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Hug a Bug

June 9, 2011

When I worked in the Symbian Foundation, as part of the (Symbian) Bug Squad activities that I helped run we would (try) to have regular get together on IRC where the community would come together and work on something in particular. Mainly this was getting triaging done. We didn’t have the benefit of a lot of experience, so this would be done in something of an ad-hoc way with everyone discussing each bugs status and priority until we reached a conclusion.

Now that I’m at Canonical and trying to participate heavily in Ubuntu’s Bug Squad activities, it’s comforting to know that something similar goes on here (maybe we were subconsciously influenced by it ?). It also happens to be on the same day (Thursday) of the week. I’m of course referring to Hug Days, which are co-ordinated by the QA team. I’ve been involved in them over the last few weeks as a participant (rather than an organiser) and I find the structure to be very good and very accessible. Quite simply there is a list of bugs with different statuses (New, Confirmed or Incomplete) and simple instructions on what to do with each bug. New bugs need to be either Confirmed or set to Incomplete if you find you need to ask the reporter for extra details to be able to reproduce the bug. Confirmed bugs themselves need to be revisited and a check done to make sure the bug is still happening, leading to the bug either being Triaged or set back to Incomplete if it’s not happening and you need the reporter to reconfirm. Lastly, Incomplete bugs should be checked for a response from the reporter to the information request. If they gave the necessary info then the bug should be Confirmed. If not a follow up question should be asked and the bug left as Incomplete.

Some tools that are handy to have to assist with the process of going through all these bug reports and updating them correctly are the Hug Day tools, which semi-automate the process of ‘closing’ Hug Day bugs (they aren’t being closed as bugs, but as tasks on the Hug Day), as well as the Firefox Launchpad Improvements, which are useful not just for Hug Days but any bug work. The improvements include canned bug comments for common scenarios such as when an inexperienced bug filer has provided little info on the bug and you need to tell them to provide simple steps to reproduce the bug.

Each Hug Day is based on a particular package (which helps to focus the effort) and this weeks Hug Day is on Nautilus, Ubuntu’s file browser. I have and will be participating in this as much as I can, so if you decide to participate in it then say Hi on Freenode IRC #ubuntu-bugs where there are lots of knowledgeable Ubuntu people waiting to help out newcomers with the task at hand. See you there!

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