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SE doesn't support beta or alpha versions of web browsers, so bug reports that cannot be reproduced in release versions of any browser will be . There is usually some back-and-forth, with users asking the OP which browser he's using and then explaining that beta browsers are not supported.

I think it would be useful if anyone trying to submit a bug with a beta browser would be warned right at that moment about this, I'd imagine something like this:

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This could reduce the number of spurious bug reports, and give the original user the opportunity to confirm the bug before actually submitting it.

Whether a user is using a beta version of any browser should be possible to detect via the user agent.

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The big problem I see with this is how do SE keep the version numbers up to date? –  ChrisF Jun 13 '12 at 11:57
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Is this a large enough problem that it warrants me having to see that text every single time I go to file a bug report, even though a majority of the time it has nothing to do with the browser I'm using? –  Tim Stone Jun 13 '12 at 12:00
    
@ChrisF I wondered about that too, don't the beta or alpha releases of browsers have something besides the version number identifying them? I don't really know that much about browser detection, though. –  Mad Scientist Jun 13 '12 at 12:04
    
@MadScientist - if that's the case then it would be doable. –  ChrisF Jun 13 '12 at 12:06
    
I just checked the UA string of my beta channel Firefox, and it doesn't have anything that shows this - "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Ubuntu; Linux i686; rv:14.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/14.0". Similarly, beta channel Chrome also doesn't show anything other than a version number - "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686) AppleWebKit/536.11 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/20.0.1132.27 Safari/536.11" –  Yi Jiang Jun 13 '12 at 12:10
    
@TimYiJiang Hmm, that probably buries this feature request then, I'd have expected the beta browsers to be somehow distinguishable by user agent. –  Mad Scientist Jun 13 '12 at 12:14
    
I'd also argue that it's even more common for the problem to be from some extension or userscript than for it to be the fact that the user was using a non-stable browser, but you can't automatically know those exist...perhaps a reasonable solution there would be to simply add another box to the sidebar when selecting the bug tag that provided a checklist for reporting? –  Tim Stone Jun 13 '12 at 12:35
    
@TimStone yeah, and Userscripts seem much much more popular among SE users than anywhere else I've seen. –  Ben Brocka Jun 13 '12 at 13:55

2 Answers 2

I think it would be far simpler if there was an auto text identifying the browser in bug reports, something like:

This bug was submitted using: Google Chrome 19.0.1084.56 m / Win7 64.

Or better yet:

User agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Ubuntu; Linux i686; rv:14.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/14.0

No need to keep an (internal) list of supported browsers, and we can easily edit out the notification if the browser is irrelevant. And if a big bad notification is just too annoying, we can just make it smaller, or even auto post the user agent as a comment to the question.

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Good idea - allows users on beta browsers to raise non browser specific issues, and saves maintenance of a list. Only problem might be being able to discern that a particular user agent relates to a beta/alpha and not a release version at a glance. –  Jon Egerton Jun 13 '12 at 12:16
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Please no. It's already annoying when there's comment threads of people reproducing a clearly non-browser issue on their specific OS/browser combination, having the system automatically throw in such a comment in the actual question itself without knowing if it's at all relevant is just bleh. –  Tim Stone Jun 13 '12 at 12:16
    
@TimStone We could make it less visible, or mod/dev only. –  Yannis Jun 13 '12 at 12:18
    
They'd have to confirm, but I'm pretty sure this information is not too far away for devs if they were really inclined to check. That said, posting what browser you're using doesn't do much for preventing people from reporting bugs that are specific to non-stable versions, which I guess is what this question was trying to accomplish. It would potentially cut down on the back and forth, though. –  Tim Stone Jun 13 '12 at 12:22
    
@TimStone I'm not really for preventing people from reporting bugs that are specific to non-stable versions, I'm just trying to save balpha some time. Of course he'd have to verify, but knowing where to look first can be a lifesaver... –  Yannis Jun 13 '12 at 12:25
    
Huh, I hadn't seen that answer...While I'm still not sure this is the best way to go about it, that's fair evidence that this is not completely a non-issue. –  Tim Stone Jun 13 '12 at 12:28
    
@TimStone It would probably not make much difference for the devs, but it would help the rest of us verify the bug, and render all those "browser / os" comments obsolete... –  Yannis Jun 13 '12 at 12:33

Honestly the large majority of of bugs on SE occur in all browsers or are obviously unrelated. SE is not a stable product, and bug reports are pretty easily resolved if they really are too localized, I'd rather err of the side of making bug reports easy. Unlike a ticketing system with one admin, we have a large community that's able to judge the value of each and every bug submitted even before it hits the development team.

I'm actually fairly tired of having bug reports dismissed for being a "beta" browser (I don't just mean on SE) when it's clear the issue happens on non-beta browsers as well (sometimes even when my bug report explicitly mentions that).

Part of the reason it's great that bugs are public and easily commentated/voted on is it's very easy for people to confirm if X bug really is happening and it can be reproduced in multiple stable browsers. I don't see any reason to scare off all the people using FF Beta or Chrome Beta when they function almost identically.

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One idea behind this was to avoid that initial cycle of "what browser?", "Beta xyz", "not supported", "but happens also on abc", by having the original submitter check it in a stable browser. Then the beta browser never needs to be mentioned at all in the post, avoiding all that. –  Mad Scientist Jun 13 '12 at 12:20

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