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Hundreds of bugs (actual bugs, real bugs, bugs that are clearly bugs) have been posted on this site. Most of them get closed either as “by-design” or as a “duplicate” or something that is not a duplicate.

What is the purpose of the “bug” and “feature-request” tags if they are a recipe for getting closed and ignored anyway? Does Jeff want to discourage everyone from posting any bugreports? Does he want to have his software deliberately crippled/broken? I don’t understand this kind of motivation.

Furthermore, there seem to be a few people here on meta who act as if marking something as by design or giving a specious justification for the bug somehow makes the bug disappear. Please reconsider this attitude and examine bugs on their own merit. Thanks!

Since examples have been requested:

EDIT: I wrote the above question while in a really bad mood about this. I am feeling better now, not least because I received reasonable answers that are not the usual dismissive sarcasm I tend to get here on meta. I’ll therefore leave this for posterity instead of deleting it.

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You can't ask a question and then (humbly) ask people not to answer... –  juanformoso Aug 30 '10 at 13:51
This title confused me at first; I figured all bugs should be closed, preferably with a status of "this has been fixed." Is usage of "closed" to mean "we're not going to act on this" common terminology to everyone but me? Normally I'd just edit but I have a funny feeling about this one. –  Pops Aug 30 '10 at 15:35
@Popular Demand: Thanks for the hint, I’ve rephrased the title. –  Timwi Aug 30 '10 at 16:14
thanks, I just didn't want to trample something that was perfectly clear to everyone else. –  Pops Aug 30 '10 at 16:26

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I agree with Jon B's answer.

Furthermore, there seem to be a few people here on meta who act as if marking something as by design or giving a specious justification for the bug somehow makes the bug disappear. Please reconsider this attitude and examine bugs on their own merit. Thanks!

In response to this. A few of us on meta, and those from user-voice in the past, actually understand the reason why certain features exists, and when we read these reports understand why things that are considered a bug by some, are actually flagged as by design, since we were

  • Either involved in the original discussions to have it done this way.
  • Understand how it can be considered a bug, but understand fixing it opens a new can of worms.
  • Simply do not believe the edge case for these bugs are worth time when bigger and more important features are being worked on which add much more value.

The SE platform is built for a specific purpose, and with it's rich history, has a lot of people that have given their time and effort to be involved in the platform. So, looking at the overall pictures and the list of the bugs you mentions I am going to give you the responses you don't want to hear but to be honest has merit because of the history behind them:

Example 1

Actually I was wrong about this initially. I will admit this could be a legitimate bug, however considering that Jeff doesn't like email notifications in general, I am not so sure if I would vote to fix a feature I would never ever use since it would be mean I have to tab twice to get to the Post Answer button when I never want to tick the box.

Example 2

There was a huge issue with people gaming the system, and the locked votes was introduced after much discussion. The rationale behind only allowing a rescind while within the 5 minute edit period makes sense to most of us. It prevents the system from being gamed unnecessarily and to be honest, even if considered a bug, the amount of times this really happens is an edge case at most. If you really truly want to change your vote, edit the post yourself. Furthermore, if it is edit after the 5 minute window the vote is unlocked anyway.

Example 3

Strangely on 4 different browsers across 2 different operating systems I can't replicate this problem? To me definitely and edge case. Most likely declined for the same reason by Jeff and the team?

Example 4

This one was closed as a duplicate, and a very reasonable explanation given us to why it doesn't work. There is a badge to motivate users to complete their profile, and the site is about content not users, and honestly, searching for the name in the top search box does work, which will give you access to their profile.

None of the examples you have shown has gotten much up votes, the highest being 13 and the lowest being 1. Until they are problem enough to receive a high number of votes like others on the Bug List there would be little value in fixing them right away. Also has pointed out, by-design bugs have been fixed and reversed in the past if they become to much of a problem.

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Example 1 is about the email box, not the CW box. –  Grace Note Aug 30 '10 at 15:18
@Grace. Well spotted. Working on 2 hours sleep. Fixed. –  BinaryMisfit Aug 30 '10 at 15:24
I suspect there's an error in here too: "Strangely on 4 different browsers across 2 different operating systems I can replicate this problem?" –  Michael Mrozek Aug 30 '10 at 15:29
That email box follows conventions of blog commenting systems (like WordPress powered blogs) that allow people to be notified of follow-ups. Tabbing often skips that checkbox. –  random Aug 30 '10 at 15:37
@random Good point. @Michael Fixed. Thanks. –  BinaryMisfit Aug 30 '10 at 15:45
Diago, I have to thank you deeply for this answer. It is very well-written, patient, and non-sarcastic. I wrote this question while in a bad mood, getting worked up over Jeff’s behaviour. I do realise that I have no entitlement to having my bugs fixed, but this realisation doesn’t help me when I feel abused by Jeff. Allow me to give an example. In Example 1, if you think e-mail notifications are rarely-used, the obvious solution is to put the option under the button. I have no way to communicate this. All I get is rejections, and no response to any comments. It is discouraging to no end. –  Timwi Aug 30 '10 at 15:50
@Timwi - you could comment this idea to Jeff on his answer to that question, or post it as a new suggestion. The comment you made to Jeff on that post was a little insulting. If that's how you talk to Jeff, he'll probably start ignoring you. –  user27414 Aug 30 '10 at 15:59
Re Example 3: perhaps it wasn't described very well? Fixed it. But it's not like anyone said anything about it not being reproducible... in fact one of the answers explains when it occurs. –  romkyns Aug 30 '10 at 16:03
@romkyns. Thanks for the screenshot, I followed the steps you described and really still can't replicate it. Maybe providing more info like browser/OS would help? If you have already I apologize, I have not read the updates in detail –  BinaryMisfit Aug 30 '10 at 16:05
@Diago I believe the message is only shown to people below certain rep. I don't know the threshold, but the long tail effect has got to make this affect the majority of users :) –  romkyns Aug 30 '10 at 16:08
@Timwi No need to thank me. Just to be clear, meta is no place for the weak. It is a sarcastic wasteland with a lot of deep seated pride and attitudes. The culture on Meta is different from any other SE site, and yes, you will get told to go jump of a bridge if people don't like what you have to say. The thing is, a lot of times we also joke around. As Jon B mentioned already, this site doesn't belong to us, and getting discouraged over something you don't own or have any control over, is actually kind of counter productive to no one but yourself. Seriously, it just a website. Nothing more. –  BinaryMisfit Aug 30 '10 at 16:10
@romkyns. I am fully aware of that, and don't have a lot of rep on quite a few SE sites. There is only 2 sites that I have enough rep not to see anything that I don't want to see. –  BinaryMisfit Aug 30 '10 at 16:10
@Diago not sure what other info to add, but it happens to me on both Firefox and Chrome, so it's unlikely to be a browser bug. Try it on any short answer with no comments. Or perhaps post an answer there with a screenshot of it working for a similarly short answer? –  romkyns Aug 30 '10 at 16:15

Thank you for posting the examples.

In general, I feel that the SO team is a little quick to close bug reports as [status-bydesign] and feature requests as [status-declined] (I think I got into an argument with Jeff on this once). However, we are not entitled to bug fixes or new features. It's their site and they can decide how they want it to work. SO is available free of charge, and we can choose to take it or leave it.

I do think it's great that we have MSO as an open forum for posting and discussing these ideas.

Also note that there are plenty of [status-completed] bug/feature reports on MSO. While the SO team may not do everything you and I want them to do, they are constantly making nice improvements to the site - largely based on our input.

Here are the counts as of this moment:

  • 1487 [status-completed]
  • 511 [status-bydesign]
  • 318 [status-declined]

(829 rejected, 1487 completed - and that doesn't count [status-planned]).

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Moreover, even questions that do get marked as declined or bydesign sometimes get reversed. –  Grace Note Aug 30 '10 at 14:05
"SO is available free of charge" - on the other hand they get for free, mods, editors and folks who are willing to spend a LOT of their free time keeping the site in order and participating heavily in maintaining the whole SO momentum and inertia. So for many it's not actually "free" as such. –  Kev Aug 30 '10 at 16:22
The fact that a service is 'free' is no excuse whatsoever for accepting low quality. They are totally orthogonal. –  nicodemus13 Aug 9 '11 at 14:38

You have two choices here:

  1. We never respond to "bug" requests, because we don't want to hurt the feelings of those who submitted these "bugs" by declining them.

  2. We are honest with you about what we actually believe, and what we are actually planning to do -- by marking things [declined] if we're reasonably certain they will be declined or if the request doesn't have enough merit to be considered.

I think #1 is deeply, deeply dishonest and leads to a massive pile of "bugs" that nobody ever looks at or cares about. The only advantage it has, is in not hurting anyone's feelings (every so-called bug is precious and valid!). In every other way it is toxic.

Thus, I choose #2, every time.

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Thanks for your answer, Jeff. However, it glosses over an important detail. The hurt feelings come mainly from rejections with no or specious justification. To give a recent example, “this option is rarely used” is a bad reason for wrong tab order (usability-wise). The hurt feelings are worsened by the fact that the system makes it difficult or impossible to discuss such a point fairly: such an answer, along with the “status-declined” tag, feel quite a lot like “go away, I don’t wanna talk to you”, which is unpleasant especially after the effort that went into a bugreport with screenshots. –  Timwi Aug 31 '10 at 7:33
@timwi I do appreciate the effort, and I am grateful that people care enough to make suggestions -- but at the same time we have hundreds of viable suggestions outstanding at any given time, and so there has to be a triage process to determine what's worth doing. Generally the more votes something gets, the more viable it is due to having decent community support. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 31 '10 at 7:53

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