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Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby middings » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:28 am

In the topic Road to ReactOS 0.5 Michael Long mentioned the problem of the ReactOS JIRA becoming burdened by multiple bug reports (duplicate bug reports) made for the same issue. I believe this problem is worth a separate topic of its own.

Michael Long wrote:One thing I was thinking about when I thought about new releases of ReactOS is the problem the Debian developers have run into:
There are more bugs reported for Debian in a time span than there are resolved. This caused the situation that bugs are being reported 2 times, 3 times 5 times, ... Maybe because the bug tracker is bursting, people don't find the bugs anymore. There are just way too (many). So dozens and dozens of duplicates get flushed into the bug tracker. There are more than 80k bugs in the bug tracker of Debian and the (number is rising and rising).

They have a nice graphic for this:
Image

With ReactOS it's not as bad as it is with Debian (yet). But for example, if you open JIRA and search for unresolved bugs regarding USB then you will find about 200 bug reports. There are quite (a lot of) duplicates. USB seems to be a big desire at the moment but developers can't deliver fast enough. So we already got the situation in a small scale.

But I have no idea how to avoid such a situation especially considering that 0.5 probably means new features and new features probably mean new bugs. 0.5 probably also means more popularity and more popularity means more users and with that more bug reporters.


I have no simple and easy ideas for avoiding duplicate reports for the same bug. Everything I write here will be obvious to the experienced bug reporter.

When making a bug report to any project, one should always search the project's existing bug reports to see if the bug has already been reported. This is a good practice and good citizenship in the open source community. Unfortunately, people unfamiliar with any bug reporting system often find JIRA to be mysterious and difficult to use. (In my opinion, to the first-time bug reporter Bugzilla is as mysterious as JIRA.)

I realize that searches of JIRA beyond a simple keyword or short string are difficult. But one can at least do some basic searching of JIRA before reporting a bug. If the bug causes an error message to appear, be sure to search JIRA for some or all of the error message's text.

Making clear and complete bug reports will help the next person who later wishes to report the same bug find the earlier report for the same bug. If the bug causes an error message to appear, be sure to include the text of the error message in the bug report. If it is short, include it in the title of the bug report. Try to use the customary names for things or behaviors mentioned in the bug report. (When making a bug report, leave blank any JIRA field that one doesn't understand. One of the developers (devs) will add any necessary bug tracking and bug assignment information to the bug report.)

Two bug reporters will sometimes describe the same bug in very different ways. If the same underlying bug causes different bad behaviors in different contexts then this could easily be reported as two different bugs. In other cases, two people see the same bug but each describe its behavior using very different words.

If software bug reporters test newer versions of the software and find that a bug they reported is no longer present then they can help flush duplicate bug reports out of JIRA. Performing a bisection to find the revision that removed the bug might help locate any duplicate reports of that bug. Then all duplicate reports of that bug can be closed as duplicates and the revision that included the fix noted in the remaining report of the bug which will then also be closed as resolved.
Last edited by middings on Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby milon » Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:53 pm

I've used launch pad a few times for bug reporting for a different project, and any time you try to create a new bug, it will auto-search existing bugs based on keywords the reporter used to describe the issue. The user then can select an existing bug, or elect to create a new one. A similar auto-search tool might be useful to us too.
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby Michael Long » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:03 pm

The auto-search-function suggested by milon seems reasonable, as long as it provides good suggestions. If that's the case then it would probably help a little.

A different or parallel approach would be to assign someone who doesn't need to have programming skills to manually cluster and link bugs together. I think it's possible to set a "duplicate"-, a "depends on"- and a "related" link between bugs. For example, I noticed that a lot of graphical glitches have been reported recently. But there are also a lot of USB related bugs. This would help the programmers to quicker gather all information that exists regarding a specific issue. If the programmers save time, then there is some time left to address the next issue. The are not so many programmers so their time has an additional value.

Another approach would be to identify issues which cause a lot of attention (like the graphical glitches and the USB stuff). After that a report could be published (like in the forum or so) about the status of this issue. For example it could be included
  • what is already known to not work (there are sometimes good bug reports where the participants have found the root of the issue, knowing that you can say that this, this and that can't work either so there is no need to fill in another report about your specific case in which it doesn't work either)
  • where further testing is necessary (Especially with the promising found-the-root-bug reports. In some cases the reporter lacks a PS/2 port to check whether it's really a USB related issue, in other cases the reporter lacks a serial cable and a second PC to receive the debug log, so we could focus on fixing one issue instead of having several similar issues open which each lack something here or there)

Another approach I was thinking of is to improve the bug reporting quality by helping to report. For example there are serial port data loggers. This is hardware which you plug in your serial port and it writes down everything that it receives (for example a full debug log). When you are finished then you can boot your normal operating system again and then read the stored data. In this way a full debug log could be obtained without the need of a second PC and a serial cable. If I would find a low cost possibility (like 10 Euros per device) to build these devices then I would probably build and donate a few of them per month.

@middings. Thank you for correcting my spelling errors in the quoted post. I really need to learn better English.
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby Adcock » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:22 pm

Michael Long : Trust me. I did not want to interrupt.
But I must speak.
Please, don't add 'known issues' or 'things that are known not to work'.
As a user I have several times ignored these projects.
I don't know why I did that.
I think this is true for others too.
It's like lets use GIMP 2.8.22 instead of 2.9.
Actually 2.9 needs testing too to make a stable GIMP release.
I don't want to give misinformation to users.
But think about it and then take the descision.
Because ReactOS is still in alpha.

(Hope I was able to make you understand.)
LOSS for all.
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Generals Zero Hour.
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby Michael Long » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:41 pm

Thank you. You probably got a point. This could lead to the situation where bugs are being ignored because they are listed as known. The list could also be permanently out dated as development goes on. I am sorry.
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby Adcock » Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:18 pm

Michael Long wrote:Thank you. You probably got a point. This could lead to the situation where bugs are being ignored because they are listed as known. The list could also be permanently out dated as development goes on. I am sorry.

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.
What? Sorry? Why? What for?
You detected what I wanted to say.
Thank you.
Even I could not think of it this way.
That's why we have a tool named forum where discussions take place.
But that's not a solution.
You are the one who must find the solution.
Keep up the good work.
Find a solution and help Reacty.
Good luck.

Long live ReactOS.
LOSS for all.
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby hbelusca » Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:54 pm

Adcock wrote:[...]Find a solution and help Reacty.[...]

To my knowledge ReactOS is still officially called ReactOS. Perhaps there is a kiddie distro called Reacty, I don't know....
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby Adcock » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:02 am

Reacty is a game character which resembles ReactOS.
LOSS for all.
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby oldman » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:11 am

A layman's guide - debugging - bug reporting - compiling.
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby oldman » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:30 am

Michael Long wrote:A different or parallel approach would be to assign someone who doesn't need to have programming skills to manually cluster and link bugs together.

The people that read JIRA, should have noticed that Serge Gautherie has been daily, going through JIRA ISSUES for the last few weeks, sorting through them, doing what is suggested in the quote and much more. So this issue is already being addressed.
A layman's guide - debugging - bug reporting - compiling.
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby Fraizeraust » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:55 pm

I cannot speak for everyone but myself, being not entirely used to JIRA I sometimes fail at checking for existing bugs and then I see my ticket being a duplicate of another one. Here's an example, CORE-13914. I searched as much as I can to avoid ticket duplicates and found nothing that fits with my report so I decided to create the ticket. Suddenly my report has been labelled as "duplicate" because of CORE-10911. Guess what? The second report has the error output as the title. Who's to blame here? No one.

Hate it or not, but searching within JIRA for bug reports all over is exhaustive and barely helps. Often new users are not entirely used to something and mistakes happen. I'm one of them.

Solution? Merge tickets. I am not sure if it is possible in JIRA but a merge of tickets would help.How it works? Very simple, if a certain report is considered as duplicate it'll merge with the original report becoming a single bug ticket with further notification informing the reporter the ticket has now been merged with the original one.

How are they merged? This is hard to answer. Maybe you could implement a list of "merged tickets" in the original report which the merged tickets aren't reports by themselves anymore but are sort of "child" reports. My two cents, I can't guarantee it'd be a reasonable idea.
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Re: Duplicate bug reports considered harmful

Postby MadWolf » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:21 pm

Fraizeraust wrote:I cannot speak for everyone but myself, being not entirely used to JIRA I sometimes fail at checking for existing bugs and then I see my ticket being a duplicate of another one. Here's an example, CORE-13914. I searched as much as I can to avoid ticket duplicates and found nothing that fits with my report so I decided to create the ticket. Suddenly my report has been labelled as "duplicate" because of CORE-10911. Guess what? The second report has the error output as the title. Who's to blame here? No one.

Hate it or not, but searching within JIRA for bug reports all over is exhaustive and barely helps. Often new users are not entirely used to something and mistakes happen. I'm one of them.

Solution? Merge tickets. I am not sure if it is possible in JIRA but a merge of tickets would help.How it works? Very simple, if a certain report is considered as duplicate it'll merge with the original report becoming a single bug ticket with further notification informing the reporter the ticket has now been merged with the original one.

How are they merged? This is hard to answer. Maybe you could implement a list of "merged tickets" in the original report which the merged tickets aren't reports by themselves anymore but are sort of "child" reports. My two cents, I can't guarantee it'd be a reasonable idea.

hi there may be a plugin for jira to merged tickets
https://community.atlassian.com/t5/Answers-Developer-Questions/Is-there-a-way-to-merge-issues/qaq-p/558019
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