhere in either _The Cathedral 
and the Bazaar_, or maybe _Homesteading the Noosphere_.

>Finally, instead of just telling people to find a recent bug, why 
>not just have a button where we can randomly get a recent, 
>unverified bug to both verify and compare to other reports for 
>duplication.  This would be similar to the Project Gutenberg Editing 
>project where you are just randomly assigned a page or two to edit.

I have got to remember that in case I'm ever running an open-source 
project that's large enough to benefit from it. (I hope to release 
some PHP software as F/OSS soon, but I have few illusions that it 
will acquire more than a few dozen users, or any other volunteers.)

>Please don't take my comments too personally.  I'm probably in the 
>minority by liking Linux and open source but not really liking programming.

And that (if true) points out how much F/OSS is still driving away 
non-programmers. That's something we need to stop doing. And, much 
like "encouraging women in Linux", I think it's best done not by 
"avoiding certain behaviors", but by actively *embracing* certain 
behaviors (and the attitudes that lead to them). In this case, the 
attitude that non-developers are real, valuable contributors - 
perhaps even *more* valuable, in some ways, than the coders.

                                                 --Kai MacTane
"She's gonna dream up the world she wants to live in,
  She's gonna dream out loud.
  Dream out loud."

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