When I gave my presentation on Ubuntu Bug Triage Basics at Penguicon (or whenever anybody asks what triage is), I likened bug triage to the TV show M*A*S*H in which the wounded come in, go through triage, and then are operated on according to their triaged status. While the analogy between software bug triage and human triage isn’t perfect, it’s fairly close.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot like Father Mulcahy. As the Army minister of the 4077th, he had the unenviable task of performing last rites on those who could not be saved. In much the same fashion, I’ve been invalidating bug reports that have sat around for several months in need of more information. If we don’t have enough information, we can’t operate. If we are unable to operate for too long, the bug report dies. It may not seem like the most useful triage function, but I like to do it for two reasons:
- It’s quick and (usually) simple. I can crunch out a lot of these is a small amount of time.
- It’s a good way to decrease the number of open bugs, of which there are way too many for our team of dedicated (mostly volunteer) developers to address them all.
In addition to those obvious reasons, though, there’s some other good that comes out of these “last rites”. Sometimes (in fact, twice in the past two days) the bug filer will get my invalidation notice, and suddenly wake up, see the questions that have been needing answers, and answer them! Kind of like that one episode of M*A*S*H… “This one’s not dead!”
And this, to answer a question from the Penguicon presentation, is another reason we don’t just script the process of invalidating old incomplete bugs.