The Universal Crime of Killing Bugs

On a wonderful August weekend, passionate men and women joined together as partners in crime of killing bugs and helping a wonderful Linux distribution get better. Though crimes are generally considered against humanity, this was indeed motivated by humanity and helping humans with better software to use on their computers. If you haven’t heard it before, I would like to update your database made of neurons and electrolytes packed safely within your skull that there was a worldwide effort to kill a 1000 bugs that was reported in Launchpad by it’s wonderful users for various software and components of Ubuntu.

The wonderful part of an Open Source community is that you are free to complain when you find something not working the way you want. The more important part is that your complaints are rather considered as contributions and hence welcomed with a big smile. Secondly, your complaints are attended by a wonderful team of people, who call themselves members of the bug squad, that it doesn’t go unheard, into dark matter. They help you to provide more information about your problem that it makes sense to the developers, who can then work on solving your problem and release them in the next update for the software. These people are those who put themselves as a bridge between users and developers, helping both the sides to help one another.

Though bug squad been working day and night for a long time, we are still an under-powered team when you consider the amount of bugs people are able to find in software. Also, we there will be times when the user thinks differently from what the developer expected him to be thinking, resulting in a misunderstanding of a feature or lack of one as a bug. These things need to be sorted out too. The team has also been trying to motivate a lot of users  and passionate contributors to join the bug squad and help them make Ubuntu better. As an opportunity to show case this, we decided to go for a global display of bug squashing. Thanks to Daniel Holbach and his wonderful idea of Global Bug Jam, we are satisfied that we did a good job.

With loco teams participating from around the world, including the Indian team, the mega event took place during this weekend. As every hours passed more and more bugs we getting squashed, and more bugs were moving towards an improved state that they could be killed someday completely.

Let me stop my story telling and fill you up with some facts to prove how effective it was. First check this out to know where we stand at the end of GBJ August 2008.

Global Bug Jam Meter

Global Bug Jam Meter

Now to know more statistics about the bug jam and how each triager and team performed, check out the stats at 5-a-day stats page

Hope you got an Idea of the effort that the Ubuntu community has put in to make the lives of Ubuntu users better by making Ubuntu better. Thanks to all fellow GBJ participants, my fellow bug squad members, my loving Indian team members and all users who filed those bugs. We have made a conscious effort to improve things, and we will continue to strive make Ubuntu better, and ahem.. may be kill bug #1 someday 😉

The post will remain incomplete without talking about the dark side, not about the GBJ itself but about the extent of participation from the Indian team. As tuxmaniac had already blogged about it, I will just put things in my own simple way,

  • We need more passionate participants, after all this is a chance to contribute however small it may be, an opportunity to interact with other contributors and fellow users, understand what goes wrong, how to find what went wrong and how they are getting fixed (which really helps you in understand how much effort it requires to run a project like Ubuntu, and keep it in mind when you rant next time 😉 ) and finally it’s a window to move to next level and get into the community.
  • Though we had pre-bugjam session, we need more consistent efforts to motivate people to come out of their shell and contribute. I heard some people reason that they had no clue what to do, especially without knowing to write some code. In spite of our explanation that there are lot of things to do without writing a single line of code, they still feel comfortable not to break the ice.
  • We need better planning and more stronger organization. We need plans to motivate people, even if it has to be done through incentives. Things don’t just work if we call “hey! we have a bug jam, why don’t you come and kill some bugs along with us”. They aren’t impressed and we need to find ways to impress them to join us.

In addition, almost at the end of the GBJ, we had a long time user complaining that one of the triagers who commented on his 2 year old bug wasn’t polite enough. We had a long discussion following it, concluding that the Bug Triage HowTo documents should stress more on being polite to bug reporters, whatever the circumstances be. Even if the bug sounds of no meaning, even if it’s not a bug at all, we need to be polite and explanatory on why we are taking a specific stance on the bug. There is something to learn at our every effort, and we learnt one this time for sure. Now it depends on how it gets moved on and implemented.

I would hereby wind up this report on Global Bug Jam August 2008. If you missed it this time don’t worry, dholbach is conspiring about another one soon. Don’t think twice to join us, and though these are wonderful opportunities to break your shell and contribute, you are always welcomed to poke us any time to know how you can help us. Never think twice to bug me on these matters 🙂

Waiting for the next Bug Jam..


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