I know questions that are bugs should be closed as off-topic with a comment explaining where to file a report. My question is, how do you tell when a question should be filed as a bug report?

For example I saw this question. It looks a lot like a bug to me, but how do I know for sure? Or is it even possible to know for sure?

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See also: meta.askubuntu.com/questions/5474/… –  jokerdino Jan 26 '13 at 3:12

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It has an answer and the answer points to a user configuration problem. This is likely not a bug. How to tell if it's a bug in the future? If comments suggest it's a duplicate of a Launchpad bug, if the expected default behavior isn't working (and it's likely not a configuration issue), or it just smells like a bug. We're not here to dogpile people though, if you're not sure ask other users in chat, if there's no clear indication still then just leave it be. Someone else who is better versed in that software will come along and pass judgement on it. Don't act if you don't know or have all the facts and generally err on the side of caution/safety.

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Like Jorge Castro says here, we usually don't know for sure.

Investigating bugs is what we're poorly equipped to do here. So, if the problem has to be investigated as a bug, it can usually be considered a bug.

For example:

  • Occasionally a program crashes for some reason other than a bug. But usually, a program crash has to be investigated as a bug--for example, producing and inspecting a stack trace--to figure this out.

  • Kernel panics can be caused by hardware problems, but even then it's hard to investigate them without the same mindset and techniques used to investigate a kernel bug. Especially if they are introduced by upgrading to a new kernel, or a new Ubuntu release, kernel panics are usually closed as bugs.

  • Sometimes the OP knows it's a bug. (That doesn't mean they're deliberately misusing the site.) Questions that say things like "can someone fix this bug please?" should almost always be closed as bugs.

Of course, there's no bright dividing line between investigating bugs and investigating configuration problems and the like, either. So outside those three cases, typically it's best to explain in a comment why you think it's a bug. Sometimes questions are wrongly closed. When they are, they can be reopened.

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