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Jorge Castro recently commented on one of my questions that it should be filed as a bug instead. And I've seen here that the general view is that questions about bugs should be considered off-topic here and handled on Launchpad instead.

My question is whether that stance should be modified somewhat. Obviously, for bugs to be fixed they need to be reported in the appropriate bug tracker(s). However, there are two situations where I think that questions about bugs are relevant here:

  1. Sometimes, the user might not have enough understanding of the situation to be able to file a good bug report. An answer here could help provide that data. It has been my experience that vague bugs rarely get fixed, while bugs that provide sufficient detail are more likely to be addressed.

  2. In other cases, while a bug report is possible and should be filed (or in some cases, might already exist), there's a need to find a workaround for a particular bug. I've asked several questions of this nature (always being sure to file the appropriate bug report). Ask Ubuntu is a better way to manage workarounds than Launchpad because, frankly, it can be quite time-consuming to find a suitable workaround, especially for bug logs that contain lots of comments. Searching for workarounds is the exact type of Q&A our format works so well for.

  • 8
    While I agree that launchpad isn't particularly good at documenting workarounds, it's still the correct place for them. These bug questions are by necessity localized and irrelevant to the vast majority of visitors, and our mission is to improve the internet by creating a repository of Ubuntu knowledge, while launchpad's mission is to improve Ubuntu. – Stefano Palazzo Feb 2 '12 at 18:19
  • why is it correct to use launchpad? askubuntu is just all-around a better website. launchpad might be the official way to report bugs, but, in comparison to askubuntu, is inferior -- probably across the board. – Thufir Oct 4 '14 at 2:17
  • @Thufir Because AU is not built to report bugs. It has no tracking system with priorities or anything. I think for workarounds it should be here, but "why doesn't this work" if it's a bug should be on Launchpad to get fixed. Basically if there's an answer it goes here, if the software needs changed it should go there. – Duncan X Simpson Mar 23 '16 at 6:16
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I can touch on both of your points to hopefully help you with these types of situations.. How do I report a bug? There is a wonderful list of answers here..., or when looking for more information you can pop into the Chat room, or post a question asking how to identify the issue.

so, No I don't think the current stand on Bugs being reported on AU should change, however if you follow the two points above you should be able to get the answers you are looking for.

6

I think our current policy is good.

Sometimes, the user might not have enough understanding of the situation to be able to file a good bug report. An answer here could help provide that data. It has been my experience that vague bugs rarely get fixed, while bugs that provide sufficient detail are more likely to be addressed.

Vague bugs don't get addressed; neither do vague questions. The advantage of Launchpad is that it automatically collects hardware and package details and relevant logs (with ubuntu-bug), and uses an advanced duplicate detection system for crashes; AskUbuntu has neither of these features.

Bugs are more likely to get addressed in Launchpad. Trying to eke answers out of people here is less efficient than doing it there.

In other cases, while a bug report is possible and should be filed (or in some cases, might already exist), there's a need to find a workaround for a particular bug.

Even when there are workarounds to find, they are inherently too localized for the format. They have an expiration date of whenever the bug gets fixed. Ask Ubuntu is not a customer support site; it is intended to create valuable information for the long term. We are the intersection between support and documentation. Support-only belongs in other channels. And yes, I believe we should do a better job communicating this.

In short, my vote is stay the course.

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    I don't see the expression about long term and short term well suited. Some applications appear and disappear shortly, while some bugs stay open for more than a half decade. – user unknown Feb 3 '12 at 22:02
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When should I post such a question?

  1. How do I report a bug? should address this for most cases. Of course, in some cases (like a bug for which you don't know the package and there's no specific window you can click on for ubuntu-bug -w), you may have to ask in chat or the forums.
  2. This point's a bit more interesting. Go ahead and post a question with a link to the specific bug report (either a pre-existing one or one you filed yourself) and ask for a workaround only if you can't find it there already. That being said, keep in mind that such a question is only valid up until the fix is released, and should then be closed as Too Localized. Thus when doing so, you should probably check that both of the following are true:

    • Such a workaround would be highly useful to a significant number of people until the bug is fixed properly.
    • The fix for the bug is not going to be released soon. If the bug was just reported not too long ago (like, say, a week or two at most), then it's advisable to wait on it. If the bug is quite old though (months or years) and there's no fix being worked on, then it makes more sense to ask if a workaround's available.

All that being said, most such posts probably are only a good idea in a few exceptional cases where they will be useful for a non-trivial period of time, and will require your own judgment on whether it's worth making the post despite the risk of closure.

What if I find such a question that someone else posted?

  1. If they're looking for assistance in filing a bug, point them again to How do I report a bug? and ask in a comment if it answers their question. If it doesn't, check whether you can find the desired solution there; if not, then their question is probably worthy of an answer. In all other cases, flag their question as a dupe of that.
  2. If they're seeking a workaround to a problem:

    • If they provide a link to the bug report, see if there's a workaround there which resolves the issue for them. If there is and it works for them, flag as Too Localized. If there isn't, either provide a workaround yourself or wait for someone else to do so; once it is provided and the OP verifies it works for them, encourage them to post it in a comment on the bug report and then flag the question.
    • If no bug report is provided, tell them to file one according to How do I report a bug? and flag as Offtopic.

What about reporting/workarounds in Ubuntu+1?

It should go without saying that, regardless of who's posting, questions relating to bugs in Ubuntu+1 releases are always offtopic. People looking for help filing bugs for these specifically should refer to There's an issue with an Alpha/Beta Release of Ubuntu, what should I do?, and those looking for workarounds are advised to be patient as Ubuntu+1 bugs are often rapidly fixed.

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Bug reports are critical.

What the more experienced members of the community need to do (perhaps in chat, irc, or elsewhere) is to guide users to be able to file a bug report.

With Ubuntu much of the information is automated via Apport and the documentation is quite good.

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/ReportingBugs

How do I report a bug?

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BugSquad/Mentors

While "work arounds" are nice, helpful even, bug reports are critical.

Why ? The best summary I know of is here

http://www.redhat.com/magazine/020jun06/features/bugzilla/

Simply stated, bug reports are a systematic approach of identifying, triaging, and fixing bugs.

Some bugs are easy to fix, others difficult, some are security or higher or lower priority and Lanuchpad allows some order to the chaos.

BUT there is a culture to development and bug reports.

The classic is of course -

http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/bugs.html

So, as a community, we need to teach users new to Ubuntu or open source how to file effective bug reports so we can have effective solutions.

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    That doesn't help users with problems resulting from bugs, searching for workarounds. Some bugs never get fixed. – user unknown Feb 3 '12 at 21:57
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I would actually agree with you and expect some to be unhappy with what I am about to say.

While users should be asking about bugs in support forums, it should not be an excuse to try to frame every question asked in the context of a bug and close them in a bid to reduce the unanswered percentage or some other metric.

Bug or not, the user by posting a valid question is expecting a specific answer that could resolve / alleviate a real problem faced, whether is it caused by a bug or a design decision the user does not usually know or care. Telling the user to file bug reports is unhelpful, since bug report != bug fix, unless that is a way of answering by affirming that a present bug is causing the problem. An answer should affirm the presence of a bug and offer any current workarounds, a suggestion to file a bug report can be added but that should not be communicated as a solution, which it really isnt. Furthermore, launchpad is not necessarily helpful to the user considering that sometimes "bugs" are rationalized and closed from the dev's perspective. The user's problem remains unsolved. See this and this

Some long time issues (like this one which I guess is a bug impacting a whole lot of laptop makes using that NIC Realtek 8168 and a whole bunch of users no doubt) have been around since 9.04? (I personally encountered it since 10.04) and are still not fixed by the time of 12.04 Alpha 2. I just hunted down the bug report here and it is sooo going to assuage my faith in launchpad..

  • I understand what you are trying to say, but I would have to arrest the thought that we are simply trying to reduce the unanswerd percentage by using this as an excuse. We are actually very serious about what we are doing - from the standpoint that we take each question into consideration before closing it as off-topic - often with some level of discussion occurring before we take action. – RolandiXor Feb 8 '12 at 16:49
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Days ago I got a question marked as off-topic for being a bug. However, at the time the question was closed there was no bug reported at Launchpad, nor had I a clear indication of what was exactly wrong.

While I understand the logic to focus bugs at Launchpad and thus mark them off-topic, a few additional lines of conduct would be of great help:

  • Leave a link to the bug.

  • If the bug has not been filed, direct the user to a bug report guide.

  • Clarify the cause of the behaviour reported, if it is not obvious.

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Sometimes it's not obvious if it's a bug, a design feature, or user error.

Last night I posted this question. I do not know if this is incorrect configuration by me, working as intended, or an actual bug.

I can see that obvious bugs are better being reported than being the subject of a question on here, but what about the ones that aren't obvious?

Should we post "Is this a bug?" questions on AU first, or report them as bugs and then ask on here if the bug report comes back as "Not a bug" ?

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