Better Bug Reports for Better Help

Doghouse – Bug Reports

Article from Issue 252/2021
Author(s):

For a better bug report, maddog offers a refresher course on crafting a clear statement that will help get your problem fixed.

A blog I read from time to time had a short article complaining about "bug reports" and bemoaning the fact that users telling the programmers "it broke" was somehow not good enough. I have written articles about writing bug reports in magazines and books over the years, but apparently a "refresher" is needed every once in a while. Plus, containers, virtual machines, and more modern processors make things more complicated.

Specify the Problem

First, try to determine whether the problem is a true problem rather than you just do not know what to do when you want to do it. If it is the second issue, then search in whatever documentation exists. Many large applications (word processing systems, projects of every kind) have fairly good documentation in their online Help menu.

After looking through the documentation, you might search the Internet to see if someone else is having the same problem. A few well-worded queries in your favorite browser may find other people with the same problem, and you may find a way of working around the issue. If it still seems that people are just not understanding the documentation, then that is still a problem and should be reported. After all, it is causing people frustration and wasting time, so it is still a bug, but now you have more insight into the issue.

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