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Bug tracking is currently distributed throughout the Internet. Each project has its own bug system.

Wouldn't it be great if there could be a single place (and single UI) where people could get credit for their efforts of bug reporting?

No more wondering about trying to find that bug tracking site. Or understanding the different logic of each site. And the best thing is that you could gather your reputation from all that effort you spend reporting bugs on everything (if they indeed are recognized as such).

Would the stack engine be the right fit? Could it be adapted to such a task?

I know that:

  • This isn't the core business of the stack ecosystem
  • This idea is slightly in biz conflict with other endeavours (FogBugz etc...)
  • I will receive wrath for even suggesting it

But hey, it's worth a shot ;)
I know that I for one would definitely use it...


The objections raised by @Straitjacket and others are true. I understand this is not the best fit.

However I do think there is a real pain here that can be addressed, and an ecosystem to be built. The expert reputation system in Stack Exchange is a driving force that with some thought could be utilized in a similar manner to harness the users as a QA workforce. Today this is distributed and depends solely on the developers orientation to the matter.

There is real potential here and even though Stack Exchange may not be the right platform for the task, I'm sure someone will rise to fill the void.

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I honestly can't see how Stack Overflow's Q&A architecture could be refitted for full-scale bug tracking. You would have to rebuild pretty much everything, wouldn't you? –  Pëkka Aug 31 '11 at 8:13
    
@Eat - Perhaps. However I'd like to add that the two main aspects are 1) Centrality 2) unified reputation system. I do think it's worth some heavy brainstorming though... –  Jonathan Aug 31 '11 at 8:14
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I don't think the premise of this question makes a whole lot of sense. Why wouldn't you want each project to have its own bug tracking system? –  Jeff Atwood Aug 31 '11 at 8:15
    
@Jeff - I tried to address that in the third paragraph: A) The different UIs and locations are an inconvenience and B) I'd like some reputation for all that work I'm investing in bug reporting. Doesn't everyone? –  Jonathan Aug 31 '11 at 8:25
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Doesn't uservoice.com do what you mean already? (Although not entirely for free, of course)... I see your point B) but to me, issue tracking doesn't feel like something that can/should be centralized like this. There are too many different needs and workflows to cater to. Collecting user feedback is one thing, tracking bugs another - with vastly more complex data than the Q&A format is suitable for –  Pëkka Aug 31 '11 at 8:27
    
@Eat - hmm... indeed feedback should be reputable too, not only bug reporting. I never actually used uservoice - do you get unified reputation across the various products you report bugs\feedback on? (That aspect alone justifies a new company if stack or uservoice aren't up for the job) –  Jonathan Aug 31 '11 at 8:32
    
@Jeff - I wouldn't have suggested it if I weren't indoctrinated well by listening for ~60h to your podcast ;) –  Jonathan Aug 31 '11 at 8:37
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The main problem I see with questions about bugs is that they are localized; once the problem has been resolved, the question is not interesting for anybody. The purpose of Stack Overflow, and other SE sites (that are not meta sites), is to be helpful to the OP and any user who in future would read any of the asked questions; I don't see anything useful in a question about a resolved bug, except it can make you laugh. –  kiamlaluno Aug 31 '11 at 11:08
    
Something like what you describe has been implemented –  Tim Post Aug 31 '11 at 13:50

4 Answers 4

Could the stack engine be adapted for bug tracking?

Yes.

Wouldn't it be great if there could be a single place (and single UI) where people could get credit for their efforts of bug reporting?

No.

There are hundreds of different bug trackers out there, and they all work differently. The developers are choosing bug trackers based on what they need, what they can do and how it integrates into existing systems, munching everything into one big site seems like a nice idea, but takes away much control and integration.

Additionally it might be confusing developers and users alike. F.e. somebody has a problem with GTK (redraw issue), so he adds the tags gnome linux gtk metacity the-gimp...why the-gimp you ask? Because he noticed the problem in that application. With these tags, you've triggered 5 developer teams to crawl through the bug report nearly simultaneously, that's at least 5 people busy trying to figure out what the guy means. That's not much if you think that there are at least 25 people on a new question on SO...but those developers actually have something better to do.

Also how does a user know if he can report a bug here or somewhere else? Who's checking that?

That a bug tracker needs a certain amount of understanding isn't a bad thing, either. SE makes it rather easy to ask questions...hence there are many questions which are edited, closed and deleted because they're not salvageable and/or abandoned after asking. There's not much worse then an abandoned bug report.

Another thing is that even though there are tags on SE, the line of I know the answer and I can't answer that question is very blurry. F.e. I have never really coded C++, but I might be able to answer some questions. If you map this to a bug tracker this blurry lines get very sharp, because only a developer of MonoDevelop will be able to answer to those bug reports, which renders a very big part of the concept useless.

You'll also rarely find stand-alone bug-tracking hosting sites out there, most are integrated with project hosting, source code management, user feedback, discussion boards etc.. A bug tracker alone is not much use to a bigger project.

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The main problem I see with questions about bugs is that they are localized; once the problem has been resolved, the question is not interesting for anybody.
The purpose of Stack Overflow, and other SE sites (that are not meta sites), is to be helpful to the OP and any user who in future would read any of the asked questions; I don't see anything useful in a question about a resolved bug, except it can make you laugh.

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"once the problem has been resolved, the question is not interesting for anybody." Untrue. If I find a bug in some software, and go to file a bug report, only to see that it was resolved, seeing that bug report is useful to me in several ways. Either there was a regression, I'm on a version that was before the bug was fixed (entirely possible), or the bug wasn't really fixed. In all of these cases, the presence of the old bug is very useful, both to me and to the developers. –  Nicol Bolas Sep 12 '12 at 19:48

Stack Exchange works because it is designed specifically to be a Q&A site. Look at how well MSO works as a discussion site (ie: relatively poorly), or as a bug site (ie: very poorly). Look at how well Area 51 translates as an "SE" site.

Yes, Q&A flow is similar in some respects to bug flow. But it has very different specific needs. A good bug site would not function like SO does in many respects. So corrupting the SE engine for a bug system is a bad idea.

You don't want to fall into the trap of believing that the SE engine should be used for everything. SE proves that specific design is more powerful than a general-purpose engine.

Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The power to answer questions is insignificant next to the power of bugs.

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I see the main problem with localization too, but the potential, is very big.

I can see questions here on meta marked with red tags showing those workflow steps. Some flags could be used to make things visible to owner/developers etc.

My suggestion would be:

make an commercial app with simple/customizable tag/workflow steps with login and project/user associations.

Those app will sell well !

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