Many eyes make all bugs shallow – especially when the eyes get smarter

[Please bear with me for the next 24 hours - I'm moving to a new hosting company, and there may be some glitches here and there to work out. Thanks.]

My friend Diederik has been writing a number of cool posts over at his blog Network-labs.org. For example he has an awesome jetpack plugin that predicts the likelihood a bug will get fixed and a plugin that allows users to rate how badly a bug is being flamed (to spot counterproductive behaviours).

But he recently published a very cool post that uses data from Mozilla bug submissions over the past decade to demonstrate that bug submitters become more proficient over time. However, there are outliers who are a “drag” on the system. More importantly, I believe his data can be interpreted in another way. That, with some minor investment (particularly some simpler vetting screens prior to reaching bugzilla) bug submitters could learn faster.

For example, a landing screen that asks you if you’ve ever submitted a bug before might take newbies to a different page where the bugzilla process is explained in greater detail, the fact that this is not a support site is outlined, and some models of good “submissions” are shared (along with some words of encouragement). By segmenting newbies we might ease the work burden on those who have to vet the bugs.

I think this also has implications for cities and 311 systems (systems that essentially allow citizens to report problems – or bugs – with city infrastructure or services). There will inevitably be people who become heavy users of 311 – the goal is not to get frustrated with them, but to move them up a learning curve of submitting helpful and useful information as quickly as possible. Ignoring them will not work. Strategies for engagement, including understanding what is motivating them and why they continue to use the system in an ineffective way, could help save the city resources and help foster a larger army of citizens who use their spare social capital to make the city a better and more resilient space.

One thought on “Many eyes make all bugs shallow – especially when the eyes get smarter

  1. Pingback: Making Open Source Communities (and Open Cities) More Efficient | eaves.ca

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