Bug history and conversations

David Baron wrote an interesting post recently, Moving bug history out of the primary display of a bug report. I have noticed this problem in Bugzilla, that even if a bug is “ready to be fixed” or has patches submitted it is necessary to read through 5, 10, or 50 comments to understand what is supposed to happen next (if anything). dbaron proposes that the main page of a bug report should show its current state. What is true about it? And what is to be done next? This would be obviously awesome for some bugs, but not for others for which there isn’t a clear state of truth. My first instinct is to question dbaron’s idea, as there might be bugs for which the conversation is the most important aspect.

For example Bug 130835 – Make Bugzilla’s index.cgi (home page) useful for logged-in users has over 150 comments, stretching back 10 years. Here the problem may actually be that the bug (or enhancement request) was not well defined in scope, so had no clear end. It might be worth untangling the useful ends of these 150 comments to close this bug, and open several new and more specific ones for which “current state” *could* be summarized as dbaron suggests.

But what about a bug like Bug 83192184 – Make the plugin click-to-play UI look less like ‘plugin broken/crashed’ UI , where there is a useful active conversation? In that case trying to synthesize the conversation at every step of the way, each time someone comments, is probably not useful.

Day 32: Cats

So in some cases there is clear “current state” or content, as there is on a Wikipedia page, but in some, the conversation is the content. I don’t want to have (or read) conversations in a Bugzilla equivalent of Wikipedia talk pages and am not sure that would be an improvement on the current state of Bugzilla comments. For bugs with a long history, especially ones which have mutated significantly since their beginning, the “current state” field might be an easy way to untangle the mess.