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I regularly see bug reports on Meta, occasionally with heavily upvoted answers.

  • When is it appropriate to answer a bug report?
  • How would I write a good answer to a bug report?
  • How could I write an answer to my own bug report?

Note: Related to, but not a duplicate of, How do I "answer" a feature request?, as the other post is about feature requests and not bugs.

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You answer a bug report when you can either:

  • Explain where the bug in the code is and add a possible solution.
    That is easier if you have code access, but I've answered a few bug reports based on some reverse engineering and inspection of what I found / tracked in the browser.
  • Have a good reproduction (screenshots / steps / given input / expected output / observed output) of the bug on a different device / browser. Use this option with great care and only use a comment if you have nothing more to add then "repro-ed on X".
  • Explain that the bug is not a bug but a feature and/or a misunderstanding of how a feature works. Consider retagging to for these cases.
  • Sometimes bugs exists but have a workaround.
    Documenting the alternatives is useful, for those who experience the bug and for prioritizing bug-fixing and/or resolution negotiation. Bugs with a reasonable workaround can go beyond the 6 to 8 weeks estimate.
  • Announce that you fixed the bug
    This is most likely to happen if you are an Stack Exchange Employee. In your answer you include some juicy details, pictures and/or twitter feeds. Mention after which build number the fix will be live (meta and main).

A good answer should make it easier for visitors to verify if they experience the same bug and for a Stack Exchange Developer to quickly get to the root cause with a reasonable test-case so they can verify they fixed the bug.

An answer to your own bug report could follow any of the above options. Bug reports that you have written but are no longer reproducible should be close voted, not answered.

For reference: I have written answers to 35 bug reports and I'm not an SE employee, although some of my answers are for bugs reported for the Stack Exchange Data Explorer, which is open-source.

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When is it appropriate?

  • whenever you have additional information that wasn't included in the bug report, for example additional details on how to reproduce it, or certain behaviour you've observed that wasn't mentioned in the question,
  • whenever you want to add a reason on why this bug should be fixed or how it's (going to) affecting you -- this could help the team give it a higher priority to get it fixed quicker,
  • to provide workarounds or other alternatives for other users whilst the bug is under consideration and hasn't yet been fixed,
  • more times I haven't thought of yet :P

Like most Meta discussions, as long as it adds something to the original post, it's good! Meta revolves around users giving great feedback, helping to add awesome features and fix some weird and wonderful bugs. The most important thing for a bug report though, is details -- if you're expanding on the original post, the more details you add the better! The team has loads of work already so being able to reproduce it easily makes it a tiny bit easier for them.

Times when you might answer your own bug report could be when you've noticed it's been fixed but nobody noticed it or forgot to write an answer. Alternatively, sometimes you could describe the bug in the question and post an answer explaining why it's important to get fixed if you think it would clutter up the bug report in the question.

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