According to Ability to close a question as a bug report, its speculated that closing as a bug better serves the community's users.

I'm finding the exact opposite in practice. That is, the bug reporting and triaging sucks for getting help, and the best help is provided the Ask Ubuntu community. I have some reasons for making the claim, and I'll enumerate them here. As a side note, I would also enjoy seeing the evidence that supports the current policy.

The most compelling example the bug tracker sucks for help is the number of bugs that go unacknowledged and untriaged. For example, below is the latest from what I've reported. Of the 27 non-wishlist item, only 11 have been acknowledged, triaged or are a work in progress. That means 16 have not even been acknowledged.

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Its hard to get help when the bug is not even acknowledged. For example, Insufficient Permissions on home/ ACLs means users (including the guest account) can poke around other user's home directories. It was never even acknowledged.

Bugs fixes are often not applied to current releases, so the broken stuff stays broken. For example Server 13.10 Install Fails with USB Keyboard (Appears to Hang) was never fixed in Ubuntu 13. It does not help a community member find a work around.

As another example, a bug in GRUB that's present on 12.04 LTS remains unfixed in 12.04 even though the report is years old. The fix is supposedly checked in elsewhere, but it was not provided for 12.04. Keep in mind this is supposed to be long term support.

In contrast to the bug tracker...

A question was asked about the Server 13.10 Install Fails with USB Keyboard (Appears to Hang) bug. It was promptly answered by the Ask Ubuntu community at Server 13.10 Install Hangs [closed]. Fortunately, the answer arrived before the question was closed.

Ubuntu 14.04 had an installer problem, too. The question was asked on Ask Ubuntu and it was immediately closed: Hang at 5/7 Progress; Can't Dismiss Message Box with “??? ???” [on hold]. On the bug tracker, the question has not even been acknowledged: Installation at 5/7 Progress, Can't Dismiss Message Box with "??? ???". Unfortunately, this question was closed too fast, and there's no answers available anywhere.

The Ubuntu 13/14 installation issues were a pure experiment: The open question got a useful answer; while the closed question did not. In addition, the bug reports have not not helped in resolving the issue for users. The facts seems to indicate an open question is good, a closed question is bad, and a bug report is bad for the users.

As far as the reason:

  • Bug reports and problems with the development version of Ubuntu should be reported on Launchpad so that developers can see, track and fix these issues."

I'm more than happy to share information and workarounds provided by the Ask Ubuntu community with the developers and the bug tracker. But it appears most of the shared information probably won't be utilized because the bugs are not being tended to.

Speculating that some questions are bugs is simply wrong. There seems to be a lot of that speculation with respect to some of these questions. And folks won't know if its a bug until its examined. Prematurely closing a question surely does not help a Ask Ubuntu community user.

In the Stack Exchange, a typical flow is to close a question if an answer exists. These are known a "Duplicates". Closing a question because it speculatively should be on a bug report makes no sense in the stack exchange process flows. And closing a question as a duplicate without an answer is not even allowed in the Stack Exchange flows.

As show above, there's no guarantee a bug will be acknowledged, that it will be triaged, that a work around will be offered, that a bug fix will be checked in, or that the fix will actually work. Prematurely closing a question surely does not help a Ask Ubuntu community user.

This seems to be very relevant for this point: Can we reopen this “bug report” that isn't being fixed?.

Stack Exchanges are useful for users. They are easier to navigate and understand than typical bug reports. For example, Ubuntu 10.10 upgrade results in blank screen after login and Server 13.10 Install Fails with USB Keyboard (Appears to Hang). Both are Ask Ubuntu questions and answers that refer to a bug report if the poster is interested.

Providing information on Ask Ubuntu is likely more helpful to users than making them search bug reports. Especially those users who are not computer savvy.

According to Ubuntu's Help and information:

AskUbuntu and Ubuntu Forums are great sources of answers to common questions about installing, troubleshooting and optimizing Ubuntu.

Ubuntu's help page appears to indicate Ask Ubuntu is a place to find help; and not bug trackers.

  • 2
    And once they are fixed, what? The post losses all it's value. Anyways, if we also try to "fix" bugs we would be drown in issues. Being a bug tracker isn't the main propose of Ask Ubuntu, but the know-how of doing stuff with Ubuntu.
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 2:37
  • "Being a bug tracker isn't the main propose of Ask Ubuntu" - that's not my intention, and that's not what I'm asking. Personally, I don't care if a dev finds useful information on Ask Ubuntu. Out of courtesy, I would be happy to share if they are interested, though.
    – user207039
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 2:46
  • Braiam - do you have any evidence that supports "closing as a bug better serves the community's users"? I don't see the evidence backing the claims.
    – user207039
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 2:51
  • NICE! That's because they were all closed and deleted so nobody makes themself the idea that we deal with that sort of problems.
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 3:08
  • 1
    @Braiam Have you ever heard of knowledge management? That's a vital component of every customer support unit, like AU.
    – LiveWireBT
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 9:53
  • 2
    @LiveWireBT we are "customer support"? sorry but you really lost it.
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 12:18
  • @Braiam meta.askubuntu.com/a/8403/40581
    – LiveWireBT
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 12:40
  • 2
    @LiveWireBT and I don't share that "concept". We are not tech support, and the QA stile doesn't sit well with tech support. Read the question not the freaking answer which is more upvoted and tells exactly the opposite.
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 14:17

3 Answers 3


Let's consider the following statements:

  • Bugs that aren't reported are unlikely to be fixed
  • Developers aren't checking Ask Ubuntu for bug reports

You're talking as if Launchpad and Ask Ubuntu users are these two completely separate user bases. But with the odd exception, we're Ubuntu users. The conversation isn't really about what's best for somebody shouting out their bug report, or what's most like another Stack Exchange site; it's about what's best for Ubuntu.

However effectively you think bug trackers are used, depriving them of original bugs hurts Ubuntu.

Now, if a bug is already reported, and the question isn't super-lazy, you can answer something like this:

This looks a lot like it might be Title of the bug report. It is responsible for this, that and the other and exists because of this explanation.

There currently aren't any was of fixing this but subscribe to the bug (link how) and you'll know as soon as it's been dealt with.

(Obviously if there is a way to directly help fix it at that point in time, explain it.)

Or dupe against a question already has that. I've already explained that I consider these a million times better than blankly closing and having the OP post a duplicate bug on LP.

If it sounds like I'm arguing both ways, it's probably because I am. Being helpful directly is great but we also have to be realistic about the type of question that can be meaningfully answered here. And how that feeds back into the Ubuntu lifecycle.

Does that mean exposing users to a side of Ubuntu they're unfamiliar with? Sure! But teaching people how the meat's made isn't a bad thing.

  • I don't think we should answer them, a simple comment and closing is more appropriated. That will prevent real bugs from even entering the system and go directly to LaunchPad where people that can fix it, will fix it once and for all. Also, answering bugs will confuse users that will find a 3 yrs old question about a problem which resulted to be a "bug" and the report fixed, since it will make them believe they have the same problem when it could be a regression or another bug altogether. We are not to fix only OP problem, but answer questions that rest of the internet will find helpful.
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 14:24
  • Which is why we still link to the bug report so they can see how current things are. I've been over the "why answer" before but it essentially boils down to: If we can answer once well, of the next hundred people with the same problem, we can dupe-close 50 against the one answered one and the other 50 will —by the power of Grayskull— find one of the 51 existing and closed versions not need to ask again. This isn't something we can hope people stop posting completely (cite: Mergelist) so let's just deal with them in the most productive way possible (allowing that things still happen on LP).
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 7:30
  • Ok, once it gets fixed, what you think we do to the question?
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 10:57
  • Why do we need to do something with the question? By all means update the answer to say "This was fixed in vX.Y and should be in 14.04" but there's no need to do anything with the question. People who need it will find it and people who don't, wont.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 12:55
  • Oh come on, the amount of duplicates tells you that people isn't finding what they are looking for. We should stop with that madness, and tell the how-to do stuff or why's it happens. Bugs be kept in bugs trackers as our rules and several other meta Q's says very clear. Why you want go against the consensus? It's categorically said in the help center that "This is not the right place for: ... Bug reports". If you want to be helpful, write a custom close reason pointing to the bug report or just leave a comment. Why anyone should answer what shouldn't be asked here in first place?
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 13:07
  • And yet there are at least 100,000 views on MergeList and its duplicates. A bug answered my way that both provides a workaround and pushes the user in the right direction. If that answer didn't exist, how many of those 100,000 views would be yet another duplicate asking? And yes, duplicates are better than off-topic because they hang around and push the next person in the right direction.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 13:27
  • A quick Data.SE query shows the view count it's closer to 200,000. That's not an infallible number by any stretch (and this is rather a extreme example) but this is why I'm saying everything I'm saying about this. Reason over rules.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 13:48
  • That's a poor example that you have selected. Through the first instance was a bug in Natty (which was also shared with Debian) it can have other causes that are not bugs, well, they are technically bugs in the mirrors the users are using and they should fix it. I've searched instances where this happen in anything but Ubuntu repositories, and I've found that my observations are correct. You think the experts that answers questions should answer them instead of doing something more meaningful? You will drive them away. And how about if the bug isn't reported "yet". What will you answer?
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 13:51

Its hard to get help when the bug is not even acknowledged. For example, Insufficient Permissions on home/ ACLs means users (including the guest account) can poke around other user's home directories. It was never even acknowledged.

This isn't a bug, this is intentional Ubuntu behavior: Why can other users see the files in my home folder?

Also that bug isn't filed against Ubuntu, so none of the Ubuntu squad members are even going to see it.

As for the other ones, I don't really see how reposting bug reports here will help anyone, all it will do is drive users away. And by users I don't mean the people having the problem, I mean the experts that answer the questions. No one wants to work in a bug tracker all day, and then come to AU and end up with even worse bug reports.

I know it sounds cold but this site is not a bug tracker, it is not designed to be a bug tracker; forcing it into a bug tracker will just make it worse for everyone. We have no way of retracing stack traces here, no way to attach logs etc. And there shouldn't be, this site is supposed to be about helping people use their computer, not dart throwing bug fixes.

Are the bug triaging people on Launchpad overwhelmed? Yes, probably. Are we overwhelmed by bug reports here? Yes, probably. I don't think shifting the bottleneck from one tool to the next will work at all.

  • This is the only answer which I can agree with. Bugs to bugs trackers, questions to Ask Ubuntu. That's how it was meant to be.
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 13:55

I have made the same experiencce and get the impression that the bugsquad and QA members are overworked or just to few.

I would welcome that the attitude of strict punishment would also apply to highly speculative closing (as in: look here, I found a bug on launchpad that contains one of the words you used) as it is non-constructive and misinformation too.

I wouldn't say that the close reason should be removed, but reworded or restructured. Preferably into two close reasons:

I'd love to see a mechanism or attitude to help getting new and unassigned bugs into work in progress state, because completely ignoring bugs (which is easy if you're not affected) will not improve the quality experience for Ubuntu users nor will it resolve any issues.

I find the current attitude of some members very premature, like getting a puppy for birthday but not willing to take it to the doctor to give it the medical care it needs for a healthy life or just cleaning up after it.

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