Bugzilla’s long tail

If you wish to report a bug to a FOSS project (FOSS = Free and Open Source Software), you may run into a couple of snags.

One is that some of the developers are zitfaced asshats who consider the slightest mention of the possibility of maybe something being wrong with their software as a direct personal attack. Indeed, that is not a very useful attitude when you are, you know, inviting people to tell you what’s wrong with your software.

Typically not all developers share this attitude, but when your first interaction with geeks happens to be when posting your bug report, it is easy to assume all developers are socially challenged.

A simple, traditional and non-technological solution to this problem would be to let only the people with people skills do bug triage. How do you know which developers have people skills? They are the ones who do not scream at other people.

Another snag is that the software you use for reporting bugs can be difficult to use, and a third snag that said software is not very flexible.

A user has to jump through a lot of hoops before reporting a bug: grow a thick skin, read the 1000 page book on How To Use Bugzilla, and formulate your bug report in a way that is least likely to offend, and most likely to fit the mold for the Good Bug Report.

This takes time.

But what if the time bug reporters are willing to invest follows a power curve; a few reporters willing to go all the way, and lots and lots and lots of reporters in the long tail, just wishing to post their message without jumping through all these hoops? In how far do FOSS projects appreciate and accommodate this last group of bug reporters?

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