Answering some Questions, and Responding to Comments, Part 1


It has been an interesting week. I published a blog post describing in detail some of my concerns with Triage on August 27th. I intended to simply spark a discussion about some of the finer details of the Triage issues, and explain a few of the reasons why I did and didn’t leave. It was written by a triager for triagers, and as such, it used terms that probably weren’t understood by many outside of the triage and Mozilla community. I would recommend that anyone who wants to a good grounding in how (BMO) works, and what UNCONFIRMED Bugs, Triage, etc. are, read the links at the end of this post. And if anyone needs clarification on the technical details of the What and How of BMO and Triage, I’d be more than happy to write a post on that.

I have gotten quite a few questions and comments regarding triage however, so I wanted to divide them up into a couple main themes that I noticed, and discuss them that way. I will be repeating myself from time to time to hammer home points that are important.

Some Questions and (hopefully) Answers:

  • Should we focus on bringing bugs to zero?

Matthias Versen: “In the beginning i thought that we should try to manage every incoming bug report but i realized later that this isn’t possible. It’s not possible because mozilla is a huge project with millions of users and the target to get all UNCO Firefox bug reports to zero will never happen.”

Gavin Sharp: “I don’t think that focusing on the number of UNCO bugs is useful. We should focus on outcomes, not on driving a number to 0 for the sake of it.”

So, we have the question, what should the goal of triage be? To have zero UNCO bugs? To drive every bug to resolved within a week?

I feel the goal of triage is to filter out the real bugs from the duplicates, invalid and spam bugs in an efficient, professional and through manner. The number of bugs shouldn’t be our emphasis, at least not the main one. We definitely don’t want to repeat the 13,000 bug low that we once had. As I have said, the number of bugs doesn’t matter as much to me as how fast we respond. We have Rapid Release; maybe we should have Rapid Response for triage. I don’t mean closing bugs quickly. I mean not letting a bug languish for 6 months, or even years without a comment.

It would actually be quite an interesting metric to see what the average response time to an UNCO bug is now. Then, as it seems that at least a few of my ideas are being implemented into Triage, to re-measure after they have begun to take effect. While a Rapid Response won’t fix every issue in Triage, by keeping our reporters happy, we will be able to keep a dedicated community willing to contribute again in the future.

What would help our Rapid Response strategy most will be a separate UNCO Bug Product, making bugs that need to be triaged easier to find. Along with that, we need some sort of triage flag, so then we can tell what stage of the triage process a bug is in. Organization, so the community can focus on areas of BMO that haven’t been triaged thoroughly yet. Finally, we really badly need several people to do triage full-time. Community Volunteers who are working in their spare time simply can’t always get to every bug. The community does an awesome job (pretty much the only job, as there are no Official Triagers), but, it isn’t quite enough.

  • We need Increased Communication between Triager and Developer

Steve Fink: “I just feel like there’s a conversation that needs to be happening between triagers and developers, and it isn’t, for the most part.” (I also recommend you read the rest of his comment)

There is, and it isn’t happening. We need to turn triage from Triagers vs. Developers to Triagers & Developers vs. Bugs. Triage and Development have the same end-goal, to make a product better, and to fix bugs. In theory, they make a perfect team. Triage takes incoming bugs, filters out the junk, the spam, the distractions, and hands the workable bugs over to devs, who then fix them. In reality, there is very little communication between the triage community and the developer community. I’m sure a lot of this problem stems from the lack of communication within the triage community itself. I would love to have developers come to the triage group and say “I have X amount of bugs that have to do with printing. Here is the list, would you mind working it a bit.” All this without having to organize a bugday. Having a quick reaction time to changes and trends in the Rapid Mozilla is essential.

We also need to learn from developers how they want their bugs triaged. Certain developers may not like certain methods of triage (“don’t use the closeme tag” for example). That is fine, so long as the triage team is aware. Once a good inter-group communication method is figured out, it would be nice to sit down with the various module owners, and find ways that triage can benefit them, and what they feel are dos and don’ts.

But communication needs to be two way. Steve also said “As a developer, I have an instinctive fear of getting sucked into triage because I know it has an insatiable appetite for time. I’d bet many devs would be willing to help with the overall triage process. But if there’s a hint that it means we have to jump on every vague bug report that a triager forwards to us and work on it until it’s good and dead, we’ll run away and hide under the nearest potted plant.”

Triagers often do need to ping a developer on a bug to get input on if it is a real bug or not. Many developers are good about replying when a long-time triager pings them on a bug, but for new beginners, it can be hard to figure out whom to ping, and once you do, to get a response. Having some sort of an agreement with even just a few developers who will agree to help out the triage group when it is needed would be nice.


I want to try to split this into several chunks that are easy to digest and discuss. So, I’ll be coming out with a few posts in the next couple of days. Let’s try to keep any discussion relevant to the points I have in each post, it will make my life a bit easier when trying to follow-up. I will get to the all in time, don’t worry.

For Further Reading

The Current Mozilla Wiki Page on Triage