Friday, July 20, 2007

The two faces of Linden Lab

As I reported in an earlier Posting, Benjamin Linden said in the UI Bug Triage that I attended that, "Bug Reports without REPRO steps will not be looked at because we don't have the time".

Yesterday, over at my friend Nicholaz Beresford's Blog, Scott Linden posted a response to my comment and said, "It's true that reproducible bugs are preferentially imported. It's not true that the rest are ignored."

OK, so here we have a clear problem. One Linden is saying they are ignoring Bug Reports and another Linden is saying they aren't, just that the REPRO bugs are give preferrential treatment. These are clearly two ends of the spectrum, and I guess I now understand just how things DON'T get done at Linden Lab, since apparently two people in the same dept., are thinking in completely opposite manners.

Scott Linden went on to say this about Bug Fixing, "If you ever think an issue's not getting enough attention, and you know it's a priority because others are telling you they have the same problem, just point the others at the JIRA where they need only click "vote on this." Of course, I've already stated for the record that Community Voting on which BUG should be fixed first is about as wise as allowing a 7 year to vote in a presidential election. I'm not saying that ALL of the Community is blind to what is broken and what needs fixing, but I'm willing to bet MOST are. If you asked 100 random people in Second Life to identify what a MEMORY LEAK is, do you really think the majority of them would be able to do it?

Bug Fixing is not about doing what's popular, it's about doing the hard job. Nicholaz Beresford said in his Blog that once Linden Lab includes all the patches sent in by the Open Source Community, all but ONE memory leak would be fixed. Now, if it were up to Linden Lab, that memory leak would sit right there for the rest of eternity since you can't REPRO it and people won't vote on something they don't understand. Prioritizing Bug Fixes shouldn't be because someone voted on them, it should be based upon a Senior Programmer's knowledge of how invasive a certain bug would be on the Community. Fixing a mis-spelled word will NOT provide the Second Life Residents with a Stable Grid, but fixing a Memory Leak will. Now I wonder which one the people would vote on to get fixed first? BTW - Just how many votes does it take to get a BUG REPORT worked on? This is something no LINDEN has ever chose to answer, guess this way they can always look at the hard bugs getting voted on and just say, "Not enough votes yet" and pass them by.

So, just what am I asking of Linden Lab? Drop this pretense of having the Community VOTE on Bug Fixes and start prioritizing these based on their severity, not popularity. Look at EVERY SINGLE Bug Report, if it's a bug that has crashed a client or caused clients to re-log, then take it into JIRA or whatever else, and work on it, REPRO or NO REPRO. No one said being a Bug Hunter/Destroyer was going to be easy, and that people would provide you with step by step instructions as to WHY YOUR programming was a problem. Sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and do the hard job.

The professionalism at the Linden Lab Bug Fixing office needs to step up a few notches, and quit giving excuses as to WHY they won't do the hard job. They are getting paid to do a job, and to set qualifiers up as to just what job they are going to do is nothing short of silly. I would love a job that allowed me to say, "I'll do this job as long as you provide me with everything I need to do it, along with lunch every day, including a salad, and 25 fifteen minute breaks". When you get to setup your own qualifiers for doing a job someone's hired you to do, it starts to sound pretty ridiculous, don't you think?

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