Reporting usability problems: please be more tolerant when you triage bugs!

Mikus Grinbergs mikus at
Wed Jul 22 20:53:57 UTC 2009

>> However, it is very easy that a developer does not recognise an
>> usability-related bug report, and confuses it with a more or less
>> strange support request, and I often have to discuss to have it
>> accepted as a bug.
> The issue is that Ubuntu doesn't write most of the softwares it
> distribute and the current team doesn't have the manpower to work on
> those and isn't well placed to decide on behavior changes that should be
> done a software they are not writing. Ideally submitters would open
> those bugs upstream too and argue directly there.

I would like to speak up for the users out there - they too might 
have only limited resources and time.

The following happened to me on a platform different than Ubuntu, 
but has colored my attitude ever since:  A beta release failed to 
provide one significant multimedia function.  I reported it.  The 
report was rejected (with the notation that I should go upstream), 
on the grounds that I had used an application not supplied by the 
platform developers.  That mode of response upset me:

  *  *Every* multimedia application I had tried on that particular
     beta failed to produce that kind of output, whereas on other
     versions those same applications worked correctly -- and I had
     said so in my report.  I had expected the developers to check
     into my claim (of *every* - i.e., that it was the fault of that
     beta system), rather than suggesting that it was my fault for
     choosing a third-party application.  [The application I had
     named was the one easiest to install.]

  *  It would have taken significant effort on my part to discover
     whom to contact regarding the application I had named.  And in
     my mind I could imagine that person's reaction if I requested:
     "Although your application works on platform XYZ-111, and on
     all other platforms I have tried, it fails to produce the
     expected output on beta XYZ-112.  Please fix your application."

Let me suggest that Ubuntu appoint an usability triager/ombudsman, 
to determine (from the Ubuntu users' perspective, not from an Ubuntu 
developers' perspective) how much attention ought to be paid to each 
and every usability-related bug report.


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