My friend Diederik van Liere has written a very, very cool jet-pack add-on that calculates the probability a bug report will result in a fixed bug.
The skinny on it is that Diederik’s app bases its prediction on the bug reporter’s experience, their past success rate, the presence of a stack trace and whether the bug reporter is a Mozilla affiliate. These variables appear to be strong and positive predictors of whether a bug will be fixed. The add-on can be downloaded here and its underlying methodology is explained in this blog post.
One way the add-on could be helpful is that it would enable the mozilla community to focus its resources on the most promising bug reports. Volunteer coders with limited time who want to show up and and take ownership over a specific bug would probably find this add-on handy as it would help them spend their precious volunteer time on bugs that are likely well thought through, documented effectively and submitted by someone who will be accessible and able to provide them with input if necessary.
The danger of course, is that a tool like this might further enhance (what I imagine is) a power-law like distribution of bug submitters. The add-on would allow those who are already the most effective bug submitters to get still more attention while first time submitters or those who are still learning may not receive as much sufficient attention (coaching, feedback, support) to improve. Indeed, one powerful way the tool might be used (and which I’m about to talk to Diederik about) is to determine if there are classes of bug submitters who are least likely to be successful. If we can find some common traits among them it might be possible to identify ways to better support them and/or enable them to contribute to the community more effectively. Suddenly a group of people who have expressed interest but have been inadvertently marginalized (not on purpose) could be brought more effectively into the community. Such a group might be the lowest hanging fruit in finding the next million mozillians.