A Bug Report is a Gift
There were lots of reactions to my blog post Everything's broken and nobody's upset. Some folks immediately got the Louis CK "Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy" reference. Some folks thought it was a poorly worded rant. Some folks (from various companies) thought I was throwing developers under the bus, accusing them of not caring. Others saw a meta-goal and started a larger discussion about software quality.
The questions I asked were these...but the most significant one was added a few hours later, suggested by a reader.
- Is this a speed problem? Are we feeling we have to develop too fast and loose?
- Is it a quality issue? Have we forgotten the art and science of Software QA?
- Is it a people problem? Are folks just not passionate about their software enough to fix it?
- It is a communication problem? Is it easy for users to report errors and annoyances?
After the post I went back and tried to file bug reports for all the issues I bumped into. For products where I couldn't find an easy bug reporting site I used Twitter. Google and Microsoft were universally pleasant when I reported the bugs and seemed sincerely interested in helping.
Is it easy for your users to report a bug? Does you app automatically report crashes? Is your site friendly? Are you support people friendly and engaged? Are your bug support forums filled with reports but no company representatives? Do you use GetSatisfaction or UserVoice?
Anatomy of a Good Bug Report
Ideally the "best" bugs are those that can be reproduced given enough context. You can save developer time and trouble by giving them as many details as you can. Developers can save everyone time with bug reporting tools that collect that information for users.
For example, on Windows if you run "msinfo32.exe" you can get a complete snapshot of your system.
Send a Frown and Send a Smile
I am a big fan of the "Send a Frown" way of getting bugs.
The Office 2013 Previews even have hotkeys for this!
Sending feedback is even better with screenshots.
The help menu for Skype includes a Give Feedback menu as well as "Skype Status."
As a user, if you can include information like:
- What were you doing? What were you trying to do?
- Advanced folks: What weird add-ins/extensions or hacks are you using that you haven't mentioned but you really should? *cough* Adblock *cough*
- Can you make it happen every time?
- Can you include a screenshot? Bonus points for a screencast!
This is a lot to ask of a user!
Some examples of where to file bugs
Here's some sites you can use to report bugs in certain applications. Note that some are fancy, some spartan, some just forums, some actual bug tracking software, made for and used by developers.
- Google Chrome/Chromium - http://new.crbug.com
- Firefox and all Mozilla products - https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/
- Spotify - http://www.spotify.com/se/help/support-forum/
- Internet Explorer - http://connect.microsoft.com/IE
- Visual Studio & ASP.NET http://connect.microsoft.com/visualstudio and
Or, the ultimate place to file bugs for your favorite software, as my friend Anil points out:
@shanselman on Twitter, duh!— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 24, 2012
How hard does the user have to work to file a bug? It's OUR bug but the user not only hit the bug but also has to work to report it!
Every click or manual step that our users have to invest in our bug is a click too many. A bug is the pain that hurts the user and keeps hurting as they report it! A good bug report is a gift that keeps on giving and we should treat it as such.
I'd love a world where all crashes are automatically reported and there's a "Send a Frown/Smile" button on everyone's computer that offers to record a short screencast with just a single "record/stop" button.
What product do you think has the best bug filing experience? Sound off in the comments!
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Related Posts in this Three Part series on Software Quality
- Everything's broken and nobody's upset
- A Bug Report is a Gift
- Help your users record and report bugs with the Problem Steps Recorder