Equilibrium in free software testing

Filed under
OSS

When a bug is filed in a free software project’s bug tracker, a social exchange takes place. Bug reporters give their time and attention to describing, debugging and testing, in exchange for a fair chance that the problem will be fixed. Project representatives make the effort to listen and understand the problem, and apply their specialized knowledge, in exchange for real-world testing and feedback which drive improvements in their software. This feedback loop is one of the essential benefits of the free software development model.

Based on the belief that this exchange is of mutual benefit, the people involved form certain expectations of each other. When I report a bug, I expect that:

* the bug will be reviewed by a project representative
* they will make a decision about the relative importance of the bug
* project developers will fix the most important bugs in future releases of the software

When I receive a bug report, I expect that:

* if more information is needed, the bug reporter will supply it
* if I can’t diagnose the problem independently, the bug reporter will help with the analysis
* if I need help to test and verify a fix for the bug, the bug reporter will provide it

Naturally, everything works best when the system is in equilibrium: