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Re: Unable to close a bug in the tracker.

From: Karl Fogel
Subject: Re: Unable to close a bug in the tracker.
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 2010 07:58:09 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.1.91 (gnu/linux)

Glenn Morris <address@hidden> writes:
>Karl Fogel wrote:
>> I never have to read the documentation for other bug trackers I use,
>> because it's obvious how to use them.  If that doesn't seem like a major
>> win to you, I'm not sure what else to say... :-).
>I think it may be a cultural difference. Emacs bugs have always been
>reported and discussed by email. All the tracker really does is hook
>that up to a database so that things don't get forgotten about.

It is a cultural difference, sure.  But I'm claiming one of these
cultures is now dominant, so expecting developers to learn this other
culture is unrealistic.  Yes, *some* existing developers have learned
these ropes.  But the bug tracker is off-putting to *most* developers,
and (I'd bet) to the vast majority of potential new developers.

>All the submitter has to do is use M-x report-emacs-bug. This
>initiates an email exchange with the developers. The submitter doesn't
>need to know any of the details about the tracker. Only the developers
>are really expected to close and tag things (though if others want to,
>that's fine). It does require a bit of an investment to figure out how
>it works.

I agree that M-x report-emacs-bug should work, but that's independent of
using an email interface (in fact, due to unreliable spam filtering,
Emacs has no way of confirming right now whether it worked or not).

>I think developers are expected to subscribe to bug-gnu-emacs and keep
>an eye out for bugs that are relevant to them.

An interface that essentially requires developers to subscribe to Yet
Another Mailing List is a lose.

>Browsing bugs on the web and clicking on them to add comments isn't
>really what it was designed for.

Can't disagree with that :-).

>I'm certainly not debbugs #1 fan, but now that we've finally been able
>to tweak it a bit, I'm fairly happy with it.

I'm sure a few people, for whom the investment is worthwhile, are happy
with it.  I'm also (fairly) sure it's a productivity drain on the
majority of developers, since the majority of developers are not in a
position where that investment is worthwhile.  Imagine if every free
software project you worked on had a similar tool-learning cost, and all
the tools were different (as debbugs is different from virtually every
other tracker).  How scalable would that be?

If I had time, I'd do a survey of current Emacs package maintainers and
ask them if they monitor the bug tracker for bug reports about their
packages, by what method if so, and if they're happy with it.  But I
don't, because I'm too busy continuing to rant, I guess.

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