Monday, May 07, 2007

To bug or not to bug

That is the question.

I used to be a software tester. In a way that's like saying, "I used to be an alcoholic." Just because you've moved on doesn't mean it stops defining a lot of your behavior. You see a bug and... well... it bugs you. You want it fixed.

So you see some trivial but vaguely troubling thing on a site and because your fingers can type a bug report on their own without your actually having to tell them to, bada-bing; the site owner gets a little nasty bomb in their inbox.

You're trying to help. You "just want to help them make their site better." But what you're actually doing is sucking the gumption right out of them. It isn't helping, it's hurting.

I did this recently.

The nice folks at Construx (who I think are quite good and who I rather like personally as well as professionally) put up a forums and blogs site for their training & consulting firm.

Now in my defense I wasn't trying to do something completely insane. I created a account, logged in, and could not see the forums or the blogs. This struck me as something they'd like to know about.

And here's where I went wrong. I wrote a bug report...

Sent From: brucephenry
Subject: Bug: If not logged in email form blanks after login


  1. goto
  2. Login
  3. Open another tab in your browser
  4. Click Send Earl an email link on the right
  5. In other window logout
  6. Type your message to Earl and hit [Send Email] button


Prompt to login followed by a blank email form.


Prompt to login followed by "Thanks your email was sent" page (presumably along with sending the email as typed).

Bruce P. Henry

Why does the bug report have nothing at all to do with not being able to see the forums?

Well, I tried to send that one but as you can see above, if you're not logged in, you can't send email.

So why was I logged out?

Because if I was logged in I couldn't see the forums and so I also couldn't get the link in the forums to send mail.

As Earl says, "Arrrgg!"

This doesn't make me right. It just makes me a dork.

Earl is right (and he calls me on it). It really is a selfish thing to send this kind of crap.

He didn't ask me to test his site. He asked me to use it. To read it. To come play in it. He was my host and I threw rocks through his windows.

I was a poor guest. But it didn't have to be like this.

I just as easily could have sent a conversational, friendly email that said things like, "Hi! How's it going? It's really great that you guys have these blogs and forums and I'm looking forward to reading them." All of which is absolutely true.

"Hey I've noticed that I'm having trouble reading the forums and blogs when I'm signed in. This makes it hard for me to write comments on your blogs or post to the forums. The site looks great though and I'm really happy to see you folks building more of a community around your best practices stuff!"

That's all it would have taken. Just a little conversational civility.

I'm such a dork.


Ben Simo said...

You're not a dork. You're a tester. :)

A fellow gumption sucker,


Bill Barr said...

You can take the boy out of testing but, you can't take testing out of the boy!

Anonymous said...

Sent From: Jeremy
Subject: Typo: Extra word in "about me" section


1. goto
2. Look at the "about me" section
3. The phrase "where I to managed" should be "where I managed"


I smiled to myself at the typo.


A correctly formed sentence.


Hahaha - Sorry, I couldn't resist. I know, I'm a dork.

Anonymous said...

yeah you are a dork