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I found this blogpost ("That's Not a Bug, It's a Feature Request") that is of course completely and entirely unrelated to the StackExchange network1:

I wish we could, as an industry, spend less time fighting tooth and nail over definitions, painstakingly placing feedback in the "bug" or "feature request" buckets -- and more time doing something constructive with our users' feedback.

However, SE metas still require users to choose between and . This doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. So please, provide some discussion or at least explanation regarding this.

More interestingly, as can be seen with this post, a bug/feature-request can be a discussion at the same time: Personally, this looks like a bug to me, and it is a feature-request at the same time but I'm okay with a discussion, explaining why the status quo makes sense (despite the aforementioned blog post).

1: I hope I don't need an irony tag for that statement ...

Edit: I'm actually mainly looking for an authoritative answer.

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closed as not constructive by Cody Gray, random Apr 30 '12 at 2:25

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

@Yahoo Answers enthusiast: You kind of edited away one of the core points of this post ... – bitmask Apr 29 '12 at 23:33
The tags were incorrect, your question isn't about a bug or a feature-request (or both ;), but a discussion on the use of the tags. – Yannis Apr 29 '12 at 23:35
@YahooAnswersenthusiast: Well, my point was that this is a bug in meta, and at the same time a request to resolve this discrepancy. That's why it was tagged bug and feature-request as well. – bitmask Apr 29 '12 at 23:41
@bitmask: When a bug report includes a suggested fix that avoids the problem by adding a feature, I'd be inclined to use both tags. But if I had to choose one, I'd choose "bug". – ntc2 Apr 30 '12 at 0:12
I'm actually mainly looking for an authoritative answer. What would you consider authoritative? – Yannis Apr 30 '12 at 1:13
Explain what that doesn't make sense? That you want these tags to be mutually exclusive? Or to have people not talk how they talk? – random Apr 30 '12 at 1:15
@random: On the one hand, saying that distinguishing bug/feature doesn't make sense (see blog post) and on the other hand being involved in running a site that does just this. – bitmask Apr 30 '12 at 1:52
@bitmask If that's your problem, well, Jeff is no longer part of Stack Exchange‌​. And yes his inability to distinguish between a bug and feature request was one of the reasons we had to let him go... – Yannis Apr 30 '12 at 1:57
@YahooAnswersenthusiast: Judging from -11+1, the community seems to agree with your statement. I still think distinguishing bug-reports and feature-requests doesn't help that much, but well, humans hate change and I have to accept that (democracy is yielding to what most people think is right). – bitmask Apr 30 '12 at 2:17
Yes, and more often than not what most people think is right, actually is. – Yannis Apr 30 '12 at 2:18
A founder's personal blog post doesn't mean they can't change how they feel about something in their vas deferens. – random Apr 30 '12 at 2:27

Technically what separates a bug from a feature request is the project's requirements document. If an implemented feature is not behaving as described in the requirements, then it's a bug, but if a feature (or parts of it) doesn't exist in the requirements, then it's a feature request.

On Stack Exchange we (the users) don't have the software's requirements document handy, so I guess it's not unreasonable that there will be some confusion over what's a bug and what's a feature request. However we do have:

  • Common sense (most of us),
  • Experience with the system (some of us), and
  • A crude requirements document, in the form of existing Meta questions.

Combining the three we can easily (?) separate bugs from features:

  • When something is not working as expected, where "expected" can be either common sense (when I click submit, nothing happens), past experience (damn thing used to work, now it doesn't) or a Meta question (as described there, the damn button should produce unicorns, instead all I get is trolls).

  • When something doesn't exist or when you want to extend existing functionality. Think along the lines of "Hey, wouldn't it be great if we have a button that produced unicorns?". Preferably only used for concrete features, where you've carved out most of the details.

  • Well, that's for everything else, really. As a rule of thumb, if it's more about humans than software, it's a discussion.

Now let's see some possible combinations:

  • Use when you found something broken, and a way to fix it that would introduce something completely new to the system. No, removing a semicolon somewhere in the JavaScript is not a feature request.

  • I would avoid, but it could be a valid combination for when you have something new in mind but aren't completely certain how it would work. Even then, probably best to only use .

  • No, doesn't really make sense.

Jeff's blog post is interesting, but I wouldn't put it amongst our beloved overlord's greatest hits. You are over thinking this, we are just talking about Meta tags, their one and only function is to help categorize Meta's content.


Use when something's broken, when you're asking for something new and when it's about humans and not software. It's simple really ;)

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No it's not. Read the blog post by Jeff. (other than that, yes, I know what bug-reports and feature-requests are) – bitmask Apr 29 '12 at 23:46
"instead all I get is trolls" We can file bug reports about that now? I've got a busy week ahead of me... – Cody Gray Apr 30 '12 at 1:42

A good argument for separating bugs from feature requests is that combining them makes it harder to prioritize fixing problems over adding features. With them separate, it is simple.

According to the tag wiki excerpt, use if "you believe [it] is due to a mistake, malfunction, or programming error." I think that statement is enough to separate the two tags. If you can think of any reasoning for the current functionality to be correct, then it probably is. Also, if you do use the wrong tag, only a quick edit is required to fix it.

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In 9 out of 10 cases, it is perfectly reasonable to distinguish between and .

As Yahoo Answers enthusiast said:

Use when something's broken [and] when you're asking for something new [...]

The 10th case is when you think you discovered a bug, but site is actually behaving like it's supposed to (just different from what you'd want it to).

That's what the moderator tag is for: dismissing bug reports that should have been tagged .


The line between and might be blurry sometimes, but that's no reason to merge the tags into one.

Whenever is appropriate, the question has to be dealt with differently: a bug needs to get fixed, a feature request has to get discussed first and requires a decision regarding whether it gets implemented or not.

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