Bugzilla as a discussion forum

Jack Tanner ihok at hotmail.com
Wed Mar 24 00:41:36 UTC 2004

My apologies for making someone have to approve this for posting 
manually. I'm using Gmane to read and post, and I don't subscribe to the 
mailing list.

Gervase Markham wrote:
> I think his point is that people with signal are more likely to move 
> past bad UI than people with offhand noise.

Right; it's a plausible hypothesis, but not a substantiated one. The 
opposite is also plausible.

> Now that's an interesting idea. We could visually distinguish comments 
> from the current assignee, QA contact and reporter.

Sure, that's probably the minimum set worth distinguishing. You might 
also add whoever is asked for reviews. But chances are that other 
people, not explicitly related to the bug, might chime in with something 
worthwhile. For example, all the drivers, all the Mozilla Foundation 
staff, anyone whose patch has ever been committed, etc. Pick your criteria.

The complementary approach is also interesting. Let's pretend that 
comments can be "collapsed" so only the author and date show up, similar 
to the list of e-mails in your e-mail client. If you click a 
"show-me-more" button to the comment, the comment expands. Say that 
we're looking at a bug that has so many comments (more than N), that 
reading through all of them is not practical; in this case, a special 
mechanism kicks in where some comments are collapsed by default.

What criteria can be used to collapse comments by default? Length, 
authorship, key words, the fact noone who has looked at this page has 
bothered to uncollapse the comment, etc. (For those of you keeping score 
at home, this is starting to look like spam/ham detection...)

>> 2) requiring that only really special people can turn off bugmail 
>> (e.g., see list above), 
> How does this make it more difficult to post noise?

It does in combination with 3, below.

>> and 3) requiring that only people CC'ed on the bug can post to the 
>> discussion. 
> I don't like that idea. Non-CC comments are too useful in legitimate work.

You could relax the requirement for a select few (drivers, reviewers, etc.).

>> The hypothesis here is that high-discussion, high-noise bugs (e.g., 
>> the MNG fiasco) would then automatically generate so much mail to all 
>> discussants, that the social cost of posting me-too's and other noise 
>> would rise quickly.
> Problem is, that doesn't discourage people. The social cost is already 
> high, but people feel "my opinion is important, and it needs to be heard."

True, but I think the social cost rises if you implement (3) above. You 
post a comment, and it's CC'ed to all these people, and you feel 
self-righteous for making an intellectual contribution with your inane 
me-too. But then you get CC'ed on all these other me-toos, and you may 
learn the error of your ways and think twice before posting again. (It's 
a nice theory, at least, don't you think?)

By the way, another perspective on what we're discussing here is that 
we're adding incentives for people to increase their tangible 
participation in Mozilla development by writing patches, triaging, 
QAing, etc., because that leads to getting Bugzilla privileges (like 
being able to post to bugs without having to be CC'ed).


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