How NOT to Report a Bug

There has been a recent run of terrible bug reporting practices in recent months, so I am going to try to address this the only way I know how: by being a snarky ass about it! Hooray!

The following ways are examples of what NOT to do:

Report a bug over Jabber

This is just plain stupid. I know there are lots of those "little formy things" to fill out in a proper report in a given bug tracker. They are useful to solving a bug. Would you rather: put in a little more effort and have your bug solved quicker OR be lazy and irritate the people who are fixing your problem for you?

Additionally, jabber/IRC/instant messaging are all active mediums. In order for me to get the entirety of your bug report I need to do something. Here is an example bug-over-XMPP:

reporter: Hey have you had any problems with XYZ-1.3?
me: No
reporter: Oh, I have a problem.
me: Oh? What problem?
reporter: When I click the button it crashes
me: Crashes how? Is there any output?
reporter: Yes
me: Can you paste the output here?
reporter: Hold on
reporter: <output>
me: Oh ok. Please file a bug report. I will get to it later.

Now, the exact same thing as a generic bug report:

Subject: XYZ-1.3 crashes when clicking the button
When I click the 'foo' button, it crashes and gives me this
output: <output>

I leave determining which one is easier to understand as an exercise to the reader

Describe your bug via links to other things

The worst bug reports I see are of the following form:

Subject: Bug with foobar
I have the bug described here:

Why is this bad? Well, for one, I now have to follow yet-another-link to read, close that tab, remember what was written, and then read the rest of the bug report. Secondly, the links are usually forum posts, blog posts, or mailing list archives which never have the full information. I now need to read through 30 forum posts, stripping out the noise; or go through 5-10 back links for mailing list history; or even read comments on a blog to find out details of a bug report


Throw multiple problems in one bug report

So there's a bug in barfoo-2.7. Also, the third menu doesn't work. Oh and
one time I made it crash. And I'd like a pony.

Don't let your ADD seep into the bug report. It's frustrating to read 100 different problems in one report. Stick to the mantra of "one bug, one report". If you have three bugs, file three reports - this isn't rocket surgery. I know it's tedious, but it's even more tedious on the other end - the end run by guys trying to help you fix your issues. Help us help you.

Don't read the bug reporting guidelines

Yeah, so someone wrote a wiki article about reporting bugs. Who cares? I don't need to read that, I'm above it!

No. Shutup and read it. Hell, I just learned something new by reading it right now. If you think you've read it already, read it again. If you just read it, read it one more time for good measure.


This little rant does, in fact, serve a purpose. With an influx of more inexperienced users, we get more and more shoddy bug reports. People need to learn how to do this properly - it's a skill that you can take with you to other distros, other projects, and even other jobs. Learn it!

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