moderated Re: Beta Group Guidelines #meta

Marv Waschke

I was a development manager for large software projects for many years and I designed and implemented several defect/enhancement tracking systems. Here are my suggestions, which are not original. Some of them have been mentioned before, all are commonplace among development managers.

  • One issue per thread. Don't add new issues to existing threads. Think hard before piling additional features onto others suggestions.
  • Keep in mind three general classes of issue and try to make clear where your issue fits when you post it.
    • Defects. The system is performing contrary to specification, documentation, or reasonable expectation. Remember that what one person sees as a reasonable expectation, another person may see as an enhancement.
    • Design flaws. The system is performing to specification, but the spec is inconsistent or fails to comply with the overall design and intent of the system.
    • Design enhancements. Suggestions for improving the system.
  • Describe the issue in a way that makes it reproducible. Just saying that something is wrong without describing exactly how to make it happen is worse than useless to developers because they waste time guessing how to reproduce the problem, and often end up fixing the wrong issue. Don't report an issue until you have figured out how to make it happen again. When describing enhancements, describe the results you want. Resist the temptation to tell the developer what to do rather than the result you want. Let them figure out how to implement a solution. They know more about the system works than you do, but they don't know how you use it or want to use it.
  • Developers have to decide what to work on next. Help them by explaining how urgent or important the issue is. How often does the issue appear in your group or groups? When it does appear, how disruptive is it in real terms? Not how angry or upset people are, but how are they materially affected? Are all groups subject to the disruption, or does some special characteristic of your group make it vulnerable? If you are upset about an issue, wait until you have calmed down to report. The system has been working for years. The sky won't fall if you wait a day or two.
In general, this is a well-intentioned and polite group. For me, keeping it that way is guideline number one!
Best, Marv

Join to automatically receive all group messages.