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There's been a slew of low quality bug reports from the apps hitting Meta Stack Exchange, notably this recent one which is entirely lacking in context. Also see this extremely vague one. In comments, Rob mentioned,

If people are curious: The Stack Exchange Android APP has a "Bug Report / Feedback" button. I haven't used it but my understanding is that you hit the button, type something into the box, and it winds up here on Meta. We could take this report to mean that they don't like the application. While we can't expect the app to be updated we might consider the context when voting.

...the person probably thought that they were offering Feedback (in a style that is common on the Google Play Store). Neither of us has enough reputation to see deleted questions but there was one a couple of days ago where the OP explained that they didn't know that their comment in the App went straight to a post on this website for the public to view and comment/vote on; they thought it went straight to the developers. Piling on won't prevent the next person from doing the same thing. Something on one end or the other needs a modification; and the App isn't supported.

This behavior is also notably unusual - most automated "report a bug" systems send reports straight to engineers, not the public, and many bug report systems capture additional useful data such as stack traces, logs, and core dumps that may be helpful when troubleshooting. The default framework for error reporting in the app is simply useless, and putting them online for the community to vote on them just leaves a bad taste in users's mouths as their bug report is inevitably closed and downvoted into oblivion.

Let's stop this. Either in-app bug reporting should be removed from the apps, or reports sent using the feature should be sent directly to Stack Exchange engineers. Perhaps those reports will be ignored or treated as low-priority, but at least they won't go up onto a site where they will be languish out in public, waiting for the Roomba. It's embarrassing for the site, and for the users who many not have realized that they are posting their report out to the world. I'm reminded of the old saying from Stack Overflow - that if you put out a text box, someone, somewhere will paste their homework into it. Let's reduce the number of boxes out there, instead educating our users on how to use those remaining boxes.

If a user really wants to post an app-related bug report here on Meta.SE, they are (and should remain) free to do so, but they should have to navigate here to the actual site and be exposed to our practices and policies so that they can formulate it in a way suitable for this site.

  • App Version: 42
  • Device Manufacturer: Sirius Cybernetics Corporation
  • Device Model: Marvin
    • OS Version: 1952.3.11
  • They're not "automated" - the buttons in the app just open the Ask Question screen with their device details and tags prefilled in the form. The site isn't even selected by default, so a user has to explicitly select where they want to post the report, and enter a title. It's a terrible process, yes, but we're definitely not just throwing crap onto the site at the click of a button. There's more of a process to it. – animuson May 5 at 1:18
  • It looks like there's 180+ of them, few with answers and most upvoted; that person fared particularly poorly with -30 and counting. – Rob May 5 at 1:18
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    @animuson still, do we really educate the user on what it is they are doing, or do we simply assume they know what they are doing? – Robert Columbia May 5 at 1:19
  • We don't. But it should also be pretty obvious it's not going to developers if it's explicitly asking which site you want to post it on. – animuson May 5 at 1:19
  • @Rob those are only the undeleted ones. Like the programming questions posted here every day by "lost souls", the low-quality bug reports are fated to meet The Roomba Whose Name is Deletion. – Robert Columbia May 5 at 1:20
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    As an aside, we probably lose a lot more bug reports than we get people posting useless things here. Simply out of sheer confusion of why they would end up on a page to ask a question when they clicked a button to report a bug. If I wasn't familiar with the network I'd just go "wtf" and leave. – animuson May 5 at 1:24
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    Yes, I helped someone the other day; but my comments don't show up in my history, too quick for Roomba (and too polite for a nuke), I presume that they deleted their own question after being assisted in the comments. The last person might have written 'It is no good' then uninstalled it. We need a better experience on both ends, and the other end probably won't be fixed. An automated reply from here (in a comment) would catch them before they go and save someone from typing a comment manually (and alert voters to why it might look a little different than a report that is up to snuff). – Rob May 5 at 1:30
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    @animuson Is it feasible to tweak the site's minimum quality filter so such questions would be blocked, per my answer? – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog May 5 at 1:38
  • @RobertColumbia Shouldn't the tag Meta be removed and the tag feature-request be added? We don't want these blocked because some are well formed, not about the APP, or requesting a feature via the app that would work without the app, and/or when using it. – Rob May 5 at 1:41
  • @Rob this question is already marked [feature request]. Note that I am in no way saying that users shouldn't be able to post app-related bugs on Meta. Let's make our users go to the gun shop to explicitly buy a shotgun, not sell them a shotgun and tell them that it's a Super Soaker. – Robert Columbia May 5 at 1:45
  • @RobertColumbia You have a feature-request, and added the tag. The app users can make a feature-request or bug report, see the link. Perhaps a new tag is needed to differentiate. The rest of the comment, about blocking, is in reference to the answer you received and the prior comment. I'll be back in a hour or two. PS: Thanks for the question. 👍 – Rob May 5 at 2:01
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    @Rob FYI my answer does not suggest blocking use of that form entirely. It suggests ignoring the default pre-inserted text when making the quality calculation, so that extremely terse questions would be blocked (just as if the author had made the same post using the normal "ask question" button). – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog May 5 at 5:24
  • And so if the bug report / feature request fits into the title they are ignored. If it's a discussion and the title and one sentence cover it then they're ignored. Not everyone has time for verbosity. – Rob May 5 at 5:30
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    @Rob More information about a bug report is, in 99.9% of cases, necessary for the SE team to investigate the bug; in fact, many bug reports lack the info requested in the tag wiki for bug. – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog May 6 at 2:45
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    While several were fixed terse is common and the majority. If we blocked everyone whom knew/posted too little we wouldn't need comments to ask for clarification. It's the practice of mobile that when you're tapping it out one finger (or two) at a time to a touchscreen that you tend to type less, everything is >> 2x the effort. – Rob May 6 at 3:34
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I've been meaning to post about this for a while, but you beat me to it. I've often seen extremely low-quality posts from users who believe that they're just filling in a feedback form (which is often the case when you tap a similar button in different apps. We tend to get around 1-2 of these per week, and I've been leaving a canned comment on those:

Please note that when you tap on the app's button to report a bug, you're actually asking a question here on Meta Stack Exchange. Please [edit] this question with further details about your issue, or we may have to close your question as unclear. Also, keep in mind that the iOS and Android apps are no longer under active development, so it may be a long time until your issue gets fixed. Thanks!

(I've had at least one case where when I left the canned comment, the author edited their post with more details.)

As the apps aren't being developed, it may be difficult/impossible to change this functionality within the app. However, I believe there may be a solution that would help quell this problem without making any changes to the app.

Stack Exchange sites have a minimum quality filter for questions, which checks the minimum "quality" of questions and denies questions of extremely low quality. Judging from the fact that a significant proportion of these questions' bodies simply contain very brief text along with the prefilled text beginning with "App Version" (with some containing nothing more than that prefilled text), I think that the quality filter on this site should be tweaked so that such prefilled text is ignored, so such terse questions from these users would be blocked.

In summary, I think that tweaking the site's minimum quality filter to block such questions is the most feasible solution here, as the apps can't/won't be modified.

  • It may be a simple case of just checking the bug report default text + app useragent. – Pedro Lobito May 5 at 6:55

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