This is pretty good as rants go.

This is pretty good as rants go. It’s actually readable and makes a good point that’s not obvious to everyone: adding inexpert comments to a bug tracker might make it less likely that the bug gets fixed, regardless of whether those inexpert comments are constructive or complaining.

Originally shared by Jean-Baptiste “JBQ” Quéru

Of public issues trackers and support forums

It’s JBQ’s rant time.

My job is to be the lead meta-engineer on what amounts to a giant Open Source library (meaning that it needs to be integrated with other components to make consumer products). I call my job meta-engineering, because I don’t really write code that ends up in consumer products, instead I help other engineers who do so. Part of that job includes working with a public issue tracker. 

Note that the project is purely a technical project, for which all the direct customers are engineers. The consumer products that end up using that source code all have their own user support structures. The public issue tracker is purely a technical resource, several steps away from consumer products.

At times we do get some user-reported issues in the public issue tracker, even though we’re a  technical project. If those issues have a reasonable chance of being reproducible directly in the raw Open Source code, I try to not reject them summarily, but that doesn’t mean that I can provide user support for those issues: the project remains a technical project, and user support still needs to go through regular support channels.

Here’s the rant: Comments along the lines of “Me too” or “Please fix it” don’t help. They actually hurt.

I’ve just spent an hour already trying to ready through 200 comments on a specific issue, where at least 90 to 95% of the comments provide no relevant information whatsoever and only 10 to 20 comments provide actual clues or insight. That’s 22 screenfuls of comments on my 30″ monitor. At it turns out, there is one comment in there that’s actually interesting, but it got totally drowned in the middle of the noise and stayed there unseen for months because of all the other comments. If that was the only comment in there, there’d be a much better chance of directing the investigations in the right direction.

If you think that 200 comments is too many, you should see the thread that has 7300 comments.

When you comment on a thread that’s trying to diagnose an issue but you don’t actually provide steps toward a solution, you’re making it harder for other people to diagnose that issue.

Edit: Another way to say that is “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Rant over, and comments closed for obvious reasons.

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