Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

In-Talk Bug Tracking

LibraryThing now has an In-Talk Bug Tracking system. Check it out.

The Story. For some time now LibraryThing members have been agitating for a bug tracking system, to augment the Bug Collectors group. I held back. Bug tracking is “work.” Members will do wonderful things for a site they love, but I didn’t want to ask them to become data-entry and QA professionals. Nor did I want to fool with such a system. I like conversations, not forms. And I think conversations work better. Very often what seems a bug is really something else—a needed feature, a poorly explained concept, etc.

But the need was still there. It was deuce-difficult to figure out what bugs had been reported, and what the status was. The confusion was bad for users, and it was definitely impeding our ability to identify, prioritize and fix bugs.

So, I’ve finally implemented a compromise idea—Bug Tracking within the existing Talk system.(1) The result should satisfy almost everyone. Bug-tracking is still conversational, and capable of opening up to larger discussions. But every bug is tracked and given a basic status. Nothing is “lost.”

How it works. It works like this:

  • Every post to Bug Collectors is entered into the bug-tracking system.
  • Bug-tracking posts get a green box, describing the state of the bug.
  • A Bug Tracking view shows bugs by status, category and assignment.
  • Members of Bug Collectors get “Bug Tracking” as a permanent option on their Talk tab.
  • Members and staff classify and change bug status, as appropriate.

Many thanks. I’d like to thank members for helping me think through the plan (here and here). And I’d like to thank them for the care and attention they’ve taken reporting bugs. It is not, of course, possible to describe everything that goes on at headquarters, but they are right that bug-fixing has not always gotten the attention it deserved. The new system won’t magically create time, or new employees, but it will speed the process, and remind us just what’s out there to solve. As usual, it’s an honor to work at a site with so many smart, dedicated and generous users.

Special thanks to these top Bug Collectors group contributors: jjwilson61, lorax, jjmcgaffey, infiniteletters, BarkingMatt, MarthaJeanne, readafew, AnnieMod, christiguc, fleela, staffordcastle, lilithcat, AnnaClaire, rsterling, AndrewB, FicusFan, r.orrison, _Zoe_. There are many others, of course, with literally hundreds of posts and reports to their name. Among these Brightcopy deserves a special mention, as a relatively recent user whose done more than most to report bugs—and push me along.

Come talk about it on Talk here.


1. I was unaware of it, but Ravelry apparently does something similar.

Labels: bugs, new feature

5 Comments:

  1. sabreuse says:

    So… bug combining? And bug combining stats?

  2. Brightcopy says:

    Cheers, mate. You’re doing one hell of a job!

  3. Kai says:

    To users of other bug tracking systems (such as Bugzilla), “bug combining” is known as “marking a bug as duplicate of another”. It’s a well-known feature of bug trackers, and in fact it’s the first thing I thought of when I started reading this.

    Just have a field where you can enter which bug this is a dupe of, and on the other bug, show links to all known dupes.

  4. Kai says:

    On second thought, better make this “related to” instead of “duplicate”, thus solving a slightly larger problem.

  5. Tim says:

    Kai: I hear you. I decided to keep it an in-conversation thing. People often do refer to other posts. But to fully feature-ize it would raise some problems. Perhaps we shall do it when the number of bugs rises. For now, only stuff in the last month or so are actually bugs.

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